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Unusual GM Problem

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#1 TRA852



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Posted 01 September 2012 - 11:12 PM


I be interested to see if anyone has any suggestions for the following situation.

The GM is in his late 20's at university and is running a DW campaign. However, he is finding himself outclassed by his latest group of players at their gaming group.

To explain: The four players in his game are all instructors at the (Australian) Army Infantry School which is located in the area. They teach tactics, military history and develop new doctrine. All are between 30 & 50 YO and most have real combat experience. He assures me they are great guys, but they are always way ahead of him in dealing with the tactical problems set for them in the campaign. They have learned the rules thoroughly and pre-plan their missions in depth. As a result, they always seem to be ready for the threats he has created and come up with creative ways of dealing with them. They are a tight team and have created and run their space marine characters the same way.

Personally, I have told him I don't see a problem and that he should enjoy playing with professionals. However, he is keen (almost depserate) to come up with some surprises to put them on the back foot and give them a challenge.

Anybody got any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

#2 Bassemandrh



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Posted 01 September 2012 - 11:46 PM

I dont know how thorough he is when briefing the players on the mission, but he could leave out vital information that wasn't gathered for whatever reason.

He could make use of the complications rules to further bring trouble on the players.

If he haven't tried this before, he could send the players to assist a standing army. Make this army a problem for them (could be a politicly inclined leader of said army, making rash decisions to gain glory faster). See how they react when they are supposed to fight alongside another group of people they cant really trust.

Send them to investigate a Xenos ruin of some description, they could be looking for an artifact that isn't what it seems to be. There could be dorment xenos the Imperium havent met yet making the fight harder as you know nothing of the enemy (Necrons perhaps).


#3 Face Eater

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 12:42 AM

That's a strange one, but I can see how it would arise. IMHO quite a lot of the bad guy stats are balanced rather than realistic so the GM could improve the enemies. The errata helps a lot with the weapons if you haven't seen that.

Or maybe it's time to start having the enemies working better together, for Traitor marines start using squad modes for Nids make the synapse more intellegent and agressive, i came up with the start of some rules a while ago:


It doesn't need to be so specifically followed, it's for the GM after all, and it's only very basic but you can see where it's going.

Also for tyranids, if the team is always using the same kind of attacks maybe throwing in some curveball biomorphs. Always using flamers? Flame resistant carapaces start showing up on Nids in important places.

For Tau and Chaos, maybe start having the enemy commanders start hunting for the Players specifically. If the target is so obvious maybe it's an ambush, a specialy equipped Crisis suit team or chosen squad.

#4 Adeptus-B


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Posted 02 September 2012 - 09:47 AM

My thoughts are to hit them with some unusual roll-playing challenges, like rescuing people who don't want to be rescued; or, during the course of a mission, discovering a greater threat which can't be addressed without botching the mission at hand- does the Killteam follow their orders, or do what's best for the Crusade as a whole? Stuff like that.

Or just keep recycling hordes. Tactics only go so far when facing a couple million 'nids…


#5 Thebigjul



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Posted 02 September 2012 - 10:30 PM

It is indeed a curse and a blessing to have such players.

I can think about some tricks that can help the GM.

1- If those players are instructors, maybe can you call to their students to find great ideas to trick their teachers. I'm pretty sure some of them will give you things you have only have nightmares before.

2- Use complications is also a great idea.

3- Put some impossible opposition to let them think to other way to deal with the objective with social and disguise hook. pretty sure army isn't the place where diplomat come from. Like a warlord titan guarding a primary objective, the killteam needing to play like alpha legion to get to the objective. Or why not, in a large scale assault be endenager by barrage fire from friendly units even lance strike on a zone where the KT need to go. They will need to throw tactic and rush before the objective get destroy.

4- The harder for the GM, get lesson with your players, read Sun Tzu, Gaius Julius Cesar, Napoleon memory , war treaty, batle encyclopedia and put some real challenge for military players.

#6 Thebigjul



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Posted 02 September 2012 - 10:55 PM

Sorry for second post but ideas come as they want, never when you want.


As GM with such a group of players you really need to think your scenario with a great care.

You should remember for exemple than Chaos SM can put in motion evil plans talking place during century even millenia.

Their shoulb be protective device, warp power or anything that can fit the psychology of the Chaos leader.

I mean that those nasty bastard are also SM and they know pretty much the same, but they have millenia of practice.

When leading a mission against the Emperor servant they will get as much as possible of tactical asset:

- Warp protection making them almost invisible to the stare of psyker

- Warp benediction that will mess with electronic devise,

- Unatural weather and pest invasion, clouds of millions of millions of millions of flyes or other insect making everybody blind, auspex lost in too much imput, covering miles and miles letting all inside unknown.

- Betrayal from close ally corrupt long time ago and waiting to be activated.

- …

For Tau and Eldar it will be quite the same (not chaos god help but warp mastery and high tech).

Tyranids are also lead by a large mind capable of planing things on a scale almost unbelievable. But why not imagine psy dampening creatures, lots of burrower ennemy, great stealth that outmatched even raven guard, sneeak attack and fast retreat, guerilla war, and not the most tactical but really effective wawe after wawes of hordes and some really nasty elite and leader working together.

