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peterstepon

Assassins, Sisters of Battle, and Deathwatch Space Marines

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You should port them to 2nd edition if you find the time.

 

Perhaps I will! I admit the thought occurred to me lately, too...

 

In the past, I also thought about writing a unified ruleset for all characters, or an Only War-supplement for Sororitas campaigns, but I think I would bite off more than I can chew with those ideas. An alternate "add-in" rule for Acts of Faith, on the other hand, should not be longer than, say, 2-4 pages. Much more doable, even with my erratic bursts of enthusiasm in-between periods of laziness, and the limited spare time I have at my disposal.

 

As for Inquisitorial investigation, sounds like a Sororitas ran investigation that has the capability of drawing the ire of the ordo hereticus for any hiding and covering up of evidence.

 

Hah, now it really sounds like the start of the Daemonifuge graphic novel!

warhammer_monthly_daemonifuge_gn_%2528wa

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I see the Sister's miracles of Faith as a combination of being able to draw on the faith of trillions in the Warp and empowered by the Emperor; Fate points are, according to the mechanics, the Emperor's favor on select and chosen agents, so those with the greatest faith gain his attention and can use that Faith for more concrete purposes than "simply" being lucky.

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Faith isn't the same thing as Fate, a sister believing in certain things with no real evidence or people seeing things a sister can do even though they shouldn't be able to isn't the same thing as say getting lucky and dodging a bullet. I really think they should've made a separate point value for the faith powers now that I think about it.

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Me too, but only because it seems weird to me that you'd have to sacrifice bonuses available to everyone just to use your semi-unique class ability.

 

An argument could indeed be made that Fate isn't just "getting lucky" either. Just like Acts of Faith in FFG's books are, in contrast to their representation in GW's own material, decidedly supernatural, the same seems to apply to some usages of Fate Points as well, such as instantly recovering Wounds.

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Indeed. Fate points are as often "second wind" or "determination" as "divine intervention" - it's not like a triumph in Star Wars where you randomly get a deus ex machina appear.

 

Especially note that In DH2.0, most generic character roles have a fate-point fuelled ability now that can be described as "your general area of awesomness":

 

  • Dedicated Healer (Chirurgeon), None Shall Escape My Sight (Seeker) and Sway The Masses (Hierophant) can spend fate points to auto-pass tests of their 'core skill' (Medicae, Awareness/Inquiry and Charm/Command respectively) a couple of times a session. Sages have a similar rule for logic but I can't remember what it's called.
  • Warriors have Expert At Violence, which allows them to up the degrees of success of a hit by spending a fate point (good for automatic weapons), whilst Assassins have Sure Kill, which adds extra damage to a single hit.

Equally, there are several talents which are fate-point activated. I know Killing Strike from Deathwatch was triggered by spending a Fate Point.

 

I'm fine with Pure Faith giving you extra things to spend your points on, rather than giving you free extras. Black Crusade did the same by shifting the effects of spending infamy points as you aligned to the various gods.

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I'm fine with Pure Faith giving you extra things to spend your points on, rather than giving you free extras. Black Crusade did the same by shifting the effects of spending infamy points as you aligned to the various gods.

 

It's a matter of preferences, of course. It being an alternative way of spending Fate is in line with the rather powerful effects, but personally I'd rather have more opportunities of attempting to trigger smaller powers.

 

I wouldn't see either the additional power of the RAW AoF, nor my alternate model as "free extras", considering that they (ought to) come with notable limitations of how free the player is in roleplaying their character, and adapting them to the situation at hand.

Although I'd say the Inquisitor's Handbook did a better job than BoM here as well, given the mechanical penalties for social interaction.

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The Emperor's goal was always to advance humanity to the status of a fully psychic species.  I choose to believe that the Imperial Creed is working to this goal, unknown to its adherents.  So while they may wish to burn all witches and heretics, the Sororitas' own faith is channelling such 'devilry' itself, as He intended.  Grimdark indeed!

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The Emperor's goal was always to advance humanity to the status of a fully psychic species.

 

If that isn't heresy I don't know what is.

 

 

It was always the Emperor's goal to become a chaos god and marry Slaanesh.* :)

 

 

Well he should thank her/him/it- It was Slaanesh birth scream that blew away the warpstorms that cut off the sol sythem from the rest of the galaxy, allowing the Emperor's crusade to begin.

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I’m inclined to agree with Lynata that “faith powers” ought to stem from a mundane source: strength of conviction, monastic training or extraordinary force of will.

