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Advice Needed For Blown Encounters


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#1 Valhalla

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 04:14 PM

I'm fairly new to GMing (I've done four sessions now of BC and previously have run some D&D) and am having difficulty with an issue I haven't really experienced before. In any game I've GMed before I have never had the issue of my players not being able to take down the enemy and indeed often had to upscale my encounters to try and deal with them.

However, my new group of heretics is quite the opposite. The group is three chaos marines and one human(two forsaken, a champion, and a psyker). The group has proven to somehow manage to be entirely incapable. My players built their characters fully and only around the RP aspect of their character, disregarding stats/boosts/etc. in order to craft a better character. In this I'm extremely happy because I have dedicated RPers. However, they totally suck in any type of combat situation.

I had assumed that three marines and a psyker would prove to be a powerful team but thus far they've proven entirely underpowered. I had hoped maybe they had been unlucky their first few encounters but that hope is fading. The psyker seems to have an unnatural trait for rolling perils every time she casts, the champion has already burned both his infamy from being mauled, and I'm almost positive that were I to ask the forsaken to shoot a barn they would manage to ricochet the bullets off somewhere and kill themselves.

My question is, how do I handle severely underpowered (or at least amazingly incapable) PCs? They had trouble dealing with a single enemy marine, and when they ran into the rest of the squad it was pure hell. I shudder to think what will happen in this upcoming session where they have set themselves up to raid an enemy warlord's stronghold. Thanks in advance



#2 Plushy

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 06:19 PM

Some new players forget about the different Rates of Fire on their guns. Are the Space Marines remembering their full damage soak (8 AP + their Tougness; make sure they include Unnaturals!) and their obscene damage bonuses (Legion Weapons plus Unnatural Strength plus the Power Armour bonus)? Are they Dodging and Parrying?

Tell them about all the fun stuff they can do in combat. Things like Suppressing Fire, or Overwatch, or making sure to Aim often. The Psyker should grab a psy-focus. Astartes are using good gear; this shouldn't be so much of  a problem.. Any character in the 40k games has two best friends: cover and grenades. Make sure they're using both. Encourage tactics other than standing in the open and firing at the bad guys, and make sure the bad guys are also clever. Black Crusade rewards tactical thinking, and punishes acting like an idiot.

If all else fails, scale back the encounters until both you and the group learn the system a bit better.


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

 

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#3 PrinceOfMadness

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 04:52 PM

All that being said, no amount of tactical planning will compensate for bad dice rolls.

I'm assuming that is the case here, OP?  You made specific mention of your psyker having a habit of rolling Perils, as well as your Forsaken being unable to shoot worth a damn.  Sometimes your dice decide they hate your guts.  It may be time to invest in new dice, or else re-consecrate your old ones to the Ruinous Powers (I suggest washing them in the blood of innocents).

Of course, in Black Crusade it's often easy to stack bonuses to make failure nigh-impossible.  Depending on what weapons you're packing, Aiming is often a good option, as are Red Dot Laser Sights.  With a half-action Aim and a Red Dot Laser Sight, that's a +30 bonus to Hit on a single ranged Attack (remember, you get +10 for only making a single attack).  The downside being that a single attack is much easier to evade than a spray of fire.

As far as your psyker goes, it's actually really, really easy to trivialize Perils of the Warp in Black Crusade.  You can cast Fettered, which completely negates the chance of Phenomenon (although it halves your PR).  The Warp Lock talent lets you take damage to avoid the result of a Psychic Phenomenon roll. Favoured by the Warp is even better, allowing you to re-roll all Psychic Phenomenon rolls and take the better result.

You mentioned your Champion has trouble surviving.  This is a pretty common problem to FFG's 40k RPG's - the games are pretty all-or-nothing.  Are your players remembering to Dodge and/or Parry?  Step Aside and Wall of Steel are fantastic Talents to have.  Are they calculating damage soak correctly?  Soak is calculated by adding your Armour Value at the targeted location to your Toughness Bonus (the tens digit of your Toughness characteristic) as well as any Unnatural Toughness modifiers (typically +4 in the case of a Space Marine).  Force Fields are pretty much required equipment once you really get into the game: a percentage chance of ignoring ALL incoming damage is simply too good to pass up.

As Plushy stated, cover is FANTASTIC.  A typical wooden crate provides four points of AP.  That's FOUR EXTRA POINTS OF ARMOUR against ranged attacks, and you can still Dodge if you need to.  It gets even better when you get cover that's actually reinforced to some extent.  Flame weapons, and to a lesser extent Grenades, are also great - who cares about Ballistic Skill?  You aren't even rolling to hit with a Flame weapon!  (And in the case of a Grenade, you're really just rolling to see if you scatter).



#4 Valhalla

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 09:28 AM

 First off, thanks a lot for the responses, I'll be sure to remind them of some of those things. Also, after posting this thread I went over their character sheets and indeed found that none of my chaos space marine characters had worked in their unnatural toughness bonuses (I forgot to mention that all three CSM players are new to 40kRP while the psyker has played far more than I have). This is definitely a big deal.

Also, as to the whole points about tactics, I've made a point of stressing to my players how important it is to try and think tactically and use strategy. But when my player says what they're going to do I find it hard to try and suggest to do something else, after all it is their character. This isn't to say I don't give them the occasional GM patented eyebrow arch followed by an "Are you sure….?"

And yes, PrinceofMadness, a large part of this issue is due to terrible rolls that seem to have developed into a permanent habit. I'll pass on Plushy's advice on reconsecration. The cover thing is something that I realize after reading that I probably haven't stressed enough, indeed I'm not sure if the new players are even fully aware of the full benefits of cover though I distinctly remember mentioning it at least once. 

Thanks for the advice, I hope it helps!



#5 Cheddah

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 10:57 AM

Valhalla said:

I'm fairly new to GMing (I've done four sessions now of BC and previously have run some D&D) and am having difficulty with an issue I haven't really experienced before. In any game I've GMed before I have never had the issue of my players not being able to take down the enemy and indeed often had to upscale my encounters to try and deal with them.

However, my new group of heretics is quite the opposite. The group is three chaos marines and one human(two forsaken, a champion, and a psyker). The group has proven to somehow manage to be entirely incapable. My players built their characters fully and only around the RP aspect of their character, disregarding stats/boosts/etc. in order to craft a better character. In this I'm extremely happy because I have dedicated RPers. However, they totally suck in any type of combat situation.

I had assumed that three marines and a psyker would prove to be a powerful team but thus far they've proven entirely underpowered. I had hoped maybe they had been unlucky their first few encounters but that hope is fading. The psyker seems to have an unnatural trait for rolling perils every time she casts, the champion has already burned both his infamy from being mauled, and I'm almost positive that were I to ask the forsaken to shoot a barn they would manage to ricochet the bullets off somewhere and kill themselves.

My question is, how do I handle severely underpowered (or at least amazingly incapable) PCs? They had trouble dealing with a single enemy marine, and when they ran into the rest of the squad it was pure hell. I shudder to think what will happen in this upcoming session where they have set themselves up to raid an enemy warlord's stronghold. Thanks in advance

 

You say the party is taking a more RP route with their characters? Maybe encourage them to take minion feats so they can have underlings to take the hits for them? You could even offer one or more purchases of the feats for free as compact rewards. (Ex. The party corrupts an imperial servant so they get him as a minion.)






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