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Pyrus

Force Fields... how do we feel about those?

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This is a question that is rapidly looming on my horizon in the campaign I'm running. The Forcefield rules look like an absolute pain in the neck, adding immensely to the "kill it or your dead" short combats.

 

Does anyone run any special rule variants of these force fields? I'm looking for viable alternatives... I'll use them from the book if I have to, but they don't really sit right with my GM senses.

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 What's your beef with them? They're not that hard. If you get hit, you roll the force field to see if it blocks. If its within its protection rating, yay, it blocked. If in the overload range, it blocked, but the field shorted out.

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I've found that they work very well in increasing PC survivability.  By the time a KT has access to them, both they and many of their opponents are typically throwing around attacks that are strong enough to take out an opponent with 1, maybe 2 hits.  Even the very best field out there, the Rosarius, only stops 50% of enemy attacks; I think the Storm Shield is only slightly better but has a chance of overloading.  Just looking at averages, that will stop 2 of a Genestealer's 4 attacks.  A successful Dodge/Parry will take out another, but then there's still another to worry about.  No chance of Dodging all the hits from some Tau troops, or maybe get blasted by a Broadside Battlesuit?  A force field might  keep you on your feet for another round.  Survivability is a big factor in DW fights later on since both sides can usually take out the other if they can hit first.  Force fields just make it so a KT can face down even more opponents with a better chance of not being instantly squished.

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They're not mechanically difficult to deal with, that isn't my problem with them. Maybe I need to playtest out some encounters with them first, but it seems like it just adds fuel to the fire in regards to the arms race between insta-gib attacks and just avoiding them somehow. Regardless of fluff, or reality, or anything else... "miss... miss... deflect... parry... dead" just doesn't scream epic space marine to me. I don't want to remove their utility in increasing survivability, just make it less... chaotic.

 

Mostly, I was just looking to see what everyone's opinions of how they worked felt, and if anyone had house-ruled their function. I guess I've always been of the mind-set that protective gear is supposed to help remove random chance from your survival, instead of add to it. Without a forcefield, you KNOW that lascannon is going to kill you. With it, you might shrug it off... or it might still paste you. You'd be silly to rely on it, or make any sort of plan around its function. Space Marines may believe its powered by faith in the Emperor, but that doesn't mean in real life I should have to have faith in the Dice Gods. All my opinion of course, and should probably only be taken as such.

 

Anyway, I appreciate the feedback thus far. Still interested in any points of view on the topic, as I'd like to gauge the function of these things from the point of view of others - I know my own view is subjective.

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 Apologies, I misunderstood. In the DW game I run, one of the KT members (a TacMarine) took the 'Right Tools For The Job' deed for a combat shield. Given, it's only a rating 35 shield and it hasn't come into use very often (he's good at staying out of the line of fire, and the Assault Marine does a good job of drawing it), but it has saved his life at least once. That said, I don't think a force field should be something that EVERYONE on the KT should have. If they try it, I'd advise limiting the number available. For example, there's not likely to be more than one (max 2) Iron Halos available to any given KT, as those are captain level wargear. Same with Rosariuses, but you shouldn't really have more than one Chaplain anyway. Storm shields are a little more common, but if the entire KT wants to carry them, they'll have other problems later- namely, do I want to use my other hand, or do I want to keep my shield? Combat shields are commoner still, but  again, you should feel free to say "there's not enough".

That said, I wouldn't houserule them further unless you absolutely had to. I used the 'limiting factor' on my KT for storm bolters, and it's worked out perfectly. A little griping at first, but they understand that these are rare and powerful pieces of wargear, and it doesn't make sense for them to be able to lay hands on that many unless it's under very specific circumstances (Tactical Dreadnought Armor mission, for example).

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I use two kind of rules with force field.

1- If used against range attack on SA or FA then test it against every hit not once against the attack.

