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Elochim

My most popular house rule

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My first post here, so first of all; hello everyone. After nagging from my players I decided to share my most popular house rule to see what everyone else think about it.

The biggest problem I have with the system in RT and DH is damage, the scaling is very steep, and with the sick T and Armour that characters start with in RT most lesser opponents will have no chance at all to hurt most player characters. My first reaction was to increase the damage output of the opponents. That quickly went out of hand though, since the main tank is the groups arch-militant with T6 and Armour 8 for a total soak of 14. To do consistent damage to him the opponents critted the weaker characters in the group too easily, and any explosive rigged to hurt the tank would probably kill the Rogue Trader himself if he stepped on it instead (the Rogue Trader often insists on taking the lead, and I don't want to punish him overtly much for this, which makes this a bit of a problem).

The solution I finaly came up with after tiring of my goons either doing no damage, or almost killing half the character group (while the arch-militant still walked pretty much unscathed through anything with less of a punch than plasma) was simply this:

- A hit doing no damage still has a chance of doing one (1) wound if a +0 Toughness test is not passed by the character.

This means that even though the seneschals favourite tactic still is just to plant his feet with no thought whatsoever of cover against most opposition and just firing on full auto with his bolter while his T5 and Light Power Armour with 7 Ap protects him, he will take a few wounds from the dozen or so of low-lifes firing las-pistols at him before he takes them out. This has seriously improved the gaming experience of combat both for me as a GM (my goons are no longer completely worthless because they don't always have bolter equivalents or better) and for the players (skirmishes with lesser opponents on the way to the big boss fight is no longer just boring hours of rolling dice with no risk for the characters involved).

Now the characters will actually very slowly be taken down even by laspistols. So if they don't want to reach the leader of the goons with half wounds they actually have to be careful, use cover and tactics instead of just standing in the open / ignore incoming fire / always charge. This far they have still taken the heat, but this actually costs them some wounds, so they never feel completely safe behind their armours and I as a GM feel that throwing 30 Bs 30 low-lifes with shotguns and stub revolvers at them is not just a waste of time anymore. Without these rules the taking of Installation 23 where the characters teleported onto the command bridge would have resulted in the Rogue Trader (who is the most vulnerable character) taking 10 wounds and the rest of the crew escaping completely unscathed from 20 or so rounds of close-range gunfire where they took several laspistol and hand canon hits every round. Now everyone (except the Augur officer who was saved by her Inquisitors Handbook refractor-field) took about half a dozen wounds and started to panic near the end of the fight when a door needed to be closed and whisperers were pouring in.

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I find it unnecessary, and it has a horrendous potential for slowing down the action. Imagine 10 guys shooting at the team with Heavy Stubers on autofire - it's going to be a **** big amount of additional dice rolls.

What you need is:

a) worry less about those PCs who might get seriously injured - it's supposed to be grimdark and lethal, you know?

b) give the antagonists weapons with less damage but more Penetration - this ensures the same shot that can hurt the Arch-Militant won't be instantly deadly to the Rogue Trader.

One of these answers should work.

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I have a similar Arch-millitent.  While it's true he doesn't get damaged much, he ends up all but pulling his hair out because he's trying to guard everyone at once.  He usualy sticks to the Rogue Trader, who as been known to use him as cover when there isn't any other easily avaliable.  I see the point of the rule, and in some cases it could be really useful, but like Moranglas said, I worry about adding an extra roll anywere.

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Errant said:

 Warp Weapons tend to even the playing field quite substantially, I've found.

Another excellent point. And phase weapons, too, although they're not statted anywhere as far as I know.

Also, it's important to remember that Rogue Trader isn't about your usual Joe and Jane, but about extremely powerful individuals with some experience and a lot of heavy equipment. Rogue Traders are peers to the Inquisition, after all, and outside the bounds of the Empire they speak with the authority of the Emperor himself. They shouldn't be regularly challenged by a mere thug with an autopistol or some tribesmen with spears. So maybe sometimes you should just let this Arch-Militant of yours eat a whole lot of damage, say something cheesy in the vein of "I barely felt that" and feel awesome for the moment? Combat doesn't always have to be life-threatening to be fun.

