Jump to content


[Spoilers] Extraction: Debrief Story and Review

  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 Sokahrthumaniel



  • Members
  • 52 posts

Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:48 PM


Yesterday I set-to running my first game of Deathwatch.  Having played Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader before, the rules were largely familiar, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable game to run.  As the majority of this review will be positive, and thus of little use as critical feedback, I will apologise if I come across as negative, as these are the points I wish to focus upon.  

The Extraction mission at the back of the Deathwatch book was the order of the day, a nice time based mission that could fit into an evening of play.  Over-all, this was a fantastic idea, as the mission fits nicely into a 4 hour real-time slot if you keep combat dynamic, and go heavy on narration.

It is likely my inexperience with the system talking, but scaling difficulty was a bit of an art form, and some of the random encounters seemed to be 'time wasting' (rolling dice for the sake of it, insta-gib encounters) that I quickly glossed over as suspense-building 'you're being stalked' style encounters.  In my opinion, 'weenie' creatures did not function as anything but a means of spending our limited time rolling dice for no purpose other than instantly killing them in spectacular ways; whereas hordes provided a fantastic experience, kept combat fast and felt a lot more cinematic. 

This scalability issue, though over-come in hindsight, isn't made clear in the rules or Games-master tips, so a warning to first-time GMs is thus:  mock-run some combats without your players, and gauge what will do what.  You don't want to TPK them the minute they land, but you may find your final stand looking a bit impotent if you don't calibrate it to their current level of injury.  Luckily the Hive Tyrant proved up to the task of putting at least one of them into critical, and looking to do the same to others until that pesky T-Hawk showed up :P.  

This brings me to my next and final major point.  Righteous Fury and Hellfire rounds.  Dear lord are they a Gms worst nightmare if you dislike tweaking a situation in response to plain good luck.  Our Apothecary unloaded hellfire bolts into the Tyrant was they were facing it down, the extraction vessel an unknown distance away.  He rips off a full-auto burst, the first round impacting with righteous fury... again... and again... and again.  105 damage in total from a full auto bolter burst, after TB 15 taken into account.  You can imagine my face looking at my prize 'better than you and killy' beast suddenly hitting barely double digits in wounds.  Though heroic as hell and a big fun-point for my players during the game, a marginally higher roll would have (without obvious gm intervention) killed the Tyrant outright.  To this end we will be play testing alternatives to righteous fury that capture the epicness of a truly critical strike without risking unintentional glory-hogging during boss-fights.  

All in all the system lives up to every expectation.  The character generation is great, the characterisation harking from the Dan Abnett/Graham McNeil era of Space Marine literature (3 dimensional, rich cultured men put into extreme situations from their very induction).  The combat system, if you ignore solo/small group weenies as anything but a diversion/plot device, is fast, furious and representative of the kind of force a marine would be sent to face.  And the mission itself is a fast improvement on what I thought were pretty bad attempts at introductory games in the back of the DH and RT books (fantastic games with poor rules induction).  Every rule is given a chance to shine, and you can up or lower the difficulty of the mission to give any level of character a good game (hopefully with a near death experience at the end :P).  

Well I feel I have bored you for long enough, but please let me know if you feel I am being unfair to the game on my negative points, and have a quick glance over my group's debrief story (soon to have a connecting briefing in the after-math of the Tantalus consumption!).  

For the Emperor!


#2 Tidomann



  • Members
  • 127 posts

Posted 26 October 2010 - 05:11 AM

Nice read- although you may want to make your google document public. I don't seem to have access to it!

Glad to hear that someone else had the same problem as I did, trying to tweak the horde system to be a good adversary. Either the horde would instnatly die, or end up dealing too large an amount of damage. Maybe that is just how it's supposed to be- since one round in, that horde is going to be chopped down quite quickly in size.

#3 Sokahrthumaniel



  • Members
  • 52 posts

Posted 26 October 2010 - 05:25 AM

 Sorry about that - Googledoc is now public for all to see.  

The next missions 'Pre-Brief' fluff will be up sometime tomorrow with any luck; following the Kill-team as Thunder's Word makes best speed to the Iron Collar on a mission to return Magos Vyakai to his bretheren.  Suffice to say that when the frigate becomes becalmed in the warp mere days from real-space translation, all is not as it seems (nor as it is suspected)...

The players seem to like the arc-link fluff, so I shall continue to provide!

Thanks for reading and commenting.


#4 Rhazagal



  • Members
  • 17 posts

Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:31 AM

A quick-and-easy method of fixing the issues with Righteous Fury is to tweak the mechanic a little. instead of letting the player roll ALL the dice again, let them only roll any dice that actually came up as "10". If any come up as 10 again, then repeat the roll until the die no longer displays a 10. Has worked well for my group.

#5 Charmander



  • Members
  • 1,491 posts

Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:25 PM

Scaling difficulties in response to the PCs in DW is quite a challenge.  One of the thing I do is fudge- PCs have no real idea how much TB you gave your bad guys.  It is reasonable, from a player perspective, that if they can do 105 damage in one burst (remember every shot subtracts TB and Armor, not just once for the total) than the biggest baddest enem on the planet can take that much damage.  Even if the PCs think they know the enemy, when they do 105 pen 5 to a bad guy and it doesn't drop, they'll start thinking about tactics and how to make sure they live through the encounter.

Most of my player have smiliar TBs, so it's also not too hard for me to know where the 'sweet spot' is in damage- enough to inflict some scratches with each encounter but not TPK. If you can find that spot (probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 18-20, 10 of it's armor) then you build your starting horde around doing an average of X damage pen 0 (say 18-20?)- make it so that you do a damage or two to the 'weaker' marines and none to the tougher ones.  Then throw in the guys with pen, some elites, etc. to hammer on your tougher opponents.  Try to keep track of what you're doing in each combat, and if you have an apothecary, most of those wounds will be healed before the next encounter.  Build some encounters to let the marines breeze through, to keep them on their toes, and others pull the noose around them.

