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kjakan

Starting Deathwatch: Pitfalls?

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I'm getting ready to start a Deathwatch campaign, and I'm wondering if there are any obvious flaws that need to be addressed. I've noticed mutterings about automatic fire, hordes and unnatural characteristics. Any pointers?

-K

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kjakan said:

I'm getting ready to start a Deathwatch campaign, and I'm wondering if there are any obvious flaws that need to be addressed. I've noticed mutterings about automatic fire, hordes and unnatural characteristics. Any pointers?

-K

Use the weapons errata. I cannot encourage this enough.

Other than that, be wary of Librarians (they can get pretty absurd) and consider stealing the Only War rules for shooting.

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Second on using the weapons errata. Using the errata in general is a good idea.

Get a good idea of how test modifiers and damage bonuses stack.

Psychic phenomenon and perils of the warp rolls are not tests and thus cannot be rerolled using fate points. Consider allowing librarians to burn fate points to avoid a result worse than death (e.g. obvious posession) but don't feel beholden to do so.

Communicate with your players so that everyone's clear on expectations from the campaign. Some people run Deathwatch as a pure combat fest while others are more focused on the relationships between characters.

 Have fun with your game in any case.

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The Errata weapons list changes a lot of the damage codes to use fewer dice but a bigger bonus. I can guess at the effect this will have: Fewer hits are discounted because of low damage rolls that fail to beat Toughness and Armour, fewer targets are ovewhelmed by high damage rolls. Damage output becomes more predictable.

Do you have any example of what sort of problem the Errata weapons list solved in your campaign?

-K

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 Heavy bolters aren't the be all end all of any encounter any more. The Devastator has a reason to take other heavy weapons. Also, melta and plasma weapons are now useful enough to be taken over just buying special ammunition for a bolter.

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Do not use the book version of Righteous Fury. Use the errata one.

I do not recommend using the Only War/Black Crusade rules for shooting. I tried it. It causes massive ripple effects throughout the system. The primary issue that it addresses (single shot vs. full auto) is not that important in Deathwatch, in which very few errated weapons have full auto.

 

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 As everyone else has said, the errata's weapon stats and righteous fury rules really work well (there is a reason these stats are now used in Black Crusade and Only War).

Using the shooting rules from Black Crusade and Only War is more personal preference (as comments here shows). I use them in my game, but there are arguments either way so I'd recommend only looking at them if you are also buying Black Crusade or Only War anyway.

Personally I'd go even further with Librarians and simply not allow them in the game. A Librarian with Smite and Compel and even just the damage a force weapon can put out quickly overpowers the other characters and makes most combats uninteresting. If you don't want to have to plan every fight carefully to neuter the Librarian, I'd just leave them out of the game.

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Don't get me wrong, the OW/BC system is better in some ways. It's just that addressing certain issues -- that don't really matter much in Deathwatch == completely borked others.

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Oh yeah. This isn't a flaw, but this is something you should do.

Right p all the little abilities that Space Marines have -- the modifiers for implants, armor systems, Killing Strike, Demeanors, various modes. Print them out. Make the printouts available during the game.

Marines can do a lot of things, and it's easy to forget them.

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Thanks for the feedback. I guess I'll take your advice regarding the modified weapon characteristics.

Any thing else?

 

-K

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bogi_khaosa said:

I do not recommend using the Only War/Black Crusade rules for shooting. I tried it. It causes massive ripple effects throughout the system. The primary issue that it addresses (single shot vs. full auto) is not that important in Deathwatch, in which very few errated weapons have full auto.

Given that the errata stats were written alongside the Black Crusade version of the combat rules, I don't see there being any particular incompatibility - indeed, I regard the errata weapon stats as benefiting from the BC rules, as semi-auto fire got quite a boost in versatility.

IMO, the biggest area of conflict that adopting the BC rules can cause is in the Squad and Solo mode abilities.

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N0-1_H3r3 said:

 

Given that the errata stats were written alongside the Black Crusade version of the combat rules, I don't see there being any particular incompatibility - indeed, I regard the errata weapon stats as benefiting from the BC rules, as semi-auto fire got quite a boost in versatility.

