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The Laughing God

Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch/Black Crusade - which will stick?

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So it all started with Dark Heresy, roleplaying in the Warhammer 40,000 setting. I was thrilled, still am.

Then came Rogue Trader. I was even more thrilled, played some sessions, as player not as Gamesmaster. Kind of never got my head around it .. the backdrop premise in DH is that you want to stay away from all the dangers and horrors in this uncaring and hostile universe which is far older and darker than mankind can fathom as it blunders across the stars. Yet in RT, you are actively searching out these horrors. For profit and all, but still.

Then came Deathwatch. Not much roleplaying options compared to DH, but action-packed, strategic 'wargame-roleplaying' is very satisfactory and playing a larger than life Space Marine definitely works.

Next will be Black Crusade. I am really curious how it will turn out, playing the bad guys in a setting where the good guys are bad already, and how they will balance power levels when one player is a dark tech-priest, the other a cultist, and another a Chaos Space Marine.

Overviewing them all, it seems to me that Rogue Trader is the odd one out. I personally think it lacks the possibilities and quick appeal of the other settings. The scale never really seems to work in sessions, when you can send a squadron of gunships instead of taking out a threat by yourself. It has the most 'fantasy adventurer' setting, where you set out to amass fame and fortune .. and this never really seems to connect well with the grimdark of the W40k universe. I find myself more drawn to the other three lines (DH, DW and BC) and increasingly abandoning RT.

Curious to your thoughts!

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The Laughing God said:

So it all started with Dark Heresy, roleplaying in the Warhammer 40,000 setting. I was thrilled, still am.

Then came Rogue Trader. I was even more thrilled, played some sessions, as player not as Gamesmaster. Kind of never got my head around it .. the backdrop premise in DH is that you want to stay away from all the dangers and horrors in this uncaring and hostile universe which is far older and darker than mankind can fathom as it blunders across the stars. Yet in RT, you are actively searching out these horrors. For profit and all, but still.

Then came Deathwatch. Not much roleplaying options compared to DH, but action-packed, strategic 'wargame-roleplaying' is very satisfactory and playing a larger than life Space Marine definitely works.

Next will be Black Crusade. I am really curious how it will turn out, playing the bad guys in a setting where the good guys are bad already, and how they will balance power levels when one player is a dark tech-priest, the other a cultist, and another a Chaos Space Marine.

Overviewing them all, it seems to me that Rogue Trader is the odd one out. I personally think it lacks the possibilities and quick appeal of the other settings. The scale never really seems to work in sessions, when you can send a squadron of gunships instead of taking out a threat by yourself. It has the most 'fantasy adventurer' setting, where you set out to amass fame and fortune .. and this never really seems to connect well with the grimdark of the W40k universe. I find myself more drawn to the other three lines (DH, DW and BC) and increasingly abandoning RT.

Curious to your thoughts!

Do not shake RT outta the woods yet!  I actually found it an excellent base to bring people in from D&D

 

Example; my Real life D&D group have been running 2 games at the same time (1 GM 2 weeks, then the other does his game for 2 weeks etc etc..) and one GM simply got bored/drop in inspiration so I took the mandle of brining RT to the table.  My first face-to-face game I did ever was Warhammer fantasy 2nd ed;  Of course halfway with session 1, 2 players had to burn fate to survive a small fight against mutants armed with sticks (litterally), and the 'bored' GM was actually a player, so he was far from intrested into playing 'Warhammer fantasy in Spaaaaaace' as he put it.

Then I showed him the book; explained that they had a ship with 20k+ men on it; you're pretty much on some sort of open-ended, sandbox game, where the players as much (if not more0 than the GM that drives the action...oh! and you don't have to scrouge your cash to buy things since you're pretty much multi-millionaires.  He (and the others) love the Profit factor mechanics, the classes (and the starting gear), and the ass-crazy Pen13 melta weapon.

As they are D&D players (instead of 'real' 40k followers) I have no problem with them jumping in for the action, and I admit they were even a little at odds about 'having' to bring NPC armsmen with them...of course after that first fight with a Slauth and his bio-creature, they understood the usefulness of having extra firepower; twice more when the arch-militant was vomitting in his voidsuit and couldn't do squat.

