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Ghaundan

A new GM/group of players looking for tips!

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 I recently talked to a few friends (not the same ones I'm starting a Black Crusade game with) about starting a Dark Heresy group. I'm the most experienced Warhammer wise and I kind of wanted to try GM'ing so I got that position. The core rulebook is in the mail, and most likely I'll order the GM kit soon.

How many players are adviced? There's only 3 of us so far and I'm guessing that's a bit too few. Also, which supplements/extra books would be worthwhile to begin with?

Also, if anyone know any good places to find ideas for adventures do tell! 

Anything else you can think of as well. Hopefully we'll get a few more together and try our first steps as lowly acolytes in 40k soon enough.

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Welcome, newbie!

@Players
One GM and three players is quiet alright, especially for a newbie GM! I have one group about three and one about for. Three works best for me

@Places to look for adventures
Besides this forum, try DarkReign40K. If you want some "general ideas", I can try to dump some of my unfished shorts here (eiter as links to PDF on Rapidshare or by simply spamming this topic and/or creating a new one..be warned! they are unfinshed idead, not adventures in their own right)

@Books&legal PDF to buy
I advise PDF, since they are cheaper and a greater ease of use

Inquisitors Handbook is something you should have ready BEFORE the first pc are build. It has towns of useful options
Disciples of the Dark Gods is imho a "must have" for a DH GM. You get nice descriptions for cults and enemies so that you will be inspired to come up with some nice enemies.

@Adventures
On this site, look into the support section. "Edge of Darknes" and the competition winners/finalists "Idle Heresy" and "Brutal Lament" are worthy reeds
Look over at DarkReign unter "Threats". You will find some concepts & small missions their as well. Under "GM tipps" somebody even managed to turn the thric-damned "Shattered Hopes" into something useful! (still a dungeoncrawl, so!)
I advise to pay a visit to www.malleus.dk. They have nice "blueprints" and maps you might find handy/inspiring

For Non-FFG-Products, go over to DriveThruRPG and spend some bugs on "100 DarkPlaces" or "100 Horror Adventure Seeds" from PostMortemProductions. Both are collections of 100 Horror Onesheet ideas. I prefer "dark places". The stuff offer no maps, but general descriptions with some plot ideas. Not all can be changed into a 40K scenary, but I found it quit handy as a source of inspiration.

...and if in need for input with an adventure of your own design, do not hesitat to cry for help in the GAMEMASTERS sub forum of this site. You will normally get some responses (the good, the bad and the trolly) with a week.

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Worthwhile books i have found as I'm in the same boat but have more players are:-

The Inquisitors handbook - tons of extra weapons, and some nice extra bits

Disciples of Dark Gods - Baddies book, lots of very useful stuff plus an adventure in that back.

Blood of Martyr's  - good book for the Faith of the 40K universe and have some nice advance classes plus SoB's in.

Acension - Very useful book to plan your Acolyte's Inquisitor and gives plenty of background on the Calaxis Sector's Inquisition, also has an Acension Story in the back.

Of Course the core book - Has an adventure in the back too.

 

I haven't found much use for the GM's kit, the screen is nice as it has all the references and weapons and armour charts on, but the book is mostly an adventure, the last 4 pages are the most useful, a how to make monsters and a poison's sheet.

 

So far I have only run 1 pre-written adventure and that was the one in Disciplines of the Dark Gods, The House of Dust and  Ash, they started it at rank 4 and it was a challenge but I have a group of experienced Roleplayers, and 3 of them are also GM's for other systems so analysing plot and scope comes quite easily to them.

 

If your unsure of what you run, the adventure in the back of the Core  Book is quite easy and can but the start of a long campaign and has almost every aspect of an adventure.

DH for me is an Investigation style game, find out who the baddies are then deal with them, but there is a political backdrop to the whole thing that should become more apparent to your characters as they progress up the ranks and towards becoming full throne agents.

