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"Astartes" Weapons


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#1 whoseyes

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:10 AM

Would be "Astartes" weapons (from Deathwatch armoury) balaced with "normal" weapons from Only War?

In Deathwatch it is specified that an Astartes weapon may be extremely difficult to find for a non-SpaceMarine character, but it says nothing else regarding the difficulty of using one of this weapons by a simple human without Power Armour, high Strength, and so on.

I'm planning to make available to my PCs a couple of Astartes items found in a tomb and although maybe they won't be able to keep them for themselves I want them to use these weapons during one act of our campaign.

I've thought about rules to manage an Astartes Power Sword, but don't know if they are balanced or not…

- The Power Sword can't be used by humans without at least 40 Str.

- If they have a Str of 40-49, they can use the sword two-handed without penalization, but can't benefit from the "balanced" quality of the weapon.

- If they have a Str of 40-49, they also can use the sword one-handed with a -10 penalization to all actions and also without the benefit of "balanced".

- If they have a Str of +50 they can use the sword one-handed normaly.

 

I would also like to know if you have any ideas about how to houserule the use of an Astartes Bolter by human beings. I think that the "human" and the Astartes bolter are quite different weapons, the spacemarine one being a kind of rapid grenade launcher! Maybe treat it like a Heavy Weapon instead of Basic?



#2 whoseyes

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:23 AM

Shame on me, I just found additional rules to handle this in the Deathwatch book itself…

Although I think they are excessive and based on Imperial superstition, I'll try to tweak them a little bit.

Anyway, as I can't eliminate this thread, I would still accept further tips or other GMs experiences adapting or presenting this kind of items to non-Astartes characters.



#3 N0-1_H3r3

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:30 AM

whoseyes said:

Shame on me, I just found additional rules to handle this in the Deathwatch book itself…

Although I think they are excessive and based on Imperial superstition, I'll try to tweak them a little bit.

Anyway, as I can't eliminate this thread, I would still accept further tips or other GMs experiences adapting or presenting this kind of items to non-Astartes characters.

There's a version of the "Astartes Weapons" sidebar in Black Crusade that's slightly (but only slightly) more lenient, and which fits with the Only War rules better. As per the differences between Deathwatch and Black Crusade, they're referred to as "Legion Weapons" in the BC Core Rulebook.


Writing Credits for Fantasy Flight Games: Into the Storm, Edge of the Abyss, Battlefleet Koronus, Hostile Acquisitions, Black Crusade Core Rulebook, First Founding, The Jericho Reach, The Soul Reaver, Only War, The Navis Primer,Ark of Lost Souls, and Hammer of the Emperor

I no longer write for, or am employed by, Fantasy Flight Games in any fashion. All of my comments are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of any employer, past, present, or future.

#4 Lynata

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:52 PM

whoseyes wrote: "Would be "Astartes" weapons (from Deathwatch armoury) balaced with "normal" weapons from Only War?"

The weapons are "balanced" to whatever their purpose is in the respective game - personally, I'd be careful importing anything from a different line "as is" without considering changes, given that the various rulebooks all differ a bit in scope ("power level") and ruleset.

I'd say ask yourself what purpose the respective arms should have within your campaign and for your players, and tinker with their stats and requirements accordingly. You could even take the normal guns from the Only War book and simply make them Best Quality, maybe slap a few upgrades on them and potentially assign some sort of morale bonus for what they represent. After all, there does not have to be a notable difference unless you want that to be.
 
The latter is something where you should consider the opinions of the other players in the group, too. If the consensus is that Marine weapons should, for some reason, truly be that much better than everyone elses stuff, then it might feel anticlimatic to make them "too normal". Ideally, you could try to find some sort of compromise between the players' interpretation of the setting in this regard, and the demands of the ongoing storyline / your idea concerning that tomb.
 
whoseyes wrote: "I would also like to know if you have any ideas about how to houserule the use of an Astartes Bolter by human beings. I think that the "human" and the Astartes bolter are quite different weapons, the spacemarine one being a kind of rapid grenade launcher! Maybe treat it like a Heavy Weapon instead of Basic?"
 