And don't forget about the potential of introducing non-combat objectives into combat scenes. Combat isn't always about killing your opponents (in real life it is almost never purely about that); it's a mean to an end rather than end itself. Usually, the real objective is something simple, like getting to point XY, but the potential for complications is nearly endless. You can use it to make combat challenging without constantly upping the damage totals.

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There are several ideas you can use here.

 

1) Hellguns.  Excellent penetration means they essentially ignore armour. Moderate damage means they rarely kill immediately.

2) Interesting Xenos have interesting (and armour shredding weapons)

3) ensure that power armour is worn only when it is appropriate to wear power armour. Wear it shopping should lead to problems.

4) Power weapons are your friend

5) If you have some kind of massive alien beast, give it some kind of razor sharp claws. Mono upgrade on unnatural strength of 60 and its bye bye armour soak.

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its a nice idea you got going there.
I would consider one slight adjustment.
and thats if the blow is completely stopped by the characters armour no need to roll
however if his toughness bonus is required to soak the blow then go ahead and roll.
This works at keeping armour and cover important because with all the high pen weapons around standard armour can often become neglible.
This also means that armour is still good for stopping glancing (low damage) hits.
I always find it suprising that shear grit is more effective at stopping bullets than 3 inch reinforced ceramic armour.

also a general idea if your having soak invulnerability problems, man stopper rounds, nice, simple, explanable for why the npcs have them and works well with all the low level SP equipment, its not a fancy solution but should be an effective one, expecially with rapid hitting weapons.
Also if you havent already I suggest letting more of your npcs have rightious fury.

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This solution seems to still be a problem as it bears no thought towards low toughness, lightly armored characters.

 

Suppose a squishy character takes luckily takes no damage despite his 3 TB and 3 armor.  Normally, his 8 wounds would be safe, but you're forcing him to take a wound anyway.

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DarknessEternal said:

This solution seems to still be a problem as it bears no thought towards low toughness, lightly armored characters.

 

Suppose a squishy character takes luckily takes no damage despite his 3 TB and 3 armor.  Normally, his 8 wounds would be safe, but you're forcing him to take a wound anyway.

 

Oh it looks a lot worse than that. Two oddities come to mind:

 - If a character in power armour doesn't fight back, this house rules means that he can be killed by an unarmed child beating him to death.

 - Lets take a character with 19 strength or less (void born who rolled 4 or less when determining strength). Their unarmed attacks deal 1d5-2 damage once you add in the strength bonus. This house rule makes it so that they could still hurt someone even when they roll negative damage. Even if that someone is wearing power armour (which gets an effective AP of 16 against that attack).

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I am considering adding a sort of very weak version of righteous fury to NPCs. If they role a 10 on the damage dice, the character hit makes a toughness test (+0). If they fail they take a minimum of 1 damage. This is to represent the attack hitting some weak point in the armor/character. This will rarely do much other than when a very large number of grunts are full autoing into a heavily armored character and it wont affect anyone who has less than 10 + other damage bonuses in damage reduction.

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ExtremoPenguin said:

I am considering adding a sort of very weak version of righteous fury to NPCs. If they role a 10 on the damage dice, the character hit makes a toughness test (+0). If they fail they take a minimum of 1 damage. This is to represent the attack hitting some weak point in the armor/character. This will rarely do much other than when a very large number of grunts are full autoing into a heavily armored character and it wont affect anyone who has less than 10 + other damage bonuses in damage reduction.

Personally I'm a fan of giving every NPC righteous fury.

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I thought it specifically said in the book NPCs don't get Righteous Fury but I can't seem to find it again. You can of course play however you want but remember, adding randomness almost always hurts the players. Each NPC only suffers a few attacks before they die but the players get attacked thousands of times so even if there is only a small chance of getting extra damage, the players will get hit with it many times.