 

Having said that, I can also imagine ‘flashier’ powers that have more supernatural effects, if these are explained as psychic effects. After all, if Mankind’s fears and passions can give birth to Daemons and such, it wouldn’t be so strange to assume that they could, more or less unconsciously,  also generate more beneficial effects in the pious. However, these powers should then be subject to the psychic power rules (ie an Untouchable could nullify them, etc) and it just doesn’t sit well with the fluff to have so many (unknowing) psychic users in the Ministorum.  

 

But how would you explain Holy or Blessed weapons? Can’t recall the exact name, but isn’t there a weapon quality that has a very real effects on Daemons (like ignoring their Daemonic trait bonus or something)?

Would this be purely the result of psy-engineering, like a force weapon? Thus making the Psykana the major source of holy weapons?

Or would it be purely the faith of the wielder that his weapon is holy, which is enough to convince a daemon since they are themselves products of emotions/nightmare/belief? Which would make the Ecclesiarchy the major repository of holy weaponry?

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The Deathwatch marine is pretty bada$$.  I compare him to an Eldar Guardian.

 

Firing a bolt pistol and shooting at a Guardian, the first shot will hurt the Eldar badly, the second one will have the Eldar burst into a fine bloody mist of gore and visceria.

 

If the Eldar tries to return fire, he will only do damage if he roles a "0" with his Shuriken cannon, and it will be 1 point plus any critical damage he does with Righteous Fury.  It will take about 20+ such hits to kill the marine.

Yes, Space Marines can still stand up to hordes of Xenos and come out victorious.

 

The stats for the Space Marines seem similar to Deathwatch, but the Guardian weapon seems weaker.  

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I slimmed down the Sororitas powers to those that inspire others. Since most are unquestioningly devout in their beliefs, others would unquestioningly believe Sororitas really have at least some mystical powers bestowed upon them by the Emperor. When they tell a soldier to hold the line or shrug off wounds, the soldier will make it happen. Its kind of like taking a placebo and being under the impression its really a medicine. Moral, fear, insanity, etc are all in people's minds. Sororitas powers in my game impact ailments of the mind.

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The Deathwatch marine is pretty bada$$.  I compare him to an Eldar Guardian.

 

Firing a bolt pistol and shooting at a Guardian, the first shot will hurt the Eldar badly, the second one will have the Eldar burst into a fine bloody mist of gore and visceria.

 

If the Eldar tries to return fire, he will only do damage if he roles a "0" with his Shuriken cannon, and it will be 1 point plus any critical damage he does with Righteous Fury.  It will take about 20+ such hits to kill the marine.

Yes, Space Marines can still stand up to hordes of Xenos and come out victorious.

 

The stats for the Space Marines seem similar to Deathwatch, but the Guardian weapon seems weaker.  

 

I thought Righteous Fury only triggered for those with fate points.

 

I slimmed down the Sororitas powers to those that inspire others. Since most are unquestioningly devout in their beliefs, others would unquestioningly believe Sororitas really have at least some mystical powers bestowed upon them by the Emperor. When they tell a soldier to hold the line or shrug off wounds, the soldier will make it happen. Its kind of like taking a placebo and being under the impression its really a medicine. Moral, fear, insanity, etc are all in people's minds. Sororitas powers in my game impact ailments of the mind.

 

That sounds much more reasonable than anything else.

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Having said that, I can also imagine ‘flashier’ powers that have more supernatural effects, if these are explained as psychic effects. After all, if Mankind’s fears and passions can give birth to Daemons and such, it wouldn’t be so strange to assume that they could, more or less unconsciously,  also generate more beneficial effects in the pious. However, these powers should then be subject to the psychic power rules (ie an Untouchable could nullify them, etc) and it just doesn’t sit well with the fluff to have so many (unknowing) psychic users in the Ministorum.  

 

Yep - whilst this would be an absolutely reasonable explanation by itself, it's just not how those powers are applied in practice.

 

Not to mention the personal "expectation bias" of some players who might be used to GW's own material that directly stated that it's not psychic powers (though they also say AoF only "seem miraculous to the unschooled"), and that no-one in the Ministorum has psychic abilities.

 

But how would you explain Holy or Blessed weapons? Can’t recall the exact name, but isn’t there a weapon quality that has a very real effects on Daemons (like ignoring their Daemonic trait bonus or something)?

Would this be purely the result of psy-engineering, like a force weapon? Thus making the Psykana the major source of holy weapons?