As already hinted at in the previous passage, from all the stuff I've read in GW's rulebooks and codices I am used to there being just one sort of bolter. However, I too would expect minor differences in performance, such as a reinforced/armoured housing (to make the weapon better withstand close combat stress and essentially allow it to be used like an improvised hammer) and a few technological gadgets missing from less sophisticated variants of this weapon. The ole' 3E rulebook hinted at what things can actually be "hidden" inside such a gun - see this image. ;)
Basically, making the difference lie more in the detail and advanced options rather than just slapping a crude "+X damage because SPESS MEHREENS" on top of the standard profile.
 
[edit] Sheesh, this forum's quote function is really messed up at times… going to improvise here. :P

current 40k RPG character: Aura Vashaan, Astromancer Witch-Priestess
previous characters: Captain Elias (Celestial Lions Chapter -- debriefed), Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors -- KIA), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose -- assassinated), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader Artemisia -- retired), Taleera "Raven" Nephran (Hive Ganger & Inquisitorial Assassin -- mindwiped)

#5 AtoMaki

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:59 AM

I dunno, but in comparsion to the "free" weapon carrying rules, the Strength requirement seems odd. i mean, the Astartes power sword weights only 5kgs, while the normal power sword weights 3kgs. So why would that +2kgs require +20 Strength to compensate? Someone can use a chain greatsword (16 kgs) but not an Astartes power weapon because… it is Astartes? 

Our GM solved the problem with forcing the players to have a specific Exotic Weapon Training to use Legion/Astartes weapons and a Hard (-20) Armourer Skill Test for the physical modifications on the weapon. Without the modifications, the weapon's class goes up by one step (Pistol to Basic, Basic to Heavy and Heavy to Mounted; Melee weapons gain Unbalanced and Unwieldy instead). 



#6 Lynata

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 10:56 AM

Right! I forgot about a potential difference in hand sizes. Arguably, it's somewhat debatable if one needs a special rule for that (I don't recall Ratlings not being able to use weapons made for normal humans either), but it is something to consider. As is a weapon's weight. In some cases the difference may be negligible (see AtoMaki's example), but in others it may seem more realistic that a larger/heavier gun or melee weapon is also more difficult to operate. Appropriate measures to represent this in-game could be the application of the Unwieldy trait for melee weapons, or (inspired by the Inquisitor's Handbook) a -10 penalty to Ballistic Skill if the user's strength bonus is below 4.

Also, to add to my previous post, I would consider Astartes weapons having a few more rounds due to slightly larger magazines.


current 40k RPG character: Aura Vashaan, Astromancer Witch-Priestess
previous characters: Captain Elias (Celestial Lions Chapter -- debriefed), Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors -- KIA), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose -- assassinated), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader Artemisia -- retired), Taleera "Raven" Nephran (Hive Ganger & Inquisitorial Assassin -- mindwiped)

#7 Droma

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:27 PM

According to just about every black library novel I've read that has a normal person using a weapon made for the astartes they have a very difficult time handling the weapon because of the huge size differences. Most people's hands are going to be 4-5 inches across. An astartes would probably be 1.5-2x as big, plus the size of the armor. The grip difference between a normal human and an astartes in power armor is going to be pretty large, probably a grip of 2-2.5 times the size with equally larger trigger and pull pressure.

Three examples of it in stories that I can think of are I believe the second book of the soul drinkers series, the space marine battle book the purging of kadillus, and the latest grey knights book the emperors gift.

In the first one a soul drinker hands a bolt pistol to an inquistor to defend himself with and it's extremely unwieldy and requires both hands to even have a chance of aiming properly and hitting something. I don't remember the details of purging of kadillus but a dark angel gives a bolt pistol to a guardsman. The third is a deamon hunter inquistor who uses an astartes bolt gun with ease only because it has suspensors on it.

