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Generalissimo

What exactly constitutes an unaware target?

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First time Deathwatch player and I've been playing a stealth based character in a game that a friend is running. Wolf scout wearing scout armor and just overall focusing on getting my concealment as high as possible while also using stalker rounds and the right pattern pistol to make my shots impossible to hear. While we're still low levels and it hasn't come into play much yet, at the end of our last session when I was considering how to spend some newly gained xp we started debating on when exactly I would be getting the +30 vs unaware targets.

 

Most of the games I'm used to when it comes to questions like this is a simple matter of checking to see if their perception/spot/notice/what-have-you beats your attempt at sneaking. If not then for the most part they'd be vulnerable to your sneak attack or in this case count as unaware. However, for this game my Game Master is of the opinion that once they know they are under attack, even if they don't have a clue who or what or from where it is coming from then they are no longer aware. As it stands if I wanted to say try and sneak around during a firefight between some enemies and my squad to try and catch a few of them off guard then I wouldn't get the +30 after the first attack, if the enemies heard the IMPACT of my shot, or saw one of their comrades go down as a result of my stealthy flanking. While it's true that seeing the guy hunched down next to you behind cover getting his head blown off would likely make you worried, in my mind it wouldn't make them instantly aware of my personal presence or make them now try and defend against my attacks. 

 

Basically is the unaware modifier intended to be applied when the person you are attacking is unaware of your presence i.e. failed their perception against my concealment. Or is it only meant to be applied when the enemy is entirely oblivious to the threat of attack from anywhere at all i.e. at the very start of an ambush. If the first is true then would it be safe to say that I could attack a target and move around to keep attacking targets with the +30 unaware bonus so long as my concealment continues to beat their perception? If the second is true then what suggestions would you have for getting more out of my current and fairly significant investment into playing a sneaky scout type?

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In a nutshell, it's never actually explained what constitutes an unaware target, to the best of my knowledge - it's left up to the GM.

That being said, I think it's ridiculous to say that because an opponent is engaged in combat, he is automatically aware of all enemies around him. It would be reasonable to assume that once you have attacked them from a certain direction or position, they would be aware of you, even if they cannot pin-point your location, and would do their best to avoid your attacks.

I would also say that it would be reasonable to say that if you are hiding in the general direction from which your friends are already attacking, they would be somewhat aware of you as a group attacking from a direction.

However, sneaking around at the periphery of a battlefield or going building to building, beating Awareness Tests, staying in concealment and taking pot-shots should absolutely be viable. I'm sad to say that there's really not much of an argument you can raise in terms of RAW, against your GM, but I cannot fathom why he would think that simply because someone is engaged in combat, they gain the Unnatural Senses Trait.

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Yep, GM fiat, it's whatever the GM says it is.  Note that there is justification for his position as well- there is a vast difference between guys standing around and chatting, or a sentry standing still and looking bored, vs someone in a combat situation doing their best to obtain cover and avoid getting shot.  The behavior of the combatant, and the skill of the shot involved, changes drastically when the enemy is aware there is a *threat*, regardless of if they know where it is.  For a good analogy, if you've ever played stealth missions in a FPS videogame, you know how easy it is for you to have a shot lined up, then it gets ruined when the guy starts running over to his buddy's body to see what happened.

 

It seems clear to me that the GM is mostly concerned with making sure you don't just *always* have the +30, so I would work with him rather than against him, and try to come up with more situations where it makes sense for the +30 to be in play.  GMs love players that develop their own things, and players that encourage teamwork and good roleplaying, so if I were you, I would work out a system which incorporates those elements.  This should really go into the house rule section from this point on, but situations you could reasonably incorporate:

 

-The target is completely unaware there is a hostile threat (obvious)

-The target spent their last round stationary (such as if reloading a heavy weapon, checking on a comrade's body, using a voxlink, whatever), and does not have cover against you.

-The target is pinned or suppressed by a teammate, and thus unable to move effectively, and has no cover against you.

-The target is stunned, paralyzed, or otherwise limited in the actions they can take, and has neither cover nor concealment against you.

 

The big thing is to agree with the GM on the situations that do and don't count beforehand (submit a proposal to him in writing for bonus points), to be open to his altering what you propose or even vetoing it outright, and then following it up in game.  Your guy would absolutely engineer situations that allow him to line up a clean shot, so playing an effective sniper is more than just saying "my concealment says I hit you", it's about manipulating lines of fire and the actions of your enemy to allow you to come in with the kill shot.

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I think +30 bonus is generally for first shot, where opponent is totally oblivious of danger.

Still, if you remain undetected, you can ask for a smaller (+10) bonus representing you having some advantage over enemy in terms of aiming.