Or would it be purely the faith of the wielder that his weapon is holy, which is enough to convince a daemon since they are themselves products of emotions/nightmare/belief? Which would make the Ecclesiarchy the major repository of holy weaponry?

 

My own interpretation is following the latter theory. If the Warp and its creatures are products of thought and emotion emanating from all living, sentient creatures and not just psykers, this means that everyone has a direct link to the Immaterium. It just so happens that the psyker gene gives a minority the ability to directly and consciously shape these energies, whereas other people are merely subconsciously "feeding" into the Warp. But if so, what if a sufficiently strong/convicted mind is feeding active, deepest rejection for all that a daemon stands for? Not fear, which would only empower the daemon further, but defiance? Could this perhaps have some sort of "destabilising" effect? Is the act of "banishing" a daemon with physical combat perhaps just a reflection of the mind's struggle, and a tool to attain the necessary state of mind to dispel this ravenous collection of thought and emotion given form and shape?

 

"The character may spend actions preaching the word of the Emperor, filled with fiery zeal and dedication. Any enemy character within earshot must pass a Nerve test or spend their next successful action recovering from their nervousness. Daemonic creatures which hear the Word of the Emperor must pass a Willpower check or they are stunned for D3 turns."
-- GW Inquisitor: Exotic Abilities, Acts of Faith, Word of the Emperor
 
Though it's probably worth pointing out that the holy weapons in GW's games are generally less impressive than their counterparts in BI's/FFG's. For example, the Blade of Saint Joachim as wielded by Sister Anastasia in Inquisitor just confers a Parry bonus against anyone affiliated with the forces of Chaos. Likewise, there is no guarantee that the Blade of Admonition truly gives the wielder the ability to ascertain the thoughts of another person just because this is what it says in the legend. Wouldn't it be far more grimdark - and thus fitting for the setting - if innocent people were condemned just because the wielder of this weapon was so **** sure of their judgement?
 
This is not removing the possibility that some ancient holy weapons may in fact be psy-weapons, though, without anyone knowing. ;)
Edited by Lynata

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Just out of curiosity: Why would references to Inquisitor not be relevant? It is no less relevant then say, checking starship information in Rogue Trader against that found in Battlefleet Gothic. They may be earlier versions of GW's gameset but they are none the less 'Canon' (As much as anything is in 40k!). It may be somewhat retconned now but that doesn't make it irrelevant!

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But how would you explain Holy or Blessed weapons? Can’t recall the exact name, but isn’t there a weapon quality that has a very real effects on Daemons (like ignoring their Daemonic trait bonus or something)?

Would this be purely the result of psy-engineering, like a force weapon? Thus making the Psykana the major source of holy weapons?

Or would it be purely the faith of the wielder that his weapon is holy, which is enough to convince a daemon since they are themselves products of emotions/nightmare/belief? Which would make the Ecclesiarchy the major repository of holy weaponry?

 

I think it's a fair assumption that such things could still be powered by the warp, and created through the faith in such things that the untold billions of humanity possesses. Especially if we remember that the Emperor isn't entirely idle/tied up with battling daemons for eternity.

 

Sororitas are supreme ascetics and devotees to the Imperial Creed, moreso than perhaps any other branch of the Imperium (it's why they and probably the Grey Knights are the only groups able to claim none of their members have ever fallen to Chaos). Becoming a focus for the growing warp presence generated by the faith of most of their species doesn't seem such a radical idea. Anymore than an object being imbued with such powers. I don't think any random priest could bless something, even temporarily unless they were unusually pious. But if you go to a Cardinal World, and get something blessed during high mass on a holy day? Yeah, I think that might help if you plan to hit daemons in the face. Frankly, it's something you should do anyway, if you're playing a character who is devout.

 

And the line of reasoning that it can't possibly be a 'faith' powered effect (still channeling the warp) can also lead to us labeling every Imperial Saint who ever performed a miracle as a rogue psyker. Which includes such notables as Sebastian Thor, who I imagine received lots of scrutiny from the Inquisition.

 

But I think a psyker, properly trained and possessing the right mindset, could probably generate a 'blessed' effect with their power. Much like some daemons are specifically anti-daemon. A psyker wielding anti-warp powers isn't so strange (using them against other things from the warp is a big part of why the Imperium tolerates them, while chaos psykers have other means of hurting daemons).

 

 

And hell... no one bats an eye when we talk about the Orks super-charging everything they do with their gestalt psychic field.

