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Support for Kill Team

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Short question. What kind of Astartes support personal could one expect a Kill Team? I the support will be based on a smaller cruiser or something of that class and its essentially a long-term assignment for the Kill Team to halt an outright Ork invasion of a civilized world. Right now I'm thinking of a Watch Captain, a Keeper (to guard the arsenal, essentially), a Forge Master and possibly something else like an Apothecary.

 

But more insight into this would be welcome.

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A unit like a kill-team is expected to be highly autonomous for a prolonged period, so I'd say the chance of other Space Marines with the single role of providing dedicated support for one team is low. Especially so if the Marine is a high-rank figure, like a Watch Captain or a Forge Master. A lot depends on the composition of the Kill-Team as well, so if you already have, say, a Techmarine in the team, the chances to have a second one assigned are minimal - your player will be expected to fill that role. The thing to remember is that the Deathwatch is depicted everywhere as permanently understaffed, so they'll send in exactly as many Astartes as needed to deal with the issue, not a single Marine more. It is particularly so in the case of Librarians or Techmarines, a rare commodity even in full Chapters. With that in mind, it's important to see who exactly has high stakes in thwarting the Orks:

 

1) If the Kill-Team is the only one operating in the area, tough luck, no other Astartes. There's an armoury on the ship to replenish basic stuff, like bullets, but I think that's all.

2) If there are multiple Kill-Teams acting against the Orks in the same area, it makes sense to have a Watch Captain coordinating them. I guess they'd also send a bigger ship with better equipment, and possibly a small Astartes security detail garrisoning the ship and acting as reserves for the campaign.

3) If there's something more grandiose than a relatively simple Ork attack, like there's a prophecy involved, or the planet has a special significance, a Keeper or a Librarian might have a role as the eyes and ears of the leadership.

4) If the adventure is archeotech- or Necron-related, have a Techmarine or Forge Master present.

 

...and so on, and so forth. Basically having a Captain and a Forge Master and a Keeper and an Apothecary would be reserved to utterly apocalyptic events, at least in my book. If the Kill-Team is small and you need additional Astartes with specific skill-sets for the adventure to work, by all means include them, but as a general rule, the team is expected to handle their missions on their own.

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You're asking about additional Space Marines only, right? Not non-Astartes support personnel like Inquisitorial advisors and Chapter Serfs?

 

Yes, only Space Marine support to the KIll Team, essentially. But if youd like to throw in other suggestyions I'm all open-minded about this. :)

 

A unit like a kill-team is expected to be highly autonomous for a prolonged period, so I'd say the chance of other Space Marines with the single role of providing dedicated support for one team is low. Especially so if the Marine is a high-rank figure, like a Watch Captain or a Forge Master. A lot depends on the composition of the Kill-Team as well, so if you already have, say, a Techmarine in the team, the chances to have a second one assigned are minimal - your player will be expected to fill that role. The thing to remember is that the Deathwatch is depicted everywhere as permanently understaffed, so they'll send in exactly as many Astartes as needed to deal with the issue, not a single Marine more. It is particularly so in the case of Librarians or Techmarines, a rare commodity even in full Chapters. With that in mind, it's important to see who exactly has high stakes in thwarting the Orks:

 

1) If the Kill-Team is the only one operating in the area, tough luck, no other Astartes. There's an armoury on the ship to replenish basic stuff, like bullets, but I think that's all.

2) If there are multiple Kill-Teams acting against the Orks in the same area, it makes sense to have a Watch Captain coordinating them. I guess they'd also send a bigger ship with better equipment, and possibly a small Astartes security detail garrisoning the ship and acting as reserves for the campaign.

3) If there's something more grandiose than a relatively simple Ork attack, like there's a prophecy involved, or the planet has a special significance, a Keeper or a Librarian might have a role as the eyes and ears of the leadership.

4) If the adventure is archeotech- or Necron-related, have a Techmarine or Forge Master present.

 

...and so on, and so forth. Basically having a Captain and a Forge Master and a Keeper and an Apothecary would be reserved to utterly apocalyptic events, at least in my book. If the Kill-Team is small and you need additional Astartes with specific skill-sets for the adventure to work, by all means include them, but as a general rule, the team is expected to handle their missions on their own.

