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Aenno

About game balance

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My whole point is... ****, it's not a problem for me. I met sometimes "this system is unbalanced so it's bad!" kind of argument though.

You see, I believe "balance" is a good issue for tactical wargame. Tabletop Warhammer should be balanced. DnD, which is dungeon crawling wargame by the essence, should be balanced. But should RPG, where we're trying to create a story, be balanced? Should, I don't know, Holmes be balanced with Watson, if you have players who agree playing both? Should Mulder be balanced with Skully? Should Max Guevara from "Dark Angel" be balanced with Logan Cale, and how?

What do you believe as "good balanced game"?

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I think that people who are concerned about balance in DH2 have been burned by bad GMing or they are more familiar with games where combat is more important. For example, in DnD4, there is largely balance between the classes, when it comes to combat. But that's what DnD is about (or at least 4e).

 

In a game like DH, it doesn't matter if you can shoot your gun SUPER GOOD, if all you need to do is find the guy and ask him nicely.

 

in short, balance is only a problem if everyone is trying to solve the same problem as a team. If people excel in different areas, then they each will have their chance to shine. The real problem is being outshone, not balance, per se.

 

Side note: Combat can be long, making people who are bad at combat be bored for a long time. Speed it up or make it more narrative or whatever.

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But should RPG, where we're trying to create a story, be balanced? Should, I don't know, Holmes be balanced with Watson, if you have players who agree playing both? Should Mulder be balanced with Skully?

 

In my opinion: yes. But "balance" does not have to mean absolute equality - in the sense of an RPG, it just means that everybody gets an important part to play and has their moment to shine. This is perhaps less so the case with Holmes and Watson, where the latter is more of a sidekick to the former, but it can be applied to Mulder and Scully, who are both equal protagonists, each with their own skillset who complement and rely on each other.

 

Characters who are combat specialists should be balanced in combat. Characters who are support specialists should be balanced in a supporting role. Characters with social speciality should be balanced when it comes to interaction with NPCs. The bottom line is: No player should be condemned to feel like they're playing a sidekick to someone elses story.

 

That's not to mean that playing sidekicks should be impossible, but no serious RPG should put it forward as the RAW standard.

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The bottom line is: No player should be condemned to feel like they're playing a sidekick to someone elses story.

 

This I totally agree. But problem is I see it as a master, not system work.

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This I totally agree. But problem is I see it as a master, not system work.

 

Mhmm, I'd say it is both -- the system has to support a character's role mechanically; after all, we voluntarily shackle our representation of these figures to a ruleset because we want the challenges imposed by this "corset" that inhibits our ability to just wing it any way we want, in the hopes of creating a somewhat realistic and thus more immersive experience.

 

But for this to work, of course we simultaneously hope that the ruleset will allow us to achieve a certain minimum coolness that allows us to actually feel like a useful asset to the group rather than the fifth wheel on the cart, not to mention that sometimes the rules can even undermine your understanding of the capabilities a certain type of character ought to have by virtue of what you've read about them before.

 

A good GM can support party balance by designing challenges in a way that puts everyone in the spotlight from time to time, or devise house rules that provide a more balanced experience, but the former should be the default regardless of whether you have a balanced ruleset or not, and the latter merely shows how the RAW can provide an obstacle .. and many GMs may be unwilling or just too inexperienced to implement house rules to counter this effect.

 

Ideally, an RPG should put as little burden as possible on the GM in this regard (as he or she will have their hands full with other stuff already), and instead aim to deliver equal portions of fun to every player by default, rather than catering to one particular type over another.

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Well, system can't create minutes of spotlight.

Sometime ago I have a discussion about balance for Star Trek RPG. Old system. And there was an opinion that surprised me.

 

Skill to shoot phaser and skill to fight in melee costs same. But phasers are really overpowered, they have it's instant kill. Is it "unbalanced"? Everybody who want to play fighter in StarTrek will be obliged to take shooting. Full-melee character is possible, but he will weak and very, very fragile. But is it really "disbalance"?

 

Thing is.. Mulder has his minutes (hours, days, weeks, years!) of spotlight, not some runner, shooter or investigator, he has complex build not focused to one sphere, same for Scully. And character who is builded to fix one and only role... well, he is unbalanced CHARACTER. But it's possible with any ruleset; question is about possibility to create another kind of characters. It's not bad as it is, but it's not system issue.

Or... well, there is limited options to create, say, effective battlefield warrior in real world. Or in StarTrek. Or in Wh40K. It's not bad too in my opinion.

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Well, system can't create minutes of spotlight.

 

But it can prevent them. That's my worry about a lack of balance in character representation.

 

Take Black Crusade for example, and compare CSM with Human Renegades. Most of the time, the system actually doesn't do too bad in providing niches for the various archetypes, but combat is where it falls apart, as there is nothing a Renegade can do that a CSM can't do better. There's a thread over here if you're interested further; I really think it makes for a nice example on how a system can either support or sabotage an individual player's efforts in playing their character.

 

As for your Star Trek example, I don't at all think that this would constitute a disbalance, because by the setting everyone is expected to know how to operate and to actually possess a phaser or equivalent weapon. Even the Klingons have their disruptor pistols, after all. In this context, the melee skill would be a situationally dependent advantage a character may possess in addition to their phaser skill, and that would come in handy in situations where the characters' weapons have been neutralised or they do not have them ready at the time a conflict breaks out.

 

In short, everyone gets phasers, but only Worf's player takes melee skills, whereas Data's player rather buys science skills for the same amount of XP. This way, everyone still gets their speciality niche and the GM can engineer situations where the players can shine through them. --> Balanced!

 

What sucks is if you have something like Black Crusade where the rulebook says all your weapons get a -25% damage debuff simply because you're no Marine, even if you're very obviously a combat character, which the rulebook has advertised as an option to you.

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Ah, that's great example.

