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Ghaundan

A new GM/group of players looking for tips!

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On the topic of cookie-cutter characters and tweaks, here's something I've used to decent effect.  Every player that gives you a backstory gets "freebies" for his/her character based on said backstory.  Go with what works for you, but I generally hand out 2-3 "skill steps"... basic skills get trained, advanced skills become basic skills for that character.  I've substituted logical equipment in place of a skill step if something strikes me (sometimes even giving Good or Best Quality stuff, making it clear that these items are dear to the character and should not be parted with).

For example, in my current game, I have a voidborn Tech-Priest who grew up on a station orbiting a cometary body in the outskirts of the Calixis sector.  Several other Tech-Priests around (it was a Tech-fiefdom, in fact), but they primarily studied orbital mechanics.  So, not being interested in that, he studied with the station Biologis.  Result?  He gets Medicae as a basic skill for free.  Also, his mother (another Tech-Priest) was killed during a raider attack.  He asked if, in lieu of anything else, he could have a servo-skull.  Sure, no problem, one servo skull with nothing in it, because it makes sense for a Tech-Priest to have one and he gave me a good reason.

Another example, same game.  I have a Metallican Gunslinger Scum whose backstory is basically that he was a member of a minor noble house that was taken out by a rival house... but said rival house used warp sorcery to do it.  He, not knowing that, swore vengeance, and broke into their manor to get evidence to take to the planetary enforcers, and wound up coming across cult paraphernalia.  He took that to the Arbites, and the Arbites stormed the manor and executed the nobles they could find.  So I gave him a best quality autopistol in place of his regular one, Forbidden Lore - Cults as a basic skill... and a watered-down version of the Noble homeworld drawback from the Inquisitor's Handbook (he didn't take that homework because he said he wasn't a noble anymore because his entire house had been destroyed).

So yeah, it's the little things that can really set starter characters apart.  And they don't have to be incredibly overwhelming.  (GM Tip: They don't even have to come up much!  Sometimes just having something on the sheet is enough for a player to feel like his character is different from the other six trillion guardsmen out there).

Speaking of the Scum... the income system in this game is messed up, especially for the non-Noble Scum out there.  There are horror stories about Scum being unable to afford ammo for their guns, let alone have any kind of bribe money to get information out of anybody.  I recommend normalizing income across careers quickly, or at least giving them some kind of stipend.  It may be a meta-game dynamic, but nothing sucks quite like being out of bullets and unable to afford more while the Tech-Priest sits on several hundred thrones, but won't help out any because he's scrimping and saving for his mechadendrites.

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Avoid Ascension until you have a solid grasp of the basic rules, for every reason written above in addition to the fact that it's just poorly written and designed. Inquisitor's Handbook, Radical's Handbook, Disciples of the Dark Gods, Daemon Hunter and Blood of Martyrs (in roughly that order) should be your first acquisitions on the basis of overall usefulness and also quality of production. Avoid Creatures Anathema, if you have a decent imagination you can come up with better rules and better statlines for more interesting creatures, and save yourself some cash.

Ascension really only works when you have a GM who is very comfortable with improvising, a core of players with solid concepts who don't abuse rules, and some time on the water in basic DH. Alternatively, if you disallow Inquisitor as a career then you can just use it as "Super Dark Heresy" and it requires a bit less from the GM because you still have some significant sway over your players' actions.

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 Okay, well now both core rulebooks (i also ordered rogue trader) and the GM kit which i also got cheap. The GM included another story, I haven't had time to read it yet but I really liked "The edge of darkness" online scenario as it explained a bit more how to conduct investigation as well as combat. Maybe not the best that's out there, but as a starter scenario it feels just right. Especially compared to the other intro "Shattered Hope" that looked more like a dungeon crawl and might none combat'ish PC's feel left out.

Noticed in alot of threads that alot of people aren't overjoyed about FFG's adventures, without direct experience it's hard for me to tell, but the problems in general seems to be that they're too linear and require too much work to make them on par. 

I take it most of the ones you've suggested (I read around a bit!) are mostly setting, stats  for items/careers/characters around the sector. Which sounds grand since I now have a few short stories I can either edit or draw inspiration from. i think I'll get Inquisitors Handbook before we start as you've suggested since it includes career paths and extra stuff useful for character creation.

