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Whose PC are using beasts? And what (for)?


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#1 Gregorius21778

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 09:10 AM

Greetings, everyone,

RH introduced the idea of using beasts as additional toys (some might even say companions) to the PC. Is anyone in your group doing this? If so, which creature and to what avail? Any drawbacks?

The Psyker of my group tried it. While on Dusk, I sold him a "Witch Hound". All in all, it is a trained dog (similiar to a Labrador) which he used the familiar minor power (see RH) on. I thereby allowed him to be a boost to this Psyniscience.

It did not work out very well. We forgot about the dog all the time and the group went through many a situation where a dog would realistically would have been a liability. Dogs need daily care and exercise, after all.

In the end, we ret-conned Thywas (the name of the dog) into a little lizard-thing that would rest around the Psykers neck and shoulders (shoulder dragon, so to speak). From that point on everyone was more happy with the animal familiar since it was far more believable that a cold-blooded would simply linger with the PC most of the time only to be dropped once they were "home" or resting.

That´s for my group. What is with yours?



#2 Plushy

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 10:10 PM

I played in an awful one-shot last week as a Cyber-Mastiff Handler.

A bad guy pulled a gun on us and I had the dog roll to grapple. The GM decided that still did damage for some reason, and ended up tearing the arm off. He bled out, because none of us knew Medicae.

Cyber-Mastiffs have really fun rules, though. I love all the little modes they get, and I would love to build a Handler as a Only War spec, because rolling to acquire dogs is more likely than an acolyte having thousands of thrones to blow on a pet dog.

 

 

God, that was an awful game.


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!


#3 Zakalwe

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 01:02 AM

Our Arbitrator had a cyber mastiff (the one the size of a pony) during Dead Stars and it was really useful.  He would designate a target for it to subdue and we would get on with wasting err, I mean purging all the others.  At the end of combat we would have a prisoner without having to compromise our combat potential.  He treated it as equipment rather than part of his character concept and it worked really well.

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#4 Adeptus-B

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 09:35 AM

No experience with 'pets' so far; the loss of a very expensive cyberskull to a blast-radius attack has probably soured my players on the idea…



#5 Simsum

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 07:41 PM

Two of our characters have pets, of sorts. A servo skull with no combat functionality, made from the skull of one of our Adept's former underlings. And a formerly vicious giant rat the size of a small terrier, which tends to get blown up or chewed on and is now almost entirely bionic and fairly traumatised.

The servo skull has been largely inconsequential. It did make for some fun RP during the party's visit to a particularly backwards feral world, and it sometimes doubles as a torch (craptastic built-in light source), but mostly it's just a curio that rarely gets more than a passing mention, if any.

Kill-Kill the rat, on the other hand, is very much a part of things. Kill-Kill is one half of the personality of the group's Scum character. Basically, it's the Scum character's self-interest and pettiness made manifest. And that sounds completely ridiculous, but it really isn't. The player has been playing it completely straight and with a really dark and nasty undertone. The only similarity to something like the Minsc & Boo due of Baldur's Gate is the ridiculous name. But the player is a Skaven lover, what can you do?

However, because of how the player wanted to play it, we decided the rat should have a stat line and advance scheme of its own and be subject to the full scope of the rules, including things like permanent injuries, insanity and corruption. And that decision is beginning to look like the end for Kill-Kill. The rat is now almost entirely bionic, has developed a mutation, and is more than a little bit deranged. It was always far weaker than the human characters, and (mostly because the dice gods really-really hate the poor thing) it has managed to accrue far more corruption and insanity as well. So… It probably isn't long for this world.

I'm not quite sure what to about it, actually. I'm kind of leaning towards letting both rat and owner burn all their FP for the miraculous restoration of Kill-Kill. I know the player would like that. But… I'm pretty sure I'd never let a "proper" character get away with something like that, so I'm not really sure I should in this case. Because like I said, Kill-Kill is as much the Scum character as the actual Scum character. If you guys have any ideas I'd love to hear them.



#6 Gregorius21778

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 08:45 PM

Thanks for the feedback so far. But I would like to focus on non-cybercreatures here. :)

"The times and death of Kill-Kill the giant rat" sums up one of the problems I visioned about. Dog-sized creature tend to get killed if taken to combat. If these creatures are treated as pure gear (which means that a breed of attack-dogs that died will be replaced by another breed between sessions) things are fine. Players should know be told about the likely death of their little bestie before. Unless they go for lumbering cyber-beasts to begin with.

Simsum said:

If you guys have any ideas I'd love to hear them.