Keep in mind, sure a Rogue Trader can send his mooks to do everything; of course, his crew, organisations, even other RTs will respect him less and will pass as a coward or someone wh's not taken his rank and obligations seriously.

 

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The Laughing God said:

So it all started with Dark Heresy, roleplaying in the Warhammer 40,000 setting. I was thrilled, still am.

Then came Rogue Trader. I was even more thrilled, played some sessions, as player not as Gamesmaster. Kind of never got my head around it .. the backdrop premise in DH is that you want to stay away from all the dangers and horrors in this uncaring and hostile universe which is far older and darker than mankind can fathom as it blunders across the stars. Yet in RT, you are actively searching out these horrors. For profit and all, but still.

Then came Deathwatch. Not much roleplaying options compared to DH, but action-packed, strategic 'wargame-roleplaying' is very satisfactory and playing a larger than life Space Marine definitely works.

Next will be Black Crusade. I am really curious how it will turn out, playing the bad guys in a setting where the good guys are bad already, and how they will balance power levels when one player is a dark tech-priest, the other a cultist, and another a Chaos Space Marine.

Overviewing them all, it seems to me that Rogue Trader is the odd one out. I personally think it lacks the possibilities and quick appeal of the other settings. The scale never really seems to work in sessions, when you can send a squadron of gunships instead of taking out a threat by yourself. It has the most 'fantasy adventurer' setting, where you set out to amass fame and fortune .. and this never really seems to connect well with the grimdark of the W40k universe. I find myself more drawn to the other three lines (DH, DW and BC) and increasingly abandoning RT.

Curious to your thoughts!

Dark Heresy: You *are* seeking the horrors. On the orders of your betters no less. It's like call of cthulhu with more bling in some ways (the designers were heavily influenced).

Dark Heresy Ascension: A different beast. You are the higher-ups. The way ascended skills and paragon talents work makes me a bit worried about potential "sameiness" of character sheets, but there are so many options for character history by that stage it should not be an issue. By rank 9, a PC should have a few stories to tell (even out of the box). Characters have massive freedom to choose their path.

Rogue Trader: Ascension's only real competition for freedom of character choice. Once you get used to the scale, wonderful things can be achieved in a campaign. Entire worlds brought into the Emperor's light for glory and profit. Or burned to defeat greater horrors. Fantastic for sandbox campaigns to the point it would be difficult to run it as a linear railroaded game.

Deathwatch: The PCs do not have the same level of choice over their missions but have a great deal of flexibility in how they achieve their goals, mission and personal. The characters are able to take on stupendous odds and win through.

Black Crusade: The wild card. The rank-less system could marvellous for creating detailed, unique characters - or boil down to a few no-brainer combos that you either take or suck compared to everyone else. Giving characters motivation is going to be crucial here, especially with the "chaotic stupid" problem.

 

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 I can see the appeal of all four games.

DH = CoC

RT = empire-building sandbox game

DW = warrior sagas and heroics

BC = a chance to be the bad guys and backstab/politic against the rest of the party.

 

All have merits, depending on play style. I'd certainly agree though that -to me- RT and BC are the weaker options. YMMV.

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YMMV indeed. Personally I love RT, it's my favourite system so far, with DH a close second. Haven't played DW yet, but find it a little less compelling than the other two. I'm a little ambivalent about Black Crusade: I shall certainly buy it, but I suspect I'm more likely to end up using it as a villain generator than play it as written. We shall see though, I'm going to try and keep an open mind about it.

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I'm cautiously excited about BC, in part because you'll have actual freedom for a change. I'm a bit meh on Rogue Trader and mainly view it as a sourcebook for Dark Heresy -- its awesome to play a Rogue Trader and Navigators are pretty cool, but Astropath and Missionary chars are but pale imitations of Psykers and Sisters of Battle. And while I favor Spese Mehrenes above all else to play in the RPG when you get down to it, I still consider Dark Heresy the superior game because in DW, EVERYONE is an astartes, and I cannot feel that an astartes is something interesting or novel if everyone is playing one.