IMO, the biggest area of conflict that adopting the BC rules can cause is in the Squad and Solo mode abilities.

The ripple effects I'm talking about are in other areas of the system, not in the ranged weapons themselves.

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 Such as?

 

Not being judgemental, I'm genuinely curious if you've found a glaring issue as it's seemed to work fine for our group so far.

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A variety of effects. Mainly offhand the effect on melee combat, and incompatibility with some stats.

For instance, Orks are supposed to hit using hails of fire that overcome their bad marksmanship. That is not possible with the newer rules, because hails of fire do not overcome anything. An Ork Boy has a BS of 20 + 10 for Aim (with new rules letying you aim and autofire in one round)  = 30 - 10 for auto fire = 20%. To have a reasonable chance of hitting he has to fire single shot or semi auto, which is not very Orky. Or alternatively you could bring up his BS, but then he would be as accurate as a standard Guardsman, which isn't very Orky either.

The Defiler has a WS of 25 and Lightning Attack, pretty much directly translating the TT. With DW style rules for Lightning Attack, he's a damgerous melee opponent. With BC/OW rules he'll have a hard time hitting at all. Again you could increase its WS, but that doesn't match with the notion of many attacks, each of which is inaccurate on its own, but which can hit in number. To get "lots of attacks, each of which is inaccurate on its own but together have a chance of at least one hitting" in BC/OW, you need Multiple Arms. Swift and Lightning Attack in BC/OW REDUCE your chance to hit and have the opposite effect as in the otehr game lines (greating gimping starting Assault Marines against Hordes BTW if you do the math).

On the other end of the spectrum, Lictors are potentially capable of churning out 12 hits a round. (WS65 + Lightning Attack + Multiple Arms).

 

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A Defiler can still do things like All out Attack if I recall, which is a great advantage because it's a freaking tank who cares if it can't dodge. I've never had a Defiler show up in game (mostly due to how laughable it is on the Tabletop, my players can't take one seriously), but really the issue isn't the number of attacks that make it deadly but the huge claw it has crumpling everything. It might not be enough to murder a Space Marine outright but it can still grind up other things. Not to mention it's covered in guns and a freaking CANNON.

And Orks not being to hit the broadside of a barn is somehow not Orky? They're lousy shots, plain and simple and have never been advocated as being masters of accuracy. There's nothing to say an Ork wouldn't use single-shot or semi-auto, why bother have those settings on the gun if it wasn't intended to be? You might claim "Well Orks are about covering a target in bullets" and that's very true but it doesn't have to be full auto. You could instead have MORE BOYZ which is very very Orky and have them all barrage a target in semi-auto or even full-auto why not. Eventually a couple of them are going to hit and the target can only dodge once most of the time. I don't see a problem in this whatsoever, it's just more reason to have more Orks and/or get them into close combat.

It's minor tweaking but I don't think it's anything that much game-breaking.

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It seems to me that one could have a houserule that allows auto/semi-auto fire to be used three ways:

  • Burst Fire: Half action. Semi auto BS +0 to Hit, one additional hit per two degrees of success. Full auto BS -10, one additional hit per degree of success.
  • Wild Fire: Half action. Semi auto BS +10, single hit. Full auto BS +20, single hit.
  • Concentrated Fire: Full action. Semi auto BS +10 to Hit, one additional hit per two degrees of success. Full auto BS +20, one additional hit per degree of success.

-K




 

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 You basically broke down my rant of the "double-dip" I've talked about somewhere else in this forum. Basically the problem is that if you want to represent firing multiple shots in an abstract game there's two ways of going about it. You could either A)make it easier to hit the target because they're firing more bullets or B)make it so more shots hit the target, depending on how well you hit. The "Concentrated Fire" that you listed is basically how Deathwatch operates now, while the Burst Fire is how Black Crusade handles it (it went for option B). Wild Fire is just another means to an end but I think the designers went with the way Black Crusade handles it because only increasing the ability to hit makes the Devastator on par with a Marine with really good BS since they're both only hitting with one bullet. I think if you went that route you'd basically have to beef up these heavier weapons to make that one shot count and I think many would advocate against making things like the Heavy Bolter stronger than it is.

