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Character Creation and Improvement without the Tables

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#1 TechVoid



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Posted 18 August 2012 - 06:42 AM

Hi fellows,

just another idea how to make the character creation and advancement more flexible. In principle, all the tables from the Deathwatch, General, Chapter and Specialty Advancement take the avaible talents and skills and simply mix them up. Thus it seams a bit strange why some common talents and skills can only be achieved by waiting a lot of ranks and thus spending xp into talents and skills which you are not interested in just to improve in ranks and thus make a certain talent accessible.

My idea is to split at least the talents into certain groups like:

Weapon Training, Melee, Ranged, Leadership, General, Tech and Psionic.

The last to talents are just accessible by Techmarines and Libriarains respective. But all the other talents are accessible by every Space Marine. The idea is then, that the Specialties gain talents, belonging to a certain group at a cheaper cost. The Tactical Marine the Leadership group, Devastator the Ranged Group and the Assault Marine the Melee Group.

Furthermore you can treat the Talents from the Chapter Tables as belongig to your prefered talent group.

Some Talents seem a bit powerfull compared to others, thus one must build up little talent trees.

The next step is the same with Skills. Every Skill is free and can be improved by a fixed cost. Skills on the Chapter Tables are cheaper to advance into.

Furthermore you can split up the Characteristics. You have nine of them. Thus let's simply say at the beginning of your character creation you have to choose in which attributs your marine is easy to advance, which are intermediate and where it is hard for him to come by. And according to your selection you can advance them with starting xp costs of 200, 500 and 750.

Since the rank is gone, one can think of being simply able to improve solo modes. Whenver in a descriptive text is said: "At Rank .." one has to think of "Spend … XP to improve the ability to the next level with the following advantages."



#2 AlphariusOmegon7



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Posted 18 August 2012 - 08:43 AM

 Nope.  I dislike the tables myself, and find the Black Crusade advance system better, but it works with the fluff.  The Deathwatch, and the Astartes in general, are rigorously bound by a whole slew of (in many ways) idiotic restrictions.  The tables represent this perfectly.  And your system by default makes Tac Marines the leaders, which sucks.  They get bonuses, yes, but other dudes can still end up in command with the current system.  

Also, Psionic?  What is this, Starcraft?  PSYCHIC.  Like PSYKERS.  

#3 TechVoid



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Posted 18 August 2012 - 09:28 AM

AlphariusOmegon7 said:

 And your system by default makes Tac Marines the leaders, which sucks.

Interesting. I am not that WH40k Expert, but from what I read in the lexicanum, I thought the Tactical Marine is the most experienced besides the Assault and Devastator Marine. Tech Marine, Apothecarius and Librarian are more … 'specialised'.

And besides, from a pure gaming effect I had the impression that the Tactical Marine receives the most talents and skills which only work properly with a high fellowship score - like command. Finally, this makes him the best choice if the kill team wants to start with a high cohesion score.

So - yes - the Tactical Marine is the leader of the squad.



#4 AlphariusOmegon7



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Posted 18 August 2012 - 10:16 AM

 Yeah, but often there's a better RP experience if the Tac Marine ISN'T the de facto leader.  I mean, generally he is more experienced.  But not always - take Space Wolves, where its the Devastators that have been around longest.  And that's without interesting RP stuff.  Players should become leaders of the group by their actions, not just because they picked the Tac Marine.  Tac Marines should get a boost, sure, but unless I've misunderstood your original post, they'd be getting boosted well above everyone else.  

#5 TechVoid



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Posted 18 August 2012 - 11:11 AM

AlphariusOmegon7 said:


Tac Marines should get a boost, sure, but unless I've misunderstood your original post, they'd be getting boosted well above everyone else.  



Uh, well - no. According to my intentions so far, the Devastator gets the talents which boost ranged attack, the assault marine which boost melee attacks and the tactical marine the ones about fellowship. There are a few …

But the more I think about it, from a mechanical point of view this all makes not much sense. I mean, there are two specialties: The librarian can only take the talents about the warp and buy a lot of powers while the Techmarine has a bunch of talents related to him.

Finally, why should the tactical marine, devastator and assault marine not share from a common pool of talentes, regarding weapon training, ranged & melee attacks.

I mean, slowly I understand the concept of the tables less and less … if the assault marine has prove himself as a devastator and thus advanced to the next 'level' - namely the training of an assault marine, then it makes absolutly no sense why the marine should not be able to pick talents from the devastator list.

This separation of talents, according to rank and specialty is so … artifical!



