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Darkheyr

Holo- and Shadowfields

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I've been mulling about Eldar holofields and their Dark Eldar counterparts lately, and I'm fairly unhappy on how they are implemented.

 

On the low end, against most normal-skilled people, -40 / -20 to BS grants them nigh invulnerability. On the other end, against a PC crew stacking bonuses  >100, it often seems ludicrous. Especially the -20 vs macrobatteries seems completely pointless and only manages to cancel out the range bonus and the Rogue Trader helping out.

 

Has anyone found any workable changes to reduce this massive variation in efficiency, or have any ideas that don't involve lots of extra rolling? Right now, I'm tempted to just reduce 1-2 hits per weapon component instead of reducing BS.

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Eldar should not be attacking within an Imperial ships Starboard or Port firing arcs anyway. If your Corsairs are doing that, then you're just making it easy mode for your players. The problem is not the Holofields there. Have the Eldar attack from behind since they pretty much autopass all maneuver tests and let the Imperial ships try and turn around and fire at them. Playing Eldar means thinking ahead of your players, where they will turn in the next round and so on.

Its important to remember that Eldar ships can fire their weapons at any time during their movement, so you can zip across the battlefield, unload your lances and ****, and then be out of range again during the same movement.

 

As for Holo-Fields negating hits... yeah sure, just make them Void Shields like everyone else. I mean who needs diversity right?

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A player ship will not be as much at disadvantage in terms of maneuvering as you seem to believe, and either way, it's not what I'm talking about. 

 

I'm talking about the efficiency range of holofields going from 'Invulnerable' to 'Useless'. I've had my players eclipse 140 BS at their highest extreme. I don't want eldar defenses to be useless in any situation, ever - that simply doesnt do them any justice at all. 

 

 

And to be clear - I'm talking about hits per component, not per attacker as void shields would. And only because I dont have a better idea yet.

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I got over this hurdle by not allowing PCs to fire shipboard weapons in the first place. It makes no sense how a single individual can use their Ballistic Skill, the thing they use to fire a pistol, to direct the fire of dozens of artillery pieces in space. There are hundreds of people below the PC doing the actual loading, aiming, firing, etc. involved in that process. As such all fire should be done on Crew Rating with bonuses provided by the PCs. That way you never get to those massive 140BS scenarios that make the game feel like an anime.

 

If you're interested I can shoot you my houserules concerning shipboard actions and firing, if not... well good luck bcs the only options available to you are:

 

1) Negating hits - boring, circumstantial, and still won't stop PCs from getting ridiculous hits with Macrocannons while making Lances pointless

2) Skill penalties - doesn't stop PCs from just flat-out ignoring them and feels cheap against lower level allies or enemies

3) Decrease damage per hit - boring, makes them tankier which is not in keeping with lore, draws out fights artificially

4) Give them constant Silent Running - Force every turn to be an augury-fest and the players will probably get bored halfway through it

5) Count them as Force Fields - Roll every time they get hit on a 60 for Lances and 40 for Macros to negate hits

 

 

That's all I got, holofields are just a weird concept to begin with

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Total agreement on the BS for ship weapons. I'm wary of changing it though - I don't want to sideline our arch-militant for space combat, which is probably why someone made that decision in the first place. I've half a mind to rework that particular career completely if I ever start a new RT group, actually... Still, I'll gladly take a look - thanks!

 

1) To be fair, lances are fairly pointless against Eldar even in BFG - it was what, a 1-in-6 chance to hit with them? Aside, making Eldar strong isn't what I worry about. I agree it's boring, though, and making lances never ever hit at all is far from a perfect solution. It'd be far superior to imperial shielding even against macrobatteries, too, which isn't grand.

2) Yep. Status Quo

3) Agreed.

4) I like the constant stealth idea actually, but as you say, the implementation could end up... rather clumsy and boring.

5) I thought about that, but every hit causing a new roll... Yuck. 