2- If there is more hit hitting the target than the ten's digit of the field then all hits after hit the target. (so a shield with a 35% rate will save 3 hit) Less accurate this rules serves me to keep the game going fast

 

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If it's alternate game mechanic you want, then the forcefields in DH's Inquisitor's Handbook instead reduced damage by a number of D10s per hit. A Refractor field reduced damage by 2d10, a Rosarius by 3d10. On a double 1, the field didn't activate and the full damage went through, on a double 10 the field reduced the damage by the rolled amount then over loaded.

The problem with adopting this system is that it makes all the fields very samey, and makes the craftsmanship effects harder to show.

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Plasmafest said:

If it's alternate game mechanic you want, then the forcefields in DH's Inquisitor's Handbook instead reduced damage by a number of D10s per hit. A Refractor field reduced damage by 2d10, a Rosarius by 3d10. On a double 1, the field didn't activate and the full damage went through, on a double 10 the field reduced the damage by the rolled amount then over loaded.

The problem with adopting this system is that it makes all the fields very samey, and makes the craftsmanship effects harder to show.

 

My DH group solved that by lowering their effectiveness by a die. They were still quite powerful when we encountered them and the one that we were granted wad damned useful**, and we have never had to deal with the "nothing-nothing-dead" effect the current rules can give.

 

**It was awarded to a player who preformed quite a spectacular feat of PC daring do: Which involved climbing a rope under gunfure, running across the rafters of a warehouse, getting behind the Heretics and into one of their trucks and hosing down the Heretics with said truck's heavy stubber, saving the rest of the group. He stayed on the stubber despite several critical hits including the loss of an arm and then a shot to his lungs. While his body was being repaired he was implanted with a power field which would reduce incoming shots by d3 (1-3=1, 4-6=2, 7-9=3 and 10=0) damage.

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Ok, bit of a story involved here.

A friend and I got bored one day and decided that to fill the time, we'd play some Deathwatch. He wanted to see how it'd play as more of an advanced team-based wargame than an RPG, so we decided to run a scenario in which I constructed six Rank 2 Characters (one of each Specialty), a very well-armed Kill-team, and had to hold a piece of terrain against waves of Tyranids my buddy would throw at me.

Because my buddy and I agreed on some more than adequate Renown and Requisition (given that the team was going to be holding off a full-fledged Tyranid invasion, at least for a while), I gave every member of the team a Field. My Devastator and my Assault Marine each had a Combat Shield bolted onto their bracer (both hands required for the Heavy Bolter/Thunder Hammer), everyone else had a Storm Shield (using their bolters and close-combat weapons one-handed).

My team would not have survived without those Fields. They were godsends. They held my guys back from the brink of death so many times I lost count. Thanks to those fields (and some awesome medicae work by the team's apothecary) my entire team managed to escape alive (though the Assault Marine was at 0 Wounds and had taken some Critical Damage). Field rolls became one of the only things I'd spend Fate points on, and I despaired when my Assault Marine's field overloaded after he'd run out of Fate (hence the damage).

I love Fields. They keep the tension alive with the die roll while giving characters a way to escape certain death. Characters can still be wounded when using Fields, even killed. And when they overload, that's just one more level of "oh ****, this is freaking serious" mortal peril for the team to be in.

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Bandersnatch said:

Ok, bit of a story involved here.

A friend and I got bored one day and decided that to fill the time, we'd play some Deathwatch. He wanted to see how it'd play as more of an advanced team-based wargame than an RPG, so we decided to run a scenario in which I constructed six Rank 2 Characters (one of each Specialty), a very well-armed Kill-team, and had to hold a piece of terrain against waves of Tyranids my buddy would throw at me.

Because my buddy and I agreed on some more than adequate Renown and Requisition (given that the team was going to be holding off a full-fledged Tyranid invasion, at least for a while), I gave every member of the team a Field. My Devastator and my Assault Marine each had a Combat Shield bolted onto their bracer (both hands required for the Heavy Bolter/Thunder Hammer), everyone else had a Storm Shield (using their bolters and close-combat weapons one-handed).

