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eltom13

Being on Fire

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The Core Rule book says:

 

While on fire, he must make a Challenging (+0) Willpower test at the beginning of each of his turns in order to be able to take actions normally; otherwise, he may only flail in agony and scream, which counts as a Full Action. A character who is on fire can try to extinguish the flames by dropping Prone and making a Hard (–20) Agility test as a Full Action.

 

Does this mean a Character not succeeding on the Willpower test cannot even try to extinguish the flames?

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Just a side note, I prefer the original wording in first edition as it had a bit of humor in it: "If they fail their willpower test, then they may only run around and scream, which counts as a full action."

Edited by Olifant

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By my reading, yes, it does mean that.

 

Being on fire will very quickly kill you, especially when it fatigues your Willpower and you only test at half...

 

Yeah, that's my interpretation too.

 

Having said that, being "on fire" isn't something that should come up too often outside of the use of Flamers. I think the rule is intended for "full-body burns", not just "sleeve on fire" type situations. It's kinda hard to get that kind of burninated without being in a burning building or being bodily dunked in a highly flammable material.

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It comes from every attack that has the "Flame" Quality. So mainly most Pyromancy Powers and Flame weapons (ranged and melee). Also Critical Effects (Characters and Vehicles) may put you on fire.

Everything else is GM discretion.

 

*sings*

I fell into a burning ring of fire

and it burns burns burns that ring of fire

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Makes sense.  I mean, you are on fire after all.  Willpower to see if you freak out or keep your composure.  If you pass your roll, you stay calm and attempt to put it out.  Otherwise you are running around and panicking because you are fire.  Even having one sleeve on fire is a scary thing.  Likely you would stop what you are doing and focus on putting out your sleeve before it spreads.

Edited by JayDako

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True - but the point is that you can't do that; if you're on fire and tank your willpower test (quite likely for a challenging test and a low level character), you don't get to "focus on putting out your sleeve before it spreads" - you're just on fire.

 

Arguably, the agility check to avoid catching fire in the first place covers that.
 

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Can we talk about how Willpower is an incredibly important stat (being on fire, skills, pinning, fear, etc.) but only Psykers get to buy it cheaply? Does that strike anyone else as a bad design choice?

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Can we talk about how Willpower is an incredibly important stat (being on fire, skills, pinning, fear, etc.) but only Psykers get to buy it cheaply? Does that strike anyone else as a bad design choice?

 

Psykers are the pinnacle when it comes to the mind and self control, otherwise they would have burned up already or at least gone mad through their constant exposure to the warp. They have seen and experienced things no average normal human would experience in a lifetime and are constantly being tormented by the whispers of the warp.

 

So I guess it's fine for Psykers to have always at least 1 matching aptitude.

 

For the non-psykers, your average human joe, I think having 1 max matching aptitude to counter fear and madness in a grim/dark/horror setting is fine to me, otherwise they would easily become as fearless as a Space Marine (And they shall know no fear !).

 

With a bit of luck on your starting Willpower characteristic roll during character creation, you will be able to easily reach 40 Willpower and then pick up the Jaded talent to counter a lot of the mundane Fear tests. You might pay 150 -> 400 xp more to get the necessary characteristic boost but that's it. Then pick up Jaded (Defense and Willpower aptitude).

Edited by Gridash

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Can we talk about how Willpower is an incredibly important stat (being on fire, skills, pinning, fear, etc.) but only Psykers get to buy it cheaply? Does that strike anyone else as a bad design choice?

 

No, it doesn't strike me as bad design at all. As Gridash says, this is supposed to be a grim/dark/horror setting; fear and madness are par for the course. If it were easy to negate those aspects, then the system isn't doing its job properly. By making Willpower harder to raise and making it as important a stat as you say, the designers have considered the setting appropriately and make a good design choice, not a bad one.

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Wizards already have access to reality-bending magic, giving them more control over the narrative in the game than those without. By giving them (and only them) access to cheap Willpower they not only improve their own influence over the game but also are more insulated against effects that have nothing to do with their spacemagic but key off the same stat.

 

I'm not saying it should be easy to negate the grimdark horror aspects of the game (if anything I'd like to see these parts emphasized over combat), I'm saying that it should be possible to make a character who is a mental fortress and also not a wizard. And don't tell me to just take AAT's Psyker aptitude option and not take Mystic/Psyker because that is a trap option and you know it.

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Wizards already have access to reality-bending magic, giving them more control over the narrative in the game than those without. By giving them (and only them) access to cheap Willpower they not only improve their own influence over the game but also are more insulated against effects that have nothing to do with their spacemagic but key off the same stat.

 

I'm not saying it should be easy to negate the grimdark horror aspects of the game (if anything I'd like to see these parts emphasized over combat), I'm saying that it should be possible to make a character who is a mental fortress and also not a wizard. And don't tell me to just take AAT's Psyker aptitude option and not take Mystic/Psyker because that is a trap option and you know it.