So in my opinion large penalties for using space marine sized weapons unaided are appropriate.



#8 Lynata

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:33 PM

It is one of the problems (or blessings, depending on one's preferences regarding consistency versus artistic license) of this franchise that many times, the various sources of background all have different opinions of how something works. From what I've heard, Black Library novels cannot even decide on whether Space Marines should be 7, 8 or 9 feet tall (which would surely affect the size of their equipment). In the end, this too is just a matter of interpretation. For my own vision of the setting, I tend to be more inclined to go with GW material rather than novels etc, and looking at Jes Goodwin's lifesize drawing … I do not actually see a massive disparity in hand sizes (looks like maybe x1.2 in armour?).

That being said, I suppose it would also depend a lot on the type of weapon being used! For example, the size of a gun grip could prove more problematic than the dimensions of a power sword's hilt. Even assuming notable differences in hand size, one could perhaps not hold the sword in a way that thumb and index finger of one hand could touch, but still achieve a steady grip when using both hands?

Likewise, the regiment itself (or rather its homeworld) could make a difference … see the physiology of Jopalli versus Catachans.

It all comes down to the players' perception of Space Marines, and the purpose of these weapons for the campaign. After all, it would be a bit strange to load up these weapons with so many penalties that they would be nigh-useless in combat, if their purpose is to act as some sort of lucky find / secret weapon to be wielded against an enemy previously thought too strong/dangerous. In this case, the GM needs to consider tailoring the world to suit his story, just like novel authors do - but preferably without damaging the immersion of his players!

IIRC, there aren't any penalties for Ratlings using weapons made for baseline humans - but there was something about humans using Ogryn stuff, right? Now, Ogryns are a step above even Marines in terms of bulk, but perhaps those penalties could be used for inspiration, too?


current 40k RPG character: Aura Vashaan, Astromancer Witch-Priestess
previous characters: Captain Elias (Celestial Lions Chapter -- debriefed), Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors -- KIA), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose -- assassinated), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader Artemisia -- retired), Taleera "Raven" Nephran (Hive Ganger & Inquisitorial Assassin -- mindwiped)

#9 Droma

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 04:06 PM

You're correct in that it comes down to personal perception but lets be perfectly honest most people want astartes weapons because it gives them a mechanical advantage. Fluff wise the damn things are holy relics and a guardsman would be too supersticous to even touch the thing for fear of offending it's machine spirit and inviting down the wrath of the ominsiah upon them.

From a straight mechanical perspective just use a damn autocannon or meltagun. It's all the overkill you really need.



#10 herichimo

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:05 PM

First off size: A basic weapon for Astartes would deffinately be a heavy for a human. Then there's the fact the guy's gotta try to aim a 40 lb rifle. A lasgun weighs around 8 lb so…

Then there's recoil: Well established (in books, WH40K rulebook background, and FFG rulebooks) an Astartes bolter would likely tear off the shoulder of a normal human. Bummer.

Then ther's the law: Owning, or even using, Astartes weaponry is a capital offense in the Imperium. Unless of course you're an Astartes. Better watch out for the commisar, Liutenant, arbrites, and other space marines. In fact just having a bolt round designed for an Astartes weapon (easily identified since they are twice the size of a human-use bolt round) is a capital offense in the Imperium. 

Then there's safety: Astartes bolters have gene-locks and are designed to sync with power armour. Trying to fire the weapon without the right genetic material sample being transmitted (or in contact) with the bolter results in things ranging from simply refusing to shoot, electrecuting the wielder, to exploding the weapon itself. Generally most who try to fire them wind up dying from the experience, but this may be for other reasons (see recoil).