 

The scenario is that there's a major Ork invasion of a civilized world lead by a significant Ork warboss (the kind who can take on and take out a Leman Russ battle tank). The danger with this is that HQ knows that this could in the long run open up a new front for the crusade when resources are already spread thin, if the planet would fall and act as a staging ground for further Ork attacks. Thus the KT is to cripple this Ork invasion and so prevent this new front from being opened and pave the way for an Imperial victory with as few extra-planetary resources as possible having to be diverted. A response force could of course be sent but that would mean that other fronts would be drained of reserves and resources, which could mean problem there.

 

I should say that the planet in question is highly militarized and with a very large and well-equiped PDF, so there will be plenty of PDF grunts, with air support, artillery, armor etc. to take on the Orks, but a KT ensure Imperial victory has been deemed necessary.

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The scenario is that there's a major Ork invasion of a civilized world lead by a significant Ork warboss (the kind who can take on and take out a Leman Russ battle tank). The danger with this is that HQ knows that this could in the long run open up a new front for the crusade when resources are already spread thin, if the planet would fall and act as a staging ground for further Ork attacks. Thus the KT is to cripple this Ork invasion and so prevent this new front from being opened and pave the way for an Imperial victory with as few extra-planetary resources as possible having to be diverted. A response force could of course be sent but that would mean that other fronts would be drained of reserves and resources, which could mean problem there.

 

I should say that the planet in question is highly militarized and with a very large and well-equiped PDF, so there will be plenty of PDF grunts, with air support, artillery, armor etc. to take on the Orks, but a KT ensure Imperial victory has been deemed necessary.

 

It all depends on the type of the mission you want to play out. Actually, why do you want to add other Astartes? Do you need somebody specific to augment your Kill-Team, or you just want to do flavour events and lots of interactions with Astartes NPCs? Everything can be easily justified, I'm just curious why you want to bring in support.

 

As for non-Astartes support, they can have plenty of it, in a milion different ways: the mortal crew of the Apothecarion on the ship gives a +10 or +20 to Medicae, or they have Medicae themselves to patch up your team between missions. The same might go for Chapter Serfs helping out with Tech-Use tests if weaponry or armour needs to be fixed. The possibilities are endless - for starters, check Imperial Assets on page 214 of RoB for types and ideas.

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There's probably a Keeper who's responsible for the ship - and supports the Kill-team insofar as they're being based off of and supported from his ship. It would be ultimately his call on what the ship will do to support the Kill-team, and what risks it will run or not run in order to do so.

 

Frankly, if it's just a single Kill-team, it is unlikely that they would have a cruiser of any variety attached to them on a semi-permanent basis, instead, it is most likely that a single Kill-team would be assigned to a destroyer or frigate.

 

There'd be plenty of the Deathwatch-equivalent of Chapter Serfs available for support, however, I would suggest that most support be represented in a non-combat role - in other words, let them have out of combat support, and a squad to guard the Thunderhawk while it's landed and they're off elsewhere, but usually not to accompany them to that elsewhere

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The scenario is that there's a major Ork invasion of a civilized world lead by a significant Ork warboss (the kind who can take on and take out a Leman Russ battle tank). The danger with this is that HQ knows that this could in the long run open up a new front for the crusade when resources are already spread thin, if the planet would fall and act as a staging ground for further Ork attacks. Thus the KT is to cripple this Ork invasion and so prevent this new front from being opened and pave the way for an Imperial victory with as few extra-planetary resources as possible having to be diverted. A response force could of course be sent but that would mean that other fronts would be drained of reserves and resources, which could mean problem there.

 

I should say that the planet in question is highly militarized and with a very large and well-equiped PDF, so there will be plenty of PDF grunts, with air support, artillery, armor etc. to take on the Orks, but a KT ensure Imperial victory has been deemed necessary.

 

It all depends on the type of the mission you want to play out. Actually, why do you want to add other Astartes? Do you need somebody specific to augment your Kill-Team, or you just want to do flavour events and lots of interactions with Astartes NPCs? Everything can be easily justified, I'm just curious why you want to bring in support.