 

Hope this Helps

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 @Gregorius21778, how are those PDF's compared to the scanned ones on the net? Thinking about mouse over information and the like. As I really really hate reading PDF's. It's a digital version of the paper one, removing some of the advantages a book has and adding hardly any of the advantages a digital copy could have. However, if it has good tables (printing) and searchability it might be useful if I had a tablet of some sort.

Thanks for the listing of the books, as a new customer it isn't easy knowing what's what (well, the creature compendium was pretty obvious) and which I'll need "first". Buying books focused on high end stuff, I'll assume ascension isn't something one does on a whim so there's no "hurry" getting that. 

Inquisitors and Disciples seems like useful additions.

Thanks for the tip on the support page,  contest winners! I'll have to give them a read and see if I can pick up any tips.

3 players are enough? Alrighty, well another friend is moving so we might get him onboard as well.

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Hi Ghaudan,

@PDFs
Unfortunately, they are not much more then mere scans. Based on what you say, you might not find them as usefull as I do. I like being able to dublicate things by printing.

@Missions
http://darkreign40k.com/drjoomla/index.php/threats/scenarios/829-dark-heresy-adventure-bunker-ds506

this is small, simple and very straight forward. Good for an opening adventure, perhaps

http://darkreign40k.com/drjoomla/index.php/threats/scenarios/326-grey-matter
Rather detailed for a fan submission.

http://darkreign40k.com/drjoomla/index.php/gm-tips/tips-for-scenarios/380-plot-notes-for-shattered-hope
This little addition to "Shattered Hopes" make it much more worthwhile!

@Something to adept:
http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/rogue-trader/support/PDF/Forsaken%20Bounty%20%28web%20quality%29.pdf
Change the adventure. Exchange the Astropath with a radical inquisitor who ventured out of the sector. The wreck of the vessel he was known to travel with last resurfaced. The pc are officially attached to the ship which is send to salvage the wreckage. They are to look for a captains lock or anything else to get back on the trail of the radical Inquisitor... here you go!




 

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 The printing bit, yes, I'll admit that's a huge bonus! I'll consider it, need to look at the price.

I'll have a look on the stuff! Sounds like I'll have my hands full getting ready for this but no doubt it'll be worth it. 

And thanks for all the help so far.

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Our present DH group is 4, and it the perfect size so far for an investigation group.  We have the Cell leader a Void Born Adept, a no nonsense Arbite, a Fire Loving Priest, and myself a Moritat Assassin from the world of Dusk. 

Inquisitors Handbook, is a nice add on
 

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 Okay, well that means 2 more then I currently know for certain is in. But we haven't turned every stone...yet.

I looked over DriveThruRPG and the prices were lower then I excpected! I'll presume they're searchable? With a tablet they could actually be pretty handy...

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I agree with Gregorious on the "must have" books. If I might suggest a third ranked one, I'd go with the Radical's Handbook. Even if you don't like to tempt your players with the dark side (and what GM doesn't enjoy messing with his players? demonio.gif), it is a great source of ideas for villian-building. I myself think that fallen agents of the Inquisition make wonderful foes that the PCs will have a "personal" stake in defeating.

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I've ran DH with just 2 players for quite some time and it works just fine. It's like a buddy-cop movie of unrelenting horror ;-)

Of course, they almost always have 1 or 2 NPCs around to help keep the role-play bouncing around, give me a mouth-piece when the game needs one, give me someone to hand long-term themes on, and to kill off in horrible ways once they get attached to said NPC to show them just how serious the ***** gotten. Also, keep in mind I haven't ran the canned scenarios except for Edge of Darkness (extra NPC in their cell for that one) and House of Dust and Ash (no extra NPCs but they sure were able to wheel and deal with the masses of NPCs already there and win a few friends when it all went ploin-shaped). I've mined some of the earlier ones for ideas but have never even tried running them as written so I can't vouch for how well a group of 2 could go through them with a GM who's dead-set on not changing or adapting a damned thing.

 

Edit: Oh, and on the pdf front, I would say they have two major advantages which is why I get them:

1: They are very cost effective (as long as you keep a copy on a jump drive just in case the worst should happen to your hard drive... live and learn).