 

I have to agree with CPS on this, they never should have made a "psycher" aptitude. considering the sheer number of talents that pair up willpower and defense compared to willpower and psycher (3), I wonder if it would have been better to give willpower the defense attribute as secondary, get rid of the psycher aptitude, and just pick a different aptitude for those 3 talents and the one skill that have it. 

 

Its not quite as bad as the leadership aptitude in some respects but its worse in that only those with "spacemagic" can buy more than one or two willpower advances without breaking the experience bank

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Yes, Psykers have access to reality-bending magic and can have a lot of influence over the game. In theory. If the GM is worth half his salt, though, if there's a Psyker in the group and he's doing all the heavy lifting, then the parties Subtlety should probably be somewhere in the deepest depths of hell. Quite literally, in some cases.

 

There's a reason that Psychic Phenomena occur 1-in-10 times you use a psychic power and it's not because the game designers thought it'd be good a laugh. It might just be because they're trying to discourage excessive use of psychic powers, because they know they're a "powerful" (and influential) option. This, combined with any visual manifestation of the powers being used, let alone the actual effects of said powers, means that Psykers should have some tight limitations as to the extent of how much influence they can have on a given mission. Having said that, I'll concede that it depends entirely on the play-style of the campaign.

 

As for Willpower giving you greater influence over a game; I'd tend to disagree. As an almost purely defensive stat, it allows you to participate in scenarios that you might otherwise have been marginalised in, sure. This gives you more agency to do what you want to do. However, my previous point stands; those circumstances in which Willpower is being used are precisely those ones that some characters are supposed to be marginalised. Because, you know; Grimdark. So having a higher Willpower gives you more agency, true, but running scared because you failed a Fear test is as influential an action to the narrative of the game as standing and fighting (though I'm not sure how being burned alive counts as "influence"...perhaps that one's just for the lols!).

 

Now, as far as Psykers and Willpower go; Psykers, at least those that survive very long (i.e. long enough to be a player character), plumb the depths of insanity and come out ok. By their very definition, they should have greater mental fortitude than anyone else. How, then, do we represent this in the game? Answer; make Willpower cheaper for Psykers by introducing an otherwise largely redundant Aptitude. Think about it; if you took the Psyker Aptitude away, what would you replace it with, as regards the 2nd Willpower Aptitude? Defence? That's already being used for a heck of a lot and make it an auto-grab (it practically is anyway, if you ask me). Leadership could maybe work, I suppose; it's so incredibly useless, as written, that I figure they forgot it existed for most of the design process...

 

...ok, yeah, on consideration, Leadership as the 2nd Aptitude for Willpower could work for me. As one of those "marginal" Aptitudes anyway, you wouldn't see every character grabbing it just to get their WP up and it makes sense that a strong leader would be strong of will too. Keep the Psyker Aptitude for Psyniscience and the Psyker-related Talents; I see no reason to change that (though I'm of a mind to take away the "free" Psyker Aptitude when you get the Psyker Elite Advance...what's with that?). It doesn't solve the "Psykers should have high Willpower" conundrum, but perhaps that should come from initial stats? After all, those Psykers with low starting WP aren't going to last long enough to improve it anyway...

 

edit: Huh, that turned out to be a longer post than I intended

Edited by Jolly P

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You spent a lot of words essentially agreeing with my points. To recap:

  1. For Psykers, Willpower is an important offensive stat used to control their magic.
  2. For everyone, Willpower is an incredibly important defensive stat covering everything from being on fire to trying not to pee your pants even a little bit.
  3. Psykers are the only characters with access to cheap Willpower.

You don't disagree with any of this. Taken together, this means psykers are simply more powerful (let's define as 'having greater agency') than non-psykers.

 

Our disagreement seems to be that I don't think psykers should be by definition more powerful than non-psykers, whereas you do. Now, I'm coming at this from a design perspective while you seem to see it from an in-universe perspective - psykers should be more powerful because being a psyker in the world of 40k is hard work. I think you're missing the forest for the trees.

 

The game has a mechanical imbalance built in (here and in a lot of other places). The choices a player makes at the start of the game determines how much agency that player will have in the game (and this is very non-obvious to a novice). To me, that's bad design. All players should have equal agency regardless of what kind of character they choose to play.

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I know in the Star Wars RPG, to balance out classes and prevent Jedis from dominating the other classes, force sensitives are driven into hiding and are essentially still newbies (otherwise full fletched Jedis would pwn every other class). So that follows your perspective of every class being "balanced".

 

(Sanctioned) Psykers in the 40k universe however aren't driven into hiding, but they are heavily distrusted and this also has certain consequences on the use of their power (especially in a very subtle investigation adventure).

 

Unlike Jedis where there are no consequences in the use of their powers, Psykers manifest Psychic Phenomena, or even Perils of the Warp causing a lot of potential nastiness. In the worst case scenario they burn themselves up and a daemon slaughters everybody.

 

So yes, they have a lot of potential power at their finger tips, BUT they have to be conservative in the use of this power, which imho balances out said power. 

Edited by Gridash

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You spent a lot of words essentially agreeing with my points. 

[snip]

The game has a mechanical imbalance built in (here and in a lot of other places). The choices a player makes at the start of the game determines how much agency that player will have in the game (and this is very non-obvious to a novice). To me, that's bad design. All players should have equal agency regardless of what kind of character they choose to play.

