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JenBurdoo

Help for new GM

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Hi.  I'm a librarian thinking of running Only War (the teens expressed interest).  I'm not really expecting it to turn into a campaign (a half-dozen sessions with luck), so am looking at running with just the starter rules from Eleven Hours, adding bits and pieces if interest increases. I ran a semi-successful DnD-style rules-lite fantasy campaign for them (all of them utter newbies at the time), and they're interested in trying a different genre.  Well, one was thinking of a Pathfinder Fighter, but I reckon I can give him a Catachan with a knife and sword and that may work for him.  Right now I have three players, but might end up with more once I display some 40K books in the teen area.

 

Here's the catch: The sessions will be one hour a week.  One and a half at the outside. (I have zero leeway with my programming schedule.) Even with the starter rules, that may be pushing it.  Thoughts on how to cut Only War to the bare bones?  Or on chopping the Eleven Hours scenario into discrete one-hour pieces? I am thinking of using some other system (Tracy Hickman's XD20 worked very well for the fantasy game) but suspect they would prefer the greater crunchiness and choice of something more complex like OW with its nine stats, d100, skills and talents.

 

Thanks for any suggestions!

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In terms of speeding up the rules as they exist, I'd suggest dropping weapon pen (and increasing damage in the case where there is a large pen on the weapon), flattening armour value and removing hit location (so you have the same armour all over and you don't have to stop to figure out hit locations).  I'd also make a little chart of the PCs weapon damages and encourage rolling all the damage from an attack together. Drop critical injuries for NPCs and just describe enemy death as you like.

I'd start without comrades, but add them in later as they are iconic. Likewise, start with minimal talents, but allow the players to take them later. Lastly, keep encounters small scale and against weak enemies such as other humans. You can conveniently forget dodging and parrying with any enemy who doesn't have the skill.

 

 

In terms of other systems, I'd suggest Savage Worlds. It is much faster than any 40K RPGs and has loads of fan written support for 40K. Personally I love Only War more than savage worlds but if you feel you're cutting so much out that you're loosing the feel of the original, Savage Worlds is a good alternative.

 

 

Out of curiosity what are your plans for the scenario?

Edited by PhilOfCalth

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While I generally agree with PhilOfCalth's suggestions, I do have two things I'd do differently:

I'd start with comrades, but keep them vague: Simply assume they stick around the PCs, but enable them to use orders, because those do matter, I think.

Also, for the orks I would want to ensure that they feel though, maybe by using crits after all. Use them without true grit, maybe, but still, keep them tough.

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Did I skim over where we said orks? Oh yes 11th hour... A big bit of the Ork stick is how tough they are on the critical side of things. That's why I wouldn't go with them. I'd start with Severan Dominate or some lesser known xenos race.

 

I agree. Comrades are quintessential to Only War, but for people who don't know the basic rules, they will slow things down. I suppose you can have them there as GM run characters and just keep them vague, until the players have the basics down.

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If the GM is running them and keeping them vague, he/she can, without rolling, say that they take some wounds from a few enemies. If that is needed.

 

Personally, in any new system I start small in terms of encounters and work up slowly, so this really wouldn't be a problem. If I did do the above I'd roll some dice, just to make the sound and describe a few winging blows from the comrades. 

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Ohhh, now you respond. :lol: In the event, I ended up sticking to rules-lite fantasy with a few 40K rules thrown in (particularly the awesome crit tables).  The intent was to play straight through Eleven Hours and go from there if possible.  I am still looking at using elements of adventures and comrades simply because my theme is military.  Because I can't predict which players will turn up on a given day, I look at it as "The captain just assigned everyone here on a specific mission, maybe with some NPCs to help."  Everyone else is assigned elsewhere, or in recovery, or in lockup.  Anyone who turns up late arrives out of breath, reporting that "The captain sent reinforcements!" Anyone who has to leave in the middle gets hurled into a wall by the monster-of-the-week and knocked out.  And so on.  In 40K terms, they're basically a mixed impromptu Enforcer team... and right now they are fighting zombies with inspiration from the Nurgle parts of the rulebooks.

Edited by JenBurdoo

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XD20, or rather this free variant of it:

 

http://rpg-tinker.blogspot.com/2014/11/heres-d20-adventure-game.html

 

The character sheet has five stats, the game is mostly narrative, and it takes 60 seconds to roll up a PC or monster.  In a pinch, it can be played with a single D20.  This makes combat lightning-fast -- players don't have to look at a list of possible moves as in Only War, or check off a bunch of feats as in DnD.  Personally, I think combat SHOULD be fast, and even chaotic, and given my inexperience and GMing style it is. :P  I've experimented with it in Dark Heresy and Only War, playing through a few adventures on my own, and it works OK.  It works well with the newbies I've got, since the GM basically does all the work.  And you can still use actual sourcebooks for inspiration, conversion and illustrations.

 

The rules above state that once you're out of HP "You cannot take a hit without serious consequences," and this is where I use a simplified version of the 40K crit table:

 

- Pick a hit location.

- Roll a D10.

- 1-3: Slight injury/inconvenience.

- 3-7: Serious injury of increasing severity.

- 8: Lose a body part.

- 9: Save or die.

- 10: Die messily.

 

I also use a version of fate points, AKA mulligans -- I let them reroll one die per session, and burn future rerolls to avoid death.

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I wouldn't modify the rules by removing it's core if I were you. It'd just change the game's balance, pacing, difficulty and make things messy. Besides it's pointless to cook your brain over it if you're planning only 6 sessions with OW.

 

But you can cut out the whole portions of mechanic. It really depends on you which ones, cause you may make some of them recurring themes in your sessions.

For example if you want to play simple tactical simulator sessions you may cut out logistics and provide PC's with set of equipment before every mission. You may give up hospitalizing - make PC's regenerate by set number of HP every session, or just fully. Forget about vehicles - that's whole another RPG system for your players to understand.

 

I wouldn't advise to abandon regiment and character creation though. For some players these are the funniest sessions in the world. I know a guy who won RPG competition with session with character creations only.

 

Also try to convince your players not to play psykers - psionic rules are complicated and powers take more time than normal attack to roll for. Rest of the characters should be cool.

 

If you're planning battle, make tactical map with simple task for PC's - storm a fortified position or defend it. It's good idea to allow them to see the map earlier (if has to be justified by the plot of course!) to let them make plans and predictions. Don't make it to big - 50mx50m maximum. Put there a lot of cover, rubble, craters n' ****.

 

Use one or two types of NPC's per encounter and prepare cards with their stats and hit boxes that you cross out when they loose hit points. Don't make them use more than 3 different kinds of weapons. You may give up critical injuries for them, though they're fun when fighting orks and bosses. Don't think about their tactic during the battle too much. Plan it before sessions. Give simple tasks to every NPC on the field like "shoot enemy on sight" or "charge on sight" and execute it. Also you may choose max 3 different actions and make NPC's use only them, for example - Semi-Auto Burst, Surpressing Fire and All Out Attack.

 

All these things will make sessions run smoothly and easily, cause you and your players have only a fraction of rules to remember. Of course you should say which parts of mechanic you abandon to your players. They might be investing exp points into them and get frustrated.

Edited by Commediante

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