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AtoMaki

Beta 2.0 Playtesting

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Hi!

 

So I've convinced some of my pals to playtest the 2.0 Beta. We started it today with character creation and some basic pre-adventure briefing. I successfully enlisted the most experienced GM of my gaming club so I hope we could make it work. The rules:

- Everything is out from the book. No house rules.

- Point distribution system for characteristics generation.

- Home-made adventure randomly picked from the collection of the gaming club.

 

The characters:

- Draco, the party leader. He is also a psyker (formal "advisor" of a Rogue Trader). 

Shrine World / Adeptus Astartes Telepathica / Desperado

WS 30 / BS 40 / S 30 / T 40 / Ag 40 / Int 30 / Per 30 / WP 45 / Fel 45 / Inf 35

Wounds 9 / Fate Points 4

Awareness +0, Common Lore (AAT) +0, Deceive +0, Dodge +0, Forbidden Lore (Warp) +0, Psyniscience +0 

Psyker (Psy Rating 2), Quick Draw, Sanctioned, Weapon Training (Las, Low-Tech)

He also has Telepathic Communication. Psyker trait is from Elite Advancement.

 

- Narl, the ex-marauder. He is on some penitent run to earn forgiveness in the Emperor's eyes for his past sins. 

Feral World / Outcast / Warrior

WS 35 / BS 45 / S 45 / T 40 / Ag 45 / Int 30 / Per 30 / WP 40 / Fel 30 / Inf 25

Wounds 13 / Fate Points 2

Acrobatics +0, Athletics +0, Deceive +0, Dodge +0, Intimidate +0, Stealth +0

Bulging Biceps, Die Hard, Rapid Reload, Weapon Training (Chain, SP)

He has some funny divination that allows him to pick malignancies instead of rolling for them or something. The player also forgot to take Weapon Training (Heavy) for the Bulging Biceps... LOL.

 

- Echort (me), the not-assassin. The product of a long abandoned Adeptus Mechanicus project. 

Forge World / Adeptus Mechanicus / Assassin

WS 30 / BS 35 / S 30 / T 40 / Ag 40 / Int 45 / Per 40 / WP 40 / Fel 25 / Inf 30

Athletics +0, Awareness +0, Common Lore (AM) +0, Dodge +0, Medicae +0, Operate +0, Security +0, Stealth +0, Tech-Use +0

Clues from the Crowds, Jaded, Mechatendril Use (Utility), Technical Knock, Weapon Training (SP)

The CftC Talent is from divination. 

 

 

First of all, we encoutnered a huge problem during character creation: that 500 starting xp is very-very few. On the contrary, the characteristics are crazy high. I think the opposite would be much better: low starting characteristics and lots of starting xp would be a much-much better thing to have. If someone wants higher characteristics then he can always buy advancements from the starting xp, but this setup is a lot more flexible. 

During character creation we were in a lot of pain to make competent characters or to better say, make characters who can form a competent party. we are actually hard-pressed to call in a fourth player who can join with a character who is good with investigations (a glaring weak area for the current party). 

 

Secondly, some of the possible Home World/Background/Role combinations look extremely powerful. Draco is a good example: he has awesome Aptitudes and he is a Sanctioned psyker. I guess at the start this isn't that super-evident because of the xp issue mentioned above (there is not enough xp to flesh out the combo), but we could see some problems with the internal power balance of the party later on. 

 

Finally, the Divinations are silly. They need to be reworked because as it now stands, they are more like an annoyance than anything else.

 

 

So that's about character creation. We found everything else OK in this section. Keep tuned, because tomorrow is adventure day!

 

 

Side note: as it now stands, the Desperado's special ability works with psychic attacks too. How cool is that :D ? 

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I'm surprised to see these retained, while the Characteristics of the NPCs returned to the 1st Edition Standard of Characteristics. I can see how that would create some discrepancies in power level. Then again, point-buy was used. However, with 30 being the standard level of quality, this allows PCs to be proficient at everything (since 40 is now the tier to designate experienced) and then some. This difference in scale is strange.

