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ilkazar

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  1. ilkazar

    Aptitudes chosen freely

    The issue of possible imbalance raises the question (for me) as to whether character concepts in general, and the choice of one's aptitudes in particular, are discussed openly among players. Assuming that role-playing was about an arms race between the GM and his or her players, or even among the players themselves, then these players would be well advised to reveal as little as possible about their actual potential to their respective counterpart, thus gaining what could be called the advantage of surprise. If, on the other hand, players discussed their preferences openly, probing whether their intended character concept and character's strenghts would fit in with the ideas of the rest of the group, any objections and discordances that might occur later could be ruled out right from the start. In essence, can mechanical imbalance be tolerated so long as everyone around the table is happy? This question may sound provocative at first glance. Then again, there are psykers around, as well as sages.
  2. Even with so many possible combinations of Home Worlds, Backgrounds and Roles available, 2nd edition's aptitude system leans towards certain stereotypical character facets within the respective range of choice. This is perfectly alright for novice players who need to be shepherded along the path of character creation. However, experienced players might feel restricted that way, being confined to the aforementioned stereotypical modules they can choose from. I'm wondering whether it would be a feasible option from a gamist, that is, a purely mechanical point of view, to let a player choose his or her character's aptitudes freely at character creation. The reason why I emphasize mechanics, and thus game balancing, is that my only premise for any given combination of aptitudes would be an appropriate narrative reasoning. Quite clearly, narrative material cannot be formalized or correlated from character to character, which is why narrativism and gamism rarely get along with one another. For example, with narrative being the cause, and mechanics being the effect, a player picks Strength, Toughness and Weapon Skill, describing »My character comes from a Feral World where physical prowess and bravery (S, T) is valued higher than anything else. He was the champion of the clan, chosen by skill and dedication (WS) rather than birthright.« He then chooses Offense, Leadership and Fieldcraft, declaring »I now proudly serve the Emperor with the mighty blade given to me, crushing his enemies (Offense) without hesitation. I inspire those who serve beside me, but who lack my courage and dedication (Leadership). My previous knowledge of turning the battlefield against the enemy (Fieldcraft) serves me well when I lay siege to the heretics' foul nests.« While this protagonist clearly visualizes the stereotypical Feral World Warrior, Feral Worlders are certainly not restricted to mindless brutes. Bards, skalds and swamp hags might favor Fellowship, Intelligence and Willpower, respectively, without counting as Voidborns or Hive Worlders. On the other hand, not all Highborns shine in mannerism and con games, but might be sloppy, unkempt or brute. If the origin of a character could serve as a narrative plot device to describe his or her abilities, Home Worlds, Backgrounds and Roles would flavor the career path of characters rather than serving as modular components that are chosen to acquire certain abilities. When I suggest freedom of choice at character creation, I'm usually frowned upon and told that players might exploit and abuse that freedom. If this is true, would that kind of exploitation be acceptable for all participants, if only players ended up with the characters they wanted to play? Would I be overlooking something regarding game mechanics or balancing? Would that style of play, that possibility of choice ruin the vision of blinkered protagonists in an universe without hope for lasting progress?
  3. ilkazar

    Player knowledge vs. PC knowledge

    Quite often, this issue is part of a much larger problem: a lack of abstraction on the part of a player. This attitude seems to stem from the predominant mind set of the western world, preaching from an early age on that knowledge (as well as creativity, for that matter) is power, and that to remain silent about an unanswered question results in one's counterpart's implying a lack of knowledge on one's part, thusly marking the victim as stupid and weak. Few people enjoy this role, even while gaming. An in-game solution to fall back to might be to rely entirely on the numerics on the character sheet. Thus, if a character wishes to make a knowledgable statement about the matter at hand, the alter ego requires an appropriate skill. Success indicates that the player may make his statement, the level/margin of success indicating the depth of the cognition as usual. The skill descriptions in the rule book specify which skills can be used as Basic skills, that is, untrained. The conversation might unfold as follows: GM: »You'd like to make a statement about the Horus Heresy? Give me roll on Scholastic Lore (Legend), please. You don't have that? Well, give me an Ordinary roll on Common Lore (Imperial Creed), or, alternatively, an Ordinary roll on half your character's Fellowship to determine your wits. You really made that one? Phew! You shut up before you could fall into a meaningless litany of jabbering that would most probably result in your making a fool of yourself, right in front of your Inquisitor.« Some players, being introverted and low-key, actually prefer to roll dice on social skills too. That's what Charm/Command/Deceit are about. Then again, other players prefer to play a part in the game more literally, and the quality of their performance may or may not influence the final roll, if dice are involved at all. I, for one, prefer to turn statements into questions, resulting in tentative questions like »Would I, by any chance, have an idea about this topic? You know my background in this field.« … which works particularly well in combination with a GM who knows one's personal knowledge, as well as the approximate numbers on one's character sheet.
  4. An additional usage listed in the Inquisitor's Handbook is that of the "enigma", a roll that may be performed once per game session (though at –30) to conjure up some sort of insight into a selected topic. Moreover, Logic serves as a supportive skill for some intellect-related skills, such as Scholasic Lore (Cryptography) and Cipher, and as such grants the usual +10 bonus to the latter.
  5. ilkazar

