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Absterben

Flamers - Overpowered?

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Hey all,

 

Having some troubles with apparently overpowered weapons in the campaign I'm running.

My warband includes a number of regular acolytes, in addition to a couple who drop in whenever they can make it. In particular, I'm having troubles with:

- A pyromaniac sanctioned psyker with a flamer.

- An adeptus administratum sage with a hot-shot lasgun

 

The sage in this case, I'm not too worried about; the relatively expensive ballistics advances will cut down on her long term effectiveness.  However, the 7 pen and 5 minimum damage per shot basically means that most characters hit by a semi-auto burst of a hot-shot lasgun is insta'd. So with that in mind, I would appreciate suggestions to counteract this.

 

The psyker, however, is wreaking havock with my battle difficulties. It seems to me that flamers are incredibly overpowered.

A standard flamer with a 20m range can effectively do damage to as many opponents as it could cram into its 30 degree firing arc. At the end of that arc, it's about 10m wide, which is essentially enough to murderkill half a room, most if not all of a street, or an entire corridor. There's typically well under a 50% chance for any of the targets to dodge this. Any targets that get hit are basically instakilled; if the initial damage doesn't get them, they're most likely going to be helpless/burning to death for the rest of the encounter. If the character using the flamer apparently doesn't give two ***** about citizen casualties or property damage, they're basically unstoppable.

In anything but the most extremely rural of environments, you would have to go out of your way to engineer situations that would counter a flamer.

In my last session, the player called to attention a detail about the spray quality. Namely, a target that isn't in full cover doesn't benefit from it at all. This brings to question what full cover is; a full body shield with firing slits? A chest high wall the target is shooting back from while crouched? From the description, it made it sound like anything that isn't a brick will gets bypassed by this quality... Cue a short argument that led to a compromise where both parties were left unhappy.

So are flamers actually overpowered, or am I just missing something? I appreciate that they're arguably *meant* to be overpowered, but I feel that this is a situation where the overpoweredness is overdone; it's just not balanced.

I attempted to add some light balancing of my own that didn't go over so well; owing to the fact that they're currently on a feudal medium-tech world, I said that heaver flamers and ammuntion wouldn't be readily available. The player didn't appreciate that I was 'limiting his playstyle' as opposed to designing encounters to compensate... And I can concur to a certain degree, but this weapon just looks ridiculous to me.

The only solutions I can think of is some incredibly contrived flanking, or endless long ranged sniping encounters. Alternatively, I could perhaps have their inquisitor order them to cut future civilian casualties to zero... which would help, but not suffice on its own.

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Keep in mind that fire is one of those things that has many strengths but also many weaknesses. For example, a subset of armours/enemies with fire-resistance or even fire-immunity are within expectations. Just as well, carrying large amounts of promethium is a liability if the entire canister explodes. Maybe atmospheric/climate conditions limit the Flamer's effective range. Ammo resupplies could simply be unobtainable in the current area, enforcing that the player should make each shot count. Like you mentioned, collateral damage is a very real restriction you can impose.

 

There are plenty of levers you can adjust if Flamers are becoming a problem. Let me know if you want me to expand on anything.

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Give a Flamers to a couple of NPCs. Add some elevation to the battle. Have some people who are 50m away. Have some people with a high dodge skill rush up and melee the guy with the flamer. Have someone with high toughness and armor. There are lots of ways to challenge the guy with the flamer.

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"You're on a feudal world, you're unlikely to find weapons grade prometheum."
"Waaa, limiting my playstyle, waaa."

 

Alright, my opinion of this six year old notwithstanding, if the feudal world's main export is prometheum, odds are they've weaponised it. Equip opponents with firebombs and primitive flamethrowers.

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"You're on a feudal world, you're unlikely to find weapons grade prometheum."

"Waaa, limiting my playstyle, waaa."

 

Alright, my opinion of this six year old notwithstanding, if the feudal world's main export is prometheum, odds are they've weaponised it. Equip opponents with firebombs and primitive flamethrowers.