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Because someone specifically selected as an acolyte of the Inquisition would be more capable than some random given a lasgun, flak armour, and a few months training then shipped out to shoot at some Orks?

Edited by Prince Raven

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If I do the math right, point buy Characteristics are close to those of a Rogue Trader character. A Rogue Trader gets 25 in 9 Characteristics and then 100 points to divide between them, for an average of roughly 36.1 in each. A Dark Heresy 2 gets 30 in each of 10 Characteristics with 60 points to divide between them, for an average of exactly 36 in each.

 

For the reasons Prince Raven cited above, I think is probably about just right. Inquisitorial Agents and Rogue Traders should be a cut above the common masses of humanity.

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When I saw '30+2d10' I assumed it was a typo- why would rookie Acolytes start with stats comparable to Deathwatch Space Marines (who are assumed to be experienced members of their Chapter before their recruitment by the DW)? I prefer to have PCs start out as 'mere mortals' and become major heroes over the course of the campaign, rather than being 'super heroes' on day 1.

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When I saw '30+2d10' I assumed it was a typo- why would rookie Acolytes start with stats comparable to Deathwatch Space Marines (who are assumed to be experienced members of their Chapter before their recruitment by the DW)? I prefer to have PCs start out as 'mere mortals' and become major heroes over the course of the campaign, rather than being 'super heroes' on day 1.

Because this is an entirely different game from DW. Well, it's supposed to be.

 

Personally I'd rather have XP to spend on interesting skills and talents than have to sink it into low starting stats just to stay viable.

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When I saw '30+2d10' I assumed it was a typo- why would rookie Acolytes start with stats comparable to Deathwatch Space Marines (who are assumed to be experienced members of their Chapter before their recruitment by the DW)? I prefer to have PCs start out as 'mere mortals' and become major heroes over the course of the campaign, rather than being 'super heroes' on day 1.

 

I don't see 30+2d10 under the rules for generating Characteristics. I see 2d10+25... only for point-but Characteristics do they start at 30. 

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I like the OW starting values. 20+2d10

Same here. Why could they not copy/past that bit as well.

 

 

I hated the +20. Acolytes felt like the lowest scum.

 

+25 is far more appropriate for being in service of His Holy Inquisition.

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The Second Day: When Adventure Happens! 

 

Today we did some adventuring, but not much because we had a little complication. Namely, we had to recruit a new player. The GM picked an investigation-focused adventure so we decided that we would enlist the first player to the player who dared to enter the gaming club. She was the GM's 13 years old daughter (luckily for us, she is an OK RPG player already) and she made the following additional character:

 

- Flame, the Arbites field officer. She is an old "acquaintance" of our Inquisitor (whatever it means) and now he called her in for real to do a favor. 

Highborn / Adeptus Arbites / Seeker

WS 40 / BS 30 / S 40 / T 40 / Ag 40 / Int 30 / Per 40 / Wp 35 / Fel 40 / Inf 35

Wounds 13 / Fate Points 4

Awareness +0, Common Lore (Adeptus Arbites) +0, Deceive +0, Dodge +0, Inquiry +10, Intimidate +0, Scrutiny +0

Keen Intuition, Paranoia, Weapon Training (Shock)

Girl had a golden hand during character creation (yeah, she had a 0 for the Emperor's Blessing). She rolled one of the best Divination (+5 Per and Paranoia). She also has an Agility Aptitude instead of the second Fellowship. 

 

Oh, and I must note that we all agreed that the Seeker role needs some love. It is all over the place Aptitudes-wise, just like the Assassin. Willpower instead of Fellowship and Fieldcraft instead of Tech would be better. 