 

I've even been considering some sort of firing diagram, have the players guess at the true position of an Eldar ship... but even that only has an in-fluff reasoning for the Holofield, not the Shadowfield.

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Extended Actions

Every turn in space combat represents an amount of time far in excess of regular combat rounds. As such, the actions that characters can undertake are far more complex than could be done normally. To represent this, each character can perform an Extended Action every turn.

TECHNICAL ACTIONS:

Direct Fire – Through careful calculations, shouted commands, or blessings of accuracy the character leads the crew in firing the ship's main weaponry. A Challenging(+0) Ballistic; Command or Difficult(-10) Charm Test grants any subsequent Shooting Tests performed by the vessel during this turn a +5 for the first and every subsequent DoS (max +30).

Active Targeting – By turning the ship's powerful Augurs onto the target, the crew analyzes its structure for weaknesses and maximizes the effect of the weapons systems upon it. A Hard(-20) Crew Rating + Detection Test reduces the target's armour by -1 for the first and every 2nd subsequent DoS for damage inflicted by the targeting vessel's shipboard weaponry (up to max of -3). Characters may attempt to aid in this task with a Challenging(+0) Tech-Use or Difficult (-10) Command Test, granting a +5 for the first and every subsequent DoS (max +30).

Active Augury – Bringing the full weight of the vessel's scanners and auguries to bear, the ship sends out a powerful pulse of energy that reveals any surrounding objects or vessels. A Challenging(+0) Crew Rating + Detection Test reveals information on the surrounding area within 20 VU. For every DoS, the vessel attempting the test may increase their max scanning range by 5 VU. This pulse of energy can be concentrated into a narrow beam and focused onto a single target vessel or object. This reveals interior layouts of the vessel as described on page 217 of the Rogue Trader Core Rulebook. A vessel attempting any variation this Action grants a +10 to all enemy Augury and Shooting Actions against it for the remainder of the Strategic Turn. Characters may attempt to aid in this task with a Challenging(+0) Tech-Use or Difficult(-10) Command Test, granting a +5 for the first and every subsequent DoS (max +30).

Jam Signals – By bombarding an enemy vessel with white noise and disruptive pulses the crew attempts to jam the enemy's targeting and sensor equipment. They attempt a Difficult(-10) Crew Rating + Detection Test imposing a -5 to all Augury and Shooting Actions for the first and every 2nd subsequent DoS. A character can attempt to aid in this task with either a Challenging(+0) Tech-Use Test or Difficult(-10) Command Test, granting a +5 for the first and every subsequent DoS (max +30).

Divert Power – Drawing from the ship's intricate power relay systems and shunting power between its systems, the character attempts to boost certain components beyond their normal limits. A Hard(-20) Tech-Use Test or Challenging(+0) Trade(Shipwright) Test allows the character to direct the crew in diverting power to critical systems. This action grants a +10 to one Maneuver, Shooting, or Technical action in the following Strategic Turn with an additional action being granted a +10 for every 3rd DoS. A Failure of more than 3 DoF on this Test means that a critical system has overloaded immediately forcing a roll of 1d5 on the Critical Hits table and imposing the result on the ship.

Emergency Repairs – Leading the crew in firefighting attempts or the repair of a critically damaged component, the character attempts a Hard(-20) Command or Difficult(-10) Tech-Use Test to aid them in their efforts granting a +5 for the first and every 2nd subsequent DoS (max +30). The crew then attempts a Difficult(-10) Crew Rating Test. Success extinguishes one burning component for every DoS on the Test or repairs one damaged Component in 1d5 Strategic Turns with the time required being reduced by one Turn for every DoS after the first to a minimum of one Strategic Turn. Successes on this Test can be split among the various components or fires across the ship however it can only attempted once for every damaged component. Failure means the vessel lacks the spare parts to perform the repair in the heat of battle and must attempt either a Long-Term Repair after the battle or seek the nearest star-port.