New question though! We've considered adding addtiional sessions online, does anyone know any good tools for holding online RPG sessions? Chat/voice is easy, but what about dice rolls? Or more wholesome tools for keeping tabs on the things going on. 

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While it was not requested, be warned about Maggots in the Meat (the adventure in the GM Screen).

While the description of Emperors Island (and the city of Olrankan) is a fine one (and above all a fine example how a view well placed description can make paint a complete place where 100 details would have failed), the plot is laughable, the motivation shoddy and the enemy is MUCH TO POWERFULL for a starting group!

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 Hehe, warning duly noted. Odd how they'd put a scenario designed for a none starting group in the GM screen though. What level would you advice it? sounds like I'll have to rework the plot but that could be fun, I already have it so might as well use it for what it's worth.

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Ghaundan said:

 

 Hehe, warning duly noted. Odd how they'd put a scenario designed for a none starting group in the GM screen though. What level would you advice it? sounds like I'll have to rework the plot but that could be fun, I already have it so might as well use it for what it's worth.

 



Hard to tell. I actually never used the enemies this modul provided. Actually, I would say it is not so much a question of Rank but a Question of arment.
MitM features opponents that will soak up 10 points of damage per attack due to unnatural toughness. Do not send your pc on such a mission unless they have the damage-enhancing Talents and/our Equipment to deal with this.
 
Talking the plot, the whole thing is not making sense to me. The whole chain of investigation.Actually, I plan on removing the plot and turning it into

City is under siege under the lame excuse that the Prince of Olrankan is Harbouring a Mutant Cult in his city and is unable or unwilling to deal with it. 
The Prince of course protests this and defends his honour..and his city. The acolythes are called in.
In this scenario, the "Mutant Cult" is in truth a Genestealer Cult. The Prince is not envolved, but denies the existence of said cult since he fears that "the Imperium" would put an end to his rulership if it would be found out. He tried to settle things with his own forces... but is now hampered in this attempts due the siege and periodic attacks against his city. 

Meanwhile, the Patriach sits in an old skymill, guarded by some purestrain and tended to by some other generations. The gene seed is spread through marriage and those bearing childern are thought out by the hidden cult later, joining their ranks out of the gene-seed implanted twisted love for their off-spring. 

The pc can find out by asking for people who acted strangely/are supposed to be "not free of taint" (either working with the populace or with the Plumes). If they work with the plumes, they will get the information but some assasine attacks as well. As they work with the people, badly botched investigation tests end up in attacks by the hidden cult. 
Once they pin-pointed a family where the women was pregnant but nobody ever saw the child, they can either try to follow the familiy (stealth) or Interrogate them throughly. Once they know what they are up to, they can either try to deal with it themselves or go to the authorities.
In the later case, very good tests for Charm/Command are asked for, otherwise they will find themselves arrested and/or killed after they told where the cult can be found. 

 

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Ghaundan said:

 Hehe, warning duly noted. Odd how they'd put a scenario designed for a none starting group in the GM screen though. What level would you advice it? sounds like I'll have to rework the plot but that could be fun, I already have it so might as well use it for what it's worth.

Well, it is certainly one of the weaker adventures, but at least it does not pretend to be a masterpiece. One has to get rid of the D&D-mentality that everything offered as a potential opponent at a certain level must be defeatable. This is grim dark 40K and there is only war…

I sent my PCs to Acreage at rank 4 and they fared rather bad (as expected), but it taught them a lesson that there are things in existence that are horrendously powerful and to be rightly feared. Besides, the mission was just to check what is happening there and not purging the planet of all xenos taint. It was more a sort of reconnaissance mission.

When they first approached and entered the sky-mill the Guardsman PC charged headlong at the first appearing Slaught and got his a** handed within two rounds (one Fate Point down). The rest of the party had a lot of luck with their Dodge rolls and thus were never really hit by the ranged weaponry of the xenos. Later, when the PCs persuaded a lieutenant of the Plumes to accompany them with his squad into the sky-mill, a massacre occurred with Plumes getting their heads disintegrated by massed Slaught firepower. The PCs retreated (after killing a few of the Slaught pets), but set the sky-mill deliberately ablaze, and the Assassin PC was even able to kill a Slaught with his accurate shots (and Double Shots of his Fate Bringers IIRC) in the end.