 

Anyway, about the adventure: we are Ordor Hereticus Acolytes, investigating sort of illicit religion on a generic Imperial World. The world is fairly advanced, roughly IRL Earth in the 20's level with some flashy 40k tech (like cities are powered by huge plasma reactors). This religion-thing was a problem since people could remember, but the local Ecclesiarchy convent had a leader swap not long ago and the new boss wants this phantom-religion dead. The echoes of the trouble reached the ears of the Inquisition too and now our Inquisitor was sent to investigate. And since he is more like a political Inquisitor who is more interested in the power struggles within the organization, he passed down the case to us. 

 

The game itself went surprisingly fluid. Like, I can count how many times we checked something in the book on one hand. It seems that Only War experience translates into 2.0 DH experience without a glitch. It seems that after the character creation the game begins to lose flavor rules-wise. Combat is still unimaginative and all about Suppressive Fire. The new Disposition system is cool but quickly grows on the characters thankfully to their low social skills (it is easy to fail a social test hard and drop the NPC's Disposition to 0). Subtlety is good for an idea but it is annoying that the characters must spend precious time to have an idea on its value. Using a psychic power on Unfettered level is still like cheating (after some time, we gave up on normal interactions and simply let Draco extract the information from the subjects with his telepathy power). 

 

Overall, the rules feel solid but somewhat boring. We had lots of fun but at the end we all agreed that we could have even more fun with a better, more dynamic system: we missed the APs, the 1.0 psyker rules and some convenient stuff like an always visible Subtlety. And money. We need the Thrones back, because Influence works weirdly when it comes to small-scale transactions.

 

Also, some more concrete info on the character backgrounds and their narrative effect would be nice. For example, we couldn't decide if Flame was still the member of the Arbites or not. She didn't get a badge for her starting equipment so our GM said no, but this was pretty unclear for us.

 

 

We are playing on Friday next and hopefully I could gain some more insight about the game. 

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The Third Day: Team Work

 

The adventure continued today, but first we got 200xp to spend on advancements and did some adjustments because of the update. Draco gained the Hallucination psychic power, Flame has Charm +0, Narl has WS 40 and S 50 and Echort has BS 40 and Scrutiny +0. 

 

Not much happened in the game. We did a little investigation, a little combat (we defeated 5 thugs and their boss with the combination of Suppressive Fire and Hallucination - without losing even a single Wound) and a little cloaks-and-daggers action (it was funny like hell because Flame failed all her Toughness tests to resist alcohol/drugs/poisons and spent the great majority of this part in Helpless condition). We infiltrated the religion but we kinda' stuck here as everyone hates us because of the awesome Social system and our mediocre social skills. 

 

By the way, we talked about our Roles a lot and came to the following conclusions:

- Desperado: a surprisingly balanced role, we like it. Its special ability is restrictive (it cries "Use dual wielding dammit!") so something more generic would be welcomed. Other than that, it can contribute to both Combat and Social encounters and with a certain home world and background combination (Forge World + Imperial Guard) the player can turn it into an extremely versatile role. But even that combo will have weaknesses (Willpower and melee). 

Overall: the special ability is "bleh" everything else is cool. 8.5/10

- Seeker: this role is like the fluffy guy's investigator. If you want a real investigator then the Outcast Sage is a thousand times better choice. This role is super-dependent on your home world and background to gain that special boost (Willpower, Agility or Fieldcraft if possible) and the player will need lots of xp to flesh his character out (as the role doesn't wallow in cheap advancements). The last can be a huge problem for by-the-book starting characters (you can burn through that 600xp like jet fuel as a Seeker). And even then, this role needs support and proves his worth in a team.

Overall: this role is underpowered and needs love. Its special ability is cool though. 4/10

- Warrior: this role fights. And that's all. But at least he is pretty darn good at his job. His uses outside of a Combat Encounter converge to zero unless he has some crazy home world/background combo (like Highborn/Outcast for Social goodness). Really, I don't have anything else to say about this role. 

