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Starting a Deathwatch campaign


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#1
Inquisitor Eisenhorn

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So I've always wanted to run this game, and this is my first experience GMing something.  I got a bunch of the books via humble bundle a while back and two of my neighbors are interested in trying it, and since we're all quarantined we have the time to do it (via video).  

 

I've been preparing like crazy the past week, and we just had an initial session zero where I walked them through building their characters, although they have the week to figure out where they want to spend their 1000xp.  

 

I have spent enough time with the rules to know that this is a huge, fairly messy book, even though it's also extremely awesome.  

 

A few simple issues escape me and I know at least a few folks on here are very versed in this game, and even play tested it.  

 

1.  Skill:  basic vs trained.  

 

What difference is there between doing a basic test that you are trained or untrained in?  The character sheet says: basic, trained, +10, +20.  

If you can do a basic test at your full characteristic value, what is the advantage of being "trained" in it?  Is that basically just a leveling up tax on your way to getting to the bonuses?

 

 

I have some other questions but actually that one is a big sticking point I would like answered.  


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#2
Lord Marshal

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Basic means anyone can attempt it without having bought into it. You will always 'have' a Basic Skill at Untrained as a minimum, no matter what.

 

Untrained you roll against the relevant characteristic, but it's halved (Making an Untrained Basic test when you have a STR of 40 means you roll it as having 20 instead).

 

Trained means there is no negative modifier (+0), having purchased the skill. 

 

This is in contrast to Advanced Skills where you can't even attempt it unless you bought/have Trained in it.


Edited by Lord Marshal, 12 April 2020 - 08:28 PM.

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#3
Inquisitor Eisenhorn

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Basic means anyone can attempt it without having bought into it. You will always 'have' a Basic Skill at Untrained as a minimum, no matter what.

 

Untrained you roll against the relevant characteristic, but it's halved (Making an Untrained Basic test when you have a STR of 40 means you roll it as having 20 instead).

 

Trained means there is no negative modifier (+0), having purchased the skill. 

 

This is in contrast to Advanced Skills where you can't even attempt it unless you bought/have Trained in it.

OK, so I guess I've misunderstood.  let me see if I've got this correct:

 

BASIC SKILLS

 

On a character sheet, if the "basic" bubble is filled in, but not the "trained" bubble, you only can use HALF the characteristic value for the test.

If the "trained" bubble is filled in, you can use the FULL characteristic value for the test.

 

So, ALL basic bubbles should be filled in for BASIC SKILLS on the character sheet from the outset.  

 

ADVANCED SKILL

 

On a character sheet, if the "basic" bubble isn't filled in, no test is possible.  You must use XP to purchase the "basic" bubble first, and even then, the HALF characteristic penalty applies until you reach the "trained" level.  

 

Did I get it right?

 

Wow, that wasn't clear from the rules.  


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#4
Mazer Rackham

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ADVANCED SKILL

 

On a character sheet, if the "basic" bubble isn't filled in, no test is possible.  You must use XP to purchase the "basic" bubble first, and even then, the HALF characteristic penalty applies until you reach the "trained" level.  

 

Did I get it right?

 

 

You're 90% there.

 

Advanced Skills are always Trained Skills - you just buy the skill with XP.  It ticks the trained box as soon as you buy it, with no need to fill in the 'Basic' one, and can be used at full stat.

 

You can fill in the Basic bubble if you like to be neat, though smile.png

 

The rest is all correct!

 

MR.


Edited by Mazer Rackham, 12 April 2020 - 09:22 PM.
Clarity

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You see, it all started with an Only War game I played long ago. I wanted an Autocannon, and guess what? I got it! I howled and cheered and professed my luck as an insult to Tzeentch, and ever since, I swear that begrudging clown has had it in for me.

 

#5
Commissar Molotov

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Eisenhorn - not sure if this is any use to you, but this is the most recent character sheet that my players use for Blackthorn and Swordhand:

https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing
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QUOTE (voi shet magir @ May 31 2011, 05:38 AM) 
That is an unexpectedly strong assertion from a dead person.

 


#6
Inquisitor Eisenhorn

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ADVANCED SKILL

 

On a character sheet, if the "basic" bubble isn't filled in, no test is possible.  You must use XP to purchase the "basic" bubble first, and even then, the HALF characteristic penalty applies until you reach the "trained" level.  

 

Did I get it right?

 

 

You're 90% there.

 

Advanced Skills are always Trained Skills - you just buy the skill with XP.  It ticks the trained box as soon as you buy it, with no need to fill in the 'Basic' one, and can be used at full stat.

 

You can fill in the Basic bubble if you like to be neat, though smile.png

 

The rest is all correct!

 

MR.

 

LOL holy cow.  OK, thanks. I realized that the character sheet actually has mistakes about what is filled in as basic so that added a TON of confusion to this.  But I got it now.  THANK YOU.  I will follow up with more questions.  


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#7
Mazer Rackham

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No problem.

 

Our bodies are ready! msn-wink.gif

 

MR.


You see, it all started with an Only War game I played long ago. I wanted an Autocannon, and guess what? I got it! I howled and cheered and professed my luck as an insult to Tzeentch, and ever since, I swear that begrudging clown has had it in for me.

 

#8
Inquisitor Eisenhorn

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OK next question:

 

A Deathwatch Techmarine begins with the Speak Language: Techna-Lingua and Tech Use as Trained Advanced Skills.  

 

The Rank 1 Deathwatch Techmarine Advances however, lists Speak Language: Techna-Lingua and Tech Use as costing 200 and 400 XP respectively.  