 "They've weaponised it" In my mind, they live in wooden castles attached to empty ballast in the centre of Promethium lakes. Honoured guests are taken to this castle by a row-boat sent out by the tribe. Castles have a high fatality rate due to EXPLOSIONS and SINKING, but it's a safer alternative to living on solid ground. Which is full of lethal monsters and Trees that exude Promethium as Sap, making firing any weapon potentially lethal to everything within a 50 mile radius.

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Flamers have been discussed before, and yes, they're GREAT at what they do. They are, however, not so good at everything else.

 

Clearing out all the enemies in a room is exactly what flamers are made for. Cleanse those bunkers! However, in most other situations, a flamer might not be such a good idea!

 

Indoors? Now you've put the house on fire. Hope you weren't planning on staying long. Or searching for evidence. Perhaps you even turned your escape route into a fiery inferno. Good going!

 

Outdoors? Well, 20m is not that far. It covers just a bit more than most pistols and bows consider "short range". If you're always playing firefights in close quarters, then take the opportunity to zoom out, as it were. If a group of heretics were to ambush a group of well armed, flamer-wielding fanatics, they would choose their ground well. Long, open streets. Open fields, with opportunities for crossfire, etc. 

 

Then there is the fact that he's carrying around a tank of pressurised, highly flammable (the means explosive) gas on his back. Lho-sticks, anyone?

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Then there is the fact that he's carrying around a tank of pressurised, highly flammable (the means explosive) gas on his back. Lho-sticks, anyone?

 

Flamer fuel tanks in the 40k universe are not carried on the back but attached directly to the weapon itself, like normal gun magazines:

Flamer.jpg

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The sage in this case, I'm not too worried about; the relatively expensive ballistics advances will cut down on her long term effectiveness.  However, the 7 pen and 5 minimum damage per shot basically means that most characters hit by a semi-auto burst of a hot-shot lasgun is insta'd. So with that in mind, I would appreciate suggestions to counteract this

 

That happens. It's a heavy assault rifle with armour-piercing ammo. Unless you're going to pull out force-fields, daemons, psykers or massive angry dinosaurs, very little survives a hotshot burst to the chest. Very little should survive it. Either throw in tonnes of low-threat dudes (i.e. 'wasting' the power of the hotshot) or else make key opponents higher agility and skilled in dodging hits in the first place.

 

In my last session, the player called to attention a detail about the spray quality. Namely, a target that isn't in full cover doesn't benefit from it at all. This brings to question what full cover is; a full body shield with firing slits? A chest high wall the target is shooting back from while crouched? From the description, it made it sound like anything that isn't a brick will gets bypassed by this quality... Cue a short argument that led to a compromise where both parties were left unhappy.

 

Essentially, cover such that all locations on the target are getting an increased armour value. So yes, crouching behind a wall you're firing over doesn't help. Crouching behind the same wall and not firing over it does help, as none of you is exposed.

 

So are flamers actually overpowered, or am I just missing something? I appreciate that they're arguably *meant* to be overpowered, but I feel that this is a situation where the overpoweredness is overdone; it's just not balanced.

 

Depends on the environment. There are few weapons more able to slaughter roomfuls of generic dudes in a confined space. The limitations are ones that come in at a strategic, rather than tactical, level. Examples:

 

  1. This is a medieval world. There will probably be flammable oils available as reloads but you are right that they will be expensive.
  2. This is a medieval world. The building is made of wood and you're using a flamethrower.
  3. This is a medieval world. There is lots of open space. There are people 40-50 metres away with crossbows

 

etc. etc.

 

If you want to make a challenging encounter, play to its weaknesses - range and indiscriminate area effect.

 

If you start each fight with "the bad guys are 10-20 metres away, in that direction." then the man with the flamethrower wins.

 

If you start every so often with either a sniper 50+ metres away in an initially concealed position, or with multiple melee attackers (such that before he can torch too many, they're in amongst the acolytes and he can't fire without torching his friends), then he'll wish he had a hotshot too.