 

 

(also, let's not go breaking ceasefires here... I have no desire to go back to the rather venomous arguments of old that could erupt because of differences in headcanon, and.. 'debates' about which of it wasn't just headcanon)

Edited by Blood Pact

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But how would you explain Holy or Blessed weapons? Can’t recall the exact name, but isn’t there a weapon quality that has a very real effects on Daemons (like ignoring their Daemonic trait bonus or something)?

Would this be purely the result of psy-engineering, like a force weapon? Thus making the Psykana the major source of holy weapons?

Or would it be purely the faith of the wielder that his weapon is holy, which is enough to convince a daemon since they are themselves products of emotions/nightmare/belief? Which would make the Ecclesiarchy the major repository of holy weaponry?

 

The emperor is anathema to chaos and it is said in some versions of the lore that saints are ordinary people who are being infused with energy from of the emperor. This line of thought could be extended to holy weapons (just on a much smaller scale), and hence given the emperor being anathema to chaos it is not so weird that it is exactly chaos that is affected by this.

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I haven't played it, but isn't Inquisitor notorious for its horrifically overpowered Space Marines that can do more damage by throwing a bolt pistol than by shooting it? Or is that just Internet babble?

 

No, that is correct - this is not a fault of Inquisitor's Space Marine profile (which I think nicely represents their post-humanity), but poor scaling for throwing damage which ignores a character's Strength before 50 and just gives a +1 damage bonus for every 10 points over this threshold. Needless to say, that gets a bit weird when you consider that Astartes in Inquisitor have about 200 Strength, meaning a flat +15 bonus on anything they throw.

 

Bolt Pistol (shot): 2d10+4 (6-24)

Bolt Pistol (thrown as Improvised Weapon): 1d3+3 +15 (19-21)

 

Although it should be said that the thrown pistol "just" has a (vastly) increased minimum damage, and can obviously be thrown only once, whereas the weapon has 12 shots in its magazine. Not to mention special ammunition which may add further damage. Not too much of a gamebreaker, and it could even make for nice cinematic moments where a Marine character empties his gun, then finishes off an enemy by throwing it. Unless your group has munchkins exploiting this by intentionally carrying a dozen guns only to throw them, I'd say it's not even much of a problem.

 

I suppose if one wanted to houserule it, it'd be easy to "gate" throwing damage by making it so that only every, say, 30 points past the threshold give you +1 damage, which would mean +0 or +1 to most humans (barring bionics) but +4 or +5 for most Marines.

 

Dark Heresy actually used to have the same problem, considering that the NPC Marine in PtU used a bolter that reflected the standard profile. FFG's solution was to give all Astartes a +25% damage bonus to their guns, breaking with GW codex fluff in order to eliminate this problem. Whether this is a better solution is arguably a matter of preferences regarding both the background as well as gameplay balance in mixed groups.

 

 

The only other instance I'm aware of where a Marine's profile breaks the basic mechanics in Inquisitor is the "breather" where you can roll for regeneration of wounds, and where a Marine's Toughness of 150 has him pass those tests by default and restores an amount of health I'd consider a wee bit too much.

 

Inquisitor's injury mechanics (Toughness never makes you immune from damage, it just determines how bad your injuries get) mean that Space Marines there are a lot more at risk of getting overwhelmed even by individual las rounds though. "Death by a thousand cuts" if you will. A much better representation of the tabletop and the original fluff than having to rely on magical damage bonuses from reality-bending Horde rules imo. They are tanks and melee monsters there, but do not dominate ranged combat, leaving room for other character types to outshine them in certain situations.

Edited by Lynata

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Great, now i have an immage of space marine with two large bags full of rocks, broken bricks and small pieces of rubble, grabbing a handfull and throwing stones at his enemies! I mean, why use guns when you can throw rocks for the same damage, right?

 

He who is my angel of death shall cast the first stone -Lectatio Divinatus

 

Do not underestimate the humble rock. tough a bolter kills just asuredly one cannot run out of ammo, if that ammo is a ruined hive city. -  Codex Astartes

 

"Nothing beats rock". - Malcador the Sigilite

 

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” - Albert Einstein.

 

Einstein was right!  Einstein was right!

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I like the pet theory that Imperial saints are a reflection of all the terrible things that spill forth from the warp. And every miracle has a dark reflection in the form of some demonic infestation or possession somewhere else in the galaxy. Only the most eccentric Thorians and Ardentites would ever dream this is the case, of course. And actually saying this out loud constitutes the worst imaginable heresy.

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I haven't played it, but isn't Inquisitor notorious for its horrifically overpowered Space Marines that can do more damage by throwing a bolt pistol than by shooting it? Or is that just Internet babble?