Overall: easily the most reliable role. Warriors fight, and warriors fight well. Take it or leave it, but remember that most adventures have at least one Combat Encounter. 7/10

- Assassin: one of the best support roles. The Assassin has pretty good Aptitudes (especially with the change) and every other Aptitude from home world or background makes it much better. And the best thing is that it especially likes Characteristic Aptitudes (especially Intelligence) so you won't take a bad deal with doubled Aptitudes. But yeah, this role can do a massive variety of things to support his team without specializing on anything. Maybe the Social department is a bit further away, but nothing can be perfect I guess. Personally, I have a blast with my Forge World + Adeptus Mechanicus Assassin, he proved his worth in both gaming sessions so far. Unfortunately, its special ability stinks. It is completely useless as it grants too little bonus for quite a considerable cost.

Overall: other than some need for fine-tuning (the special ability), this role is OK. 8/10

 

Also, we think that the Psyker elite advancement is way too cheap. It should cost at least 600xp. The Mystic isn't the bestest role (so to say) and the relatively cheap Psyker elite advancement cuts back its most important advantage (the granted Psyker trait). 

 

Other than this, nothing note-worthy happened. Suppressive Fire is in a dire need of nerfing (Everybody knows this, right?), the Social system can do interesting things sometimes (some small tweaking, like reducing the Disposition gain/loss can help this) and that 600xp characters are far too unskilled (quite literally) for Inquisitorial Acolytes IMHO. 

 

Next game is on sunday so keep tuned!

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The Fourth Day: Reinforcements! 

 

Wow, today was a mess. The game went on without much problem as usual, but the ending was terrible. 

 

Story-wise, we discovered that a powerful general of the local PDF was also the member of this quasi-heretical religion (oh, as it turned out, the religion is non-chaos, but it is also non-Emperor) so we decided to take him out before he throws this whole world into an uprising. We set up an elaborate plan to assassinate him, but...

 

...we wanted to try out the Reinforcements system too so we based our plan on a platoon of PDF soldiers we would request. We knew that there are profiles for something similar in the Allies and Adversaries section (the Involute Cadre Troopers) and we thought that those guys should have low Inf score so we could ask the local army to lend a whole platoon of them. We were dead wrong. In the A&A section, there are lots of profiles for lots of stuff but only a handful of them have Influence value (mostly Masters) :huh: ... Luckily, the GM allowed us to get them anyway, but we nearly dropped the game at this point. I mean, come on, they have '--' as one of their characteristics! At least give them some random numbers! 

 

Anyway, the Reinforcements system is decent. Each of us took control over an officer (and his/her squad) and it was quite funny to take the role of an NPC while our own characters worked in the background to complete the trap. Sadly, 3 officers out of the 4 died but the lone survivor had his moment of salvation when our PCs descended from a Valkyre to save the day. So yeah, it was pretty cool but the lack of options for Reinforcement Characters is just down-heartening. 

 

And now let's take a journey into the second problem we had: psychic powers. So as the party arrived, Draco (our Psyker) cast Hallucination on the General. He succeeded and also summoned Psychic Phenomenon. Even though he pushed the power, the only result is that... wait for it... he spooks a bunch of animals! W-O-W! On the other side? The General shoots himself with his plasma pistol for 2 rounds until he drops dead. The most anti-climatic battle ending ever <_< . 

 

We talked about this after the GM called the end of the adventure, and we all agreed that psychic powers should be much more risky. The Psychic Phenomenon table is a joke and it is just too easy to summon sufficient effects without any chance to roll on it (Fettered power level - 1 turn of Hallucination can still wreck anyone's day). We liked the 1.0 Beta's Perils of the Warp tables and we want them back. Also, get rid of the Fettered power level. And we aren't exactly sure if the Psyker should remain an Elite Advancement either. 