 

 

 

More importantly, consider the out-of-combat effects. You remember Subtlety? That stat most acolytes forget the GM is tracking? How do you think using flamethrowers in a populated urban area effects it? This means that everyone has heard of them, everyone knows they're coming, inquiry checks are nigh impossible and the bad guys will know they have a flamethrower and plan accordingly.

Equally, taking prisoners is difficult with a flamer.

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This is a medieval world. There is lots of open space. There are people 40-50 metres away with crossbows

 

Just not the crossbows! They will scratch the paint on the character's armor :D ! 

 

Close-combat is actually a better option because IIRC you can't fire a flamer in melee. 

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This is a medieval world. There is lots of open space. There are people 40-50 metres away with crossbows

 

Just not the crossbows! They will scratch the paint on the character's armor :D ! 

 

Close-combat is actually a better option because IIRC you can't fire a flamer in melee.

You should be able to fire a hand-flamer in melee. It's a pistol weapon.

That said, I never stop anyone from firing anything in melee, myself, and I'm now imagining the hilarious after-effects after someone was stupid enough to try to fire a flamer or heavy flamer while engaged in melee.

"Sir, are you sure this is safe?

"Sir, why is it raining promethium?"

"Sir, why is the ceiling on fire?"

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I'm now imagining the hilarious after-effects after someone was stupid enough to try to fire a flamer or heavy flamer while engaged in melee.

 

To be honest, even succeeding in doing so isn't really much better.

"Congratulations. The cultist grappling you is now on fire."

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In yesterday's session, I had a player use a flamer to light up a room after the door closed behind them and the lights were out.

A room inside of the ship.

Now, he did ace the Dodge test to get out of the way, but next time he hopefully remembers that firing a flamer into the ceiling isn't the best idea.

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In my games, some of the NPC enemies have vital information for the PC's to get on with the story. They are already struggling to keep those NPC's alive. One of the characters is running around with a sniper rifle. It has killed many a cultist and many a lead already. I can't imagine this problem getting solved by players running around with flamers. 

 

It's like Darth Smeg said: Flamers are good for some tasks, but fail horribly at others.

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 For what it's worth, the Pyromancer in my group can use Flame Breath (a stronger Flamer) at Psy Rating*20 metres. His Psy Rating is 8.  Aaaaah.

 

Pushing that to over 250 metres - at that point, why even bother rolling to see if the enemies can Dodge? I mean oh by gods, that's just.. full-on incineration of an entire hallway, or engulfing a full street.

 

 

In my games, some of the NPC enemies have vital information for the PC's to get on with the story. They are already struggling to keep those NPC's alive. One of the characters is running around with a sniper rifle. It has killed many a cultist and many a lead already. I can't imagine this problem getting solved by players running around with flamers. 

 

It's like Darth Smeg said: Flamers are good for some tasks, but fail horribly at others.

 

I should start doing this. But I know that if I did, the story or quest would hit a full stop fast. My players aren't.. well.. uhm...

I ran the Core Rulebook adventure in Black Crusade, and they finally finished it just yesterday.

They decided to bomb it from orbit out of spite, before leaving.

So.. I guess Elika the Seer won't be returning anytime soon.

Not even once have they ever tried to take someone alive. Not a single attempt at interrogation. Not a single pat-down to see if the enemies have anything of narrative value. Nothing. Boom, headshot, wirrrrrr bisection, fwooosh, barbeque.

Edited by Fgdsfg

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 For what it's worth, the Pyromancer in my group can use Flame Breath (a stronger Flamer) at Psy Rating*20 metres. His Psy Rating is 8.  Aaaaah.

 

Pushing that to over 250 metres - at that point, why even bother rolling to see if the enemies can Dodge? I mean oh by gods, that's just.. full-on incineration of an entire hallway, or engulfing a full street.

 

It's engulfing half a city because the end of the cone would be something like 400+ meters wide. 

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There's a lot of good advice in this thread, but one thing hasn't been mentioned that could help.  You mentioned that he doesn't care about civilian casualties or property damage.  Sure, he might not care, but does his inquisitor care?  It sounds to me like he is a raving lunatic.  That could be seen as chaotic/heretical behavior, this compounded by the fact that he's a Psyker (so he is already being watched more closely), I'm a bit surprised that no one has brought up charges of heresy against him.