Then there's religion: The Astartes bolter is a holy instrument of divine wrath to the Ecclisiarch, only to be used by the Emperor's angels of death. To the Mechanicum each is a hand made testament to the glory of the Omnisiah, specifically crafted to perfection and designed to bring death to the enemies of mankind. Neither is going to look kindly to them being used by those who shouldn't have them. The Mechanicum is especially unlikely to have a positive view on anyone trying to modify or alter such a perfect example of the divinity of the Machine God (and remember all your tech priests and enginseers are devoted followers of the Cult Mechanicum and the Omnisiah). (As for punishments, well this is the universe if you report an officer is being unfair or unjust towards you, you get flogged by the officer in question.)



#11 AtoMaki

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 10:53 PM

herichimo said:

First off size: A basic weapon for Astartes would deffinately be a heavy for a human. Then there's the fact the guy's gotta try to aim a 40 lb rifle. A lasgun weighs around 8 lb so…

Objection! Astartes weapons are only slightly heavier than their normal counterparts. Human Bolter weights 7kgs. Legion/Astartes Bolter weights 10kgs. The biggest difference is between the human Power Fist (13kgs) and the Legion/Astartes Power Fist (25kgs). 



#12 N0-1_H3r3

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:00 PM

herichimo said:

First off size: A basic weapon for Astartes would deffinately be a heavy for a human. Then there's the fact the guy's gotta try to aim a 40 lb rifle. A lasgun weighs around 8 lb so…

Size and weight are less of concerns in their own right than they are factors in balance - where the weight is distributed is more important than how much weight there actually is, because if effects handling and leverage. A Space Marine is more than strong enough to be able to lift a Multimelta one-handed with no difficulty… but he still wields it in both hands, because lifting and wielding are more than a linear comparison of raw strength and object mass. Afterall, a large-but-lightweight object is often more awkward to move around than a small, heavy one, particularly if the weight is not evenly distributed in the large object.

The sword of a Space Marine will be heavier and longer than the equivalent weapon of a human, yes, but the placement of that weight along that length is what makes it awkward for a smaller man with a smaller grip and weaker wrists to wield. An Astartes Bolter can be wielded by a human being… but unless he is of prodigious strength (Black Crusade removes some of the penalties for wielding Legion weapons for SB6+ characters - I can't be more accurate, as I don't have my BC book to hand), the distribution of mass, the way it responds to recoil forces, and the simple strain of holding something heavy and which is ill-suited to human hands for a protracted period, and it all gets inconventient quickly, and thus it won't be as effective as if one of the Emperor's Finest were wielding it.


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#13 Lynata

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 04:55 AM

herichimo said:

Then there's recoil: Well established (in books, WH40K rulebook background, and FFG rulebooks) an Astartes bolter would likely tear off the shoulder of a normal human. Bummer.

Well, I would say it is not "well established" just because a handful outsourced books propagate this. Let's face it, 40k is not one singular setting, and I could counter the impression of recoil by pointing towards GW's own books (Codex fluff as well as the Inquisitor rulebook), as well as pointing out the relation between low initial velocity + heavy gun weight.

Law and religious superstition are much better arguments, however. Given how Space Marines seem to be held by the general population, I could well imagine the average Guardsman (if there is such a thing) not feeling well about touching one such relic, especially if it has lain dormant in the tomb of some great hero for possibly hundreds or thousands of years. On the other hand, in the midst of a crisis, I think some types of characters could be pushed far enough as to "violate" the sanctity of the place in this way, with the pure intent of using these armaments to fight the filth that dared invade one of the Emperor's worlds. Whether or not his superiors, the Inquisition and/or the Chapter the Marine was a member of agree with the individual trooper's assessment is another story, of course. ;)

The safety is a good point as well, although here I would not be sure if any and all patterns of the gun would actually have it. This is something where the story could come first, just like in various novels.

Another possibility would be to have just some of these weapons from the tomb work, of course. The Guardsmen could find out that they don't get the bolter to fire, for example, but the power sword might still work nicely!