#7 Decessor



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Posted 03 September 2012 - 02:35 AM

Incomplete information isn't just a possibility in warfare, it's the norm. Sometimes crucial information is overlooked or just not available. My own DW campaign has killteam onslaught as a rapid response unit so they rarely have much intelligence on what they're facing or what the evolving situation will be like once they arrive.

#8 Gantz the slaughterer

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 04:23 AM

sorry but….


in wich way are you ready if a genestealer appear behind you???

#9 .113



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Posted 03 September 2012 - 06:32 AM

personaly i would find this group very fun to play "against". They are a tight group, as they should be, it sounds really great. the trick is to give them problems without just making better enemies that have more hp and kill them faster, but to make it harder in an interesting way.

Consider the fact that the Warp is unstable, maybe they are sent on a mission to fight tyranids and are simply lost in the warp. Or appear somewhere else. A psychic scream is heard after 3 days in the warp and the astropat dies.

Our previous mission was to give an item to the ultramarines on a world somewhere, sealed casket.. We complete the mission (no secret with the casket yet it was just as simple as it sounded) and they had a "small" problem with a space hulk crashing into their moon. We were sent to investigate. Also the shadow of the warp was here. Inside the space hulk we fought chaos, (and found traces of chaos space marines), had to deal with some dark eldar, orcs, savage humans and eventually the tyranids emerged from the warp(and our escape left us cause they couldnt handle it with such a small ship) so we eventually crashed the space hulk into the tyranid hive fleet and as it exploded they were more or less gone. actually we kinda had the orcs control the space hulk so we could stay on the moon and hope for the best.

But yeah, tactics aside, things can still go wrong so use those moments. Traps, unstable ground that one marine falls down through and the rest have to either follow by jumping down or take the slower safer approach. Moments where two important things happen at the same time, forcing the group to choose or split their force. Inquisitor rivals, the mission being one inquisitor sending the group on a mission in an area where another has "authority" and out of rivalry makes things hard for the group. bad intel, bad gear and so on.


good luck :)

#10 Decessor



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Posted 03 September 2012 - 11:23 PM

If you haven't already had a look at it, The Jericho Reach has a whole bunch of salient-specific complications. Categories including temporal anomalies. ;)

#11 herichimo



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Posted 04 September 2012 - 11:39 AM

An RPG group is just that, a group. It shouldn't be the players vs. the GM or vice-versa.

Have the GM express his concerns to those players and ask if those players would be inclined to enlighted him on how an army or enemy would fight.

There are all sorts of interesting ways, though, to make the game tense.

For these guys, make sure they are counting their ammo. If you give them unlimited ammunition they'll take full advantage of that. If they rely on that flamer and its endless promethium tank for all their killin' what will they do when its only got the 6 shots it came with.

Another situation for these, since most enemies are likely to be covered, is to have them fight against time instead. They have to extracate an inquisitor from a tyranid world before it's virus bombed for instance.

If in a tyranid attack, throw an unlimited number of minnion nids at them. A never ending horde is one way to get them to put the fear of the Emperor in them. Don't make it all the same either. Throw waves of gaunts (both kinds) rushing at them, with rippers running ahead of them and gargoyles in the air above.

Don't be afraid to use an enemy's abilities. That Thunderhammer making short work of your nob mob? Have a nob start a grapple. Now that T-hammer is useless, and the nob with the powerclaw can still use it in the grapple (it stradles the line of armed and unarmed). Have a group (or even small horde) of Tyranid warriors try to ram them and knock them over, forcing them to use actions to stand and giving nids attack bonuses when prone.

Hordes have their own special rules too. Shooting is well understood, but in melee they can attack EVERYONE and they get their normal number of attacks. A horde of genestealers gets to make 4 attacks against every enemy they are engaged with (with horde damage bonus).

Keep in mind horde magnatude shouldn't be 1:1 (1 mag = 1 dude) all the time. Ripper swarms, ok, yeah. But a horde of warriors or nobs should be 10 (or more, though ranged hordes may want to limit it to 10) magnitude = 1 guy. This makes a 10 Warrior horde a 100 magnatude horde. This means the horde has 10 ranged shots, as it is fitting for elites to shoot well even if horded. (GM has final say on how many shots a horde has, if the GM wanted to make a horde of 10 guys at 15 mag each but limit the number of shots to 5, thats fine.) Average guys aren't going to be more than 2 or 3 magnitude each though, so be careful with this.

#12 H.B.M.C.


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Posted 04 September 2012 - 10:53 PM

That sounds like an awesome group to play with.

Anyway, the simplest solution is Zoanthropes. Nothing can stand up to Zoanthropes. 

They cause so much damage that any hit will probably kill.


Matt Eustace. Contributing Author Credits: Church of the Damned, The Lathe Worlds, The Lathe Worlds - The Lost Dataslate, Only War Core Rulebook, Hammer of the Emperor, Shield of Humanity, Tome of Fate, Tome of Blood, Tome of Excess and Tome of Decay.

