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Robomummy

Genestealers, good Idea or Bad Idea?

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So I am still writing my campaign the Pacification of Orbiana and have reached part 2/5 where the players need to act as a scouting unit into an Orbital Defense platform for the Mechanicus explorator force that just landed. I wanted the main enemies inside the platform to be malfunctioning combat servitors and a few Genestealers. So far I have written up to the point where the players stumble across three space marines of the Black Templars Chapter locked in a fight with the Genestealers.

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As the door slides open the sounds of combat become deafening as the door ceases to muffle the noises. The smell of blood and alien ichor threatens to make you gag as you step into the room, on the far side of the room you can see three giants in Black power armor fighting a fierce close quarters battle against a brood of Genestealers.

 

One of the giants is wielding a chainsword before him it's teeth clogging with alien blood as it chews through the abdomen of the nearest one, cutting it in half. Then without hesitation the giant turns and fires a bolt pistol directly into the face of another of the monstrosities leaping at him and it drops to the ground twitching in death spasms. To the left of this figure another Giant fires his bolter into one of the Genestealers ripping it apart in a series of micro-explosions. The third Giant has one of the creatures by the throat and tears its head off with his other hand. 

 

 

  The battle lasts less than a minute, the space marines making short work of the remaining Genestealers. As the last of them dies the Giants then seem to notice the players and the one with the chainsword begins to walk towards them.

 

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My question is are Genestealers the right enemy for the players to go up against? I know they are more then a match for the players so they will only ever be facing one or two at a time to make it more balanced. I like the idea of Genestealers on board the station but am not sure it would be balanced. 

 

some more information to help a decision: the space marines will not be joining the party and this is the only time the passage written above is the only time they will face a large group of them.

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It depends a lot on which type of Genestealer you're using. There are a number of different stat blocks in the various games, some more suitable as Only War level adversaries than others.

 

The main thing to remember is that regardless of strain, Genestealers are pure murder close up. A Weapon Skill of 65 as standard for most types, Pen that cuts through Flak and Carapace Armour, Multiple Arms, high Strength (some strains even come with Unnatural Strength), and the Swift/Lightning Attack talents mean that it might just take one sufficiently successful roll to take a PC from full health to burning Fate Points.

 

What kind of Regiment does the PCs have? How much experience does the PCs have? How is the squad built up when it comes to Specialties?

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I agree with Castaign. From the perspective of showing the power of the Space Marines it makes great story. For the Players, you will have to limit encounters or your players will all want to play deathwatch! (Which might be an interesting segway  ;) )

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They can be the right enemy under the right circumstances.  Since they're on a platform the PCs are better off doing a rearguard maybe, while the Astartes do the main fighting.  So they seal themselves in to hold that section until the Astartes return, only to realize they are not entirely alone.  First the Servitors as enemies are a good match; misprogrammed (either deliberately or accidentally) causing issues, and then some crew that start acting homicidally.  One of the Genestealer's power is their kiss, which implants the genetic material in the host, but also makes them subservient.  So there could be maybe only one Genestealer locked in a large space station area that the PCs have to defend, and it's already infected several of the remaining crew, who's purpose now is to either escape without detection so they can start a Genestealer cult of their own, and/or kill the Imperial Guard so their master can either escape the platform or so it can get to the Astartes that are in another section.  That and maybe sabotage the platform that the Astartes are in.

 

The PCs have to figure out who's contaminated and who's not, by either skillful detective work or Medicae research, but then also try to protect themselves from the lone wolf Genestealer that they're trapped with.  It's a classic story, do it right and it'll be awesome.  The endgame being that they finally trap the Genestealer...but now how do they fight it?

 

As someone mentioned having them play a session or two as the Deathwatch can be an interesting segway, and really show the power that each has...but it might also give clues in how to defeat a Genestealer that an Imperial Guard unit might not have.

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totally agree, I plan to never really have them fight more then one or two at a time and not too frequently. I mainly thought of Genestealers as a way to make the players continue to look over their shoulders and make the orbital platform a little like a haunted house. The whole point of this section is to make the players feel like they are being hunted and Genestealers seem like the perfect candidates.

 

As for what the stats of the Genestealers are I looked at a few different ones and decided to use my own debuffed version of the Dark Heresy ones since some of the characters in Dark heresy are similar to humans.

 

As for the implant, I really don't want to add a Genestealer cult aspect into this campaign as it is mainly focused on Pacifying the feral natives of Orbiana who are secretly directed by a powerful rogue psyker.