 

AtoMaki said:

Objection! Astartes weapons are only slightly heavier than their normal counterparts. Human Bolter weights 7kgs. Legion/Astartes Bolter weights 10kgs. The biggest difference is between the human Power Fist (13kgs) and the Legion/Astartes Power Fist (25kgs).

It seems the weight of these weapons seems to jump up and down depending on the game one is looking at (it was a whopping 18 kg in Deathwatch!), just like the penalties for using one as a normal human, or what damage they do. In GW's Inquisitor, all bolters were the same and had a weight level of 40 (which meant that a character below Strength 40, well beyond of what average human characters would start with there, would suffer a BS penalty).

Ultimately, there's no reason not to tinker with these weapons - provided the end result is something all players in the group feel comfortable with. Just like GW Codex X or Black Library novel Y, FFG is not the sole authority on Wh40k when it comes to detail, and you as the player have just as much creative control over your interpretation of the setting as whoever writes the many contradictory books one can read.

In the end, regardless how you turn it, an Astartes bolter is less bulky and fires less large ammunition at a much lesser rate of fire than a heavy bolter used by normal people - even within the RAW of FFG's games! Make of that what you will. ;)


current 40k RPG character: Aura Vashaan, Astromancer Witch-Priestess
previous characters: Captain Elias (Celestial Lions Chapter -- debriefed), Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors -- KIA), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose -- assassinated), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader Artemisia -- retired), Taleera "Raven" Nephran (Hive Ganger & Inquisitorial Assassin -- mindwiped)

#14 Kasatka

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 03:09 AM

Without a doubt all Astartes grade wargear is illegal for non-Astartes to own with an almost infinitessimally small group of exceptions. 
Most notably of these are usually cases where a mortal hero of the Imperium (a general or inquisitor etc) has aided a group of Astartes in their mission and earnt their respect, and one of the Astartes gifts a blade or bolt pistol. Such weapons are unlikely to be used by the recipient and instead become heirloom for generations to come, grating their dynasty great respect amongst their peers.

From a game point of view if you absolutely must have the players get astartes items then look at it this way -

An astartes combat knife will be a best crafstmanship mono-sword for a human.

An astartes bolt pistol will be a best craftsmanship boltgun for a human (the sheer size and power of it requiring two hands to use, but still only have the smaller clip size of the pistol over a regular bolter).

Astartes grade ammunition simply isn't compatible with non-astartes weaponry, so that's out the window.

Possibility of a purity seal, devotional scroll or some other trinket of the Astartes faith and duty would be an excellent gift to a human and could grant any number of situational bonuses, but at the very least a bonus when interacting with Astartes and those within the Imperium that acknowledge the Astartes.


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#15 Lord Kruge

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:29 AM

Good to know you can still count on the SOB fans to get a swing in at any mention of Astartes-sized gear.  Some things shouldn't change, they're too entertaining.

 

Someone start an armor thread so we can hear about how since SOB armor is smaller then Astartes (according to art) but delivers equivalent protection (according to wargame) that in the RPG, it means SOB's actually have higher technology gear.  That one was always fun.



#16 AtoMaki

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:33 AM

Lord Kruge said:

Someone start an armor thread so we can hear about how since SOB armor is smaller then Astartes (according to art) but delivers equivalent protection (according to wargame) that in the RPG, it means SOB's actually have higher technology gear.  That one was always fun.

Uhm… But normal human PA do offer the same protection as Astartes PA in the FFG games too D:… So what do I miss here?



#17 Lord Kruge

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:48 AM

DH PA is 8 all around, DW Astartes armor is 10 Body, 8 everywhere IIRC, so don't think it's the same, unless they errata'd but that's not what I was referring to.

I was just referring to the crazy SOB vs. SM equipment arguments that went on back in the day.  What I posted up there was an actual argument tossed out once.






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