The biggest advantage of remaining undetected is actually stated in rules: For character to dodge/parry attack he must be aware of that attack. So if you remain undetected and use silenced weapon GM should make your attacks impossible to dodge with that weapon. If it is only partially  silenced, that asks for (-30) awareness test to hear shot.

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The bonus to hit an unaware target lasts until that target's next turn, the target is unaware the entire turn. It isn't just for 1 shot. Thus a whole squad can mutilate a lone guard who is napping with a fusilade of firepower.

 

This is not the same as GM discretion concerning if a character is "aware" of an attack to dodge. A character can be not unaware (no +30 to hit), but still be unaware of a specific attack and therefore not be able to dodge. For instance a guy on a wall fighting off a bunch of orks is an aware target, but he cannot be aware of the Dark Eldar sniper who is half a mile away and about to shoot him with a sniper rifle. The poor wall-guy is not going to be able to dodge the sniper shot.

 

Also: bullets travel faster than sound: You will NEVER hear a gunshot before it hits you, even if the shooter is mere inches away. Just mentioning this in case anyone was thinking it. If not, KNOWLEDGE!

 

A pinned target is not unaware, just pinned.

A stunned target is not unaware, just stunned.

These both already have pretty negative penalties attached to them, let's not make them even worse.

 

Examples of an unaware target
Tech adpept shuffling down a halway obsessing over data reaves.

A blind-deaf servitor plugged into a ship system.

A napping guard.

A guard taking a piss all relaxed like.

Soldiers or people immersed in a game of cards.

Guys in a chow line joking about stuff.

Chattle (human serfs) in massive ques, shuffling to their destination.

People working or sitting at tables/desks. (sitting in chairs maks you less agile)

Anyone so engrossed with something as to take their attention away from the world:

-Looking in tele/micro/scope

-Digging through an engine to find the one broken part

-Enjoying an emotional opera

-Meticulously searching the ground for something small

-Staring down a sniper scope

 

Examples of attacks a character may be unaware of, but not necessarily while being unaware:

(i.e. no +30 to hit, but target doesn't get to dodge/parry)

Back-stab from sneaky git

Shot from concealed position

Sniper shot beyond range of reasonable concern

Shot from behind (unless you have eyes in back of head, see comment on bullet speed)

Concealed trap (though for pitfalls: no dodge, but agi test to see if react fast enough to save self)

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I now have the mental image of a space marine kill team sneaking up on a word bearer dark apsotle preaching a sermon to a large mob of traitor guards. Now the dark apostle can't see them because he has his back to them and he's getting really worked up in his sermon, but his entire audience can see the kill team sneaking closer, but they are just to afraid to interupt the apostle.

 

 

DA: "and so brothers as we walk upon the octed path,we give praise to the gods of chaos!"

Traitor 1: "dude, are that space marines sneaking up on our lord and master?"

Traitor 2: "shhh shut up and pay attention!"

DA: "...on Calth where brought low the vile forces of our most hated enemies, the ultramarines! halleliuah!"

Traitor 1: "they are getting closer, shouldn't we say something?"

Traitor 3:" And interupt his sermon? are you insane? now chant along!"

Traitor 1" guess you are right."

DA: " can i hear an amen?"

Traitors: "amen!"

DW Kill team: " on three! one, two..."

Edited by Robin Graves

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The bonus to hit an unaware target lasts until that target's next turn, the target is unaware the entire turn. It isn't just for 1 shot. Thus a whole squad can mutilate a lone guard who is napping with a fusilade of firepower.

 

This is not the same as GM discretion concerning if a character is "aware" of an attack to dodge. A character can be not unaware (no +30 to hit), but still be unaware of a specific attack and therefore not be able to dodge. For instance a guy on a wall fighting off a bunch of orks is an aware target, but he cannot be aware of the Dark Eldar sniper who is half a mile away and about to shoot him with a sniper rifle. The poor wall-guy is not going to be able to dodge the sniper shot.

 

Also: bullets travel faster than sound: You will NEVER hear a gunshot before it hits you, even if the shooter is mere inches away. Just mentioning this in case anyone was thinking it. If not, KNOWLEDGE! 

 

I can give you an example (just for fun) of shot being heard before bullet hits, but that situation will happen as often as moon-sized meteor hitting earth.

 

Subsonic rounds travel at or below sonic speed. Technically you can hear this shot some time before catching a bullet via ground, as sound travels through solid objects at much higher speed. But that requires specific ground and weapon being connected to it via pintle-mount for example, to get the sound going without loosing power. of course you will be lying prone with one ear to the ground ))

 

Well, idea of dodging bullets ( forget about laser beams) is stupid in itself. Actual skill has more to do with guessing when shot will be fired and changing position at last possible moment so enemy won't have time to realign. But that's a game and characters dodge rays of death pretty well.

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