 

Also the astartes are not really a main focus of clearing out the station, they are merely there to provide some support but they wont really be there for long as I want the players to feel like there is something bigger going on and they have more important things to do. That is why the players are scouting out the station, they are part of what is basically a full regiment that has boarded the Orbital Defense platform.

Edited by Robomummy

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What kind of Regiment does the PCs have? How much experience does the PCs have? How is the squad built up when it comes to Specialties?

I am leaving this open ended, I am writing this campaign because I hope to maybe to get fantasy flight to look at it. I have been play testing everything with multiple configurations and don't want to force GMs into using a specific regiment or specialty.

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The first Deathwatch mission I ran featured Genestealers as the Adversaries. I used hybrid stats (combining the 'stealers from the sample mission in the DW Rulebook with the Dark Heresy 'stealers from Creatures Anathema, to scale them down a bit for the Rank 1 PCs); the mission was a fairly straight-forward Recon, and one PC still had to burn a Fate Point. So, yes, Genestealers are hellatough. The biggest problem (from the PCs point of view) is that most versions have multiple sky-high Dodges, which, combined with their massive Movement rate, makes them very difficult to put down before they can Charge. If you really want to include 'stealers in OW, I recommend limiting them to 1 Dodge, possibly combined with eliminating their Unnatural Agility.

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The first Deathwatch mission I ran featured Genestealers as the Adversaries. I used hybrid stats (combining the 'stealers from the sample mission in the DW Rulebook with the Dark Heresy 'stealers from Creatures Anathema, to scale them down a bit for the Rank 1 PCs); the mission was a fairly straight-forward Recon, and one PC still had to burn a Fate Point. So, yes, Genestealers are hellatough. The biggest problem (from the PCs point of view) is that most versions have multiple sky-high Dodges, which, combined with their massive Movement rate, makes them very difficult to put down before they can Charge. If you really want to include 'stealers in OW, I recommend limiting them to 1 Dodge, possibly combined with eliminating their Unnatural Agility.

Yeah, I have made a lot of changes to the stats I found to make it more likely that the guardsmen will kill it, though it still could kill someone in hand to hand combat given enough time which is why the PCs need to be on alert at all times. The Genestealers will however have a tough time dealing with multiple characters (this campaign is made for 5-6 players) but against one it is fairly superior.

 

Mostly they will be bursting from the floor or ceiling and disappearing after a few round of combat, only a few times will the character need to actually fight one for an extended period of time.

Edited by Robomummy

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Genestealers are an iconic part of 40k. But if you have to dumb them down for your players to have a fighting chance, perhaps they are not the best choice. Because you'd be taking away much of their mystique and giving up the possibility of using them at a later power level (unless you want to introduce different strains which is a distinction many players will overlook).

 

As you mention an orbital defence platform, just how did the genestealers get there? Void ships don't dock with them in general. You could have an asteroid crash into the platform and then have the players investigate as hitching a ride on an asteroid is a popular means of transportation for orks.

 

Perhaps they will meet orks (either dead or still alive) and genestealers for a threeway fight. Or you could skip the genestealers entirely. Use hormagaunts or termagaunts instead. Their power level equals guardsmen. You could even reskin them to resemble the bugs from starship troopers. In fact, Starship troopers Invasion (the CGI movie) could be a good source of inspiration for an alien hunt through an abandoned structure like a platform. 

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Genestealers are an iconic part of 40k. But if you have to dumb them down for your players to have a fighting chance, perhaps they are not the best choice. Because you'd be taking away much of their mystique and giving up the possibility of using them at a later power level (unless you want to introduce different strains which is a distinction many players will overlook).

 

As you mention an orbital defence platform, just how did the genestealers get there? Void ships don't dock with them in general. You could have an asteroid crash into the platform and then have the players investigate as hitching a ride on an asteroid is a popular means of transportation for orks.

 

Perhaps they will meet orks (either dead or still alive) and genestealers for a threeway fight. Or you could skip the genestealers entirely. Use hormagaunts or termagaunts instead. Their power level equals guardsmen. You could even reskin them to resemble the bugs from starship troopers. In fact, Starship troopers Invasion (the CGI movie) could be a good source of inspiration for an alien hunt through an abandoned structure like a platform. 

Ok here is some background on Orbiana and the defense platform. Orbiana is a feral world in the northernmost part of the Calixus (I think I spelled that right) sector. Orbiana's surface is largely composed of lush jungles and soaring mountains that peak from the depth of these jungles like islands. There are a few shallow seas on Orbiana but nothing large enough to warrant the classification of continents. Orbiana does however possess an interesting weather pattern as powerful storms will appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. These storms have since eluded tracking or prediction by the Mechanicus but they appear to occur naturally as a product of the geography.