Thing is by the setting CSM IS more powerful in combat comparing common human; well, SM is, they were created for it. To be equal to CSM human should be a great hero. But it's not system disbalance, it's setting disbalance, isn't it?

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My whole point is... ****, it's not a problem for me. I met sometimes "this system is unbalanced so it's bad!" kind of argument though.
You see, I believe "balance" is a good issue for tactical wargame. Tabletop Warhammer should be balanced. DnD, which is dungeon crawling wargame by the essence, should be balanced. But should RPG, where we're trying to create a story, be balanced? Should, I don't know, Holmes be balanced with Watson, if you have players who agree playing both? Should Mulder be balanced with Skully? Should Max Guevara from "Dark Angel" be balanced with Logan Cale, and how?
What do you believe as "good balanced game"?

 

 

Players and GMs who doesnt care about balance can play either balanced or unbalanced games.

 

Players and GMs who care about balance have difficulties with unbalanced games.

 

Make balanced game => more people playing it. Simple as that.

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Ah, that's great example.

Thing is by the setting CSM IS more powerful in combat comparing common human; well, SM is, they were created for it. To be equal to CSM human should be a great hero. But it's not system disbalance, it's setting disbalance, isn't it?

 

That depends on how you translate the setting -- the Heretics in BC games are not common Humans either; much like the characters in Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader they are all supposed to be the "heroes" in their story, with access to special equipment and often special abilities as well.

 

The thing is ... there are a lot of different ways to implement Space Marines in a game of 40k, and it is possible to honour their image of posthuman super-soldiers without actually pushing them to another tier of existence. Ironically, the gap between Humans and Astartes in DH and BC is much larger than it is in the tabletop that spawned the entire franchise.

 

In a situation like BC (or any 40k RPG), I would certainly make sure that the Marine character is tougher and stronger than the Humans as this is what the setting dictates, but there is no good reason why his guns absolutely have to deal more damage just so he can dominate combat as a whole instead of just a niche. Why not have him be the designated tank and melee specialist? In turn, the dedicated Human combatants could match or even exceed his ranged damage, or sport some other training/ability that grants them their own moments to shine (such as melee combatants who are more about evasion than tanking, and/or who have more powerful weapons to compensate missing strength). There are plenty examples for these types of characters in official material.

 

It's a great example because it shows how a ruleset can undermine balancing by catering to a specific type of player at the expense of others, and thus make a game un-fun for some people.

 

Blood of Martyrs was similarly crazy when it introduced power-armoured Battle Sisters at Rank 1, rather than going the Novice route like in the Inquisitor's Handbook. Some types of characters only really make sense at a higher XP threshold, once the "norms" have managed to collect sufficient XP to match them. And then, as mentioned above, there are always different ways of how you can represent a specific skill or ability, which can all affect balance with the rest of the group.

Edited by Lynata

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In a situation like BC (or any 40k RPG), I would certainly make sure that the Marine character is tougher and stronger than the Humans as this is what the setting dictates, but there is no good reason why his guns absolutely haveto deal more damage just so he can dominate combat as a whole instead of just a niche.

 

Well, because he have more years fighting, and only fighting, that heretic lives, in range included, and his weaponary have more calibre. So thing is CSM (or any SM) should shine in combat, they were created to shine in combat. As I know fluff it's humans who have some kind of niche where CSM enters fight - be fresh meat or fighting with artillery. Or with tanks, it's helps sometimes. After all Rogue Trader shouldn't prevail fighting SM face-to-face, but he has a SHIP so he can wipe SM by chapters. Well, if he's lucky enough.

Fluff says it on every page where it's a topic - there is nothing human can prevail SM, Chaos or Loyalist, in even combat. Numbers to show it can be different, but CSM is an unstoppable machine of destruction, with ancient roaring guns mortal can't even pick up (and if he can he have equal damage with SM, isn't he?). It's not that astartes bolter magically have +4 or more dmg when CSM wield it. So if common man want to shine, he just shouldn't be a fighter, leaving this role to CSM, so player who want to shine in combat should make CSM character.

I don't recall any fluff, to be honest, that says "hey, Adeptus Astartes are good in melee, but they sucks in shooting so you can just bring enough shooters and don't make them close!". No, it's absolute war machine. Isn't it?

Yes, we can **** the fluff and limit AA to melee only, just to let some player to shine in combat where he, by setting, shouldn't. But should we **** it? 

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Ironically, the gap between Humans and Astartes in DH and BC is much larger than it is in the tabletop that spawned the entire franchise.

 

Even just in the tabletop, there's a bit of a disconnect between the fluff and the crunch.  The text describes space marines as these mighty juggernauts that can single-handedly take on entire platoons of 'lesser' men, yet in the actual game they can be pistol-whipped to death by grots (it's not easy, but it's conceivable).  Anyway, that was part of my justification for nerfing them a bit in DH and especially in BC.  

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Fluff says it on every page where it's a topic - there is nothing human can prevail SM, Chaos or Loyalist, in even combat. Numbers to show it can be different, but CSM is an unstoppable machine of destruction, with ancient roaring guns mortal can't even pick up (and if he can he have equal damage with SM, isn't he?). It's not that astartes bolter magically have +4 or more dmg when CSM wield it. So if common man want to shine, he just shouldn't be a fighter, leaving this role to CSM, so player who want to shine in combat should make CSM character.

I don't recall any fluff, to be honest, that says "hey, Adeptus Astartes are good in melee, but they sucks in shooting so you can just bring enough shooters and don't make them close!". No, it's absolute war machine. Isn't it?

Yes, we can **** the fluff and limit AA to melee only, just to let some player to shine in combat where he, by setting, shouldn't. But should we **** it? 

1) The fluff doesn't say a space marine will always win against a human in every instance. It's literally author fiat who wins and who loses. Logic has nothing to do with it.

2) Most space marine chapters are primarily equipped for close assault. While they can, in theory, fill every role on the battlefield, in terms of raw firepower, the imperial army has them outgunned.

3)The officio assassinorum's agents are human

4) Skitarii are human, too.