2: You can do a word search! For DH books, this is worth its weight in gold! I honestly don't know who much weight a word search has, so I don't know how much gold you'd get if you traded it in today, but the price of gold is going up so it should a sound investment no matter the weight of word searching.

I don't know how many times I sat down to write up that weeks story only to find that I half remembered reading about that McGuffen that I really wanted to use somewhere but couldn't for the life of me remember where it was or knew there was info on Planet X in one or three of the books, but that info could not be found in any of the logical places I looked. One quick word search through all the pdfs in my DH folder and problem solved.

Seriously, the DH books are an organizational nightmare for a GM. Info on races, planets, conspiracies, odd items, and all forms of brick-a-brack is just scattered throughout the DH books in such a way that once you have most all of them, you'll never be able to remember where the hell anything is mentioned and then where it is further elaborated on. Word search, it's great!

 

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Graver said:

 

2: You can do a word search! For DH books, this is worth its weight in gold! I honestly don't know who much weight a word search has, so I don't know how much gold you'd get if you traded it in today, but the price of gold is going up so it should a sound investment no matter the weight of word searching.

 



partido_risa.gifaplauso.gifcorazon.gif

@Brick-brack-Knowledge
This is why evolution breeds people with Total Recall cool.gif

Anyway, Back2Topic
A friend of mine uses a tablet.. as a gamer for his sheet. In -THIS- functions, tablets are a pain since he takes much much longer to note something then anybody with a paper and a pencil would. For a GM, they might be very useful... depending on how durable the battery is!

"Price/Value" is one of the three things that made my start buying PDF´s in the first place. "I can print handouts for my players" is especially usefull if you want to give them access to certain pc options from IH. If I would start a new group from scratch, I would buy IH as a PDF again (I own it as a book) since it comes so very handy to make prints so all your players can start building pc at once without having to wait for each other handing out the book.

Finally, their is availabililty. I am able to get the PDF from DriveThru long before any shop in my location (or near my location) is able to provide me with the book.

 

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 Alright! Well I must admit I'm leaning towards a tablet+print outs, but after reading the thread about issues with the PDF's it seems I'll need to find the right tablet for the job. We already have one with a mini laptop thing (no idea what they're called in english) which had some issues with the descent pdf we used last time we played that had serious issues in terms of speed.  

Should I ask in that thread, or do any of you have any advice?

Once again, thanks for all the tips! I'll have to do some research, I've only read the freebie mission that didn't entail any detective work so I'll have to figure out how that's done (well, properly at least)

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While I am unable to offer any advice on the tablet (eBook?) issue, here are my vies on the following

Ghaundan said:

 

I'll have to do some research, I've only read the freebie mission that didn't entail any detective work so I'll have to figure out how that's done (well, properly at least)

 



I always to to think about it as the task for creating a trail of (rather) logical clues that will finally lead the pc to the problem/the culprit/the conspiracy. Basically, their are to ways of handling this, depending on how your "write" your own missions.

Buttom up
If the first thing you know about the mission-to-be is how it all is going to end (for example, the idea of a cool cult-hideout you want the pc to storm in the end), flash out this cult hideout first. Do not think about any investigation yet, simply allow your inspiration to grab you by your had and take you away for a ride.
After the "final" is finished, lay aside you work and at least have a cup of coffee/tee/whatever or simply lay it aside for a day. After your thoughts where able to come to a rest, have a look at the "final" anew. Try to think about what could point the pc their. In the example: what deeds the cult due could leave evidence/tracks of their activity? Missing persons, power shortages, warp phenomena, the absence of any yellow paint in all the surrounding outlets stores, hideous smells?  While any of the cult member start to act fishy due to his involement to the cult? Like "not seeing their loved-once anymore" or "not showing up to church" or anything? If such a thing leads to another "scene" (like the scene of an abduction; a home broken into and made a mess during the struggle as the cultist secured and carried away their victim), think about likely clues in this, how the pc an gather their etc.. and perhaps other scene that will point to this scenes (i.e. the abducted person is missed by somebody how reports this to somebody).