 

Above Orbiana is an abandoned Orbital platform that has been towed into orbit centuries before from beyond the edge of the galaxy (it is unknown exactly where). A few attempts have been made to capture it by the Mechanicus but it's thick armored hull makes vox contact difficult with whoever enters deep enough and contact had been lost with these research teams.

 

This station must be captured and armed because it is predicted that the planet lies directly in the path of an Ork Waaaggh. Also the planet is the perfect place for the Mechanicus Explorator fleets to use as a way station to explore beyond the edge of the galaxy.

 

The main focus of this campaign is pacifying the locals, it is unknown how the Genestealers got into the station and I would prefer it stayed that way. Also yes I have dumbed them down to the point where they are still formidable but not to the point where they will kill everyone by looking at them. Also inside the station are patrolling combat servitors left on guard duty by the station's former commanders so that is another thing the players will need to deal with.

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Or you could skip the genestealers entirely. Use hormagaunts or termagaunts instead. Their power level equals guardsmen. You could even reskin them to resemble the bugs from starship troopers. In fact, Starship troopers Invasion (the CGI movie) could be a good source of inspiration for an alien hunt through an abandoned structure like a platform. 

Or you could use 're-skinned' gaunts/gants to depict Q'orl, an insectoid race said to 'infest' some worlds along the Western fringe of the galaxy. They would make sense for the location, and stats for a Q'orl Mind Grub appears in the Dark Heresy supplement The Radical's Handbook.

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Or you could skip the genestealers entirely. Use hormagaunts or termagaunts instead. Their power level equals guardsmen. You could even reskin them to resemble the bugs from starship troopers. In fact, Starship troopers Invasion (the CGI movie) could be a good source of inspiration for an alien hunt through an abandoned structure like a platform. 

Or you could use 're-skinned' gaunts/gants to depict Q'orl, an insectoid race said to 'infest' some worlds along the Western fringe of the galaxy. They would make sense for the location, and stats for a Q'orl Mind Grub appears in the Dark Heresy supplement The Radical's Handbook.

 

The problem with gaunts and hormagaunts is that the sector is on the opposite end of the galaxy then the tyranid fleets. Genestealers are found galaxy-wide but other tyranid organisms aren't save for a few possible creatures (see Catachan devil). Also If I am going to go with an enemy aboard the ship I want it to be an iconic one. People hear Genestealer and they look over their shoulder, people hear Q'orl and they think "wtf?"

 

I think a debuffed version of a Genestealer would fit nicely in with this.

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I wouldn't use stealers  -- they're simply too deadly unless you have a  loooong kill zone to shoot at them, which you won't have in a haunted-house environment.

 

I would just m ake up a xenos race. That also has the benefit of your players not knowing anything about them. Like... a modification of those Pale Throng assassin mutant thingies from DH DotDG.

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I wouldn't use stealers  -- they're simply too deadly unless you have a  loooong kill zone to shoot at them, which you won't have in a haunted-house environment.

 

I would just m ake up a xenos race. That also has the benefit of your players not knowing anything about them. Like... a modification of those Pale Throng assassin mutant thingies from DH DotDG.

I have modified them enough that the players will have a good chance against them. I don't want to use some obscure xenos race as I want them to be Iconic in this kind of environment.

 

Anyway I might as well put this here since I don't feel like making another thread for it but I have a map of rooms for the players to search and for each room you roll a d10 to see if anything happens.

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For each time the players enter an unexplored room roll a D10

 

1-4: Nothing

5: The players come across a lone combat servitor with a heavy bolter which immediately attacks them as intruders.

6: The players come across a mutilated corpse of a servitor, the servitor carries the same heavy weapon as one player in the squad and it seems to be fully loaded and in a salvageable condition.

7: The players are ambushed by a lone Genestealer from a dark corner, air shaft, vent, ceiling, floor panels, etc.

8: This room is full of broken or malfunctioning machinery. For every player attempting to interact or examine the machines roll a d10, on a roll of 7-0 the player is hit with 1d5 energy damage.

9-0: A Squad member is grabbed by Genestealers through the floor and is dragged into the hole (note: if once the player gets free the Genestealer flees). If the player does not get free the Genestealer gets 1 free attack on the player before fleeing.

 

After the players reach the room with the Space Marines skip to Part IX: An Unexpected Turn rather than explore the remainder of the section as it is assumed that the players are being guided by the Astartes.

Edited by Robomummy

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I think I remember in one of the first Dark Heresy adventures (forget which one exactly), the acolytes went into a space hulk with a Death Watch marine, soon after the group was attacked by a group of warp-hounds/beasts. The marine went the tonk. The result of the combat was basically up to the GM, either the narratively, or the marine needed help in the fight to stay alive (failing this task was a poor out come for the Acolytes).