Perhaps it would be better when the dog-sized rat would die and the Scum would adapt to a "merely oversized" regular hive-rat. You know, that stuff that tends to grow 30cm in lenght (withour the tail). This creature could still be used for small tricks and would still make this good "other-half creature".

 

So, other people out there who had once upon a time a  non-cybernetic beast to their site and would like to share their experiences?



#7 Lightbringer

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 11:57 PM

Gregorius21778 said:

 

The Psyker of my group tried it. While on Dusk, I sold him a "Witch Hound". All in all, it is a trained dog (similiar to a Labrador) which he used the familiar minor power (see RH) on. I thereby allowed him to be a boost to this Psyniscience.

It did not work out very well. We forgot about the dog all the time and the group went through many a situation where a dog would realistically would have been a liability. Dogs need daily care and exercise, after all.

In the end, we ret-conned Thywas (the name of the dog) into a little lizard-thing that would rest around the Psykers neck and shoulders (shoulder dragon, so to speak). From that point on everyone was more happy with the animal familiar since it was far more believable that a cold-blooded would simply linger with the PC most of the time only to be dropped once they were "home" or resting.

 

 

I came up with a similar concept for a witch hound a while back, in a post about miscellaneous DH acolyte gear.

Here's the relevant part of the entry:-

Witch Hound
The Ordo Hereticus’ primary duty is arguably the capture and suppression of psykers. Identifying psykers is – for non psykers – often a tricky business. While some psykers are stereotypically wild-eyed bald cacklers with glowing eyes, the vast majority resemble perfectly normal humans, with no uniformly reliable way of identifying them, especially if their powers are feeble, or if they are consciously seeking to conceal their abilities. Many Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors are driven to insane paranoia by this issue, creating increasingly bizarre and contradictory tests for identifying “witches” that involve ducking into water and the burning or mortification of the flesh.

 Psy Trackers – temperamental handheld devices easily confused by psychic background noise – are a mainstay of the Ordos, but they are often inadequate to the task at hand and prone to catastrophic false positives.

One alternative employed by some Ordo Hereticus witchunters is the Witch Hound. This is a small, nondescript looking breed of dog with a short, wiry grey hide that has been shown over the centuries to have some limited talent for identifying psychic ability. The dogs are rather like sniffer dogs employed by some planetary police forces to identify contraband or explosives. They react according to their training whenever they detect psychic ability or the taint of the warp, usually whimpering or barking to identify their discovery to their handler.

The dogs often make mistakes, and are easily confused or unsettled by new psychic phenomena. No scientific explanation for their talent has ever satisfactorily advanced, (although it is not believed that they are themselves psychic) and many Inquisitors disdain the use of the animals.

Witch Hound Profile
WS: 30 BS: - S: 15 T: 20 Ag: 30 Int: 15 Per: 38 WP: 40 Fel: -

Movement: 6/12/18/36

Skills: Awareness +20, Tracking +10, Dodge +10 Swim

Talents: Sprint, Psyniscience

Traits: Bestial, natural weapon (bite) Quadruped

Weapons: Bite (1d10+1R, Primitive)

Cost: 2,000 thrones, availability Very Rare

As for the idea of the dog being retconned into a "shoulder dragon,"  in many ways I think that's a shame. Animals should bring things to the game that miscellaneous artefacts can't, and should be treated differently. It adds an amusing wrinkle to games of DH for a bunch of hardened acolytes to have to spend an hour a day walking their dog while doing a stakeout on a hive world, in my opinion!



#8 Gregorius21778

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 01:50 AM

Hi Lightbringer,

so, what was the actual in game experience of you and your group in regard to the creature you re-posted here?



#9 Simsum

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 04:17 AM

Gregorius21778 said:

"The times and death of Kill-Kill the giant rat" sums up one of the problems I visioned about. Dog-sized creature tend to get killed if taken to combat. If these creatures are treated as pure gear (which means that a breed of attack-dogs that died will be replaced by another breed between sessions) things are fine. Players should know be told about the likely death of their little bestie before. Unless they go for lumbering cyber-beasts to begin with.

Depending on how you approach combat, bravely running away may be a viable critter strategy. I know you want to talk living creatures, but take our Adept's servo skill, for example. It does have a little bit in the way of stats, and it has gotten broken in combat a couple of times (I'm a harsh GM in a lot of ways, but I try to be nice about things like signature gear so it's never been destroyed outright). But 9/10 times it just makes a run move into cover somewhere, and remains out of sight and mind for the duration of the combat encounter. It hardly ever gets attacked, and almost never blown up. Given a choice of targets, there just aren't all that many things in the universe that would go for the servo skull. And I think that mostly extends to pets, at least if they're smaller than a doberman and/or look less obviously dangerous.