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ExtremoPenguin said:

I thought it specifically said in the book NPCs don't get Righteous Fury but I can't seem to find it again. You can of course play however you want but remember, adding randomness almost always hurts the players. Each NPC only suffers a few attacks before they die but the players get attacked thousands of times so even if there is only a small chance of getting extra damage, the players will get hit with it many times.

The only piece of RAW I know of that deals with NPCs and righteous fury is the "Touched by the fates" talent. Since it says that those NPCs benefit from RF, I would agree with anyone claiming that the RAW says that all NPCs without the talent don't get RF. Which is why I only bring it up as a house rule.

 

In a Dark Heresy game that lasted a year and a half (sessions almost every week), with a combat on most sessions, we only noticed the extra damage twice. Once when a nearly dead merc killed a PC with a lucky blow to his leg (unarmourd, as they attacked us while we spelt. If he had the time to put his armour on he would have survived). The second was when another PC was unable to keep ahead of a zombie swarm and, while the zombies were unable to damage us normally and usually only did a wound or two, it did add up over time.

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I'd like to add a short list of fun things to do to power armor wearers:
Pinning tests.
Haywire grenades.
Rotten floorboards.
Ventilation shafts.
Rooftop chases.
Small ranky boats on deep water.
Any damage result or special weapon effects that causes you to puke inside the helmet.
Agressive insects that lies dormant inside the armour and wakes up turn three of the combat.
Formal dress balls, preferrably as a surprise below the rotten floorboards.

It's not so much about killing the wearer as making him less useful for the moment. Remember to go easy on these shenanigans. Your player made this character in order to be a serious tank. Let her/him enjoy it! :-)

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Making armor degrade like cover is another way to do it. If they have to worry about their armor becoming useless then they will take cover. “I’d rather a sandbag get ripped apart by a bolt round then have my Saint’s Blessed Carapace armor get ruined.” I did this in one DH campaign we ran where we all wanted it to be ‘hyper-real’ and the players really got a kick out of it. It was very much like a real fight; armor protects you for a while if there isn’t any cover but not forever. They’d come under fire and scramble to the nearest bulkhead in this campaign whereas in other campaigns we’ve had they’d just stand around and shoot back because they’d soak most of the damage and just take cover if they started to get wounded to badly. With degrading armor they worry about needing to replace it mid-mission or about paying to get it repaired later; and they would be mindful of things like ambushes and always make sure they had cover nearby. Also special or rare armor like the Pride Heirloom Saint’s Blessed Carapace Armor may become a trophy (as it can be very hard if not impossible to repair if it loses some AP and certainly impossible to replace should it get down to 0 and be totally destroyed with all those nice inscriptions and junk blown off) with the player really only using it for special occasions (like meeting the Lord Governor or something like that) and he/he has some normal armor for the everyday mission. Now, this isn’t right for every group and should be discussed before being used but it is fun every few campaigns to amp up the realism.

Another thing to maybe add if you use this might be Armor Stacking rules. I had it that some armor can be stacked within reason, for example a full suit of carapace body armor and a flak vest, but doing so will cause an Agility penalty, continuing the example a -5 Agility might be good. And since the armor degrades it would be the vest getting hit ‘first’ and so once it’s fully destroyed (reduced to 0 AP) then the player just takes it off and loses the Agility Penalty but still has his carapace on. And to take it a step farther if you want you can have it degrade only where it’s hit. A blow to the arm, for example, only drops that armor 6 in the arm to 5, the rest stays 6.

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A Storm Bolter with Acid Shells is a nice way to do away with all that pesky armor... If you manage to get a perfect volley, thats -8 to your armor until someone can repair it.

 

My take on your "problem" is, screw the Rogue Trader. If he/she has low toughness, and low armor, and aaalways goes first, never taking cover, then he/she deserves everything thats coming to him/her(from here on, it will be him). After getting his ass kicked a few times, he might consider leting the meat-head go first, or investing some of that wealth in better armor, perhaps a forcefield, or, better yet, take cover when the bullets start to fly. Increasing Toughness and/or buying Sound Constitution a few times can also extend the life expectancy of any foolhardy adventurer. But in the end, either you fight smart, or you die.

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