 

No, that is correct - this is not a fault of Inquisitor's Space Marine profile (which I think nicely represents their post-humanity), but poor scaling for throwing damage which ignores a character's Strength before 50 and just gives a +1 damage bonus for every 10 points over this threshold. Needless to say, that gets a bit weird when you consider that Astartes in Inquisitor have about 200 Strength, meaning a flat +15 bonus on anything they throw.

 

Bolt Pistol (shot): 2d10+4 (6-24)

Bolt Pistol (thrown as Improvised Weapon): 1d3+3 +15 (19-21)

It doesn't help that Inquisitor's damage system was screwed up in numerous other ways. Amongst other things, damage scaling for 80% of the weapons in the book was completely piteous (a Lascannon rolling maximum damage can't kill an unarmoured human; an average damage hit doesn't even incapacitate them), and the damage system was far more lethal with "death by a dozen cuts" than with individual massive strikes.

Inquisitor, as a paragon of mechanical integrity, doesn't hold up to scrutiny. I spent years working with it, resulting in more headaches than evocative mechanical outcomes.

 

Dark Heresy actually used to have the same problem, considering that the NPC Marine in PtU used a bolter that reflected the standard profile. FFG's solution was to give all Astartes a +25% damage bonus to their guns, breaking with GW codex fluff in order to eliminate this problem. Whether this is a better solution is arguably a matter of preferences regarding both the background as well as gameplay balance in mixed groups.

Incorrect on a couple of points.

The bolter went through three iterations in DH1.

The original was a simple 1d10+5 for everyone. The second form was 2d10+5. The third was 1d10+5 with Tearing.

The Deathwatch marine in Purge the Unclean had none of those. His bolt pistol dealt 2d10 damage from the first playtest version. It was intended from back when Black Industries (a division of Black Library and subsidiary of the Games Workshop Group) for the Astartes to wield weapons of a distinct standard and quality to those of 'mortals'. The idea of 'Astartes' bolt weaponry being different from everyone else's appears in several Black Library sources as well, so it's not exactly an FFG-only thing. Indeed, the bolter wielded by the Inquisitor-scale Space Marine model is bigger in every sense than every other bolter in the range - longer, wider, thicker, a bigger muzzle.

All that aside, GW approved it. From practical experience, there are plenty of things that GW won't allow, so the fundamental decision to distinguish Astartes bolters from mortal ones is an instance of the setting evolving, rather than an aberrant deviation from some idealised norm.

 

Inquisitor's injury mechanics (Toughness never makes you immune from damage, it just determines how bad your injuries get) mean that Space Marines there are a lot more at risk of getting overwhelmed even by individual las rounds though. "Death by a thousand cuts" if you will. A much better representation of the tabletop and the original fluff than having to rely on magical damage bonuses from reality-bending Horde rules imo. They are tanks and melee monsters there, but do not dominate ranged combat, leaving room for other character types to outshine them in certain situations.

Have you ever seen them in practice? A lone Space Marine is only outdone in terms of ridiculous power by Eldar and Genestealers (and those because they tend to have >100 Initiative, which breaks the game more than any other stat can hope to).

It's swingy - lasgun bolts can only pierce the marine's armour once in every twelve hits (for 1-2 damage each), but four of those hits will blow his brains out, in spite of the fact that you'd need sixteen damage in one hit to reach the second injury level. There's too much gap between what one hit can achieve and what many hits achieve, no ability for Astartes to "withstand wounds that would slay a mortal man" - they'll fall to the same four minor scalp wounds that anyone else does. Only where single wounds are concerned are they tougher, and the system handles single wounds really badly.

But you don't land those multiple hits, and you'll never bring down a Space Marine. You won't get past the battle plate.

Deathwatch basically did the same thing - a few lucky hits (righteous fury) will fell a Space Marine. What it also did was abstract a large group of foes into a single group, so that a kill-team could face down armies (a desirable concept) without spending four hours resolving a single turn (an undesirable outcome), and part of that is abstracting many attackers' damage (and their chance of righteous fury) into a single larger quantity of damage.

Inquisitor was messy - the mechanics had numerous undesirable emergent properties, and required far more effort to make a functional game out of the rules than is reasonable. Deathwatch as a game - while far from perfect - achieved many similar effects in a far cleaner way than Inquisitor did, in my professional opinion. Astartes weapon damage is a tangential matter, only partially related - part of it is a logical progression of having a weapon designed for someone bigger and stronger than a human (a Space Marine's sword is bigger and heavier than a human's).

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