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 For what it's worth, the Pyromancer in my group can use Flame Breath (a stronger Flamer) at Psy Rating*20 metres. His Psy Rating is 8.  Aaaaah.

 

Pushing that to over 250 metres - at that point, why even bother rolling to see if the enemies can Dodge? I mean oh by gods, that's just.. full-on incineration of an entire hallway, or engulfing a full street.

 

It's engulfing half a city because the end of the cone would be something like 400+ meters wide. 

 

Oh god no. Nooo.

 

There's a lot of good advice in this thread, but one thing hasn't been mentioned that could help.  You mentioned that he doesn't care about civilian casualties or property damage.  Sure, he might not care, but does his inquisitor care?  It sounds to me like he is a raving lunatic.  That could be seen as chaotic/heretical behavior, this compounded by the fact that he's a Psyker (so he is already being watched more closely), I'm a bit surprised that no one has brought up charges of heresy against him.

The Inquisitor getting involved is certainly a reliable fallback, but no fellow Inquisitor could safely play the 'Heresy' card purely on the basis of an extensive amount of Collateral. 

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There's a lot of good advice in this thread, but one thing hasn't been mentioned that could help.  You mentioned that he doesn't care about civilian casualties or property damage.  Sure, he might not care, but does his inquisitor care?  It sounds to me like he is a raving lunatic.  That could be seen as chaotic/heretical behavior, this compounded by the fact that he's a Psyker (so he is already being watched more closely), I'm a bit surprised that no one has brought up charges of heresy against him.

The Inquisitor getting involved is certainly a reliable fallback, but no fellow Inquisitor could safely play the 'Heresy' card purely on the basis of an extensive amount of Collateral. 

 

 

That really depends on the Inquisitor, the amount of collateral, and who is part of the collateral damage.  The impression I got from the OP is that this is a fairly common occurrence.  So, it's entirely possible that his actions could be seen as him giving into chaos, even more so since he is a Psyker and has a higher risk of that happening by his very nature.  I could be reading too much into the post though and it's not a prevalent as I thought.  Either way, I imagine the player would be making a lot of enemies by burning down all of these buildings/people.

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There's a lot of good advice in this thread, but one thing hasn't been mentioned that could help.  You mentioned that he doesn't care about civilian casualties or property damage.  Sure, he might not care, but does his inquisitor care?  It sounds to me like he is a raving lunatic.  That could be seen as chaotic/heretical behavior, this compounded by the fact that he's a Psyker (so he is already being watched more closely), I'm a bit surprised that no one has brought up charges of heresy against him.

The Inquisitor getting involved is certainly a reliable fallback, but no fellow Inquisitor could safely play the 'Heresy' card purely on the basis of an extensive amount of Collateral.
 

That really depends on the Inquisitor, the amount of collateral, and who is part of the collateral damage.  The impression I got from the OP is that this is a fairly common occurrence.  So, it's entirely possible that his actions could be seen as him giving into chaos, even more so since he is a Psyker and has a higher risk of that happening by his very nature.  I could be reading too much into the post though and it's not a prevalent as I thought.  Either way, I imagine the player would be making a lot of enemies by burning down all of these buildings/people.

Make no mistake that I'm agreeing with your general point here, that the "care factor" varies wildly depending on person(s) involved, and I'm certain that a great many Inquisitors actually care about their mandate and sees it as their duty to protect humanity with as little collteral as possible, only pulling out the big guns when it's actually needed, and actually feeling regret over the decision(s) that have to be made.

That being said, I want to add that we all have to remember that this is also a setting in which the Lex Imperialis sanctions the summary execution of all (unsanctioned) witnesses of psychic events. The second the psyker uses powers in a public setting, legally speaking, they're all dead anyway.

I mean sure, you can assume that many of these would maybe get out of there with their lives anyway, but them dying is still within the limits of the law.

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