Gregorius21778 said:

Perhaps it would be better when the dog-sized rat would die and the Scum would adapt to a "merely oversized" regular hive-rat. You know, that stuff that tends to grow 30cm in lenght (withour the tail). This creature could still be used for small tricks and would still make this good "other-half creature".

 

Small terrier, not big dog sized. Without having checked, I think it weighs less than 5kg (10lbs). Anyway, the problem is that Kill-Kill is the PC just as much as the Scum is the PC. One isn't really any more replaceable than the other. But the rat is pretty corrupt, and the character does take a lot of its cues from the rat. So perhaps a solution would be to offer the rat a sort of Dark Pact or Possession kind of deal, that would just kind of accidentally shrink it down to pocket size? Kill-Kill is about as smart as a dog, which probably explains why I haven't considered this approach before. But it would be a great "in" for corrupting the Scum for any daemon, so really… Why not? Plus, who'd ever suspect the rat?

Speaking of rats, however… And depending on how you feel about the things in the real world, you may not want to read this:

Brown rats reach your "oversized" sizes in the wild. They're usually smaller, but the largest I've seen with my own two eyes had a body length of about 32cm, and a roughly equal tail length. I forget the exact weight, but it was close enough to 1kg to make no difference. Yes, I happen to be friends with a crazy old punk whose seemingly eternal quest is to catch the biggest rat he can find and tame it. He does catch a lot of big ones, but for reasons I'd rather not contemplate they all seen to die on him before he can tame them. Aaanyway…

I think it's also worth asking if it's really a problem that combat pets are expendable. Making Kill-Kill the rat a combat pet (especially a really sneaky and vicious one) was clearly a mistake. A lap dog sized, but otherwise ordinary rat can't really justify the kind of stat line needed for long term survival (or even short term survival). It was a bad approach, and considering we'd been playing almost two years, we definitely should have known better. But again, Kill-Kill is essentially a PC. There's no particular reason combat pets should be, not that I can see anyway.

I'm guessing a reasonably good way to handle the logistics of it, would be to let players buy a combat pet as an elite advance sort of thing, in the form of a contract with a pet-peddler who keeps a store in some concrete place in the universe, where players with the advance can return to get a new pet when their old ones decide to play fetch with a frag or whatever.

Making it an advance should get around Throne value of perishable pets in a reasonable manner, I think. Especially if the players have to physically go somewhere to pick up their pet refill, so to speak.

As for controlling them, we started playing with Kill-Kill the rat before BoJ came out, so the way we've been doing it has been to let the rat "know" the Scum's FB worth of actions that don't require a command test, and otherwise let the scum roll command tests when he wants the rat to do something during combat/combat time. All subject to GM fiat, of course.



#10 Lightbringer

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 08:56 AM

Gregorius21778 said:

Hi Lightbringer,

so, what was the actual in game experience of you and your group in regard to the creature you re-posted here?

I must be entirely honest and admit I haven't used it in-game… I only mentioned it because you mentioned witch hounds in your post…so I suppose I am slightly off topic - apologies!



#11 Gregorius21778

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 01:16 AM

Lightbringer said:

Gregorius21778 said:

 

Hi Lightbringer,

so, what was the actual in game experience of you and your group in regard to the creature you re-posted here?

 

 

I must be entirely honest and admit I haven't used it in-game… I only mentioned it because you mentioned witch hounds in your post…so I suppose I am slightly off topic - apologies!

Accepted

So, anyone else with a report on the use of critters by his/her gaming group?



#12 Saldre

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 07:01 AM

Hey Hey!

Sorry for the horrendous delay- I've been in the mountains for like, four days no. It was both great and horrible at the same time. 

In other news- One of my group members makes extensive use of pets- Its a Verminspeaker Psyker! Yay!

When he made the character, starting at rank 6, I gave him a pick of one creature from Creatures Anathema that fit the rules of Beast-Master and he chose the Locust Swarm. 

Its been a blast- and not nearly as overpowered as it might be considered. I am also allowing him to play with this a lot, because he really wanted his Psyker to be a "Swarm Lord" Type Psyker, controlling beasts and critters and asked me to include these things in the game (which is why, on Sinophia Magna, they will encounter genetically engineered Manticors, Scorpicores and the dreaded… DEEP CROWS) which he'll get a chance to control as well. 

The character himself is horrendously weak- and I am trying to teach him to use the creatures effectively with some imagination. Right now, he uses the swarm to stop people with guns for firing, to explore, to flank and to kill lesser unarmored evil minions. But I've boosted the strength of the swarm considerably by applying the Horde Rules to it instead of the Swarm rules- so it does more damage [Its still quite weak in a fight, but its the characters only real weapon.] 