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 Right, that setting sounds abit too grand for some rookie acolytes. But maybe later, I'll have to have a proper look at it.

We played Edge of Darkness over 2 nights, they did pretty good. The assassin also noticed the disadvantages og being iliterate, they got some new items from some defeated foes. Mainly a silenced autogun from one of the antagonists, it was the first automatic weapon encountered. It almost dropped the assassin in one round (he survived with 1 wound), and when he got hold of it he pretty much plastered the enemies in the last encounter. 

Up until then they'd been using a shotgun and club, and a hunting rifle and sword. The assassin really wants to make a sniper, not sure how well they're suited for this but if nothing else we'll make it work with house rules. But autofire pretty much left the arbite standing there scratching his head, and I even had problems getting enemies into melee with the assassin. 

It should be noted that we sort of decided to wing it (i got exactly 30 second warning that we'd be playing) based on the Black Crusade intro rules, and we left a few of the advanced combat rules out due to simplicity. We're going to add more and more rules as we go along and get comfortable with the ones we know, it makes it more of an experience and less constantly looking up rules that makes it feel game-y.

I'm still not sure how to distribute exp, i read up on the rules in the GM section, but I was wondering if you guys have any additional insight into it.

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Automatic weapons are a world of hurt against low-level / poorly armoured targets (and PCs). Remember to apply situational modifiers, and for the Emperors sake: hug some cover.

Full Auto Burst is a Full action, so the attacker may not move. He must also be "in the free", that is not engaged in melee.

Range:

He gets +20 from the burst, most likely +10 from Range (if using an autogun, short range is within 45m). But he suffers -20 if the target is running (an additional -20 if the target has the Hard Target talent), -10 if target is prone (lying down), -10 or 20 for poor visibility (darkness, smoke, heavy rain, etc).

Never let your baddies be mowed down in an open, well lit field by acolytes standing comfortably some 40m away with a clear line of fire. Make sure they are surprised in cramped tunnels where the enemy is either not in sight, or uncomfortably close. Make it dark and steamy :) And give'em cover. Then make sure they are charged by an enemy (perhaps a small but vicious dog?). The enemy doesn't even have to hit (those pesky Assassins always Dodge anyway), the shooter is still engaged in melee, and may not shoot his autogun any more anyway.

Cover:

Important this. If the enemy is behind a stone pillar, or hiding behind the corner of a metal container, most shots are going to hit the cover, and not the fighter. Against normal bullets, this will probably stop all damage. A guy peeking out from the corner, shooting with his autopistol is just going to expose his head and right arm. Chances are the first hit will be somewhere else, and many consecutive hits will be to the body.

To summarise, it is rarely the case that this ends as a BS + 30, no penalities, all DoS results in a damaging hit. If it does, then you're doing something wrong :)

XP:

I usually give all the players 2-400 XP each pr evenings play, depending on how long we played and how "well" they did.

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Ghaundan said:

 Up until then they'd been using a shotgun and club, and a hunting rifle and sword. The assassin really wants to make a sniper, not sure how well they're suited for this but if nothing else we'll make it work with house rules. 

I'm still not sure how to distribute exp, i read up on the rules in the GM section, but I was wondering if you guys have any additional insight into it.

My groups player wanted to be a sniper as well and became a fairly good one in the meantime. Still, the available skills and talents for the Assassin favour a specialization in melee and it is a pity that there is not a ranged and a melee career path for the Assassin (except later in Ascension). Thus my Assassin player still took melee skills after he had the most few important ranged ones. Besides, the same is true even moreso for the Guardsman. My groups Guardsman also wanted to be some sort of sniper, but until he reached the respective career path at rank 7, he already kind of had to take multiple melee talents in the absence of vable alternatives.

I give about 100 XP per session (ca. 4 hours) to each player.

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 Alright, sounds like something I'll read up and implement next playthrough (like I said, we hadn't gone over the finer details of combat, simply the short version from BC). 

About range, the last scenario was in a hive city and the next one I'm going to set on another hive planet, but this is mostly gigantic spires and the like. Are there many places with vast open spaces that aren't crowded? I can't imagine anyone being able to do make a competent shot in a croweded hive street once the crowd panics from the first shot. I'm imagening a factory, abandoned church or the like.

If assassins are not meant to be snipers, who are? I've only seen the tabletop assassins and they seem sniper'ish. As he wants to RP one and they're only two I'm willing to give some leeway, but if sniper talents are at rank 7 they have a bit too go before that becomes an issue.