 

Huh. So our first 2.0 adventure ended pretty quickly. We went through most of the possibilities the rulebook could offer (game wise at least) except the vehicular combat. Overall, the players who have played other FFG games before weren't really the biggest fans of the system but our new player (Flame's - she has only played a little Deathwatch) liked it. It isn't bad by any means, it just lacks imagination in its current state. It is Only War - Imperial Guard + Inquisition even though it has the potential to be something even more. Our GM liked the narrative rules (Influence, Subtlety, Social encounters) but the players were much more divided on this: Influence was OK, Subtlety was a pain to monitor and the Social encounters were often disastrous for these unskilled starting characters. The Reinforcements system could be lots of fun with more options, the Combat system still stinks from static tactics (the AP system was a good move IMHO), the Psychic system needs an overhaul (the 1.0 Beta system was much better) and the Aptitude system could also use some refinement (it would be cool to have a secondary Aptitude for Willpower other than Psyker). 

 

We will have a bigger brainstorming meeting at Tuesday so I will have more and better ideas by then.

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And now let's take a journey into the second problem we had: psychic powers. So as the party arrived, Draco (our Psyker) cast Hallucination on the General. He succeeded and also summoned Psychic Phenomenon. Even though he pushed the power, the only result is that... wait for it... he spooks a bunch of animals! W-O-W! On the other side? The General shoots himself with his plasma pistol for 2 rounds until he drops dead. The most anti-climatic battle ending ever <_< . 

 

Not to diminish your position but that's pretty lucky outcome really... I mean, first your psyker needed to a) be in range (I'm guessing 60-70 meters from his target), b) succeed an Opposed Willpower test and c) roll a 10 on the hallucination table. So, not exactly an everyday occurrence. 

 

With the right rolls, a warrior with a sniper rifle could have killed the General in one round without the rest of the party even needing to get close to him. I'm not sure that means sniper rifles are mechanically broken. (Then again, maybe they are.)

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And now let's take a journey into the second problem we had: psychic powers. So as the party arrived, Draco (our Psyker) cast Hallucination on the General. He succeeded and also summoned Psychic Phenomenon. Even though he pushed the power, the only result is that... wait for it... he spooks a bunch of animals! W-O-W! On the other side? The General shoots himself with his plasma pistol for 2 rounds until he drops dead. The most anti-climatic battle ending ever <_< . 

 

Not to diminish your position but that's pretty lucky outcome really... I mean, first your psyker needed to a) be in range (I'm guessing 60-70 meters from his target), b) succeed an Opposed Willpower test and c) roll a 10 on the hallucination table. So, not exactly an everyday occurrence. 

 

With the right rolls, a warrior with a sniper rifle could have killed the General in one round without the rest of the party even needing to get close to him. I'm not sure that means sniper rifles are mechanically broken. (Then again, maybe they are.)

 

 

We trapped the General in a small street so the range was a non-issue (the Valkyre dropped us some ~20 meters away from him) and with Max-Pushing the power Draco had a 25+ advantage in the Willpower department. The 0 on the Hallucination effect was lucky, but a 10% lucky, so you will get this result for every 10th Hallucination. And since you can spam this power like crazy, eventually you will get the result. Not to mention that 0 was "cool" for us, but any 6+ effect can mess things up just as well. 

 

The 07 roll on the Psychic Phenomena table was way luckier  :P .

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I'm just not sure that so much a "problem" as a well planned attack and psychic powers working the way they should. You took a chance and it paid off. Also, the General clearly wasn't designed with psychic defense in mind... 

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I'm just not sure that so much a "problem" as a well planned attack and psychic powers working the way they should. You took a chance and it paid off. Also, the General clearly wasn't designed with psychic defense in mind... 

 

Well, the problem is that or plan was about something completely different and this section of the adventure was set up to a much different dramatic ending. For example we wanted the guy alive for interrogation. 

 

For us it seems that in their current from, psychic powers are clearly overpowered. Unless your enemy has dedicated defense against them, a good psyker does whatever he wants with them without much fear of negative side effects. In the 1.0 Beta things were much better because Evade/Deny the Witch, Pushing was screwy and the Perils of the Warp tables were scary. 

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For us it seems that in their current from, psychic powers are clearly overpowered. Unless your enemy has dedicated defense against them, a good psyker does whatever he wants with them without much fear of negative side effects. In the 1.0 Beta things were much better because Evade/Deny the Witch, Pushing was screwy and the Perils of the Warp tables were scary. 