5) Genetics do not affect skills that have little to nothing to do with instinct, such as ranged combat. A space marine's primary bonuses from their genetweaking are increased musculature and durability, as well as endurance. That's an entirely melee skillset. Shooting, on the other hand, is something that is primarily trained. This is where their cybernetics and power armour come into play. But that is not an inherent bonus, that is one that requires a specific combination of equipment and implants.

6) FFG stats space marines to excel in regions they have no business being superhuman. It's a flat stat increase, which is also contrary to things like hypnotic conditioning, one track minds, ritualised traditions that actively prevent the understanding of things outside of their wargear/doctrines and a directness in manner that knows no such thing as subterfuge.

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1) The fluff doesn't say a space marine will always win against a human in every instance. It's literally author fiat who wins and who loses. Logic has nothing to do with it.

 

 

Everything we're speaking here we're speaking about author's fiat. But in fluff... well, let's open SM and CSM (and Core rulebooks) codexes and let's read them. Superhumans, unstoppable machines of destruction, the best warrioirs Imperium and Chaos have. Should I find exact cites?
2) Most space marine chapters are primarily equipped for close assault. While they can, in theory, fill every role on the battlefield, in terms of raw firepower, the imperial army has them outgunned.
 

 

Just not true. Main weapon for most space marine chapters is bolter. Main codex space marine unit is Tactical Marine.
Imperial army have millions of soldiers, heavy artillery and super-heavy tanks. That's how they outgun Marines.
 

 

3)The officio assassinorum's agents are human

4) Skitarii are human, too.

 

 

Not definitly true - first have some very special conditioning and second are cyborgs; but that's not matter because I've never saw how Assassins or Skitarii finishs Space Marines in direct combat.
 

 

5) Genetics do not affect skills that have little to nothing to do with instinct, such as ranged combat. A space marine's primary bonuses from their genetweaking are increased musculature and durability, as well as endurance. That's an entirely melee skillset. Shooting, on the other hand, is something that is primarily trained. This is where their cybernetics and power armour come into play. But that is not an inherent bonus, that is one that requires a specific combination of equipment and implants.

 

 

True, and Chaos Space Marines have more shooting training then every other heretics; not to mention they really, really have very good hand-eye coordination, eyesight and great strength to negate recoil.
And yes, they have their implants. And equipment. If you take any shooting weapon from Space Marine he will lose any firefight. Well, until he get something shooting.

 

It's a flat stat increase, which is also contrary to things like hypnotic conditioning, one track minds, ritualised traditions that actively prevent the understanding of things outside of their wargear/doctrines and a directness in manner that knows no such thing as subterfuge.

 

Raven Guard? Alpha Legion? Night Lords?

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Well, because he have more years fighting, and only fighting, that heretic lives, in range included, and his weaponary have more calibre. 

 

See, this is where interpretations and different approaches of representation come into play.

 

Leaving aside that some Human Heretics may well have more years of experience than some CSM (especially if you include Warp travel shenanigans), it's not necessarily true that "years fighting" actually makes them better combatants if you keep in mind that the corruption/degradation of their mind can also makes them less reasonable and more prone to just go berzerk rather than executing skillful manoeuvres. 

 

And as for calibre, at least in Games Workshop sources, all boltguns have always been cal .75. Ironically, Dark Heresy and Deathwatch actually retained this piece of background. Neither the 40k tabletop nor GW's Inquisitor game give any mechanical differences to bolters wielded by Marines or normal Humans. Though this damage buff phenomenon is not limited to projectile weapons alone; for some reason, the flames expelled from Marine flamethrowers also seem to burn hotter. ;)

 

And it's not just this difference in stats that is remarkable, but that the system actively introduces artificial barriers between them. As is pointed out in the thread I linked above, Astartes guns come with a rather peculiar requirement that slaps anyone without US4 with a hefty penalty on using these weapons. Why Unnatural Strength, rather than an actual Strength requirement? Because it's easier for Humans to match?

 

It boggles the mind that you can have a Human Heretic who can beat the CSM at arm-wrestling (because US only gives a +10 to the character's normal Strength), but as soon as he picks up the bolt pistol he just won he'll be like "unpphh, soooo heavvvyyyyyy".

 

Fluff says it on every page where it's a topic - there is nothing human can prevail SM, Chaos or Loyalist, in even combat.

 

Games Workshop seems to have a different opinion, given how they described Battle Sisters to be the Marines' equals. The problem with Humans is that most of them don't own a suit of powered armour and/or a bolter -- the same gun that the Marines use to kill each other.

 

Weapons and armour have always been a massive equaliser in the setting; the lasgun is more important than the Guardsman wielding it. To me, one problem of Dark Heresy is that it seems to make the body more important (Toughness as a secondary armour layer that is immune to Pen).

 

I don't recall any fluff, to be honest, that says "hey, Adeptus Astartes are good in melee, but they sucks in shooting so you can just bring enough shooters and don't make them close!". No, it's absolute war machine. Isn't it?

Yes, we can **** the fluff and limit AA to melee only, just to let some player to shine in combat where he, by setting, shouldn't. But should we **** it? 

 

I don't recall me saying that Astartes have to "suck in shooting". The thing is, they don't have to "suck" to get surpassed by a Human who's just very good at it. The core idea about Space Marines ist that they're tougher and stronger. That's it. Anything else you want to slap on it is a bonus, which is probably why this differs so much between individual interpretations of the setting.

 

Ballistic Skill range of a Space Marine in GW's Inquisitor: 67-85 (65+2d10)

Ballistic Skill range of an Arbites Enforcer in GW's Inquisitor: 67-85 (65+2d10)

Ballistic Skill range of an Imperial Guard Veteran in GW's Inquisitor: 67-85 (65+2d10)

...

