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Deathwatch: My first RPG


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#1
Cpt_Reaper

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Battle Brothers and Sisters, I did it. I finally got a hold of a copy of both the Deathwatch Core Rulebook and a GM kit from an ebay retailer.

 

Now as Deathwatch will be my first RPG I was hoping to try and tap your collective knowledge for some advice. Mainly for the GM side of things. What I know thus far is:

 

- I need a notepad for each game

- I need a D10 and D100. Not sure how to go about the D100...is that one D10 is the Tens and the other is the Ones?

- Models and a Map are handy, but not necessary.

- Printable character sheets are useful. I am told laminated ones are more so (with a sharpie)

 

As for being the GM, I was thinking of running a few games to get everyone settled and then have the GM alternate around the group so as to allow everyone to have a go. Hopefully this is a good idea as I don't really want to miss out on the fun while being the GM all the time.

 

Any and all pointers would be appreciated.



#2
captain Angel

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  • not a sharpie, you want a dry erase marker
  • second is that a d100 is a d10 with 0-9 and a d10 with 00-90

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#3
Jareddm

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Oh dear...

 

As much as I adore Deathwatch, having it as your first RPG is like giving someone who's never played WoW a level 90 character and throwing them into the middle of a boss raid.  Deathwatch has a metric ton of things going on and your characters are immensely powerful to begin with.  Take it slow and read everything carefully.

 

The first, and most important thing you want to do is download a pdf of the most recent errata and make use of those changes.  All of the weapon tables in the book are grossly overpowered but the errata does a lovely job of bringing them to a reasonable level.

 

Second, squad mode abilities are really cool and I enjoy them a lot, but for new players, and especially new GMs, they can be very difficult to handle.  I suggest leaving them out for awhile.  And besides, it fits into the story that the kill-team wouldn't be as cohesive when they first started out.


Edited by Jareddm, 06 September 2013 - 10:43 PM.


#4
Growler67

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I would also suggest you do some reading here:  http://community.fan...p?showforum=161


Just leave me some ammo, a little water.........and some chips if you got 'em.

#5
General Cross

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I did this for my first GM attempt. It will depend on your group but I always found that the story is what will make the game enjoyable, not the rules. Here's a few tips I learnt quickly:

1: Make a quick reference sheet on how Combat works, how Skill Checks work and how character's move. These will allow you to proceed quickly when these situations come up.
2: Plan the mission out ahead. Simple one could be something like 'kill the Tyranid Warrior that has gathered a swarm of gaunts".
2b: Draw a tree diagram for yourself thinking about different ways characters could solve a problem. Eg: there is 10 gaunts in a valley ahead. The team could sneak around, create a distraction with a grenade, send a group of guardsmen to attack them, jump in headfirst, lure them into crossfire. Have a rough idea how each of these would play out so your team has the chance to be tactical (with more cunning plans being less difficult).
3: For any important characters, have a stat line for them already prepared. Make sure you know their names.
4: Empower the players. Provide a situation the Assault Marine can solve just as much as the Techmarine.

And the most important one... 5: You don't have to be rule perfect! Come up with a quick-fire solution rather than pour throuogh the whole rulebook if you don't know how to resolve something! In my first game a character tried to throw a grenade and rolled a 97. Rather than look up what this meant I told her that the grande blew up in her hand and damaged her and the other player! Wasn't the actual rule but was amusing for all and kept the pace of the game going.

Otherwise have fun with it. Roleplaying Games are about imersing yourself into the fiction of the game. Hope you enjoy it :)
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#6
Captain Artemis

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I kinda streamlined my game into a table-top game with RPG elements, heh.


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#7
Cpt_Reaper

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Well both it and the GM kit turned up today. My housemate who has experience with RPGs is helping me go over the running of one. He did seem a little confused by hordes though.



#8
facmanpob

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OK, so as a veteran player of RPGs (first one I played was Dragonlance in 1990), and having GM'd my first game of Deathwatch about 2 weeks ago, I can safely say that it is the single most overcomplicated RPG I've seen. I spent a few hours and several email thread with a friend of mine who GMs at tournaments (Deathwatch and Cthulhu mainly) and we both agreed that the first thing to do is to simplify the system, massively.