Top down
While you might have a vague idea about what shall happen, the first thing you clearly have in mind is how it all is going to start. You want the pc find out about missing persons or the source of this xenos artefacts circulating among the nobility. Think about the investigation skills your pc do have and see if the idea for a clue comes to your mind. If so, where does this clue lead? And then, start again happy.gif

On the nature of clues
Their are some established clue-mechanics that a featured in most adventures (both official modules and fan writte) or "tried-and-true" by other elements of fiction (like movies and tv-series).

The key word search
is my word for "you know about person/expressions/item/groub x´s involvment, so you try to find out about X. Test some knowledge or inquiry. Success leads to information, more success to more information.

Questioning means the pc have somebody to ask questions. This could either be an eye-wittness or a captured minion of the enemy who can be interrogated or a sage who will willingly enlight the pc about certain topics. The players either only need to ask the right questions or need to path social skill tests (or one for Interrogation)

Physical evidence is something the pc secured and is now ready for examination. A corpse, a crime scene, an item the pc know to be relevant (like this strange book in the room of the missing scribe) etc. Allow the player to describe what they are looking for and note in advance what questions will reveal the informaiton and/or establish which skill test the pc will need to pass to get the clue (Medicae, Search, whatever).

On Vital clues: What ever you do, you will end up having clues the pc -must- get during the course of the adventure or they will not proceed to the final. This happens. You have two ways of handling this. First, you can simply decided that such clues are handed out to them no-matter what they do. In the case of a clue revealed by a skill test, it will be revealed no matter what the success. Success or further success will simply bring additional information that might be hand. Or you have somebody else that will point the pc into the right direction (an npc) if they fail to follow your rails. Yes, this is what players call "railroading". You could although try to include so many ways to discover the clue that the players -MUST- get it sooner or later. But as GM, I always count on my players to think way different then I think they think.

The other option is to create a set-back if the pc do not get the clue/do not get it in time. The machinations of the enemie turn one step further. New clues show up or things happen which the pc cannot ignore. While this allows the pc to go on, it always means some penalty as well. This "penalty" can range from "you did not earn xp for saving murder victim 6 of the serial killer because you did not prevent the murder to "the Necromant was able to rob another crypt, so you will face 2 more corpse minions in the final fight".

 If you really want things to be a little different, you can take the "set-back" approach to the point where the pc are actual able to fail the entire missions. They will never reach the final if they do not the evidecne/get in time and at the point the plot of the enemy is revealed it is to late and the damage is done. Be warned, so. Such an "anti-climax" might ruin the game experience for your players. Frankly, talk about it with them. You might find up that your friends enjoy (from time to time) a movie with -no- happy end and are completely fine with the option of failing completely.

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 Failing will be somewhere down the line I think, first we all have to get into our RP'ing shoes. I've started to read the Edge of Darkness, which is investigation based and I really like it so far! I also bought Purge the Unclean, I read the review and was not impressed by the quality but it was made by another company then FFG? I mostly bought it because I got it for 7£ and I liked the settings, got alot of good ideas that I could build on and I got it cheap.

Not something I'd be willing to pay full price for (I expect having to make some adjustments based on the players actions, but the stuff mentioned in the review were glaring, but I got it cheap and for a novice GM I think it could make a good template to work on. I am however ditching the dark eldar and deathwatch marine, not something I want novice NPC's to  meet. Maybe ONE dark eldar who's payed off some pirates/looters to do some dirty work (easier to kill/rip off then other dark eldar, so less to share the loot with!) but not a whole party.

Looks like it'll be a blast, a dark horrendous one but a blast is a b last!

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Hi Gaundhan,

while PtU is not a shining example of excellent adventure-dom, you will get your 7 pounds worth in raw material ready to be tweaked. happy.gif

WARNING! All of the following will contain immense spoilers!