 

As for non-Astartes support, they can have plenty of it, in a milion different ways: the mortal crew of the Apothecarion on the ship gives a +10 or +20 to Medicae, or they have Medicae themselves to patch up your team between missions. The same might go for Chapter Serfs helping out with Tech-Use tests if weaponry or armour needs to be fixed. The possibilities are endless - for starters, check Imperial Assets on page 214 of RoB for types and ideas.

 

 

The reason to add other Astartes is to essentially give me as an GM a chance to advice or support the team if they're stuck in-game with characters on the same level as the PCs themselves. But also, as you mentioned, add flavor events and interactions with Astartes to ensure it don't become a game of "kill the Xenos/heretic of the week". Many of the things that Imperial Guardsmen can for example do when not in combat would for example not seem likely for Space Marines and thus I want to ensure that when not deployed for a mission, the characters can do something else than just sitting in a monastic cell and make themselves ready for the next mission.

 

But in a way, and knowing some of my players, I think that Astartes NPCs must be present, to keep them in line. I've seen the lengths to which some of them will go and so I feel that I should effectively have a MP for the Astartes watching over them. Now when I think about it, maybe it would be better for them to play Black Crusade? I don't know as I'm the one most interested in Deathwatch.

 

There's probably a Keeper who's responsible for the ship - and supports the Kill-team insofar as they're being based off of and supported from his ship. It would be ultimately his call on what the ship will do to support the Kill-team, and what risks it will run or not run in order to do so.

 

Frankly, if it's just a single Kill-team, it is unlikely that they would have a cruiser of any variety attached to them on a semi-permanent basis, instead, it is most likely that a single Kill-team would be assigned to a destroyer or frigate.

 

There'd be plenty of the Deathwatch-equivalent of Chapter Serfs available for support, however, I would suggest that most support be represented in a non-combat role - in other words, let them have out of combat support, and a squad to guard the Thunderhawk while it's landed and they're off elsewhere, but usually not to accompany them to that elsewhere

 

A Keeper to handle the ship sounds like a great idea! When I said cruiser I just took a class I knew the Deathwatch had. A destroyer or frigate will serves just as fine.

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If you want someone to "Keep them in Line" you could use an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor and retinue, or maybe just an Interrogator and team, rather than loading up with NPC Astartes.

 

Combined with a Keeper for the ship, between the two, that should be enough to have the authority to make them listen even if they don't want to, while providing advice and some assistance without risking overshadowing the players.

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If you want someone to "Keep them in Line" you could use an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor and retinue, or maybe just an Interrogator and team, rather than loading up with NPC Astartes.

 

Combined with a Keeper for the ship, between the two, that should be enough to have the authority to make them listen even if they don't want to, while providing advice and some assistance without risking overshadowing the players.

 

Keepers are a weird bunch - guarding DW ships is specifically listed among their duties, but their most defining trait is that they're kind of an Inner Circle for the Deathwatch. It's definitely a toss-up between Keepers and Watch Captains if you need a clear figure of authority, with Keepers being a bit more mysterious by default. An Inquisitor is tricky, they have to have a very powerful personality to be a memorable figure - at least in my games, but I might be doing something wrong :)

 

I've long been favouring using many Astartes NPCs, because the players rarely perceive anyone else as being on an equal footing with them, and this usually helps them roleplay more. My players' favourite is a White Scar Thunderhawk pilot usually ferrying them between their ship and the targets, who - in contrast with the monastic, dour majority - is always extremely cheerful and regales them with shamelessly tall tales about the Khan's heroic deeds, (usually somewhat related to the actual opponent/situation and made up on the spot by me). A recurring pilot character would be easy to include in your adventure, too - they will need transportation, after all.

 

I'd also consider having a separate kill-team doing their own thing off-screen (but based on the same ship), perhaps with a different "HQ choice" character included. That way you can have an intermittent presence of yet more Marines, you can develop camaraderie or rivalry between them and the KT as you see fit, and you can introduce info about the campaign even easier.

