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DaBigPapaMonkey

Where to start?

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Okay, so I am new to RPG's both as a player and as a GM. I own most of the rule books for Rogue Trader, Only War, Black Crusade, Dark Heresey(1st e) and Deathwatch. My family has finally agreed to entertain the idea of playing one of these games with me. I like to think that I have a decent amount of knowledge with the 4ok universe, but my family has none. I will have both male and females players. up to three players total. I was wondering if there is any suggestions as to which universe to introduce them into the 40k universe while also keeping it easy for all of us having no RPG experience. (I mostly collected the books for a personal collection point in hopes eventually I'd find someone to play with). Any suggestions or feedback is greatly appreciated.

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I'd say Dark Heresy. The average Imperial citizen (and by extension, the average acolyte on recruitment) will have very little knowledge on how the Imperium works. They'll know of the Emperor, their rulers and the law. They'll know the abhour the mutant, hate the xeno, and to burn the witch (or at the very least see that they are captured and handed off to the Imperium). Beyond that the Imperial layman will know very little, and that's something you can use to your advantage. Put simply, they won't see the Necrons/Dark Eldar/Chaos Cultists/Whatever coming without some very good investigation on their end

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The real trick with playing with people with little world lore, is not to be afraid to let them know what their characters know.  "The robed man has a cog and skull icon hanging from his neck.  You know this marks him as a member of the Adeptus Mechanicum, the secretive order of technicians and engineers."

or

"Today is Emperor's Day, a holy day to the pilos masses of the Imperium.  You know everyone in the district will be attending at least one of the services at their local temple."

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Hoi Papa!

 

Ideally, the players' genders should be of no consequence since they are roleplaying a different person, but in practice some people are indeed uncomfortable with the idea of playing a character of a different sex, which may narrow down your options or require extensive houseruling. This is something you should definitely ask your family about.
 
That being said, when it comes to recommendations I would actually point towards Only War, simply because it has a narrower approach at the entire setting. The characters all come from the same planet, and the design of your average Imperial Guard regiment and its background hinges so heavily upon widely known references that it should not be too difficult for anyone to get a feeling for what behaviour would be appropriate: "Oh, so they are like an entire company of Rambos?", "Ah, so like vikings with laser guns then?", "I see, kind of like soviets in space?"
 
The tongue-in-cheek nature of certain regiments might also lead to a couple good laughs at your table, which should improve your chances of getting your players hooked by having fun.
 
As the saying goes, war never changes, which means that in Only War the unique peculiarities of the 41st millennium would merely "trickle down" from the overall narrative and minor details instead of actually dominating gameplay by being a major factor in your campaign (the nature of heresy, the various Imperial Adepta, local governance, space travel and interstellar communications, the Warp and Daemons, etc). Quicksilver makes a very good point in regards to slowly getting players accustomed with a setting's lore, and 40k is a franchise where people from planet A usually don't know how things on planet B work. Indeed, it could be argued that Dark Heresy might actually be more fun to play with people who have less background knowledge, on the basis that it's easier to surprise them with things that are effectively out-of-character knowledge, because in-game it'd be a secret your character may not be aware of.
 
However, it's still more complicated than Only War, the lowest common denominator. Whilst it is possible to play stuff like common criminals and soldiers in DH, many of the character classes do require a certain minimum amount of background research for what I'd consider "appropriate representation", especially when it comes to stuff like Arbites or Ministorum Clerics that require a certain mindset/approach, not to mention the massive risk that is a Sororitas character.
 
My secondary suggestion would actually be Black Crusade, as characters there are even more out of touch with how things work in the Imperium and effectively would not have to know anything beyond their own homeworld, where even the Chaos Gods might not be known as such and the locals instead practice some sort of blood voodoo or whatever. Hell, you could almost play it like an evil twin of D&D with lasers thrown in. That being said, for a family game, Black Crusade might possibly be a tad too dark.
 
Ultimately, it also depends on just how much time your players are willing to invest into getting acquainted with the setting. Only War you can pretty throw them right into the water and have them learn to swim, but with Dark Heresy I'd definitely have them at the very least read the Core Rulebook and Inquisitor's Handbook sections about the different classes (yes, all of them) plus their own character's homeworld/origin, the setting intro, and the basic description of Imperial faith.
Edited by Lynata

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I dunno about OW. I've found it's a tricky one: You find yourself wondering about stuff that you usualy don't stop to think about, like :

  • How much shells for it's main gun does a leman russ carry?
  • How far can it drive without a need to refuel?
  • What are we gonna do with these crates of socks the munitorum has sent us instead of frag grenades?
  • Will the commisar shoot me if i suggest we fall back to the base?
  • I don't want to bombard the hive city, can't we take the basilisk for a spin?

I would go with dark heresy:

 

You play as a small group of (not so) covert operatives going on missions that can range from detective stuff, political diplomacy chit chat to full on go in and kill the bad guys assasination missions. So there is something for everybody.

 

While I love Black crusade, I think it's best we don't start off explaining to mom and pop what the Emperor's children/ chaos cultists get up to with virgin prisoners.

 

Roguetrader at first glance also seems good: sorta like star trek but in 40k universe, but the whole create ship/battles/profit stuff might bog down and scare away new players

 

Death watch would be my second choice: once again: small team on a mission. Pretty simple. But you are saddled with a lot more of 40k background, with all the SM chapters and stuff, and before you know it you have sis asking if she can play a pacifist female space wolf...

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