My team would not have survived without those Fields. They were godsends. They held my guys back from the brink of death so many times I lost count. Thanks to those fields (and some awesome medicae work by the team's apothecary) my entire team managed to escape alive (though the Assault Marine was at 0 Wounds and had taken some Critical Damage). Field rolls became one of the only things I'd spend Fate points on, and I despaired when my Assault Marine's field overloaded after he'd run out of Fate (hence the damage).

I love Fields. They keep the tension alive with the die roll while giving characters a way to escape certain death. Characters can still be wounded when using Fields, even killed. And when they overload, that's just one more level of "oh ****, this is freaking serious" mortal peril for the team to be in.

Cool story brah. I used to do the same using the Inquisitor system and small warbands of Inquisition vs gangers, heretic militia, CSM etc.

One point though - don't think you can use Fate of a field save, could be wrong though.

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Kasatka said:

One point though - don't think you can use Fate of a field save, could be wrong though.

 

That's right, Tests are skill or characteristic based.

 

Alex

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I've been running a game for a while (over a year now, the characters are rank 4 Astartes or equivalent) and now a lot of the characters in my party have fields and they have made it very difficult to threaten the group with anything short of power fists and thunder hammers. Small arms are totally ineffectual against them.

 

So I've changed the rules to reducing the damage by a number of D10s (like the original Dark Heresy field rules). 3d10 for a conversion field, 2d10 for a combat shield. Hopefully it means I can threaten the party with less powerful foes again (They took out a daemon prince in about three rounds without too much effort and only one of them was seriously injured).

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For Dark Heresy, Rogue Trade, and Deathwatch Field saves I've adopted the following House Rules:

There are 2 basic types of Field saves, "static" and "reciprocal".
Static Field saves reduce Damage by 1, 2, or 3d10, depending on the Field device*. Static devices tend to be of Common Craftsmanship. 
Reciprocal Field saves reduce Damage like so: if the attack dealt 2d10+8 Damage, then the Field reduces Damage by 2d10+8. As a result, reciprocal Field devices have a marginally higher overload threshold (+5%). Penetration values are unaffected by Field saves. Reciprocal devices are of Good or Best Craftsmanship, though the overload threshold of Good devices remains unchanged.

*I leave it to each GM to categorize the various Field devices as they see fit.

In all cases, Field saves can only provide so much protection without a risk of automatic overload (a feature in-built to all devices of Common or better Craftsmanship) and can deflect a number of hits per Round equal to the tens digit of the device's Rating (as Thebigjul noted); a Combat Shield deflects Damage up to twice per Round (Rating 25%), while a Storm Shield may deflect up to 5 hits per Round. Whether the device is static or reciprocal in nature, its Rating must first be checked to determine if the device's internal sensors even detect the incoming force/energy.

Field devices of Poor Craftsmanship automatically overload if their user is hit more times in one Round than the device is capable of managing. To clarify this quirk, Poor devices will work as normal (described above and below) against their full number of hits per Round, but extra hits stress the internal sensors of these devices and they automatically overload to prevent complete burnout. 

Lastly, Field devices may protect their users from the Damage caused by Flame (or similar) weapons, but targets must still Test versus Agility to avoid Catching Fire; the Damage may be completely deflected, but they are still surrounded by burning accelerants/flames and must avoid that hazard. Catching Fire counts as a hit. 

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After using the Dark Heresy field rules, I found the percentage rules a godsend in reducing the number of dice rolled. Both for nullifying hits and damage rolls, and for avoiding rolling damage reduction for every last attack that hits. They're intuitive and simple mechanically.

The matter of short, brutal combats stems from the entire WH40k rpg system and is not caused by fields. But frankly, battles that last three sessions get dull so mechanics such as hordes and force fields get my vote. Get combat done and back into other aspects of the game.

 

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Alekzanter said:

Reciprocal devices are of Good or Best Craftsmanship, though the overload threshold of Good devices remains unchanged.

EDIT: …though the overload threshold of Best devices remains unchanged.

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