The views expressed in this post are my own. I do not speak for or on behalf of Fantasy Flight Games.

#13 crisaron



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Posted 05 September 2012 - 03:09 AM

make them baby sit a hot headed Inquisitor.


- He charges a head of the group.

- He challenges other inquisitor, only to have blood sport between marines (make it be a honor thing).

- The inquisitor is corrupted or is a radical but we a great plan. They accept it but some up tight Ultra finds out and as them cast out or put on trial.


- Have a mind reading xenos, always a step a head of them, taking one of them at a time or using some sort of mind control on the weakest to attack the others.


- Have a marines infected by a on plague, that slowly infects everything around him.


- Give them a real space hulk crawl where the hulk jumps into the warp locking them in with little resources for a long time.


#14 crisaron



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Posted 05 September 2012 - 03:09 AM

arrghhh evil forum double post!!!

#15 TRA852



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Posted 07 September 2012 - 01:23 AM

Thanks very much to all who have replied.  The suggestions are very helpful and my friend is keen to try the twists proposed.   I've also identified a few things I'd like to try in my campaign (DW but using a Sisters of Battle kill team instead of space marines). Again, thanks for your consideration.



#16 borithan



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Posted 08 September 2012 - 09:03 PM

If course I don't really see the "problem" as a "problem" as long as everyone is having fun. If they are enjoying the encounters set before them, even though they seem to be able to deal with them effectively, it isn't really a problem. Of course, if the GM is really getting no enjoyment out of it, then yes, it is a problem, and I guess everyone wants to be thrown an unexpected twist every now and again.


What I think would actually be more of a problem would be if he tries to make it harder by forcing things. If they work out a reasonable way to solve a problem don't arbitrarily remove it because the GM didn't want it to work that way.


However, do use the rules to the full extent. Keep track of ammo, how long things take to heal, etc. On that latter point, he could remove or reduce the Fate Point Healing. Obviously you need to discuss it with players first, but it means that damage will accumulate more (do be aware that it could kill PCs though, as they find themselves constantly low on health). Diminishing resources will add something extra to the challenge which they may appreciate. Also, start putting in more non-combat stuff (Unless he has plenty already). Tactical training doesn't help at a diplomatic lunch.

#17 TorogTarkdacil812



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Posted 09 September 2012 - 10:40 AM

If you think your players are mowing down the enemies too easily, make enviroment THE enemy. Use toxins in form of gas in whole complex. Let them be bombarded with hard radiation (effects of Cataclysmus device from Lathe Worlds online supplemet). Let them fight in vicious storm (-30 on BS). Roll for random psychic phenomena regulary on haunted place.

That is what I learned from Arkham Horror. Yeah monsters, yeah coming doom, whatever. But when your surroundings are againts you, than you realise the gravity of your situation. 

There is nothing as good as seeing rebel scum running out of a cave full of gas, right into the blasters of your battalion-–well, except sunrises, but for those you have to get up early.

#18 Minnjitsu



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Posted 16 September 2012 - 05:36 AM

 I've run into this problem many times myself actually.  I used to play with a alot of current and former military being former military myself.  The best strategy I can give for the GM is an old saying we used to have.  "Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the face."  No matter how much time anyone plans on anything to happen something can and will go wrong.

The perfect example of this if Final Sanction.  The original mission the player have before everything goes south is actually pretty easy.  The just waltz into Landsholm with an Inquisitor and her full group with PDF support and burn the xenos out.  From the off set everything goes wrong.  The cruiser gets pwn'd by some Krakens and the team has to make landfall in drop pods in an emergency.  When they land they find a planet full on in genestealer-driven rebellion, no inquisitor to be found and the PDF scattered all over the city fighting for their lives.

Planning is good and having military people playing Space marines adds a lot of versimilitude to a game.  Deathwatch is not a game on the other hand where anything is normal.  Even in the real world missions despite planning can go wrong.  Intelligence is not an exact science and can be wrong a lot of the time.  Aliens bring with them strange tactical considerations into a game that cannot always be accounted for.

Using Bad intel all the time can be heavy handed and will make the characters not trust any intel in the game period.  But not giving the players a clear picture messes with their planning.  I imagine that the players superior planning is your big issue here.  Try taking the players out of their element every so often and giving them challenges that they cannot plan for makes for exciting game play.

Hope this helps.  Game on!

#19 Minnjitsu



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Posted 17 September 2012 - 08:54 AM

 You could also use enemies that use superior planning in their tactics.  Enemies occupying the high ground surrounded by a terrain feature that is hard to get too (mines, lava, canyon).  Trench warfare is a good way too, making every piece of ground hard fought.  Terrain and environment is great like the above poster stated, adds a lot of drama.  When PCs overcome these odds too they feel a real sense of accomplishment.  Eliminating player options on how to proceed to an objective changes things drastically.  Instead of giving them 3-4 options give 1-2.

#20 Huros



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Posted 21 September 2012 - 02:15 AM

 Make your players Ammo count -  really accurately.

Then introduce a horde.  A BIG one.



Practice your evil laugh, for when they start running.

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