 

In the original material, the vast majority of an Astartes' properties actually allow for a considerable overlap with Human heroes, where it is absolutely feasible for a Marine to be matched or even surpassed by such a character where it should not raise any eyebrows. This is where an RPG ruleset could hook up and give Human characters a bit of an edge to compensate the areas where the Marine must be superior by virtue of his background (Toughness and Strength).

 

And if you say that this "**** the fluff", then I'd say you have simply subscribed more to the Black Library version of Space Marines rather than the one from Games Workshop's own studio material and we are looking at the subject from opposing perspectives.

 

You also disregard the existence of a lot of characters in the fluff who fought Marines and won.

Because "in the fluff", Space Marines die to bolter rounds and plasma shots all the time.

 

Imperial army have millions of soldiers, heavy artillery and super-heavy tanks. That's how they outgun Marines.

 

Yet if the Imperium wants to eradicate a Space Marine Chapter, they don't send in the Guard. They send the Sisters of Battle. You know, those Human warriors who are - as per GW fluff - equipped with the equivalent wargear that is so obviously absent from this RPG?

 

 

Even just in the tabletop, there's a bit of a disconnect between the fluff and the crunch.  The text describes space marines as these mighty juggernauts that can single-handedly take on entire platoons of 'lesser' men, yet in the actual game they can be pistol-whipped to death by grots (it's not easy, but it's conceivable).  Anyway, that was part of my justification for nerfing them a bit in DH and especially in BC.  

 

Well, I'd interpret the pistol-whipping more to be like a point blank shot that pierced the helmet or something. But yes, those edge-cases certainly exist! That being said, some "deaths" of Marines in the TT can also just be incapacitations, if it helps to deal with such crazy results of the dice.

 

The thing is, the fluff came after the rules, and if GW did not want Marines to have a tiny chance to die to Grots, then they would have given them different stats.

 

We all have to find our preferred balance between the fluff and the crunch, but the latter certainly helps explain various losses the Space Marines have incurred in the former, and it is at least consistent thanks to actually giving us hard numbers to work with. On the fluff side of things, there's a massive difference between a bunch of Feral Worlders with primitive axes and a dozen shock troopers with plasma guns, yet technically they can all be called "lesser men". And yet, one of those troopers managed to incapacitate even Primarch Horus during the Great Crusade (WD #268).

 

Weapons as equalisers, as pointed out before. The "mistake" that I see here is that FFG gave the Marines better weapons rather than the normal Humans ... so, exactly the opposite of what could have made for balanced mixed parties. :D

 

This seems more like a debate about Marines now ... but on the other hand, I suppose they, or rather their implementation in different systems, is a premiere example for the original topic.

Edited by Lynata

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As is pointed out in the thread I linked above, Astartes guns come with a rather peculiar requirement that slaps anyone without US4 with a hefty penalty on using these weapons. Why Unnatural Strength, rather than an actual Strength requirement? Because it's easier for Humans to match?

 

Because everybody just forgetting why Unnatural Traits are needed at all.

In addition, whenever someone with an Unnatural Characteristic succeeds on a Test utilizing that Characteristic, they gain a number of bonus Degrees of Success equal to half of their Unnatural Characteristic. - that's BC version. When you're doing arm-wresling, it's definitly opposed roll, so when common human gets 1 DoS, Space Marine gets 3. Yup, if you're very strong for human, CSM is weak for CSM and you're lucky, you can finish him in arm-wresling. And if you're sniper and CSM is favored melee, you can outshoot him. It's even simpler that finish him in wresling.

 

And if you say that this "**** the fluff", then I'd say you have simply subscribed more to the Black Library version of Space Marines rather than the one from Games Workshop's own studio material and we are looking at the subject from opposing perspectives.

 

 

Please, let's clarify it once and for all. I don't know Black Library at all. I read... well, it was some Cain books, Eisenhorn without last book, Ravenor without last book and first two Gaunt books. They had, what, one thousand books now? no, thanks. I just reading all codexes and WD from... well... 2000. To be honest I read codexes and WD published before too, but that I did backdating.
So let's use GW materials.
What's description of Chaos Space Marines in 3rd ed book, 1999? Entry about common CSM: "Chaos Space Marines are deadly fighters, combining the skill and genetic engeneering of a Space Marine with the bloodthirst and cruelty of Chaos. They wage an unremitting war against those who remain loyal to the Emperor, who they see as an undeserving usurper to the rulership of Humanity. Well armed and armoured, Chaos Space Marines are amongst the most deadly warriors in the Galaxy."
2002, same entry: "Chaos Space Marines, or Traitor Marines, were once loyal Space Marines, charged with defending Mankind in the name of the Emperor. They have since renounced their vows of loyality and allied themselves with the dark gods of Chaos, putting their own selfish lust for power above all else. Their armour, weapons and even their physical form have changed to reflect their new loyalities and the darkness of their souls. Now, Mankind has no greater enemy than its own fallen protecters."
4th Edition, introduction: "Space Marines are amongst the most powerful warriors of 41st Millenium. They are not human, but gene-enchanced superhumans, armed with mighty bolter and protected by suites of power armour. Though few in number, each is a formidable warrior the equal of a score of mortal men and is able to call upon a fearsome array of weapons, equipment and venicles."
Same book, "Let the Galaxy burn": "Where formerly they cleansed the galaxy with holy bolter and purifying flamer, the Chaos Space Marines are now the vile threat to everything the Emperor strived to build. They are traitorous warlords intent upon looting, domination and bloodshed - the most loathsome and deadly warriors ever to assail the Imperium."
I'm sorry I'm kind of tired to retype form paper rulebook, but you can enter "Creation of the Space Marines" fluff part and to see that no force could match Space Marines, and that was very reason they were created. Or the same book p. 26, all that part about "All of this things combine to make the Space Marines the most fearsome warriors in Imperium".
6th edition? All that words about "superhuman abilities, peerless training and devastating weaponary", again.
Should I also cite loyalist codexes and core rulebooks? Or you will trust my word? There are same words about best warriors Galaxy can offer.
And it's core GW fluff. Yeah, yeah, I know, in BL stuff personal Astartes body count is something about unit of measurment of awesomeness, but I prefer to stick into GW materials, counting Codexes and Corebooks ahead WD.
 