He also has a familiar (A Psy-Bonded Familiar "Hand Sized Xenos Type Wasp Like Creature" and has recently taken over a Sinophian Boreworm. 

Now there's a lot of house ruling in terms of what he can control, how many of it he can control, and the rate he has to take care of it. For example, the swarm MUST Be fed (and this IS something I remember to do) Fresh Blood constantly- and it grows every two weeks in such a way that, unless controlled, it might simply become too big for the Psyker to control. 

The way I've limited his power is simple- He can control a number of creatures based on both his Psy Rating (Which determines how strong the creatures are that he can control) and his WP bonus (which determines how many.) 1 Psy Rating = 10 Hp. So with a Psy rating of 4, he would be able to control a Creature with about 40hp. Now each Slice of 10HP is worth 1Will Power Point. Currently, he has a 70 with all of the advances, the background package and dark holder- which he means he control about 70Hp worth of creatures, with any single creature being limited to 40hp (If a creature has a Single Hp Point up to 20, it still takes 1WP, if it has 21 towards 20, it takes 2, etc etc). So he could "Breed his swarm" to up to a size 40, anymore and he would need to breed another swarm which would be limited to 30- anymore and he would loose control of the insects and they would turn on him and the party, same as if he doesn't feed them for a while or if he feeds them too much. 

Seeing as this is the characters main Gimick, hes been asking to meet some stronger creatures that could be more brutal in combat- with the Psyker himself covered investigative skills with his second branch in divination in an interesting manner- which is why I've planned for the group to encounter a number of creatures in Sinophia Magna, not all of which he'll be able to control at the same time (If at all :P

Not to mention that, upon hearing of Amicus Tole's presence and influence, the Psyker is considering Sorcery to further enhance his swarms by turning them into Dybuks! Or applying dark mechanical augmentations that would turn them into a horrifying cloud of metal death.

So far, he hasn't broken the balance of the game- the character is original and fun, and his methods are cool as well. Pets are an integral part of his strategy, and I am trying to work with him to make it interesting and fun. In combat, the monsters use his initiative rolls and act following his guidance and he has to live with the consequences of the creature he's picked. The swarms for example are highly heretical and dangerous- and he's very careful to hide them from inspection. The rest of the cell has come to accept them, but still had to roll a fear test the first time he unleashed them from the insides of a hollowed out "Tube" he keeps concealed on his person [and now a built in hidden cavity where here stores SOME of them, because the full amount would not fit.] 

Does that help or would you like more information?

Feel free to ask away!

 



#13 Gregorius21778

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 09:05 AM

Saldre said:

Does that help or would you like more information?

Feel free to ask away!

 



It does! And welcome back to civilization..you know..forum, flame war and stuff

How was the storing of the creatures and the (already mentioned) feeding handled? I could imagine that having a clot of insects surrounding you at any given occasion would be a quick way to end up on a pyre.



#14 Saldre

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 03:57 AM

Thanks- I look forward to catching up on all of the topics I've missed. 

He keeps the swarms hidden in two ways depending on its size- he's recently helped some Tech-priests hunt down a bunch of hereteks so as a reward they've given the entire team an augmentic of their choice, he decided to have his hidden cavity "enhanced" to allow for a single swarm to "Inhabit" him. He's also commissioned a hollowed out  staff  which he uses to store the rest of the swarm, and a special small suitcase within which anything that doesn't fit in the others. 

Seeing as he only has two average size swarms right now- hes keeping them hidden that way, so he's not constantly walking around surrounded by a fog of horrendous blood sucking insects. 

As for the feeding- we've only really had session, and for that he managed buy a grox which he uses to feed the swarm in a private warehouse when it needs it alongside a diet of cultists and gangers. I am pondering a more detailed system where the swarm has to do a certain amount of damage every day or it starts to die off, or instead it attacks the Psykers allies? 

So far, the feeding is as simple as finding a source of blood [Bloody meat, etc etc] and throwing it to the swarm on a more or less daily basis. 



#15 Gregorius21778

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 04:38 AM

Thanks for the reply. But I am urget to say that you are VERY gentle in regard to which size you allow him to "compensate" this swarm. Two average sized swarms could perhaps be cramped into such a tiny space (reducing them them three space that would barely fit "scrawny" ) but insect wings are a fragile thing.

Anyway, any other people with pets and beasts (non-cybernetic)? Those whom make use of the rules and powers featured in the Radical´s Handbook?






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