All Power To EnginesOvercharging the vessel's mighty plasma drives the crew coax the ship to surge forward at great speed. A Challenging (+0) Crew Rating Test allows the vessel to increase its Speed by 1 VU for the first and every 2nd DoS (up to a max of +5 for smaller vessels and +3 for vessels of Cruiser size or larger.) A character can attempt to aid in this task with either a Difficult(-10) Tech-Use Test or Challenging (+0) Trade (Shipwright) Test, granting a +5 for the first and every subsequent DoS (max +30). A Failure by 2 or more DoF means that a plasma relay or fuel line has burst within the Enginarium, immediately apply the Drive Damaged critical hit result to the vessel.

SOCIAL ACTIONS:

Inspire Wrath – Extolling them through righteous prayer or incandescent sermons of hate and fervor, the character attempts to rouse the crew's anger towards their enemies. A Difficult(-10) Scholastic Lore (Creed) or Hard (-20) Charm Test grants a +2 to the Combat Score of the crew for the purposes of Mass Combat with an additional +2 for every subsequent DoS (max +30) for the remainder of that Strategic Turn.

Bolster Resolve – By chanting prayers of strength and resolve, subtle guile or intimidation the character attempts to harden the crew's spirits against the enemy. A Hard(-20) Command; Scholastic Lore (Creed) or Difficult(-10) Intimidate; Charm Test decreases the Morale Damage taken by the crew by -1 for the first and every subsequent DoS (to a minimum of 1). Note that this reduction applies to the total Crew Morale damage the vessel suffers and is not applied for every source of damage.

Triage Preparing emergency stations and sealing bulkheads in preparation for heavy combat. The character attempting this action makes a Difficult(-10) Medicae or Hard(-20) Command Test reducing Crew Population damage caused during the remainder of the Turn by the vessel by -1 for the first and every subsequent DoS (to a minimum of 1). Note that this reduction applies to the total Crew Population damage the vessel suffers and is not applied for every source of damage.

Unless specified all Actions may only be undertaken once every Strategic Turn.

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These are my homebrewed Extended Actions, placing more emphasis on the crew than the significant individual skill of the PCs. With this system you can keep the Eldar Holofields the same as they are in the core rules as there would never come moments when the skill roll would be going into the hundreds.

 

Those are my two cents on the matter.

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I like some of those!

 

I'll think about the auger effecting one / the jamming ones especially. It might be worth considering to make Holofields & Co especially effective unless there are some detection rolls involved beyond just "Lock on Target". As long as its not adding extra actions but only requiring varied tactics aside the "Shoot them up and teleport in" they've been doing.

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I've heard this before, but I still have no idea how a character gets a BS of 140 short of handing your players the BS Wand of Orcus with none of the Bad Side effects.  A min-maxed Archmilitant can maybe get a topped-out BS of 70-80.  With a ship master's bridge, auto-stablized logis-targeter, and turbo-weapon batteries raise that another +20.  That's a ridiculous amount in my opinion, but it's a far cry short of 140.  Yes, there are further actions other characters can perform to raise that even higher, but that's still only touching the surface of the brokeness of ship combat in RT.  Wait until your players figure out attack craft.

 

This is what happens with all games in time, and also why most games wind up with several versions (e.g. D&D, AD&D, 3.0, 4.0, etc., ad nauseum).  The gaming community plays with the rules enough to figure out all the broken parts and then too many players then only play with the broken bits, and it only takes one player to wreck the game.

 

I think I'll just stop my rant right there.  RTs ship combat needs a complete overhaul.  It's good for a couple campaigns with a fresh group, but once they figure it out it's not much fun anymore.  And FFG isn't going to fix what they no longer have a license to.  Find some house rules, make your own, or start looking for another game.  Those are your options.  Sorry.