    Alien Ruins in the Calixis Sector

    Right on Scintilla, there's the ruins of (former) Hive Tenebra (Core Rules, p. 299). It's not officially rated as Alien (then again, what is?), but the cause that lead to its destruction might be of non-human nature. The book is explicitly unspecific about the details. Similarly, it is hinted that Ambulon predates Imperial settlement (Core Rules, p. 296). The book employs the terms »artefact« and »civilization that fell before the foundation of the Imperium«, which both could be interpreted as »xenos«. However, Ambulon, although ancient, is not ruined. In fact, it's a hive crowded with life. There's more of its kind, ruined and decayed, dotted along the steppes of Scintilla. A visionary GM might see a connection between Ambulon, its siblings, xenos origins, and even the Tyrant Star.
  6. ilkazar

    Mechanicus and Psykers

    Background-wise, it would be interesting to know how deeply the new convert is supposed to be integrated into the Cult Mechanicus. A fervent supporter or mundane cult member, such as the ones recruited from the labor forces of the forge worlds, is certainly different from a full-fledged Priest or Adeptus Mechanicus. The canonical novels support this diversity by introducing characters that work for or are associated with the Mechanicum, but are not (and probably never will be) esteemed members in their own right. Rules-wise, the core rules offer several skills that support distinguishing a layman from a real tech-priest. Common Lore (Tech) vs. Tech-Use comes to mind, as does Common Lore (Cult Mechanicus) vs. Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus). If such advances are taken as elite advances with the typical 200+ XP cost they turn out to be slightly more expensive than what the ordinary Tech-Priest pays for them. An important point might be to become clear about the actual career path of the character. If I recall correctly, the basic careers described in the core rulebook cannot be combined arbitrarily. I would argue that cybernetics in general do not pose a serious problem for a psyker, but fundamental implants, such as a potentia coil or cyber mantle, might. A patient probably cannot undergo such a profund surgery and stay the same in body, mind and soul, much as a space marine will not be the same after the installation of his gene seed. I see the greatest and most fundamental problem pertaining to the mind sets of psykers vs. tech-priests. Although both certainly pursue a rigid way of thinking, psykers serve the Emporer, while tech-priests regard the latter through the lens of logic and call him Omnissiah. Both entities are worshipped as gods who may or may not turn out to be the same thing in the end, but as soon as the psyker starts reciting the 16 commandments of the Omnissiah with cold logic, he might be removed farther from the former incarnation of the Emporer, who, in turn, is adored by his followers by the means of passion, love and strong emotion — effectively anathema to the mind set of a tech-priest. He might even cease counting as a Sanctioned psyker in the process, and become a regular psyker, which of course is not what the Inquisition would approve of.
  7. I recently remade a low-powered 1st edition character with 1,500 XP. As far as the final characteristics were concerned, the resulting successor roughly resembled its respective counterpart. Skills, talents and traits looked considerably different, though. I effectively re-created the 2nd edition character with the previously taken advances in mind, and tried to pick equivalents that provided similar mechanics. The combination of the previous origin and character package had to be reworked into respective home world/background/role-equivalents. Although the number of skills in 2nd edition has been reduced, which seems to lead to a lesser amount of XP being spent on skill advances at first glance, I expect long-term character advances in 2nd edition to be more expensive, even with one’s aptitudes being chosen carefully. The advancement schemes of most careers in 1st edition offered a large amount of 100 XP core skills and talents. The 200 XP variants usually signified considerable power, and 300 XP equivalents usually yielded outstanding power. In 2nd edition, on the other hand, 200 XP represents the entry fee for the average one-aptitude skill. Subsequent skill advances and high-tier talents have increasing costs, respectively, that should be taken into account. Whereas each 1st edition career had three assigned characteristics that could be bought fairly cheaply, not all equivalent character concepts will benefit from three discounted characteristics in 2nd edition. Discounted WP, for one, will effectively be barred from anyone without the Psyker aptitude, so equivalents of Adepts, Clerics and Tech-Priests will pay considerably more for their WP advances in 2nd edition, especially in the higher range. However, this is just a quantitative valuation, and higher expenses might be accounted for by the higher XP earnings. The aptitude system of 2nd edition certainly allows for a much larger variety of nuances compared to the 1st edition advancement schemes that relied on career changes and elite advances for personal fine-tuning. All things considered, I don’t see how the conversion process in its entirety could be nailed down canonically, let alone automated or formalised.
  8. ilkazar

    PC Sheet in Support

    There's a customised variant over there for as little as 25 KB. Rather simple compared to the magnificent artwork provided by FFG, but considerably less hungry for toner and ink.
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