 

Either way, Narrative/combatic ( :D ), the still alive marine would charge off after the fleeing beasties. The marine only returned, GM's decision, much the worse for wear, at the final battle when things look quite grimm for our plucky Acolytes.

 

A similar approach could be used; 'Stealers are not stupid & will retreat rather than get wiped out in a single combat.

The Guard section comes across the Black Templars, who have a couple of battle-brothers liberally scattered about the room (only the Imperial Fists are more fitting to be slaughtered by gribblies. Do not know why, but I hate them! :huh: ), who actually need help from the lowely mortals.

 

The BT's then charge off after the surviving gribblies, with out a word of thanks. No actual interaction with the marines, or altering stats to 'suit the guard', no need for the gribblies to attack the Guard, except for the badly injured ones, missing limbs; only a few wounds remaining; etc.

 

 

My two sense....

:P

 

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The BT's then charge off after the surviving gribblies, with out a word of thanks. No actual interaction with the marines, or altering stats to 'suit the guard', no need for the gribblies to attack the Guard, except for the badly injured ones, missing limbs; only a few wounds remaining; etc.

 

 

My two sense....

:P

This was my original thought but I have bigger plans for the Black Templars *Mwhahahahaha* (evil laugh still in beta, I'm working on it). Again I want them to seem like there is something even more important than a Genestealer infestation that they need to worry about and that there is something potentially more cataclysmic going on behind the scenes (which there is).

 

Also the Genestealers will basically be attacking and retreating, there will be combat with them which is why they had to be dumbed down a little (not too much since one Genestealer still equals a little over 2 guardsmen after the modifications) but the combat will not last long enough for enough damage to kill someone unless they are very unlucky. I want the players to feel like the Genestealers are testing them and probing their defenses.

Edited by Robomummy

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The BT's then charge off after the surviving gribblies, with out a word of thanks. No actual interaction with the marines, or altering stats to 'suit the guard', no need for the gribblies to attack the Guard, except for the badly injured ones, missing limbs; only a few wounds remaining; etc.

 

 

My two sense....

:P

This was my original thought but I have bigger plans for the Black Templars *Mwhahahahaha* (evil laugh still in beta, I'm working on it). Again I want them to seem like there is something even more important than a Genestealer infestation that they need to worry about and that there is something potentially more cataclysmic going on behind the scenes (which there is).

 

Also the Genestealers will basically be attacking and retreating, there will be combat with them which is why they had to be dumbed down a little (not too much since one Genestealer still equals a little over 2 guardsmen after the modifications) but the combat will not last long enough for enough damage to kill someone unless they are very unlucky. I want the players to feel like the Genestealers are testing them and probing their defenses.

 

 

I reckon you may be thinking to large. Imperial Guard aginst Genestealers is a pretty important big thing for them to worry about, & they are guardsmen, the biggest thing they're likely to know is why their CO wants that particular objective, which is usually because the higher ranks want it. certainly not it's stategic ramifications .

 

How about having a few members of the regiment wondering about having completely lost it!

These fear crazed wretches can be taken out in, hopefull messy & sudden ways :rolleyes: from pretty much on top of the PCs, gribblies will be causing a lot of fear rolls unless the unit are complete psychos already. Eyes in the dark; hissing from vents; or come across another section gribblie fighting, & pretty much being slaughtered, all bad things catagory for guard.

 

All ways to induce the feeling that the PCs are being toyed with, particularly if one of the fear-crazed wretches tells them exactly the same thing happened to his unit, right before the PCs get nice red uniforms because their new friend just got pulled into the darkness. MWAAR-HA-HAR-HAAR :D

 

 

P.S: Dictionaries ar efor poeple eho can't spel. Obviously not me. :P

Edited by Dracurian

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Okay, so it is to be genestealers. But what is their motivation? Do they want to reach the planet? Or travel further? Either way, they want off this platform.

 

 

Have you considered not dumbing them down? But instead of the genestealers trying to kill the humans they encounter, they try to capture them alive. To drag away to their lair....where they can be infected and enslaved. The genestealers hope their slaves will be able to reactivate the launch bays and fly shuttles down to the planet or perhaps a larger system ship to new pastures.

 

Would fit nicely with previous Tech-priest attempts to investigate the platform going missing or failing.

 

 

Now you still have a nasty genestealer but one who only tries to wound a few players before grappling and dragging away another player. Or important NPC.