Rejoice! I already ran this adventure and made some changes. Some of them I posted on DarkReigen (see the link below)

http://darkreign40k.com/drjoomla/index.php/gm-tips/tips-for-scenarios/1080-rejoice-revised

I am sorry for the horrible state of gramma in the article.

Shades of Twilight: I ran this one as well with another group. I removed the marine as well, fitted in 4 naval armsmen instead. The function of Forden and his crew had been changed to "Archeo-Tech Pirates/Pillagers" whose ship abandoned them as they noted the incoming navy formation. Added some more scenes as well.
I have the notes somewhere on my computer. If you intend to run this mission I can try to sum them up and provide them in the form of a PDF via RapidShare. The adventure is a little... linear, so. One really needs to put some description skills into it in order to keep it from getting just a series of combat-worthy encounters.

Baron Hopes: Worst of the three, never ran it. But somebody around here once offered some advice on tweaking it. If you have the spare time, try the Search Engine of the Forum. Something about adding the Locigians and stuff.

 

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Ghaundan said:

I also bought Purge the Unclean, I read the review and was not impressed by the quality but it was made by another company then FFG? I mostly bought it because I got it for 7£ and I liked the settings, got alot of good ideas that I could build on and I got it cheap.

Yea, Purge the Unclean was written by Black Industries, the original writers of Dark Heresy - Games Workshop shut them down though, and the licence then moved on to Fantasy Flight Games.

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What I really can not recommend is Ascension.
It's really unbalanced and I'd sooner start a new game than use ascension if I was GM.
Or, when BC is in the shops continue with those buy options after reaching top rank.

 

 

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 Okay, one person is for ascension and another is against. The against bit is about the unbalance, could you elaborate a bit? Are certain classes made to feel obsolete at their chosen specialization? Is it just combat or detective work as well?

 

As a GM I'm going to try to balance it out as much as possible based on what careers they play. Aka if there's two of them and they go one...adept and guardsman I'll try to make it 50/50'ish (if my impression of the classes are correct) with investigation and combat. Or if they go two none combat i'll try to tone combat down a bit etc. Basically try to make everyone in the group feel equally useful, but if we get a decent group it gets alot harder if ascension ruins the balance between classes (especially late game as that's not something I want the players having to worry about) that perform the same service. And I don't want min/maxers in my group really, I want people to make diverse and interesting characters. Obviously they'll have to make viable characters, but this is a pen and paper, not some MMO with cookie cutter builds.

So yeah, pro's and cons please!

I can't stress this enough, thanks for all the input! Really feels like this is a great community :)

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My reasons not to like ascension: (CON)

Balance:

The careers are not in the least balanced. the primaris psyker and the vindicare for example are so broken, they can ruin the whole game if played according to rules as written. The main reason in both cases being the unnatural stats they get combined with their abilities.

The psyker gets unnatural willpower and the damage of most psy powers is based off willpower bonus. So once they get unnatural will they can kill nearly anything.

The vindicare gets all physical attributs as unnatural whils most other combat classes gain none.

The stormtrooper gets a ascended trait referring to hellguns and carapace armour, both of which he as to stop using (in favour for better equipment) if he wants to remain on par with others. In another thread everyone keeps telling how the stormtrooper it super when in Powerarmour. His other ascended traits are rather underwhelming too, in my opinion.

Restrictions:

Some of the restrictions on which career may become what ascended career are plain stupid.
Like the guardsman may become vindicare assasin but not death cult assasin. I'd think the other way round would be more logical.

Too many skills for everyone

With ascension you don't learn single skills any more, you buy skill packages and get all of the skills in the package at +20.
So for example you learn driving mastery, you get all driving skills at +20 no matter if you already had one of those or not.

That results in situation where one character specialised in one field again, for example driving everything as good as possible.
He plays that char through DH, buying all driving skills available to his career. Now ascension comes along and another char, who up to that time had no driving skills at all, and just buys driving mastery. He gets them all at +20 and the former driving expert loses his specialty.

And as that's with all skills. There are just too many mastery packets for every career.