I lost almost all interest in Chaos in 40k due to that in the table top and in the video games, Chaos is more restrictive and with less freedom, options, and diversity than their Imperial counterparts. I'm hoping that Black Crusade will deliver.

I expect Black Crusade to not deliver, however: since followers of Chaos are screwed over and turned into NPCs by too much corruption in an identical fashion to loyalists, and Dark Heresy chars are the only ones with strong resistances to corruption, you will no doubt be placed in an RPG where you in theory serve the forces of corruption, while in practice you will wind up playing a diehard puritan renegade just to survive. Is there even a term for a Chaotic who ferociously avoids the Warp and all its denizens as much as he possibly can? I also expect CSM to be worse than DW SM and chaos psykers to be worse than DH psykers.

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 Glass half empty kinda guy, eh? gui%C3%B1o.gif

I'm not jumping to any conclusions until I read through it, but Chaos' champions have *always* in GW's products either ended up dead, demon princes, or piles of goo with pseudopods, so I think the idea of aiming for either a measure of control or demonhood are worthy goals for the campaign. Given that I've never seen any character in the 40k lines get more than a smattering of corruption, I'm not expecting it to be a 'problem', as the game would clearly not have been designed for 'average' characters to reach the corruption maximum until late in the campaign.

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 I personally feel that Black Crusade is the odd duck of the group.  The first three were created with, I think, fairly clear cross-over appeal.  To say nothing of the fact that the core system of each successive book essentially represents the most up-to-date version of the core mechanics, there's enough compatibility to have a group composed of high-level Inquisitorial agents, Rogue Trader crew, and Space Marines.  I mean hell, in the campaign I've been running off and on for the last two years, they started off as Dark Heresy characters, but later branched off into Rogue Trader and Ascension-level characters.  Lately I've hit on the inspiration to use a Deathwatch Kill-Team as the agents of what are essentially flashbacks or enactments of an intelligence digest detailing the exploits of a specific group of Deathwatch Space Marines.  I wanted to have a PC as a Space Marine, but with the way the story developed it made more sense to just have a full POV shift from the DH/RT group to Deathwatch.  But the potential is still there.

Who knows, maybe Black Crusade will work in a similar capacity.  Aside from the obvious of having Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch characters falling to the forces of Chaos (since Radicalism still implies, at least on paper, that you're still working in favor of the Imperium) you could stage a Prologue to your main story by having a band of Chaos warriors ravaging a planet, only for your DH/RT/DW cell/crew/team arrive to pick up the pieces.

I take it back.  Black Crusade is going to be totally sweet.

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 How can Rogue Trader be a hard sell? "Do you want to play space pirates?" is usually all I need to say.

I do think that whenever they do a 2nd Edition they need to just make a Core 40k RPG book with unified mechanics and release each of the player options as new supplements.

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deinol said:

 How can Rogue Trader be a hard sell? "Do you want to play space pirates?" is usually all I need to say.

I do think that whenever they do a 2nd Edition they need to just make a Core 40k RPG book with unified mechanics and release each of the player options as new supplements.

Yes. And yes,

I'm with you 10000%. I love RT. I really enjoy playing DH. But I love RT!

As for DW and BC: a friend of mine will run a DW game, and I'm sure I'll play. I'm not expecting to like it quite as much as RT, but we'll see. I have little to no interest in BC. I''d try it, but at best I see it as a short mini-campaign kind of thing.

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deinol said:

 How can Rogue Trader be a hard sell? "Do you want to play space pirates?" is usually all I need to say.

I do think that whenever they do a 2nd Edition they need to just make a Core 40k RPG book with unified mechanics and release each of the player options as new supplements.

 

I have to agree on both points, RT is an easy sell. DH feels more like "Hey guys want to play a bunch of people who do what they are told or are executed?" DW... It feels like the wargame lite to me, and BC I'm looking forward to haven't seen it yet at a local retailer (Opinionated Plug: Buy local gaming shops are good).

 

One totally unified rule system with settings as supplements would be nice, like White Wolf did with the new WoD... just don't trash the settings like White Wolf did with the new WoD (IMO).

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