I started by leaving out hordes entirely from the first session (I'll be bringing a single horde combat into the second session), and just concentrating on getting the flow of the game going, allowing the players to interact with each other and do non-combat stuff to help them understand their characters (1 of my players has never roleplayed before, and 2 of the others are not very familiar with the 40k setting). It was over an hour into the session when the first bolter shot was fired. Combat for the first session consisted of 2 encounters (1 planned, 1 random), and I deliberately left stuff out to keep momentum going and not bog things down.

For example: I left out the concept of getting extra hits from degrees of success from the first combat, and brought it into the 2nd one. This meant that the first combat was all about ensuring everyone was comfortable with the concept of rolling to hit, and adding modifiers based on range, cover etc. The second combat introduced more advanced concepts, extra hits from degrees of success and Righteous Fury, and although this unbalanced the combat in favour of the players, it meant that they could do the "basics" without getting confused. It also reduced my admin burden significantly whilst I was still getting familiar with the system.

As to your original questions:
  • d100 can be as simple as 2 x d10, coloured differently, with the player declaring "which one is tens" before rolling the dice.
  • Models and a map aren't necessary, especially if you have an experienced GM setting the scene. I have found though that my players want to be more tactical than they would in say a Call of Cthulhu game, so I am making maps etc for my second session.
  • character sheets are useful - I've never laminated them though (and have never played in a game where anyone has)
Finally, I would not rotate the GM position. It is generally too disruptive for the game and won't be as enjoyable. There is just as much satisfaction to be gained (if not more) from GM'ing a game than from playing it, especially as you can mess with your players' heads whenever you like.... just roll some dice and look concerned and see how long it takes them to ask you what you are rolling for devil.gif

Anyway, I hope this helps and gives you some useful tips. Good luck, and happy gaming smile.png

Edited by facmanpob, 09 September 2013 - 12:27 PM.

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#9
Cpt_Reaper

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Luckily I just had another friend who is very experienced with RPGs offer to join. I'll see if he has any experience with Deathwatch and if not will work with him on simplifying the first few games so as to test the waters.

 

Thank you all for your advice. I'll post our first game when it occurs.

 

++Update++
I am working on a test character to see how easy it is to make a Deathwatch Marine, comparing each step to a pre-generated Character from the Final Sanction mission pack. So far so good.


Edited by 11th Company Dark Master, 11 September 2013 - 10:11 AM.


#10
Cpt_Reaper

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So characters are made and roles assigned. We have:

- Ultramarine Devastator
- Space Wolf Assault Marine

- Dark Angels Librarian

- myself as a Angels of Shadow Tactical Marine.

I am also the Game Master for a number of reasons (most knowledge with fluff being main point). We will be playing through Final Sanction with our characters soon and have decided on Thursdays as the game night.



#11
Brother Eleysium

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I GM for a group of 5 currently, and the best advice I can give you is to omit the Squad and Solo Mode rules until you and the guys/girls you play with get a grasp on the system.  It has a tendency to bog the game down, and cause player/character conflict.  Once you learn and understand the system pretty well, then I would work on introducing those into your campaigns/missions.

 

We tend to do squads from various chapters as opposed to doing the whole Deathwatch thing.  It gives the game an extra spin and keeps it interesting.   So, I am currently running a game with 5 Dark Angel Marines of the 5th companie's 4th Tactical Squad.  

 

As far as the dice, the D100 is a waste of time and money.  Just grab you some D10's and use one for the 10's and one for the hundreds digit.  I personally have like 10-15 sets.  Make sure you have different colors of course, and make sure everyone that you are gaming with knows which color is your tens and which color is your hundreds die.  Other than that, get you the Character sheet PDF and print quite a few, or you can laminate and do dry erase markers.


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#12
Growler67

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In terms of context justifying a GM's choice, the GM of a game I joined laid it down like this:

 

You are dropping in as replacements for a Kill Team on the ground (could easily be for ANY new players).....you have no Solo or Squad Mode Skills or Traits because you are not fully acquainted nor integrated with your Battle Brothers and have not yet developed a more efficient rapport with them.  You can function within the basics of rank and structure but keep in mind that you are new this operational realm.  As your trust and cohesion with the rest of the Kill Team grow, so will your ability to exercise Solo and Squad Modes.