 

EDIT: Take a shot for each time I say "basically"

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WittyDroog said:

 

A Defiler can still do things like All out Attack if I recall, which is a great advantage because it's a freaking tank who cares if it can't dodge. I've never had a Defiler show up in game (mostly due to how laughable it is on the Tabletop, my players can't take one seriously), but really the issue isn't the number of attacks that make it deadly but the huge claw it has crumpling everything.

 

No, because the multiple attacks can burn through reactions while AOA does not.

I don't think that autofire is an issue in DW at all. It is in other WH40K lines, but in DW post-errata the only FA weapons that players can get normally are the HB and assault cannon. It doesn't have the autogun vs. lasgun issues of the other lines. So there is no point in this rule change. It damages NPCs; it does not address a game-play balance issue.

BTW my math was wrong -- my ork's chance to hit whould be even lower, since it can't aim with its gun.

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I've misplaced my Black Crusade book for the moment. But would there be any issues with changing the Unnatural Strength and Toughness Traits to use the +x mechanic of BX instead of the multiplier of DH/RT/DW?

As the GM I won't have much trouble translating the Unnatural Characteristic multiplier on the fly from x2 to +3, +4 or +5 depending on the base creature.

It's more a question of wether or not it's a big deal for a BattleBrother with Toughness 25 to have TB 6 instead of TB 4, or a Battle-Brother with Strength 62 to have SB 10 instead of SB 12…

-K

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Well the main issue will be determining if the Unnatural Characteristics give a bonus to a Test or not, because they don't in BC, and if so what it should be,

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Unnatural Characteristics do not seem to grant a bonus to tests themselves in DW, but rather provide bonus Degrees of Success. On reviewing my BX and DW books, I see this pretty much amounts to the same thing with regards to the Battle-Brothers:

* DW grants a number of extra Degrees of Success equal to the multiplier, e.g. +2 for an Unnatural Characteristic (x2)
* BX grants a number of extra Degrees of Success equal to half the bonus, e.g. +2 for an Unnatural Characteristic (+4)

I figure the BX mechanic is more… level.

-K

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kjakan said:

Unnatural Characteristics do not seem to grant a bonus to tests themselves in DW, but rather provide bonus Degrees of Success.

Hmmm. They do in DH. I must review.

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They don't provide a bonus in any system, per se. Rather, they used to negate one step of negative modifers on a test. So a -30 became -20. They also served as a stalemate breaker, similar to the way size does. That is if I'm remembering it correctly of course.

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Naviward said:

 As everyone else has said, the errata's weapon stats and righteous fury rules really work well (there is a reason these stats are now used in Black Crusade and Only War).

Using the shooting rules from Black Crusade and Only War is more personal preference (as comments here shows). I use them in my game, but there are arguments either way so I'd recommend only looking at them if you are also buying Black Crusade or Only War anyway.

Personally I'd go even further with Librarians and simply not allow them in the game. A Librarian with Smite and Compel and even just the damage a force weapon can put out quickly overpowers the other characters and makes most combats uninteresting. If you don't want to have to plan every fight carefully to neuter the Librarian, I'd just leave them out of the game.

 

I don't think disallowing Librarians isn't answer, I just give them a nerf.  You are right that Librarians are overpowered but the main reason they are is that they can push all day with powers and if they have the right talents they don't get to many downsides to doing so.  How I run Librarians is I take out Favored of the Warp and Sanctioned and each time they push they have to 1d5-1 corruption if they roll even or 1d5-1 insanity if they roll odd.  They should be allowed to push but if they do they have to accept the consequences.  Remember every 10 points of insanity is a test.

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DJSunhammer said:

They don't provide a bonus in any system, per se. Rather, they used to negate one step of negative modifers on a test. So a -30 became -20. They also served as a stalemate breaker, similar to the way size does. That is if I'm remembering it correctly of course.

They reduced the level of difficulty by 1 per Unnatural step, which in most cases is the same as providing a +10 bonus.

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