 

 

 

Truthfully, that seems setting appropriate to me. Psyker are supposed to be extremely powerful with an occasion (but not constant) risk of self-immolation. However, since everyone knows psykers exist and are extremely powerful, any enemy who plans to go against someone with access to psykers (like the Inquisition) will be prepared for them... either by investing in something as simple as Resistance (Psychic Powers) or by recruiting their own psykers or even Untouchables if they can find one. To me, this just sounds like bad adventure design. Every GM needs to be aware of what skills, talents and special abilities their players bring to the table and prepare challenges accordingly.

 

All of that said, I do agree that Beta 1.0 made the choice between Pushing or using a lower Psy Rating much more dynamic and interesting, and I would love to see some more defined Deny the Witch mechanics.  

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However, since everyone knows psykers exist and are extremely powerful, any enemy who plans to go against someone with access to psykers (like the Inquisition) will be prepared for them... 

 

I highly doubt that the citizens of the Imperium have any real knowledge on psykers. IMHO, there is a reason why psykers belong to Forbidden Lore.

 

Our General had a Willpower of 50 but that was the maximum he could reasonably get. Dude probably though that "psyker" is an illegal drug or something like that. 

 

And the problem lurks somewhere here: the GM can't hand out Resistance (Psychic Powers) and Strong Minded like candy just to counter the pskyer PC. The psyker PC should have dangerous and unreliable powers so he won't just push the SPAM button like crazy with them.

Edited by AtoMaki

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I'd imagine the populace would have varying levels of awareness with regards to Psykers, but the concept of 'Witches' would hardly be unknown in some Imperial civilisations. Even if the only reason they know about them is because of the local Abbot telling them to burn any they see on sight.

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However, since everyone knows psykers exist and are extremely powerful, any enemy who plans to go against someone with access to psykers (like the Inquisition) will be prepared for them... 

 

I highly doubt that the citizens of the Imperium have any real knowledge on psykers. IMHO, there is a reason why psykers belong to Forbidden Lore.

 

Our General had a Willpower of 50 but that was the maximum he could reasonably get. Dude probably though that "psyker" is an illegal drug or something like that. 

 

And the problem lurks somewhere here: the GM can't hand out Resistance (Psychic Powers) and Strong Minded like candy just to counter the pskyer PC. The psyker PC should have dangerous and unreliable powers so he won't just push the SPAM button like crazy with them.

 

 

All that attitude does is maximize the power of psykers, and it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. Psyker's exist. People know that psykers exist. They watch for them, to either burn them on sight as Tom Cruise says or to hand them over to the Black Ships. Psykers are not a secret. Understanding the details of what they can do and why... that's Forbidden Lore, but their mere existence is common knowledge. 

 

As for the General, given that the Imperial Guard uses psykers on a regular basis, I would say he would have at least a working tactical knowledge of their capabilities.

 

As for handing out talents to resist psykers... why not? Sure, the average mook won't have them but anyone who risks going up against psykers should have some kind of defense, ranging from a tier 1 talent up to a full blown rogue psyker of his own on the payroll.

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All that attitude does is maximize the power of psykers, and it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. Psyker's exist. People know that psykers exist. They watch for them, to either burn them on sight as Tom Cruise says or to hand them over to the Black Ships. Psykers are not a secret. Understanding the details of what they can do and why... that's Forbidden Lore, but their mere existence is common knowledge. 

 

 

Yeah, I must admit, at this point it is rather a "How do you play your game?" thing. But it is very slippery as for example the Allies and Adversaries section of the rulebook has exactly three profiles with psychic defense: the Astropath, the Pox Magister and the Eldar Warlock - and all three are psykers themselves  ;) . It is just hard to justify this kind of thing for a simple PDF General when even a mighty Rogue Trader lacks it (and the RT has much more to fear from psykers)...

 

Essentially, we are back to "The system is bad so it is time for some houserules!" solution that isn't the very bestest thing to have. So to say.

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