 

Yeah, I got a bit carried away on that last post!

 

You're not wrong that there's a mechanical imbalance. Where I really disagree with you is that I don't think that's necessarily bad design. Whilst there is a mechanical imbalance, there are checks and balances inherent in the setting. Whilst a Psyker is very powerful (and rightly so), he is also limited by what he can achieve as a Psyker.

 

For instance, the vast majority of the population of the Imperium is petrified of the very concept of mutants and psychic powers, largely because of the influence of the Imperial Creed. In a game that is (supposed to be) largely focused on social interactions, having a Psyker throwing powers around like candy should probably get the party lynched as witches, heretics or what-have-you. Heck, even in a non-social game, chucking around the psychic stuff should get you mobbed. Inquisitorial influence be damned; a mob rarely listens to any kind of reason. So whilst the Psyker has the option of greater agency, he doesn't necessarily have greater agency in play, because the setting (and/or the GM) should be keeping a tight reign on it.

 

This is not something that rules can handle so well. The concept of the party having a Subtlety value goes part-way to try and address this mechanically and I applaud the designers for even trying to do so, but it's far too contingent on the actual game being played to have a "broad stroke" rule to cover it (hence why the whole Subtlety thing is poorly explained and, I imagine, rarely implemented).

 

This isn't a war-game or a board-game we're talking about. There can be mechanical imbalance because there's an umpire (GM) who can weight the scales one way or another. It's not bad design to write rules that require an umpire.

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I know in the Star Wars RPG, to balance out classes and prevent Jedis from dominating the other classes, force sensitives are driven into hiding and are essentially still newbies (otherwise full fletched Jedis would pwn every other class). So that follows your perspective of every class being "balanced".

 

(Sanctioned) Psykers in the 40k universe however aren't driven into hiding, but they are heavily distrusted and this also has certain consequences on the use of their power (especially in a very subtle investigation adventure).

 

Unlike Jedis where there are no consequences in the use of their powers, Psykers manifest Psychic Phenomena, or even Perils of the Warp causing a lot of potential nastiness. In the worst case scenario they burn themselves up and a daemon slaughters everybody.

 

So yes, they have a lot of potential power at their finger tips, BUT they have to be conservative in the use of this power, which imho balances out said power.

 

I'm not sure Jedi in EotE are a good analog. Their powers are much subtler and less powerful than anything a psyker can do in 40k. And there are consequences for using their powers - the Empire hunts them down like dogs.

 

That said, EotE is pretty well balanced. The GM and the players can go at each other no holds barred and the game still works within the rules.

 

Does it strike nobody else as ridiculous that the 'balancing mechanic' for psykers in 40k is the 1/1000 chance of causing a party wipe?

 

This isn't a war-game or a board-game we're talking about. There can be mechanical imbalance because there's an umpire (GM) who can weight the scales one way or another. It's not bad design to write rules that require an umpire.

 

Yeah, we're not gonna agree on this.

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Does it strike nobody else as ridiculous that the 'balancing mechanic' for psykers in 40k is the 1/1000 chance of causing a party wipe?

 

It doesn't have to be a party wipe, even some of the lesser effects are still very nasty, and usually these will have major consequences in a narrative sense.

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The point stands that the tradeoff for greater power is that the rest of the party has to deal with the trouble caused by the psyker. That isn't a balancing mechanic.

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For instance, and let's not even get into the Perils of the Warp since all of these things are outright nasty.

 

Let's say you and your party are doing an investigation and the Psyker in the group attempts to use his telepathy powers to extract extra information out of a suspect, surrounded by Enforcers. He triggers Psychic Phenomena and rolls 36-38:

 

36–38: Daemonic Mask: For a fleeting moment, the psyker takes on a daemonic appearance and gains the Fear (1) trait until the start of the next turn. However, he also gains 1 Corruption point
 
Have fun trying to talk yourself out of that moment.
Edited by Gridash

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The point stands that the tradeoff for greater power is that the rest of the party has to deal with the trouble caused by the psyker. That isn't a balancing mechanic.

 

Why not? They'll force him to use his power more conservatively if he's being a major pain in the behind for the investigation. You act like every character does what he wants without considering the effects on every other party member within the group.

Edited by Gridash

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The point stands that the tradeoff for greater power is that the rest of the party has to deal with the trouble caused by the psyker. That isn't a balancing mechanic.

 

Why not? They'll force him to use his power more conservatively if he's being a major pain in the behind for the investigation. You act like every character does what he wants without considering the effects on every other party member within the group.

 

 

I'll add that those considerations should extend to the plot/setting as a whole.

 

In an arena, devoid of setting or plot, yeah the Psyker is an out-and-out powerhouse, but this isn't a game about "no holds barred" gladiatorial matches, it's about investigating and rooting out corruption, about confronting unspeakable horrors and stomping on the xenos threat...all whilst trying not to get yourself killed. For a Psyker, "not getting yourself killed" includes being cautious where, when and how you use your powers.

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