And - I can't really find info about differences between Godwyn-De'az Pattern and Godwyn Mark Vb Pattern, but it definitly is (or they won't be different patterns, right?). As I recall, and every quick source recalling too, first IS smaller, but I can't point cite just now. But I can't see real problem here, because I can't understand why non-Astartes by the rules can't take Legion boltgun. Yup, Legion armories have far better equipment that you can just buy on market; it's the problem too?
 
Just for my own collection btw. I don't intresting Sororitas as I do for Imperial Guard; can you point me GW source that sets them as official enders of forbidden chapters?

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Now I know a good Party has balance within it.

 

My favorite DH1 PC is Al a Fanatic Morirat Assassin from Dusk, who 3 social skills (quick proud of them):

Intimidation, Interrogation, Medicae [all because they require more the 1 person to use]

In truth Al is Murder Machine with edged weapons, who is for reasons I can't full explain totally loyal to Father Des our Cleric, right down to if he would hold off that CSM for just a few turns.  And Emperor Forbid, someone attempts to stab him, Al with go insane to protect him.  He shines in close combat and insane plans, but otherwise he is down right useless for investigations.  But to Balance off Al, we have Archie The Adept with all the knowledge, Xanthis our Arbite, Grendal the Noble Underworld Gunslinger, Father Des. Cog a Laser crazied tech priest.

 

Party Balance is key to the game

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Because everybody just forgetting why Unnatural Traits are needed at all.

 

They aren't needed. If someone is better, increase their characteristic and call it a day. Unnaturals are a just messy, and a bad way to represent someone's capabilities.

 

In addition, whenever someone with an Unnatural Characteristic succeeds on a Test utilizing that Characteristic, they gain a number of bonus Degrees of Success equal to half of their Unnatural Characteristic. - that's BC version. When you're doing arm-wresling, it's definitly opposed roll, so when common human gets 1 DoS, Space Marine gets 3.

 

I swear I've seen a version of Unnaturals that only adds +10 to Tests, but you're right. Still, I'm sure you agree it's a bad way of resolving things? For starters, the Marine can still simply fail the Test and thus not even get to apply this bonus, and his chance of failing is greater than the Human's. It just doesn't make sense.

 

It's true that it is not an ideal example, though. Let's say there is no Opposed Test and instead you have a locked door that the characters try to pull open, with the GM demanding a Hard (-20) Strength Test. A Human at Strength 42 and a CSM at UST 37 try to open it. Who has better chances at succeeding? Do you really believe this is a good approach to the issue?

 

Please, let's clarify it once and for all. I don't know Black Library at all. I read... well, it was some Cain books, Eisenhorn without last book, Ravenor without last book and first two Gaunt books. They had, what, one thousand books now? no, thanks. I just reading all codexes and WD from... well... 2000. To be honest I read codexes and WD published before too, but that I did backdating.

 

In that case I must beg forgiveness. I have become used to fans of the franchise posting rather excessive claims about the Space Marines due to how they are represented in the novels and videogames, which seem to have become a more popular source for setting interpretation than GW's own material. Obviously I must have jumped to conclusions here.

 

That being said, you mentioned that you're not very interested in the Sororitas - the one force in the Imperium GW has ever described as being just as capable - so if you've only read Marine stuff, it would still explain a rather one-sided perception. The thing is that none of your citations actually contradicts my own position. Every single army gets hyped in its books, and the Space Marines are certainly no exception. What matters here is to acknowledge that other armies are described as just as capable, which of course opens the door for a more equalised interpretation / playing field.

 

For some citations of my own:

 

"As the Chamber Militant of the galaxy-spanning Ecclesiarchy, the Sisters of Battle are fierce warriors that are equals to their brother Space Marines. What the Sisters lack in genetic enhancement they make up for in faith and devotion." 
 
"The Sisters of Battle are exceptionally well equipped, with armour and weapons the equal of any Space Marine Chapter."
-- 3E Codex Witch Hunters
 
And as you've inquired regarding the Sisters' role as executioners:
 
"Should doctrinal heresy prove the immediate cause, the elite of the Adepta Sororitas may be the only force considered capable of prosecuting a War of Faith against the wayward chapter."
-- WD #303, Renegade Space Marines (also listing the GK if it's about daemons, though)
 
"Heretics take many forms. Most are lost humans, whose weak minds have been corrupted by the manifold temptations of a dark and sinister galaxy. None are immune – planetary governors, Imperial Guard commanders and even whole Space Marine Chapters have been declared heretic, and been exterminated as such by the Adepta Sororitas."
-- 6E Codex Sisters of Battle
 
"Another, thankfully rare task of these joint forces is to hold in check the power of the Space Marine Chapters. The relationship between the Adeptus Astartes and the Adeptus Ministorum is at times strained, as some Chapters adhere to their own views of the Imperial Creed. In any other organisation, this would result in excommunication, but the Space Marines are of course a rather special case. However, the Ordo Hereticus still maintains a watch over those Chapters who they suspect of having diverged too far from approved dogma. In such cases, a Conclave of Inquisitors will decide upon a course of action, and should an armed response be required, this will often be entrusted to the Adepta Sororitas.
 
