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Humans and CSM - Balancing

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Hi

 

I have an all human player group wandering the screaming Vortex, they are round 6000 EP so far...

So nothing fancy.

 

Due to rezising of the group, we will have some new characters joining soon.

Since I was asked if I will allow CSM into the group, I wanted to know.

How do you handle the balancing ? 
Some special tips or advice ? 
I know there are a few in the book, which all seem legit.

I just wonder how other game masters experienced the issue

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How do you handle the balancing ?

Space Marines, particularly of the Chaos variety are not the best diplomats, nor the best at sneaking through tight air vents or getting unnoticed into areas. etc.

Basically, I always present mixed non-combat challenges to the group - where being either a human or a CSM would let them shine.

 

Some special tips or advice ?

A thing I've noticed is that some CSM players have a tendency to think they are invulnerable.

 

But keep in mind that a resourceful and clever opponent (like say, an Inquisitor) would know of their existence and would have planned accordingly. Also, Psykers tend to have a leg up vs CSM, despite the default +10 to resist Psy powers.

 

I try to include at least one credible threat to the CSM(s) in the group, in any combat scenario, be they environmental, or via a special threat.

 

i.e. the look on my CSM player's face when Cardinal Falconer in Hand of Corruption (spoiler inc):

blasted him in the face with his Digi-Melta

, was priceless.

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Well a CSM may think they are invulnerable they aren't even close hordes are an easy option to even things out and other basics are a person with a decent AP weapon even a humble hell gun get pretty much though their armour leave only a decent die roll for some damage ,

as mentiond before environmental issues can be made entertaining for them and non combat challenges can keep the others happy

 

I will also say I the last game I ran with CSM's in the berserker was on MK7 of his character after less then 2 months due to the inherent issues of mad men who think they are the best

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As noted, be aware that the marines will win a 'fair fight' - the trick is that humans are much better at giving them an unfair fight.

 

Important things to remember:

  • The Quick and the Dead means that whilst marines tend to have 5-10 points higher agility, disciples of chaos have effectively +20 agility for the purposes of initiative
  • Power Armour makes you hulking. Yes, the black carapace removes the to hit penalty. It doesn't remove the penalty for stealth checks. Added to the fact that stealth isn't a skill marines get by default and 'sneaking' is not exactly their forte.
  • Anything involving diplomacy and infiltration doesn't really work so well if you're a legionary. The apostate is just ridiculous at smooth-talking people and the renegade can be just so much better at ninja-ing people.
  • Remember that if the marines start trying to intimitade people and act like they're in command, the humans can always respond in kind; an intrigue-focused human can always acquire a greater minion of a chaos space marine himself...

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I would take away his power armor (and give him something else, maybe 4 natural armor from a crab back mutation??)  I say this because A) the amor pushes the damage scales way above the humans and B) means he'll never be infiltratable material.  The former makes life miserable for the humans.  The later ruins a lot of human chaos type missions.

 

The other option is make flesh shaper available to the humans and then the marine advantage largely evaporates.

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As above, you really do not need to balance them out. Both of the two have their specific advantages and uses. Your problem then is not about leveling the two options but about trying to balance the players who will be using them and recognising the skills of them both. A marine is mostly a rocket propelled nuclear powered sledgehammer. When you are a massive hammer, all the world is just a bunch of nails and a marine serves that role. They do however have other options but chiefly they are there to take and dish out damage. Humans, while have the potential to do good amounts of damage, and are your masons chisel and tiny hammer are a bit more cunning and can manipulate the world more effectively such as devices, smooth talk their way into places, stealth or fit where the marine cannot. Players therefore need to accept that if they take the other, there will be certain skills that are just out of their comfort zone which should be left to the other squishy side.

 

Despite their weaknesses in body, even a CSM can respect a particularly skilled and experienced human for what they are. A well honed human assassin with their smaller stature, flexibility and sleight of hand or a smooth talker can easily impress a marine enough that they may respect them and consider them useful or effective allies for what they are and may even defer to their expertise at times. The only difficulty is when your players develop an ego and frankly become a bunch of stuck up arseholes and think that a CSM is always superior in every way and that all others need to bow down to them. This is not the case and there are traitor legions who will utilise human cultist allies of particular skill. You will therefore need to ensure that they do not fall into that trap. I've had this before as a human assassin with a good number of CSM in the party and while many of them would consider booting me around, they knew full well that my mastery of sabotage and cold, calculating murder would mean that if they tried it they would find nasty surprises over the next few years to mean it wasn't worth their time. Your trick for the humans then is that they need to ensure that they try to reinforce their personality and not let it be overshadowed.

 

Taking a marine out of armour would be a bad idea and I must disagree with Kamikazzijoe, it's what helps define them even if it is mostly non functional and what grants them a few extra benefits on top of their sizeable mutations list. The damage scales would indeed be above human but then a human would be unlikely to end up in the same situations where they are facing the same numbers being thrown at them. One thing to consider is that CSM effectively serves as the tank in many cases and drawing enemy fire with his imposing presence on the field while humans have the mobility and dexterity (in theory) to move more freely around the battlefield, stealthing where needs be or strike from a distance for devastating effect.

Edited by Calgor Grim

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If you really want to restrict marines without taking their signature power armour away, one thing to restrict which means they need actual planning is to prevent them taking the sustainable power source subsystem.

 

That may result in them voluntarily leaving the power armour off for some missions, but leaves the option of kicking buttock in powered plate where they've planned for it. It's that subsystem which produces the "I never need take the armour off" syndrome.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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I had a team of marines with one human.  It ended up being, the human does a lot of the adventure in the email phase between sessions, then the marines take over during the roll20 get together sessions.  Wasn't much fun for the human player.  I played a DW mission where we had to take off our armor and mix amongst the humans.  It was a blast which is why i suggested taking away the armor.  Because we were using Roll20 (online table top), i was limited in the amount of parallel story telling i could do (ok you three are over here doing this, roll some dice - Now back to you two over here....)

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Well marines are going to be an absolute damage magnet, and anyone with a heavy weapon and two brain cells is going to shoot them first. Sure power Armour can handle lasguns all day, while the humans scramble for cover, it's the las-cannon that is going to be trouble for him. He will also be particularly vulnerable to haywire weapons that none of the humans ( well except a herateck) won't care nearly as much about. Then there is always the slightly trollish move of having all the ceilings only be about 7 feet tall whenever he went inside. ( the player had the whole " I'm superior to all mere mortals thing" It made it kinda hard to be intimidating when he always had to stoop to move around, even worse when he got horns lol) On the other hand if you need someone to jump off of a 10 story building, rip the hatch off of a leman russ, drop in a clutch of grenades, then walk out of the resulting explosion without a scratch, except no substitutes. 

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There are several ways to balance the game. First off all never ever take away anything from the characters. You can limit what they get, this also a way to help out charaters if needed.(I do not belive in cripling the starting archetypes, Balancing in the live game a better idea)

The main difference is in combat. Simply add +50 opponents per Chaos Space Marine (or any other number try low (as 20) then increase the numbers. (Joe the renegade takes the 5 imperial guard in the right, Jake the Chaos Space Marine takes other 50 on the left.) Or give them other more serious opponents.

 

Other thing is Social encounters from Tome of Excess, fun for every one.

 

About players with CSM  Characters: Every other warband member expect them to be monsters on the battleflied, so losing is harsher for them. Also They made and destenied to be warriors, so no whining and bitching about hordes. Thats they job to cut them down....

Edited by Athanatosz

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