#6 Gaire



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Posted 18 August 2012 - 02:54 PM

 It helps if you remember that, in the Deathwatch, all of the 'standard' marines (Tac, Dev, and Assault) have most likely been through all three of those specialties and returned to the one that fits them best. So your Devastator has been a Devastator, an Assault, and a Tactical Marine, then went back to being a Dev because he's the best at that. Given, you could play it as the Dev being a youngster, the AM being a bit more experienced, and the Tac being the old man, but I'd rather believe the Deathwatch prefers more experienced troops.

#7 TechVoid



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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:17 AM

Gaire said:

So your Devastator has been a Devastator, an Assault, and a Tactical Marine, then went back to being a Dev because he's the best at that.  [..] but I'd rather believe the Deathwatch prefers more experienced troops.

That is a very reasonable argument I can live with.

Furthermore I agree that the Adeptus Astartes might have some illogical advancements as AlphariusOmegon7 wrote before. But to be honest, where if not in the Deathwatch are such restrictions lifted? The Space Marines are supposed to improve their skills while serving in the Deathwatch, thus I hope you might agree that this organisation is used to to what is necessary and maybe only afterwards do what is written in the Codex.

The Deathwatch is meant as the executive branch of the Ordo Xenos and since when is the Inquisition restricted to any laws.

So I guess there should not be a problem to set the Psyker and Tech Talents aside and then let the players pick what they like. But again, based on some talent trees, that dependencys are still valid.



#8 kjakan



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Posted 01 September 2012 - 10:42 PM

TechVoid said:

Thus it seams a bit strange why some common talents and skills can only be achieved by waiting a lot of ranks and thus spending xp into talents and skills which you are not interested in just to improve in ranks and thus make a certain talent accessible.

I don't really mind the table-based character advancement system: I hate tables since they take up a lot of space and finding them and looking them up tends to be time consuming (I prefer to keep decision-making quick during the game). However, character advancement typically comes into play between games so it doesn't have much of a negative impact.

The purpose of the tables seem to be to set a theme to the battle-brother's character: Space Marine advancement tables form the base-line for "any" Space Marine, the Deathwatch enables him to fit into the campaign setting, his Speciality lets him fill out his role, and the Chapter captures the unique character of his background. I think these are all valid and worth-while elements of character development. At the very least it makes sense to somehow denote skills and talents as either relevant to the character, related or unrelated: Relevant abilities come cheap, related abilities come at a greater cost and unrelated abilities are not even available.

The variation in cost is certainly tied to the power-level of the skill or talent: The Rite of Awe talent at 1000 xp is significantly more powerful than the Technical Knock talent at 500 xp, so it makes sense to assign them different cost. By comparison, Dungeons & Dragons 3ed assumes all Feats (the equivalent to Talents) to be worth essentially the same, put increases the "cost" of powerful Feats by setting certain other, less powerful or more basic Feats as prerequisites.

The variation in availability (i.e.: the Rank required) also seem to serve a purpose in allowing battle brothers to be "unique" for a time. For example, the Double Team talent is available to all Space Marines at Rank 5 for 500 xp, but is available to Assault Marines and Tactical Marines at Rank 1 for 200 xp. It fits the close combat role of the Assault Marine and it fits the supporting role of the Tactical Marine. Other Space Marines can get "in on the action" too, but by the time they do so the Assault Marine and the Tactical Marines have had plenty of opportunity to develop other abilities that fit their unique role. Ultimately this serves to keep the different Specialities distinct.

I think we can all agree that the game is more interesting with a group of characters with their own distinct traits rather than a homogenous group where all the members are essentially equally able to deal with the same situations.

But do we really need all those tables? Well, if you want to keep the all the elements listed above it's probably the best solution, otherwise you'd need to get rid of at least some of them. Should all Chapters be treated equally? Should separation into Ranks be removed in favour of a single list of skills and talents for Specializations and a single list for base-line Space Marines?

#9 ddunkelmeister



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Posted 06 September 2012 - 05:36 PM

I'm going to have a go at adapting the Only War advance mechanics for my DW group. I think it will port over without too much trouble.


For those of you unfamiliar with it, OW uses a modified version of the BC advance scheme. First, all advances are organized into tiers, a la BC. All classes possess a certain number of aptitudes. These aptitudes, which include things such as "offense," "defense," "fieldcraft," and all of the Characteristics, are also paired with talents and skills. Characters get discounts on advances based on how many of the related aptitudes they possess.

For example, the Intimidate skill is associated with Strength and Social. A characters possessing one of these aptitudes will get a small discount, while a character with both will gain a large discount. In this way, all advances are available to all characters (barring things like Psy Rating), but it is cheaper to purchase advances you possess an aptitude for (dohohoho).

I think this may port over to DW without too many problems. I will, however, be increasing the XP costs for the advances accordingly.


Also, I apologize if this has already been discussed to death. I have been out of the loop for a bit.

#10 TechVoid



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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:42 AM

How about a mixture of total free and the 'aptitude' approach.