Few Space Marine Chapters would be asked to move against another except in the direst of circumstances, and facing an entire Chapter of Space Marines is not a conflict many Imperial leaders would embark upon with any confidence, but where there is no alternative the Ordo may order a mission sent against the command structures of the renegade Chapter in order to disable the entire organisation from the top down. The only force outside of the Adeptus Astartes themselves with any hope of successfully assaulting a renegade Chapter Master and his attendant brethren may be an elite strike team of the Adepta Sororitas, led by an experienced and battle-hardened Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus. These Strike Forces are composed of the very best the Adepta Sororitas can field, and are equipped to an even higher standard than is usual within the Orders Militant. Led by a senior member of the Ordo Hereticus, the force can call upon the aid of the Imperial Navy, from whose troop transports they can deploy using the small numbers of drop pods each of the Orders Militant maintains exclusively for these operations." 
-- CJ #49

 

And - I can't really find info about differences between Godwyn-De'az Pattern and Godwyn Mark Vb Pattern, but it definitly is (or they won't be different patterns, right?). As I recall, and every quick source recalling too, first IS smaller, but I can't point cite just now. But I can't see real problem here, because I can't understand why non-Astartes by the rules can't take Legion boltgun. Yup, Legion armories have far better equipment that you can just buy on market; it's the problem too?

 

There's dozens of different boltgun patterns for the Space Marines as well, from the Godwyn to the Ultima.

 

The Godwyn-De'az certainly is a bit smaller, but it still has the same cal .75 barrel size -- so what actually makes it different must be something else. My theory is a thinner hull (whereas Marine boltguns are armoured themselves for improved battlefield survivability), and possibly lacking some of the advanced internal mechanisms, of which there are a lot if we consider this schematic from the 3E rulebook. If it were up to me, I'd also give them a slightly lower magazine capacity.

 

And yes, Marines armouries certainly have better stuff than what you can buy on most markets. But (a) not all, and (b) they certainly don't have better stuff than the Inquisition. Yet here we are, with a flat +25% damage bonus on Anything Astartes and a weird rule that says no matter how strong you are, unless you've got Unnatural Strength you can't use it properly. What, you've got a Strengh 80 Catachan half-cyborg? Too bad, no Marine toys for you. But hey, the UST 50 Ogryn over there can play with it.

 

And to top it off, DH1 has the Angelus Bolt Carbine firing Marine ammunition without any Strength requirement at all. "Consistency? What is that?" :P

 

 

But don't get me wrong here. Personally, I don't want to say that the average Battle Sister (as a proxy for any heroic Human combatant) is a 100% match for the average Space Marine, even if I could make that argument based on that one line GW had posted. I still see a disparity due to Astartes being more resilient. But I also see an overlap where you can say it comes down to the individual character, their equipment, or even circumstances and sheer dumb luck.

 

Unfortunately, this overlap does not exist in the RPG, and this is what kills the balance between them. Not GW's fluff, but the way it was implemented or ignored here. It was a possibility, but be it by intent or lack of interest, it was not used. And that's how we got stuck with stuff like tiered Horde rules (where the bad guys coincidentally happen to deal less damage to Human Heretics than CSM) or the Felling trait (because guns that hurt more if you're tougher make perfect sense) -- a "Band Aid" for Balance that only proves the designers obviously started to see a problem, yet preferred to increase the difference between Humans and Marines to a point where each one gets their own set of rules for Horde combat, rather than ensuring that a fun portrayal was possible on equal grounds.

 

And to add insult to injury, Human Heretics pay for this protection and the ability to Dodge Horde attacks with yet another damage debuff on top of already not being allowed to wield Marine-grade weaponry. Sidekick much?

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Well. Apology accepted, first of all.

About Sisters... You see I can understand how Space Marines are high upper that common man - they have their gene-mods and essentialy unlimited life spans. But what special Sororites have? If they mean Acts of Faith, that are exist - of course, but it's something that puts Sororites outside "common men" league.

About unnatural characteristics... I can feel why they needed. But I love psykers here, and for psykers Unnatural Willpower making complete sense. For agility or toughness (yes, dermal armor, to my sad - Unnatural part can be negated) they works too. For Strength... I really don't know. I can feel something viable against Unnatural Strength, but can't say just now what exactly. (By the way, it's kind of verbalism, but Ogrin can't use Legion weapons without penalty - it needs US (4), and Ogryn have only 2; Khorne-marked Ogryn, though, is definitly another matter!)

And about non-SM bolters (Ultima is Godwyn too, as I recall btw) I read some sources and I believe now they have lesser launch speed - because recoil is named as main problem with bolters. I'm ready to swear I saw 0.6 caliber bolters somewhere, but can't find now. I believe can justify why do you need that unnatural strength, but it's not the matter.

 

Thing is, well... Space Marines outclasses common humans in combat, not only in melee, but in range too. Ok, let's put Sororites to that club too, let's say they can play with SM as an equal, by acts of faith ("but the Emperor helps - and recoil from full-auto bazooka don't launch Sororite away!"). As I recall their earlier codexes they becaming core to Crusade, joined by priests, IG, hordes of humans with torches and so on. But normal human is definitly lesser - in combat sense. Yes, there is possible to became a hero, who will kill SMs on their own field, but it's an exclusion, just as, let's say, possesed Sororite. 

Thing is you need boltgun or plasma to stop CSM. It's essentialy antitank weapons. Boltgun is M72 LAW (even better - M72 shooting .66 grenades!) shooting full-auto. Plasma supposed to be ancient relics hundreds year old, that are using nevermind they blow up, because it kills damned tanks. And spacemarines. 

So if you give your players right to play SM (AS, full-right Inquisitor...) you should say they ARE better or you should nerf SM. It's not system part to balance, quite the opposite - when you're trying to balance them with normal humans in combat, you ruin balance, anything this animal is, at all. Yup, it could be better to give CSM, let's say, 70 S, 70 T, 50-65 Ag, same numbers for WS and BS (for peerless training) and let them rock. Because by fluff they are rock, I believe we can agree on that. Yup, maybe they are not only who rock. Maybe let Sororite with Acts of Faith and Inquisitor with ships on orbit and artillery beyond horizon will his peers on the field. 

Thing is when you're making fighter - SM always will be better that common man. Well, maybe (I haven't try, but in short run, with a lot xp and without real bothering about Phenomena/Perils) specialized psyker can approach, but, well, it's specialized psyker, they blow up sometimes. SM don't. So demands "I'm creating human fighter, make him innate equal to the best destruction machine Humanity ever have" are something about "I made Klingon warrior who don't have disruptor, make him innate equal to the phaser-wielding security".