 

But the bottom line is this: First think about what type of archetype or personality you'd like to bring in, and base the rest (number of NPCs, Chapter, Speciality, frequency of appearance) around that.

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A bunch of Astartes NPCs back at Erioch or another Watch Station, sure. I have trouble buying into a bunch of Astartes NPCs sitting around on a ship overseeing/supporting just one or two kill-teams without a very good reason - they're generally going to have better things to do elsewhere. That's why I'd go for a Keeper and Inquisitor plus retinue or other senior Inquisition Agent and team. An Inquisitor or Interrogator, or other senior agent of the Inquisition is a person who the PCs should be treating with respect and listening to by default, or at least, until they prove unworthy of that respect.

Maybe there'll be an Astartes pilot or two to drive the Thunderhawk, in addition to the Keeper, but the Deathwatch doesn't have the same kind of structure a Chapter does, and might use non-Astartes pilots much more often than Chapters do nowadays, on the grounds that the Legions used non-Astartes pilots. Anyways the point is, there aren't going to be a lot of Astartes exclusively in support roles in the Deathwatch - there aren't enough Astartes and they have too many things that they need to do for that.

 

 

A Rosette is the social equivalent of close air or orbital fire support, at least, when dealing with Astartes. It requires respect for the power and authority even if you dislike the person and the institution. Especially if the Astartes superiors are respecting the Inquisitor. Even if the Kill-team hasn't been explicitly assigned to/placed under the authority of the Inquisitor. If the Watch Captain/Keeper are respectful to the Inquisitor and are willing to verbally reprimand the Kill-team for blatantly disrespecting the Inquisitor ... the Kill-team is pressured into at least acting as though they respect the Inquisitor.

 

Sure, the Astartes might be able to crush the Inquisitor and his retinue in combat ... but the Inquisitor has vastly more authority, and has a lot more in the way of noncombat power, and between him and his retinue are a lot more flexible and versatile. Astartes have relatively narrow range of what they can do, almost all combat related. The Inquisitor and his retinue are the ones who will figure out what the information the Kill-team captured from the enemy base means and then point them at the enemy.

 

 

Players not perceiving anyone else as being on an equal footing with them can be something of a problem, depending on how that mindset expresses itself - even if it's going to be true for a lot of the lower level types, there's a difference between not necessarily being on an equal footing and not being important or not mattering.

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[...] That's why I'd go for a Keeper and Inquisitor plus retinue or other senior Inquisition Agent and team. An Inquisitor or Interrogator, or other senior agent of the Inquisition is a person who the PCs should be treating with respect and listening to by default, or at least, until they prove unworthy of that respect.

Maybe there'll be an Astartes pilot or two to drive the Thunderhawk, in addition to the Keeper, but the Deathwatch doesn't have the same kind of structure a Chapter does, and might use non-Astartes pilots much more often than Chapters do nowadays, on the grounds that the Legions used non-Astartes pilots. Anyways the point is, there aren't going to be a lot of Astartes exclusively in support roles in the Deathwatch - there aren't enough Astartes and they have too many things that they need to do for that.

 

I think we're fairly close in this matter. An extended mission should not have more Astartes support personnel than PCs - with the possible exception of a second kill-team working on the same issue. A smaller transport ship is also unlikely to have an Astartes captain and/or crew (although you can also put the players on a nearby Watch Station if you want to avoid this). If, however, a GM wants to use a lot of Marine NPCs, there are tons of good excuses to do so. Sure, the adventure has to be a bit tailor-made to keep it believable, but it's not impossible, that's why I was asking about the reason behind wanting to have them around.

 

Players not perceiving anyone else as being on an equal footing with them can be something of a problem, depending on how that mindset expresses itself - even if it's going to be true for a lot of the lower level types, there's a difference between not necessarily being on an equal footing and not being important or not mattering.