I do not Black Crusade and Only War in detail thus I cannot say how they handled it.

But what about simply writing down all the talents and skills available through a specialization and make them cheaper. Then we can also skip the tables and do not need space for each +10 and +20 skill advancement.

You could call that the aptitude or 'special knack' of a character.

Thus you could rule that you have a look at all the talents available (and lifting the separation into general and Deathwatch talents) and pick the one you are interested in. Then you look if you find the talent or skill in your chapter and specialization list to get it cheaper or you have to pay the full XP cost.

You could also further say that you give a synergy bonus thus if a talent or skill is in both lists, chapter and specialization, then you get it even cheaper.

What do you think?



-- TechVoid.

#11 Plushy



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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:13 PM

 I have a WIP for Deathwatch using Only War rules :3

It's super not-finished, but worth a gander! I can't decide on the Unnatural Stats for Astartes, haha.



All Space Marine characters begin play with the
following Skills, Talents, Traits, and Equipment.

Characteristics: 2d10+30 for all.
Starting Skills: Athletics, Awareness, Common Lore (War), Dodge, Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Astartes), Linguistics (Low Gothic, High Gothic, Battlemark), Navigate (Surface), Operate (Surface) or Operate (Aeronautica), Parry.
Starting Talents: Ambidextrous, Bulging Biceps, Weapon Training (Bolt, Chain, Low-Tech,) Heightened Senses (Hearing, Sight), Nerves of Steel, Quick Draw, Resistance (Cold, Heat, Poisons), Unarmed Warrior.
Starting Traits: Amphibious, Unnatural Strength (+3), Unnatural Toughness (+3).
Starting Equipment: Astartes Power Armour (8 AP all), Astartes Bolt Pistol and 3 magazines, Astartes Combat Knife, 3 Astartes Frag Grenades, 3 Astartes Krak Grenades
Starting Apitutdes: Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness, Offence, Finesse, Fieldcraft

Astartes Bolt Pistol (Pstiol; 30m; S/2/-;1d10+9 X; Pen 4; Clip 8; Tearing; Reload Full; Very Rare)
Astartes Bolter (Basic; 100m; S/3/-;1d10+9 X; Pen 4; Clip 24; Tearing; Reload Full; Very Rare)
Astartes Heavy Bolter (Heavy; 150m; -/-/6; 150m;1d10+12 X; Pen 5; Clip 60; Tearing; Reload Full; Very Rare)
Astartes Lascannon (Heavy; 300m; S/-/-; 5d10+10 E; Pen 10; Clip 10; Reload 2 Full; Extremely Rare)
Astartes Heavy Flamer (Heavy; 30m; S/-/-; 1d10+12 E; Pen 6; Clip 15; Reload 2 Full Flame, Spray; Extremely Rare)
Astartes Chainsword (1d10+3; Pen 3; Balanced, Tearing; Extremely Rare)
Astartes Chainaxe (1d10+5; Pen 3; Tearing; Extremely Rare)
Astartes Combat Knife (1d10; Pen 2)
Astartes Frag Grenade (2d10+2 X Blast (4) Scarce)
Astartes Krak Grenade (2d10+4 X Pen 2 Blast (4) Rare)











Assault Marine/Raptor

Characteristic Bonus: +5 WS
Starting Aptitudes: Agility
Starting Skills: Operate (Jump Pack), Parry +10
Starting Talents: Berserk Charge or Street Fighting
Starting Equipment: Astartes Chainsword, Jump Pack
Starting Wounds: 18+1d5
Special Ability: Add 1d5 damage to Charge attacks.

Devastator Marine/Havoc

Characteristic Bonus: +5 BS
Starting Aptitudes: Defense
Starting Skills:
Starting Talents: Deadeye Shot or Technical Knock
Starting Equipment: Astartes Heavy Bolter and backpack ammunition
Starting Wounds: 18+1d5
Special Ability: When firing a Heavy weapon from cover, the Devastator/Havoc gains the Sturdy trait and +10 to all Ballistic Skill tests.

Tactical Marine/Chosen

Characteristic Bonus: +5 Per
Starting Aptitudes: Leadership
Starting Skills: Command
Starting Talents: Air of Authority or Double Team
Starting Equipment: Astartes Bolter and 4 magazines, +1 of each kind of grenade
Starting Wounds: 18+1d5
Special Ability: The Tactical/Chosen gains +10 to Ballistics Skill tests and deals an extra +2 damage when using Bolt weapons.


Characteristic Bonus: +5 Int
Starting Aptitudes: Knowledge
Starting Skills: Medicae
Starting Talents: Chem-Geld or Takedown
Starting Equipment: Astartes Bolter and 3 magazines, Reductor, Narthecium (+20 Medicae test on Astartes)
Starting Wounds: 18+1d5
Special Ability: Restore an extra 1d5 Wounds whenever healing someone else.