 

They just got assigned together and have no real "feel" for their comrades in Battle.  It will come in time.


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#13
Cpt_Reaper

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Would it be a bad idea for myself to have a character as well as be the game master? If it is we are down to three PCs, not that it should be too hard to play with only 3.



#14
Brother Eleysium

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Would it be a bad idea for myself to have a character as well as be the game master? If it is we are down to three PCs, not that it should be too hard to play with only 3.

It's not really a good idea to play and GM at the same time. It is very difficult to prevent Meta Gaming that way. I'd say run with 3 and see how it goes.  If you feel as though the marines aren't effective in the missions you are running, or the missions that you are running are too difficult, you could always create a character and let your 3 players run the 4th character collectively. That way they all have a say in what the 4th character does.  

 

I have taken part in campaigns where the GM also tries to play, and it almost always ends in a disagreement or an argument.  The reason being is people tend to feel that the GM is doing better because he/she knew what was coming, etc....

 

I have been trying to get some one in our group to learn the system and or the fluff of the universe for years so that I could play, and it still hasn't happened yet. wallbash.gif


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#15
Cpt_Reaper

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I had planned to make my character pretty much silent but drop hints from time to time. For instance I know in Final Sanction there is a rebel held ruin that can be brought down with an explosive. I could have my character say something along the lines of "Those rebels are dug in deep and heavily armed. If we don't work out how to dig them out soon those guns will shred our lines." and they ask if anyone can see a way, prompting a perception test from the other players. Basically I am there as combat support but can drop hints if and when they are required.



#16
Brother Eleysium

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I had planned to make my character pretty much silent but drop hints from time to time. For instance I know in Final Sanction there is a rebel held ruin that can be brought down with an explosive. I could have my character say something along the lines of "Those rebels are dug in deep and heavily armed. If we don't work out how to dig them out soon those guns will shred our lines." and they ask if anyone can see a way, prompting a perception test from the other players. Basically I am there as combat support but can drop hints if and when they are required.

I mean you can do that if you would like, but you need to make sure the other players are okay first.  And honestly that sounds like Meta Gaming, which is generally frowned upon.  The whole point of the RPG is to let them roam and explore and figure things out on their own while achieving goals at the same time.


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#17
Artemid

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I had planned to make my character pretty much silent but drop hints from time to time. For instance I know in Final Sanction there is a rebel held ruin that can be brought down with an explosive. I could have my character say something along the lines of "Those rebels are dug in deep and heavily armed. If we don't work out how to dig them out soon those guns will shred our lines." and they ask if anyone can see a way, prompting a perception test from the other players. Basically I am there as combat support but can drop hints if and when they are required.


Nooooo. No no no no no. GMPCs are something you *really* want to avoid, generally, because having them just be a mouthpiece for the GM breaks immersion and takes the focus away from the players. They should only ever be used when it is story critical that that character be present, and then you still need to be very careful about compartmentalizing what the character knows and what you know.

Further, as a new GM and new to the system, you're going to have your plate full anyhow, it's kind of a bear of a game system. Only do it if absolutely necessary.

 

edit: 3 PCs is fine, if you just balance to it instead. If there's a mission critical skill they're missing... rebalance the mission or give them a temporary NPC aid or a piece of equipment or something.

 

additionally, on that test example, it'd only be Perception if they can see the walls, and even then it's probably either Scrutiny or Knowledge (Warfare) or something. you *are* allowed to step in and tell players that, hey, "you're very well trained Space Marines, you probably are aware that X is an absolutely terrible idea" or that you would be considering Y. But leave it up to them to find or decide.


Edited by Artemid, 25 September 2013 - 03:06 PM.


#18
Phoros

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additionally, on that test example, it'd only be Perception if they can see the walls, and even then it's probably either Scrutiny or Knowledge (Warfare) or something. you *are* allowed to step in and tell players that, hey, "you're very well trained Space Marines, you probably are aware that X is an absolutely terrible idea" or that you would be considering Y. But leave it up to them to find or decide.