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 Okay, I'm reading up on the parts about combat at the moment and here's a few questions:

Why does auto fire seem so much more effective then burst? Is there something I'm missing? You get +20 for firing full auto and for every degree another hit is made. While a semi burst only gets +10 and gets an extra hit every two degrees. It just looks backwards. You're MORE accurate firing full auto rather then a burst? I'm tempted to just tell the players I'm switching it around or something because it almost looks liks automatic weapons will decimate other fire options. At least with the group and skills currently avaliable.

Also, quick question, when it comes to combat. Do the NPC's act (mechanic wise) in the same way as PC's? Thinking about critical effects and the like. 

Anyway, off to read up the scenario in the core book to see if it's something the players would like. Thanks alot to everyone for all the help so far! I really feel it's helped us get off to a good start.

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Ghaundan said:

 Okay, I'm reading up on the parts about combat at the moment and here's a few questions:

Why does auto fire seem so much more effective then burst? Is there something I'm missing? You get +20 for firing full auto and for every degree another hit is made. While a semi burst only gets +10 and gets an extra hit every two degrees. It just looks backwards. You're MORE accurate firing full auto rather then a burst? I'm tempted to just tell the players I'm switching it around or something because it almost looks liks automatic weapons will decimate other fire options. At least with the group and skills currently avaliable.

Absolutely, and the reason why we house-ruled that semi-auto fire gives an extra hit for every DoS (on single targets) and full-auto fire gives an extra hit for every two DoS (on single targets. The respective bonuses (i.e. +10/+20) remain as they are in the rulebook as do the allocation of extra hits when firing on groups.

This way semi-auto fire is really a viable option (and one mainly used when firing on single targets) and makes weapons with a high value for semi-auto like the Minerva Aegis and the Dervish quite interesting. On the other hand full-auto fire is still interesting when firing on groups, when having extreme bonuses (e.g. firing point-blank on a big stationary target), and for suppressing fire of course. We play it that way for about two years now and it is in our view very well balanced.
 

Ghaundan said:

Also, quick question, when it comes to combat. Do the NPC's act (mechanic wise) in the same way as PC's? Thinking about critical effects and the like.

More or less, even though they normally do not generate Righteous Fury. In the Inquisitors Handbook (IIRC) though you can find so called Mook rules. These are an option if you feature many “expendable” opponents and state that you should give them between 0 and 2 Wounds each so that they die rather fast (as well as becoming insane after a single insanity point and unconscious after 1 fatigue point). In some adventures (and maybe other books) it is also mentioned one should use Sudden Death criticals instead of the more detailed ones.

In our game I have sort of three different main categories for opponents: Mooks, Professionals, and Heroes.

Mooks have zero wounds, suffer from criticals right away and mostly die (or are put out of action) easily when wounded (mostly by falling off roofs, out of windows, into water, into machinery and so on). They never really use cover or ever make a tactical retreat (though running away in wild panic is okay) and they never dodge or parry. I even experimented with the Horde rules from Deathwatch for large amounts of Mooks (Zombies in that case) and it worked rather fine.

Professionals have a normal amount of wounds (mostly 10-12 for humans), suffer from criticals (even though a little abstracted at times) and use cover and tactical retreats as well as Dodge (if skilled) and Parry. They keep fighting if wounded or try to get away or in cover if possible and not suicidal. They never generate Righteous Fury though.

Heroes are mostly encountered at the end of adventures (or at certain major points and/or chapters) and are often the major villains, though other Inquisition (or similar) operatives can also fall into this category. They act as intelligent as the GM is able (*cough*) to, do whatever is viable and possible in a certain environment, generate Righteous Fury, use the full amount of combat options and sometimes even have Fate Points (the latter only for the really big fishes).

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well not to go backwards on the topic, but i thought i would throw the house rule we ended up using for scum and ammo.

simply put we ruled that on top of his monthly "earnings" he was also able to pick up equel to his income plus 2D10 rounds.

so say he earns 300 thrones. he gets 300 plus 2D10 thrones worth of ammo, or drugs, or other small things( not armour or new guns). so far this has worked out well because he uses a shotgun and tends to loot everything that they kill. so he normaly has enough shots to last the session. hope this helps

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