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The setting provides a lot of conflict in that there is a disconnect between what many think of Space Marines (i.e., the Codex and TT) and what others think of Space Marines (Black Library/FFG). There isn't a way to reconcile that disconnect without a major rewriting one way or another, and no matter what, there isn't really a middle ground. They are either gods among men or just tougher, stronger, shock troops. 

 

As for the actual question of balance, I think mechanical balance is hard to achieve in this game system without the entire table working specifically towards it. Each game is different in what can be accomplished, but the fact is there are some builds/roles/specialties that are clearly favored mechanically. Most players are more interested in being a badass and surviving than making sure everything is fair and balanced.

 

Given that, the burden of making things balanced is usually solely on the GM. Giving every player a chance to shine is what any good GM should be doing, anyways - the difficulty arises when noncombat builds/roles/specialties aren't as supported in the rules as combat ones are. While it may be easy to provide a tough foe for your combat-oriented players to beat, giving a similar, RAW mechanical challenge for noncombat players is harder to do.

 

Compounding that, there are a lot of contradictions and holes to be exploited in what is a pretty crunchy, mechanical game. Part of this is due to a lot of copy/pasting and general lack of forethought. If you have even one munchkin powergamer in your group, it can seriously destabilize the balance of your game. The worst part? It hardly ever contradicts RAW. Most core books in this line are pretty rules-heavy, yet are susceptible to being broken with even a cursory look at what is possible. 

 

So then what does a GM do? Stack on harder challenges, tougher foes? Welcome to the instagib, 1-shot arena that is higher-level WH40k. Weapons and offensive talents get better, while armor and toughness plateau after a certain point. Skill and Interaction tests have to become long and difficult to present any sort of challenge to those who max them, with the potential failure meaning a brick wall - or worse. 

Edited by cpteveros

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About Sisters... You see I can understand how Space Marines are high upper that common man - they have their gene-mods and essentialy unlimited life spans. But what special Sororites have? If they mean Acts of Faith, that are exist - of course, but it's something that puts Sororites outside "common men" league.

 

See, and I think that the characters in the 40k RPGs can similarly be outside "common men" league once they reach a certain point of experience/veterancy and pick up those Skills and Talents that elevate them above the common soldiery, to become what the recruiting Inquisitor saw in them etc.

 

I think it was in another thread where I recommended different XP thresholds for certain types of characters, to give ordinary Humans the ability to "catch up" to the level where they are on par with Space Marines, Battle Sisters, Inquisitors, and other heroes of the franchise. We have a ruleset which includes a progression system .. let's use it!

 

On a sidenote, the 6E rulebook gives Space Marines a biological lifespan "two to three times longer than a normal man". The Blood Angels wouldn't be so special otherwise!

 

I can't talk about Unnatural Willpower aside from that I've heard it is supposedly pretty broken for psykers, but when it comes to Strengh and Toughness, I see only problems, no advantages. Characters with Unnatural Strength still don't get a better chance to succeed at the Tests, and Toughness ... well, it wouldn't be so bad if TB was not "dermal armour", as you said, but unfortunately it is (a problem that affects other characters as well; Marines are just the most obvious example).

 

And about non-SM bolters (Ultima is Godwyn too, as I recall btw) I read some sources and I believe now they have lesser launch speed - because recoil is named as main problem with bolters. I'm ready to swear I saw 0.6 caliber bolters somewhere, but can't find now. I believe can justify why do you need that unnatural strength, but it's not the matter.

 

As per the 2E Wargear book, any and all bolt weapons have a slow launch speed. The projectile clears the barrel by conventional charge, which is when the miniature rocket motor kicks in and propels it to speed. The tabletop rules for Deathwatch Kill Teams also mentioned Space Marine Stalker shells to travel at "subsonic" speed, which would mean less than 340 m/sec. That is slower than even a modern day shotgun slug, which would have a nigh-equivalent calibre. And still they do the same damage.

 

Any difference in wargear simply cannot be explained rationally. We've got naked gangers lugging around calibre 1.00 heavy bolters, yet people in powered armour are supposed to have a problem wielding a gun that fires ammunition 3/4 the size just because it says "Space Marine" on it? Arguably it isn't even that, as DH1 already had a gun that allowed ordinary Humans to shoot Astartes ammo, albeit at pre-Deathwatch stats...

 

Occham's Razor. The only reason the Space Marines get better gear hear, which is a clear deviation from GW's own material, is either a mechanical necessity (their TB would otherwise make them almost invulnerable to their own guns, and their SB combined with DH throwing/lifting rules would make hurling a common rock just as dangerous as shooting the gun), or simple preference from the designers, or a mixture of both.

 

Thing is, well... Space Marines outclasses common humans in combat, not only in melee, but in range too.

 

But .. they don't. In GW material, their Ballistic Skill can be matched or exceeded by Humans, and when they get the same or better weapons ... why must the Human be worse off? The only difference is that the Human is squishier, but this only means something if he or she gets hit, at which point a Marine could be in trouble as well.

 

Thing is you need boltgun or plasma to stop CSM.

 

Or a lasgun, if we'd simply go with GW's version of the fluff and rules -- be it the Tabletop or d100 Inquisitor. Yes, it'd be a very small chance, but it exists. Not so in this RPG. More evidence for an unnecessary prevention of character balance.

 

"The most important element in the construction of a suit of Space Marine power armour is the large ceramite armour plates, which provide the main form of protection against enemy attack. Individual plates of armour can be up to an inch thick, and have a special honeycomb design which helps to dissipate energy and localise any damage suffered by the suit. Against most small arms the armour reduces the chance of injury by between 50-85%, and it provides some form of protection against all except the most powerful weapons encountered on the battlefields of the 41st Millenium."