 

Agreed on this. If there's something you think that the characters would realistically know or be able to figure out, tell them. Don't use a GMPC for it.


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#19
Cpt_Reaper

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thanks for all the advice. I'll post how it went hopefully sometime tomorrow.



#20
Artemid

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thanks for all the advice. I'll post how it went hopefully sometime tomorrow.


:)

Rules of GMing:
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2) On account of #1, be prepared to throw out prepared material, possibly entire plots.
3) Be able to be loose and roll with them, and your players won't know you pulled a session out of your :cuss
4) Your word is law, which extends to doing whatever you please with rules. But have a good reason.
5) Have fun!

#21
Brother Eleysium

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thanks for all the advice. I'll post how it went hopefully sometime tomorrow.

Sweet, let us know how it goes for sure!!!


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#22
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Well I have some good news and some bad news.

Bad News: Our Librarian didn't turn up and so we only had 2 players. We decided to call it off and the next time we are all available is in two weeks.

Good News: Already I learned some things about Deathwatch AND we might have found another player.

 

Things I added to my notes:

- Jam and Backpack Ammo Supply: Discussing it with the Devastator i decided that a Jam means he loses D10 bolts and must spend 2 full turns clearing the jam. Not sure if a Ballistic Skill test should be required for both turns. Perhaps for each failed test he loses another D10 bolts.



#23
Artemid

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I would just make a failed test make it take another round (ie test again next turn), not penalize him MORE ammo.

 

Bummer about the libby, but hopefully that other guy turns out!



#24
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Also I am aware the FAQ/Errata is...a little out of date. Can anyone point me to a up-to-date version?



#25
Qai

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Congratulations on venturing in Deathwatch! W40K RPG's can be loads of fun and have huge replay value. The previous posters pretty much covered all bases that newcomers to the game should be aware of.

 

As you are probably aware, there are several expansion books and getting them can be costly. Once your group is comfortable with the mechanics and played through the Core Rulebook's campaign, and perhaps ones you've made up yourself, you'll inevitably want to expand your gaming sessions. There are really three types of expansion books in the series:

 

- Campaigns;

- Additional Rules + Capabilities; and

- Additional NPC Reference Material

 

If your group likes to pace things quickly and enjoy/anticipate the campaigns much as one watches a recurring series on television, then consider books like The Emperor Protects, The Jericho Reach, The Achilus Assault, Rising Tempest, The Outer Reach, and The Emperor's Chosen.

 

If it's the nitty-gritty things that Space Marines can DO that interests your group, or even just creating characters from other First Founding Chapters, subsequent Foundings, as well as completely custom Chapters, or even using vehicles, then consider books such as The First Founding, Honour the Chapter, and Rites of Battle. While the number of pre-made campaigns available to you would be minimal, the books in this category are meant for taking campaigns much more slowly as you add more "realism" and depth to the gaming sessions. You can have a lot of fun with Rites of Battle just creating your own Chapters as a group for one or two of your gaming sessions.

 

NPC reference material is covered by Mark of the Xenos. This is really more for the GM and just gives you lots of NPC characters for you to use in the campaigns. This is a good source if you rely more on creating your own campaigns than the pre-made ones available.

 

From the Deathwatch series, there's one book that's kind of a combination of the first two categories: Ark of Lost Souls. Essentially, it's a campaign on a Space Hulk, but also contains rules for generating your own Space Hulks. If you're into Space Hulks - then this is it.

 

If you really, really like creating your own missions, then one book I would highly recommend is actually not from Deathwatch, but Rogue Trader. It's called Stars of Inequity. This book is essentially your planet / solar system generator. Now, yes, it is for the Koronus Expanse and Deathwatch is in the Jericho Reach. Nonetheless, the book can still be highly applicable. Which leads into another avenue you can explore: using elements of the Rogue Trader Rulebook for space ships, allowing your Deathwatch to take to the stars.

 

The W40K RPG system has so much potential in so many ways that your group will greatly benefit down the road if you decide early on what kind of gaming style is preferred so as to always keep your gaming sessions fun.






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