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The sad thing is, while you need to invest at least some thought into breaking most systems, it's glaringly obvious in Rogue Trader. I'm to blame for my group really, seeing as I started out as a player there, but it didn't take me longer than 3 minutes to figure out that Dual Sunsears on a Tempest Frigate with +70 to hit and run would be the way to go.

 

After playing some, we started figuring out just how crazy that and many other things are, and we've been slowly altering the system - Mathhammer, completely reworked attack craft (though I will rework that again) and torpedoes, and Hit & Run / Boarding is on the list as well.Oh, and many, many reworked ship hulls, components and rules concepts... I mean, achievement points and luxury quarters? Ugh.

 

 

As for BS: Add +10 from the Lord-Captain, +10 for Short Range (often with Sunsears or other long range weapons), another +10 from Void Tactician (Rank 8 or 6 depending on career) and another +15 from a reasonably well done roll on Lock on Target (we do have a competent PC augur operator, and starting soon, a tech-priest able to Aid the Machine Spirit as well...) and you're looking at +45 to whatever high level your BS already is before adding in ship components.

 

I don't really mind the high numbers as such. I'm fine with my players being theoretically able to wreck a cruiser crewed by 'normal' people even when they're fielding a frigate. Most cruisers have at least a few competent people, so there will always be a risk remaining, and any Rogue Trader or experienced pirate crew will be much closer to their own level of competence, at which point those broadsides might very well wreck them on the first pass.

 

do mind that it completely breaks stuff like the Holofields though, because it doesn't do the fluff any justice at all. I want my players to think thrice before messing with Eldar ships.

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You could always say that Augar arrays don't work against holo or shadow fields, also would allow for no lock on targets. the combined -40 or 50 ( can't remember the penalties atm) should make it a challenge for a high BS crew.  

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Unless your players are the kind of paranoids that constantly run active augary ( which will show their location to others in the system), they won't know the Eldar are there until the first pulse laser strikes are knocking down shields! There is no chance of spotting Eldar ships when using passive scan, particularly if they're on silent running (as they should be!)

That pretty much guarantees that the first your players know of the Eldar being there will be when you start telling them how much damage has been done to the ship...

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1. Always played with DEldar Shadowfield granting their ships Silent Running all the time and gave penalties to offensive Detection-based tests like Lock On and Focused Augury of -40 (as lances), when used against Shadowfield or Holofield

 

2. To have 140 on a BS test You'd have to have 80BS, as max bonus/penalty caps at +/-60 to test.

Always allowed PCs (and only PCs) to use assistance rules to aid the Crew, but the test itself was made using Crew Rating stat, not some PCs BS.

It's still powerfull -- up to +40 on assistance from two PCs on a successfull check plus Talents/Abilities, yet makes players care more for their crew and not dumping it for +5SP

 

Never had trouble with (D)Eldar being too OP or too weak because of that

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I don't mean offense Axe, but I'm not really looking for advice on how to play Eldar - and even if I was, surprise in ship combat simply does not work that way. It grants +20 to BS. That's it.

 

@Alex: The first part is rules as written IIRC - Shadowfields do give -40 to all augur tests against them, but I'll check again later when I have my books, and they can run silent at full speed.

 

The +60 max actually only applies to ranged and melee attack rolls as far as I remember. 

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You can only ever get a +60 bonus to any Characteristic Test within the 40k RPG series. The Tests that do not classify as Characteristic Tests such as Profit Factor Tests, rolls on the Psychic Phenomena table, etc. Those can  receive modifiers greater than +/-60.

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Its from Test difficulty in Core on page 232, specifically Table 9-3. In Rogue Trader the designers state than any skill test modifier changes the difficulty of a test, aka its total Characteristic modifier when rolling for it. As per table 9-3 to maximum possible bonus to a Characteristic Test is +60 for Trivial tasks and -60 for Hellish tasks.