-- 2E Codex Angels of Death : Space Marine Power Armour

 

Note how the 85% corresponds nicely to the chance of a lasgun trooper dropping a Marine in the TT, as well as a lasgun scoring an injury in Inquisitor. Coincidence? You be the judge.

 

Either way, as mentioned above, I'd only allow Space Marines (or Inquisitors, or fully-fledged Sisters) in a game with "advanced" heroes who have already gained a couple Talents and better wargear. Chances are they'd no longer run around with lasguns, but rather bolt and plasma weapons. As I said on the page before .. weapons as equalisers!

 

 

On a sidenote -- personally, I like to compare 40k boltguns to the AA-12 automatic shotgun. 12G is almost cal .75, and it can shoot explosive rounds as well! The only thing you'd still have to add would be the miniature rocket. ;)

 

The AA-12 also sports some pretty basic-yet-ingenious recoil compensation that allows you to, for example, rock two of these guns at the same time. Perhaps this might help to accept that with future technology, a bolt weapon could be similarly "easy" to handle ... though personally, I'd still like it to have a little kick just for the heck of it. ^^

 

 

 

The setting provides a lot of conflict in that there is a disconnect between what many think of Space Marines (i.e., the Codex and TT) and what others think of Space Marines (Black Library/FFG). There isn't a way to reconcile that disconnect without a major rewriting one way or another, and no matter what, there isn't really a middle ground. They are either gods among men or just tougher, stronger, shock troops. 

 

I like to believe that a middle ground would be possible, perhaps even that I am already advocating it -- but I still fear you have a point. Space Marines are one of the cornerstones of the franchise, so the ones who really, really like the "gods among men" version are unlikely to budge, similar to how I have difficulties accepting the "nerfed" version of the Sisters.

 

Still, if all players agree on the principle that a balanced game is the best way to make it fun for everyone, and that everyone should get their time to shine, would that not be a good starting point?

 

 

So then what does a GM do? Stack on harder challenges, tougher foes? Welcome to the instagib, 1-shot arena that is higher-level WH40k. Weapons and offensive talents get better, while armor and toughness plateau after a certain point. Skill and Interaction tests have to become long and difficult to present any sort of challenge to those who max them, with the potential failure meaning a brick wall - or worse. 

 

The problems of a complex system. The more crunch you cram in, the more difficult it is to make sure everything works in harmony.

 

It's why I tend to favour rules-lite systems. I still think Dark Heresy & Co. are a pretty amazing basis, there are just a few glaring flaws on the very base of it that need to be ironed out. I doubt it'd solve everything, but a lot of things could fall into place.

Edited by Lynata

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If you like the basic d100 mechanic, check out Basic Roleplaying System, which is more or less the basis for the entire mechanic.

 

That said, the categorical insistance space marines are better at everything combat related is flat out incorrect. They have the same BS as guard vets in TT and every bit of hyperbole in the Space Marine codexes can be matched by any other codex out there. It doesn't even need a sororitas, all it needs is a single stormtrooper to kill a marine head on. The second you have something that gets through their armour, they're just as tost as anyone else. They aren't anywhere near the tier of officio or death cult assassins, who will go through a tactical squad as if it were made of paper. This, too, is GW's own fluff and crunch.

 

In fact, if you actually look at the fluff, you'll find exceptional characters, like an inquisitor and his retinue, are usually a tier above space marines entirely. Except in these RPGs...

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All players (at least those who are nice people) can agree that everyone having fun is the point of playing, and that having a time to shine is important to everyone. The issue comes in when you've got a complex, rules-heavy game that dramatically favors mechanical combat while relegating noncombat to skills tests and roleplaying.

 

That works out alright in Only War, where most of the game is going to be combat and players are going to prepare accordingly. In something where noncombat builds come into play, it is less satisfying when you lack the rules support. 

 

I've become a bit fed up with a heavy system that is so exploitable. Make no mistake, I love the 40k setting and enjoy playing in it, I just now find myself favoring rules-light systems that don't really emphasize mechanical character building. 

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Thing is, well... Space Marines outclasses common humans in combat, not only in melee, but in range too.

 

But .. they don't. In GW material, their Ballistic Skill can be matched or exceeded by Humans, and when they get the same or better weapons ... why must the Human be worse off? The only difference is that the Human is squishier, but this only means something if he or she gets hit, at which point a Marine could be in trouble as well.

 

If I may weigh in on this. It makes logical sense to me that Space Marines would be superior to humans in almost every respect including shooting. True, aside from their enhanced senses that might make tracking and seeing targets at long distances easier, they have no "mechanical" enhancements to shooting a gun, they DO have considerably more experience at it than most people.

 

The average Space Marine is going to have put three to four times as much time into shooting his Bolter as the average Imperial Guard. And probably similar numbers when it comes to swinging around a chainsword as well. So it makes sense that Space Marines are better shots than almost any other human-- in the grimdark of 40k, your average Space Marine has spent more time using his bolter than the average human lives. 

 

 

I will agree that it is not impossible persay for a human to achieve Space Marine levels of marksmanship (or even weapon skill), but they will never be better than anything beyond the lower end Space Marines. Space Marines have the best training, the best experience, and everything working in their favor. They are first class soldiers, everyone else has to work with the leftover scraps. 

 

Take a "good" Space Marine marksman (by Space Marine standards) and the BEST human marksman you can, and I think the human marksman would be lucky to go even with the Space Marine. Space Marines have inherent advantages, and as long as they take advantage of those, they'll always be a step ahead of their human counterparts.

 

----

 

The place in which humans are superior to a Space Marine is in their flexibility. The Space Marine has spent his life becoming the perfect soldier, and in that, he has no equal. But obviously, this one-track training has left him deficient in other areas. A Space Marine cannot navigate a tense political situation with the tact that a skilled politician can. Nor can they root out the heretics they are meant to fight with the efficiency and skill of an Inquisitor. 

 

Space Marines are tools of war, and in war only the best of humanity can match the least of their order. It's in everything else that the humans can outmatch the Emperor's angels.

Edited by ColArana

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