 

Same with talents

With talents it's the same. One char could only basic (sp) and pistol (sp), then ascension comes along, he takes pistol expertise, some ranks later basic expertise and he can use all pistole and all basic weapons (excluding exotic).

The next char was never good at melee, takes a talent and has half of the sweet melee talents.

Because skills and talents are learned too fast there are useless ranks

If you play Ascension similar to how you played DH there will be characters who have little benefit of taking lots of peers and good reputations. For some characters it just doesn't fit that everyone likes them. But there are ranks in which you can buy nothing except such stuff. (yes, there are still stat advances and stuff from pre ascension)

 

In short: You lern too much to fast and the unnatural stats break the game.
Yes, even my sage's unnatural intelligence breaks the game a lot in my opinion.

 

What I like about ascension: (PRO)

It has equipment in it that's so trademark for core book careers you just need it. And much earlier than ascension level. For example the arbites shield.

 

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I forgot about another CON from the balance side:

The starting gear is not balanced. How important that is depends on the play style and how easy/often the characters can use influence to get better stuff but for someone who has to buy basic stuff first (because he doesn't get it) it takes longer to get cool gadgets.

Example: neither the stormtrooper nor the sage or the Desperado starts with a melee weapon. They don't even get a mono knife.

The primaris psyker on the other hand (we remember, one of the two most broken careers) gets to choose if he wants a force weapon or a best craftsmanship power weapon.

Some careers get cybernetics, others don't, some get force fields, others not. The magos may start with a power armour.

 

Why not just do something like: Everyone gets 1 exeptionally rare item, 1 very rare item, 1 rare item, and 5 scarce or lower items. One of those items may be upgraded to godd and one to best craftsmanship quality. Just as an example.

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I would not advice to buy Ascenion NOW

While I have no actual experience and did not pounder the mechanics, I would simply find it hard to build fitting adventures.

And hey, you and your group is just going got start!

Spend your money on other resources first. "Daemonunter" and "Radicals Handbook" are good option. (RH better then DH, in my opinion).

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 I strongly second/ advise the IH. I would advise holding off on ascension till you have a feel for the game and you know what works in your group. I love the radicals handbook, if not for just the faction information.

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As far as ideas for the game go, Creatures Anathema has lots of ideas listed with each critter. Now if they'd put out some stats on genestealer cultists, I'll be really happy.

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Umbranus said:

I forgot about another CON from the balance side:

The starting gear is not balanced. How important that is depends on the play style and how easy/often the characters can use influence to get better stuff but for someone who has to buy basic stuff first (because he doesn't get it) it takes longer to get cool gadgets.

A bit off topic, but I'm going there anyway. I dislike the starting gear concept as a whole. I don't see why a starting character doesn't get a larger amount of starting money to buy whatever they want. It can be hard enough to make two characters from the same career distinct without them BOTH having a metal staff, tattered robe, etcetera. I think that the concept is only of use to players who are new to the setting, or role-playing in general. Sorry to de-rail the topic, but if your group have a familiarity with the setting you might want to consider this.

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Alpha Chaos 13 said:

Umbranus said:

 

I forgot about another CON from the balance side:

The starting gear is not balanced. How important that is depends on the play style and how easy/often the characters can use influence to get better stuff but for someone who has to buy basic stuff first (because he doesn't get it) it takes longer to get cool gadgets.

 

 

A bit off topic, but I'm going there anyway. I dislike the starting gear concept as a whole. I don't see why a starting character doesn't get a larger amount of starting money to buy whatever they want. It can be hard enough to make two characters from the same career distinct without them BOTH having a metal staff, tattered robe, etcetera. I think that the concept is only of use to players who are new to the setting, or role-playing in general. Sorry to de-rail the topic, but if your group have a familiarity with the setting you might want to consider this.



Once your group gets familiar with the setting there are likely a lot of tweaks and changes you'll make, don't fret about it. I can't think of a single group i've ever played DH with that hasn't had at least a handful of minor changes to make the game better for the group as a whole.

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