 

And perhaps they encounter other humans who are desperately trying to 'get off this thing'....and need the players help. If played properly, your players will reach new levels of paranoia.

 

 

And if the platform is indeed in the path of a Waaaaagh, why not add Ork scouting forces? I wouldn't use Kommandos as the genestealers already do the sneaky, stealthy part but a mek-boy and grots could provide some comic relief. Or imagine the hard pressed players being rescued by tha boyz. Do they reach a truce? Or does it become a three-way fight?

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Wot! Buggi-wugz an' 'umies! Dis look like to be sum good fightin'!

 

Oi! You Grotz! Go getz da Boss, der'z sum gud 'ard crumpin' ta be dun 'ere!

 

WAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!

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to provide further clarification on why the Genestealers are no big threat (I am switching to thinking that daemons might fit better because of the circumstances aboard the ship) here is the basic plot framework that I am going off of.

 

The ship he players are on drops into the system from the warp along with a few other ships and is almost immediately attacked by several Dark Eldar raider ships which launch boarding torpedo's and assault craft. The players along with naval armsmen and the rest of the three regiments aboard fight the dark eldar back and they retreat back to their ship.

 

Defeated but determined the Dark Eldar ship fires harpoons into the troopship and begins to drag it back to Commorragh. The regiment must then counter attack and board the Eldar ship to draw attention away from the army of tech servitors cutting their way through the harpoons.

 

Once victorious the players head back to the ship but being the ones who have killed the Xenos commander they find themselves respected by their commanders and are given a special job of acting as part of Magos Xanatov's personal guard, they are instructed to follow his orders but to watch him as the Imperium and Mechanicus on this mission really don't trust each other.

 

As they enter the Orbital Defense platform with about a company of their regiment (the rest having been sent down to assist in the pacification efforts) Xanatov begins to send out scouting parties into the ship (the players are one of these) while the drop zone is being secured. The station soon turns out to be the home of a Genestealer brood (not more than about 100 and scattered throughout the facility). Worse still when the players accompany Xanatov to aid him in reactivating the plasma generators to their full capacity they learn that by turning on the power they have also turned on the station's Teleportation Matrix.

 

With the Genestealers given a path to get off the station and onto the planet the players are tasked with the responsibility of destroying the room, however when they reach the room they are attacked by the remainder of the Genestealers and a Brood lord. Knowing that they cannot win the players ready themselves for a last stand, but just then Xanatov sacrifices himself to turn on the teleportation matrix and teleport the players to the surface.

 

The players arrive on the surface, caught between their forces (who think they are still up on the defense platform) and the enemy renegades commanded by a rogue psyker, and he knows where they are.

 

This encompasses about 2/3rds of the entire campaign and is only a very basic framework. The objective is the teleportation matrix on the Defense platform which in the right hands can be used to win the war, the Genestealers want to use it to infect the local populace, the Mechanicus wants to examine it's secrets and protect the valuable piece of tech, and the enemy psyker thinks he can manipulate the warp to teleport troops to and from anywhere in the sector, giving the Severan Dominate an enormous advantage in the war.

 

this is the real threat, if the rogue psyker gets his hands on it the teleportation matrix could be used to radically alter the balance of power, whole imperial ships can be teleported away from battlezones for enemy ships to control the sky, troops can disappear to leave gaps in defense lines, Severan Dominate armies can be teleported directly behind enemy lines. The Psyker thinks he has found a way to manipulate the part of the machine that uses warp technology in order to teleport objects/people from one place to another anywhere in the sector rather then from one place to the teleport matrix.

Edited by Robomummy

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I would stick with Xenos. Confronting Daemons would have your IG dead quick smart if the Inquisition found out. They mind wipe Space Marines most of the time when daemons are encounted.

 

The rest, no problem. sound good to me

 

Personally, I would still go for wounded examples of marine killer gribblies, simpler to drop wounds & bestow roll penaties than doing the scaling bit, GMs generally 'fluffy' roll to keep game fun anyway. Then you can just plonk a marine in to go to town against a healthy one to the accompaning oohs & aahs of the awe struck Guard. :D

 

Wack in a coupla cavaet boxes & roberts your fathers brother! ;)

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YMMV and it's your game but a genestealer that is only equivalent to two guardsman just isn't a genestealer, but more of a large attack dog. :) They're supposed to be a danger to Terminators.

 

YMMV

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YMMV and it's your game but a genestealer that is only equivalent to two guardsman just isn't a genestealer, but more of a large attack dog. :) They're supposed to be a danger to Terminators.

 

YMMV

I know but I need to make it fair for the players, a Genestealer like that will kill a squad in 1 round of combat.

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