 

I'm also not against having Inquisitors in the game, involving them is an idea full of possibilities, but in my particular case they don't work so well - as in they don't facilitate good roleplaying. The parallel power structure established by FFG (as opposed to the older lore, where Marines were direct subordinates) makes Inquisitorial interactions a potential quagmire of politics, and my team is wary of that, so they won't express themselves as freely as in the company of other Astartes, and the tight-lipped tiptoeing around each other tires me, so as a rule of thumb I only use Inquisitors when they're central to the plot. A direct order from a DW superior to obey the =][= during the mission can be a neat shortcut, but it won't solve everything, and it's a bit too hamfisted to use it repeatedly. Then there's the other possible problem, that the players just opt to take the backseat outside combat because the Inquisitor outshines them in other areas (my players can be awfully lazy on occasions). Oh well, nobody said GMing would be easy :)

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Involving Inquisitors can be tricky, but I think how tricky depends on why they're there and what they're doing.

I'd say though, that the interaction between Inquisitors/the Inquisition and the Deathwatch in the "FFG parallel command structure" is likely to vary wildly, depending on the Inquisitor in question and the Astartes in question.

 

 

Players taking a backseat outside combat to an Inquisitor can be a larger problem ... but if the Inquisitor isn't in the scene or doesn't let PCs push their problems onto him/her to solve, likely because they're busy doing something else behind the scenes - perhaps watching to see what happens and who does what when the Killteam is doing their thing ... then the players have to be involved. Just because the PCs aren't formally under the Inquisitor's command doesn't mean they can dodge their responsibilities and let the Inquisitor do their jobs for them.

If the Inquisitor isn't Officially Present on the planet, that is, is there undercover, if at all, and the PCs blow the Inquisitor's cover without a damned good reason, parallel power structure or no, the consequences will be significant. This might not be the best of examples, but think about Inquisitor Amberly Vail and Ciaphas Cain in For The Emperor, or in Duty Calls - Vail was there undercover to do stuff behind the scenes while everybody's attention was focused elsewhere and Cain was used as the public face and distraction for what she was doing.

Their Deathwatch superiors can also give them orders in addition to whatever the Inquisitor is working with them on, so the PCs have joint-Inquisition objectives and non-Inquisition objectives.

And the Inquisitor present isn't going to go into the field with the Killteam most of the time, and such occasions should be rare - the Inquisitor is going to be working the problem(s) from their angles - which are often largely not compatible with the immediate presence of a Deathwatch Killteam.

 

If your players want to let the Inquisitor and Retinue do the work for the Killteam, perhaps have players running the retinue for at least some of those things (at least, for joint-objectives, but not Inquisition-objectives or non-Inquisition objectives), and perhaps have the Inquisitor give the retinue additional/secret orders that aren't part of the Killteam's objective or have side effects that will make the Killteam's job more complicated than if the Kill-team had done the work for the joint-objective themselves. Plus, Inquisitors deal in information and favors - if the Kill team wants the Inquisitor to do something for them, they'll have to make a deal with the Inquisitor and will have to do something for the Inquisitor. If they wind up owing the Inquisitor a favor every time, and sometimes their original job becomes more complicated/harder, they should come to the conclusion that having the Inquisitor do things for them that they can do on a regular basis isn't the best of plans.

And if the PCs are from Chapters that distrust the Inquisition to a greater or lesser degree, such as Space Wolves or Dark Angels/successors (perhaps one of the few things they agree about), then there's no way that the characters would be okay with not doing things to let an Inquisitor do them without a good reason, and especially not on a regular basis.

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well, you can as I read it get assistance from other forces already in an abstract form. I'm the fng here but I seem to gather in some cases you can call in fire support from the fleet and even call 'Assasins R us' to have a 'hit' put out on some targets.

As to direct, personal, at your side assistance, in cases where it is necessary and justified I could see being issued some tanks from the imperial guard or adeptus mechanicus as heavy support. I would possibly allow a unit of storm troopers as support in some cases, or a unit of skitarii if the AM was involved and had interests in the mission that were vital to them. A techmarine might be issued some combat servitors to command.

For that famous 40k brand© extra special grimdark flavor, you might issue a stormtrooper squad or a penal unit to a kill team as support, with the understanding any survivors are to be eliminated to ensure security is maintained.

Edited by Professor Tanhauser

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