Characteristic Bonus: +5 WP
Starting Aptitudes: Psyker
Starting Skills: Psyniscience
Starting Talents: Warp Sense or Chem-Geld
Starting Traits: Psy Rating 3, 800xp of Psychic Powers
Starting Equipment: Astartes Bolter and 3 magazines, Force Sword
Starting Wounds: 18+1d5


Characteristic Bonus: +5 Int
Starting Aptitudes: Tech
Starting Skills: Tech-Use
Starting Talents: Electro-Graft Use, Mechadendrite Use (Servo-Arm), Technical Knock or Weapon-Tech
Starting Traits: Mechanicus Implants
Starting Equipment: Astartes Bolter and 3 magazines, Servo-Arm
Starting Wounds: 18+1d5


Characteristic Bonus: +5 Ag
Starting Aptitude: Agility
Starting Skills: Stealth
Starting Talents:
Starting Equipment: Carapace Armour, Astartes Bolt Pistol w/Targeter and 3 magazines or Astartes Shotgun and 3 magazines
Starting Wounds: 18+1d5

Ravenwing Biker

Characteristic Bonus: +5 Ag
Starting Aptitude: Agility
Starting Skills: Operate (Ground)
Starting Talents:
Starting Equipment: Astartes Attack Bike, Bolt Pistol and two magazines
Starting Wounds: 18+1d5






Ultramarines: +5 Fel, +5 WP
Blood Angels: +5 WS, +5 Ag
Space Wolves: +5 Per, +5 Fel
Dark Angels: +5 BS, +5 Int
Imperial Fists: +10 WP
Raven Guard: +5 Ag, +5 Per
Iron Hands: +5 BS, +5 T, Bionic Hand
Salamanders: +5 Int, +5 T
White Scars: +5 Ag, +5 Per

Black Templars: +5 WS, +5 WP
Crimson Fists: Hatred (Orks)?
Flesh Tearers: +5 WS, +5 Ag, -15 Fel, Flesh Tearer*
Raptors: +5 Per, +5 Ag
Carcharodons: +5 WS, +5 WP
Blood Ravens: +5 Int, +5 WP
Red Scorpions: +5 WP, Hatred (Mutants)

Emperor’s Nightmares: +5 Per, +5 Int
Abyssal Jaws: +5 S, +5 Per
Blood Jaguars: +5 T, +5 WP

Flesh Tearer: When using a melee weapon that had Tearing, roll an additional die and choose the highest result.

My apologies to anyone I offend; FFG staff, playtesters, and forum users alike. 


Please check out my Dark Heresy to Only War conversion! You can find it on the main Only War forum. I'm always looking for more people to playtest it!

#12 WittyDroog



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Posted 15 September 2012 - 09:55 PM

 I think the OW advancement rules are REALLY nice and could serve as the platform for future games as it just builds on the fun flexibility of Black Crusade. HOWEVER I'm also perfectly fine with how the tables are in DW for many of the same reasons listed. The Imperium is a pretty anal retentive place and it makes sense that members of the Deathwatch would follow a strict training regiment. That being said one could argue that the Deathwatch, being a group of special "shock troops" among the Space Marines which are, by design, "shock troops" (so shock troops of the shock troops, for those playing the home game), would be more flexible and create more unique fighters than those following strictly to the Codex. So really it boils down to how you personally veiw this aspect of the universe, I think either way works.

#13 Minnjitsu



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Posted 23 September 2012 - 06:53 AM

 I never liked the idea that tact marines get alot of ranged abilities and very little melee.  The whole concept to me feels like they should be super versatile and get a good mix of both melee and ranged with the good leadership.  There should at least be one melee and one ranged talent in each rank.

#14 TechVoid



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Posted 13 October 2012 - 09:46 AM

So I started to build my own table with a lots of General Talents and tried to make some Talent Trees.

Now it is possible for the Assault Marine, Devastator, Apothecary and Tactical Marine to pick freely from the General and Deathwatch Table. I simply assume 1000 XP for each Talent. The Librarian and Techmarine pick Talents also from their appropriate Talent Tables.

My idea is, that the four specialities mentioned above have some prefered talents (like Skills) which are simply the talents you find if you sum up all talents of their table in the core rulebook, ignoring the Rank from 1 to 8. They can purchase them cheaper, let's say for just 500 XP.

Furthermore I rewrote some talents or added more detailed informations or suggestions.

What do you think?



-- TechVoid

#15 TechVoid



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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:27 AM


I have worked a bit with the topic and improved the handout a lot, see the link in the post above.

Now you are free of any ranks.

I hope I do not violate any Copyrights, I simply added some pictures to make the layout a bit 'nicer'.


-- TechVoid.

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