 

Why they continue on to mention it specifically in the Combat section... I got no clue, FFG works in mysterious ways I guess. The modifier maximum is something I have always ran with and pretty much everyone I know that uses the FFG system ran it as well, but in the end if you don't like it then change it. We're in House Rules subforum after all.

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Why they continue on to mention it specifically in the Combat section... I got no clue, FFG works in mysterious ways I guess.

 

Copy-paste from DH where, before Ascension, skill tests was limited to +/- 30, but combat modifiers to +/- 60.

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Sorry, I'm reading that particular section completely different. All it says is to apply the difficulty modifier to the characteristic, which apparently runs from -60 to +60. Any other modifiers aren't even mentioned in that particular section. One page earlier they are, without mention of any limit (or difficulty) at all.

 

It's worth consideration though I suppose, and maybe FFG wanted it to be that way, but if so, they've chosen rather poor wording for it. Not that this would be a surprising occurrence.

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@Alex: The first part is rules as written IIRC - Shadowfields do give -40 to all augur tests against them, but I'll check again later when I have my books, and they can run silent at full speed.

 

Not exactly, just to clarify -- as per RAW:

 

Shadowfields (Hostile Acquisitions p.75) -- +20 to Silent Running but nothing is being said about them being constantly silent running and they impose -20 penalty to Active Augury and Focused Augury only (so no penalty to Lock On for exapmle) so as per RAW there are Imperial ships that can do better at Silent Running (with Cypra-class Drives and Empyrean Mantle) than actual DEldar which is ridiculous, all firing at it suffers -20 to Hit (so same for macros and lances and torps) but Pilot test to H&R are at -30 instead

 

Holofields (Lure of the Expanse p.140) -- -40 to Hit with anything (including attack craft and even ramming(sic!)) but macrocannons are only at -20 to Hit, any extended action about detection are at -30 including Lock on Target and Focused Augury -- those two are specifically mentioned

 

So as per RAW Shadowfields are essentially worthless, but as was mentioned earlier that's what this subforum is for  :)

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Plot twist: The Soul Reaver adventure has actual Dark Eldar ships and different statsfor Shadowfields! :D That's where my numbers are from.

Imperial ships being better at such things are a fair point though. Heh.

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Whenever you run a lot of a particular device you tend to find the problems inherent in that device that FFG didn't spot with their playtesting.  We all play with macrocannons and lances, so that problem surfaced early...hence Mathhammer.  Many other problems have surfaced in the meantime...torpedoes, small attack craft, augury in general (omitting the base limit, for Pete's sake), etc.  You seem to have stumbled upon a problem with Eldar shields and silent running.  Nobody should be surprised.  After all, supplements tend to get less playtesting time than core rules.  Now that you've identified a problem, fix it.  Post your playtest results for us.  We will all be happy and thank you.  It probably won't get much play time at this point, I'm sorry to say.  Really, I'm sorry to say that.

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Yeah, sadly. Absolute shame, too - I can't recall when I had as much fun with an RPG as with Rogue Trader, both from a player and a DM's PoV, despite all the rule, formatting and translation issues it has.

 

For those who have actually played Battlefleet Gothic, since I haven't - am I understanding correctly that in BFG, Holofields basically gave the same modifier as long range did, with the gunnery shift?

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You are correct; in BFG Holo and Shadow fields are functionally identical, forcing a right shift on the gunnery table and providing a 2+ save on a d6 against everything else without piercing. Much more powerful than the equivalent in Rogue Trader.

Edited by ViperMagnum357

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One of my players actually came up with a fairly creepy and efficient change to Shadowfields and Holofields:

 

Short version: -40 / -20 remains as it is, but in addition, all DoS on the attackers BS roll are halved. I'm still doing some of the math, but this apparently averages out to a rough reduction of 1-2 hits per component and it negates most threats of landing a critical hit on an Eldar ship. I'm not sure if it's not too strong, but it's an interesting take and can easily be applied to any given weapon system without using different rules for all of them, without making hits completely impossible for lower skill crews.

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