As for RF, there are several suggestions on the forums, noteably Rhazagal's 'only re-roll he die that got a 10' suggestion, but there is also one about the removal of the Deathwatch Training trait (the automatic confirmation of RF against aliens) that has helped my group.


#6 Sokahrthumaniel



  • Members
  • 52 posts

Posted 27 October 2010 - 01:05 AM

 Excellent tips.  I will definitely trial these in the next few encounters I run.  

I think that the only dice that 'explode' (10 or 9 for hellfire, 10 normally), getting rerolls is just what I am after.  One of my players suggested a hard cap on a weapons total damage, but I will see if the dice-fury method works without restrictive hard caps first.  

The 105 damage example, unfortunately, was a single roll that kept exploding due to hellfire (thus only getting TB once due to the armour properties of the round), so as a special consideration, what would you say about making only the first righteous fury from hellfire count on a 9 or 10, with further fury being 10 or more only?  Do you feel this takes away from the ammunition, or that it is still full of astartes win flavour?  

As an aside, my next mission is coming together nicely, as someone the PCs left behind on their last mission makes a miraculous escape on a battered lighter...

Having been screened for Xenos taint and cleared, he is being held in the brig of Thunder's Word (the Deathwatch frigate) as it makes high-warp for the Iron Collar.  Magos Vyakai is still critically injured and in a coma induced by his implants, and the datacore is meaningless without assistance from the Mechanicus.

Mere days away from a rendezvous with a Mechanicus Ark, Thunder's Word becomes becalmed in the warp.  Unrest stirs in the crew, their years of training and stringent purity protocols pushed to the limit by the sudden change in fortunes.  Worse, the refugee from Tantalus is missing, with no sign of his cell being accessed.  Who is he?  How did he really escape almost sure death at the hands of the Tyranid menace?  Why does the warp hold Thunder's Word so tightly in it's grip?

For this encounter, I will be looking at a situation where donning power armour will take too long, and only limited personal armaments are in the player's cells, necessitating a more wary, possibly diplomatic approach to the unrest in the ship, as they make for the secured Deathwatch armoury aboard their frigate.  The threat they face is dire, no less than the total corruption or destruction of their vessel, a matter made worse by having such precious intelligence in their possession.  Glorious death, victory against the odds or a devil's bargain are the possible outcomes of such an unfortunate event...

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - Coming soon!





#7 Kasatka



  • Members
  • 1,122 posts

Posted 27 October 2010 - 10:35 AM

 Salutations all, i am playing Kestyr in the above mentioned game so i thought would stay abreast of things here.

I for one eagerly look forwards to the next gaming session - Marines may be trained and augmented for combat, but one of the best sides of Astartes fiction for me is the glances into their social lives. Be it the cameraderie with their battle-brothers, interactions with other chapters, or dealings with the Imperium at large.

After the last-minute extraction by thunderhawk gunship, Battle-Brother Kestyr has allowed his wounds tended to by Apothecary Cadmos and silently berating himself for his ambition over-reaching his ability in the last mission. With images of the monstrous hive tyrant surfacing from his eidetic memory, he swears to himself that he will not fall again to the foul Tyranid without dragging his attacker with him into the embrace of the God-Emperor.

Only the insane have strength enough to prosper.

Only those that prosper may truly judge what is sane.

#8 Jikkarr



  • Members
  • 3 posts

Posted 27 October 2010 - 12:36 PM

 Let's continue this player input, I play Anselm in this game.

As these guys will point out, I've been running DH for quite some time and have certainly placed my own crumbling monolithic stance on the setting at large. It's quite nice to be playing in this one, and it's certainly opening up some more considerations that I can take away to other books in the line. Without further ado, lets get this RP on.

Let us not rejoice, for on this day we may have intelligence but the taint still grows. Yet again sympathies had left one of my brethren scarred by xenos taint. Under my command I lead my squad astray in light of evidence leading to the Magos being damaged. I shall contemplate this failure, may I not fail in the future. By the glory of the God-Emperor may I be his fist, let us all continue on our crusade. I shall make Sigismund and Primarch Dorn proud. Amen.

#9 Sokahrthumaniel



  • Members
  • 52 posts

Posted 06 November 2010 - 12:30 AM

 I am still writing the campaign up atm (3rd tier of missions complete), but to keep the thread alive, I present to you a pdf of my draft campaign flow (fine forp layers to look at as it is now defunct - serious rewrites have occurred!).  

Hopefully this may give other GMs something to use as a template - I strongly advise the use of SmartDraw software as it makes the design process that much faster.  This campaign flow is a VERY rough sketch of how a campaign may progress, with two major branching points, three outcomes at the end of the campaign, and story seeds for future campaigns (which may be seamlessly integrated into a larger plan - this is a modular design to prevent Gm overload - they only handle a specific branch at a time.).  

Without further ado: LINKAGE

Note that this link is only good for 30 days, i am finding alternative hosting asap (posted in a hurry before going out! sorry!)

Critique is welcome, as are questions.


#10 Jvirtue55



  • Members
  • 158 posts

Posted 06 November 2010 - 05:48 PM

I really like your ideas and there are alot of things I could mine for ideas if you dont mind posting notes after sessions are over I would appreiate it

Thanks again Im already stealing the idea of having that survivor from extraction

© 2013 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Fantasy Flight Games and the FFG logo are ® of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact | User Support | Rules Questions | Help | RSS