 

Is this just an oversight of editing, or does that mean that you are mandated to spend 600 XP on those two skills when building your starting character?  The Starting Skills paragraph doesn't make this clear.  


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#9
Mazer Rackham

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They're sort of there for two reasons - the first is for the sake of completeness, the other is for the GM to create and cost his NPC's correctly.  You should really treat the whole rulebook as a GM Creation Kit (Lord knows I and many others do).

 

As you've observed, the Core Rulebook is a bit of a mixed mess.

 

Any Player building a Techmarine gets the Techna-Lingua and Tech Use as starting skills for free.  They don't have to spend XP to acquire them.

 

MR.


Edited by Mazer Rackham, 13 April 2020 - 12:34 AM.

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You see, it all started with an Only War game I played long ago. I wanted an Autocannon, and guess what? I got it! I howled and cheered and professed my luck as an insult to Tzeentch, and ever since, I swear that begrudging clown has had it in for me.

 

#10
Inquisitor Eisenhorn

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I actually found the spot in the rules where it mentions there might be redundant skills/talents listed for various ranks.  It's just that it's easy to overlook.  Anyways, next questions!

 

Deathwatch Training/Semi-Auto fire/Righteous Fury.

 

How does Righteous Fury interact with Semi-Auto fire?  Say I shoot a bolter with a burst of 3, and all three shots land.  One of the shots roll a 10 for damage, triggering Righteous Fury.  

 

Deathwatch Training says that you can skip the Ballistic/Weapon skill test and proceed directly to assigning damage for the extra hit RF gives you.  

 

If the action was a Burst3 shot, does that mean that you are skipping a Ballistic skill test for ANOTHER 3 round burst, or is it just another single hit, similar to the 2nd and 3rd hit you get per 2 degrees of success each?  

 

Put another way, does RF trigger 3 more shots, or 1 more shot?  It seems like it must be a single shot, because you can't confirm the 2nd/3rd hits if there is no roll to determine degrees of success.  

 

Am I correct?


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#11
Fenrykus

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Righteous Fury grants one additional attack that is the exact same as the attack that caused RF. But you're not counting degrees of success for the extra attack, so it would only score one hit (unless you RF a second time, or you attacked with a multiattack).


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#12
Commissar Molotov

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Eisenhorn - make sure that you've got the Deathwatch Errata, as that did add and clarify certain rules. The rules regarding Righteous Fury are on page 5 of the PDF. The new rules mean that a successful second attack simply adds D10 damage to the attack. (Remember that Deathwatch training means you auto-confirm Righteous Fury against alien targets.)

For example, if you are doing semi-auto fire:

Greysight:
AG test (AG43) to activate As Swift as the Wind from last turn: 6 (PASS)
AG test (AG43) to activate As Swift as the Wind this turn: 11 (PASS)
Full Action: Semi-Auto Burst against Cultists 2 to the left of Solastion
BS55 (+10 Range, +10 Bolter Mastery): 32 (PASS, 4DoS): 1 Hit, +2 Additional (+1 Explosive)
1D10+9(+2 Damage, Bolter Mastery), Pen 4:
Hit 1: 4 (15)
Hit 2: 5 (16)
Hit 3: 10(RF6) (27)
Hit 4: 7 (18)
Greysight does 4 Magnitude Damage (down to 8)
Half-Move as part of the Semi-Auto.


You can see here that Hit 3 rolled a 10, so then another D10 was additionally rolled, scoring a six.


EDIT: Remember also that Bolters are tearing weapons, so you have two chances to roll a 10 for each shot.

Edited by Commissar Molotov, 16 April 2020 - 03:53 PM.

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QUOTE (voi shet magir @ May 31 2011, 05:38 AM) 
That is an unexpectedly strong assertion from a dead person.

 


#13
Inquisitor Eisenhorn

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Thank you Fenrykus and Commissar.  

 

One further clarification then.  In the case of attacking a horde, where the numbers of hits is what matters most since any amount of damage reduces the horde by 1 magnitude, RF is now less useful in this context, since it no longer is conferring an additional hit, only damage.  

 

Correct?


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#14
Commissar Molotov

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Yes - with a horde, the key factor would be Toughness Bonus and Armour, and Righteous Fury might help you to get over that.

In terms of expediency and speed, you might not want to take it into account though.
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QUOTE (voi shet magir @ May 31 2011, 05:38 AM) 
That is an unexpectedly strong assertion from a dead person.

 


#15
Inquisitor Eisenhorn

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Yes - with a horde, the key factor would be Toughness Bonus and Armour, and Righteous Fury might help you to get over that.

In terms of expediency and speed, you might not want to take it into account though.

Can you elaborate on that?  I was under the impression that the key to taking down say a horde of hormagaunts would be number of hits, since they are generally low-toughness low-armor targets, so it's likely you'll get at least a little damage in per hit, so you'd want to optimize the numbers of hits to decrease the magnitude of the horde.  


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#16
Mazer Rackham

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Correct, number of hits against Hordes is key.  That is the only thing that affects Magnitude (apart from special abilities or weapon qualities).

 

I think what Mol means, is that sometimes your hordes may be a little tougher and RF will help to hurt the base characteristics, as the hits must still cause enough damage to defeat the Toughness Bonus and Armour of the Horde's base level, so for example, damage from a hit must still beat Armour 3, TB 3 - doing at least 7 points of damage to affect one magnitude damage (even if the damage is 100, the rest is wasted).

 

If your horde is tougher, Armour 8, TB 8, that's going to need a bit of RF to thin it out, so to speak.

 

An RF roll does not count as an extra hit.  It is only extra damage on the target and is kind of almost wasted on a horde.

 

MR.


Edited by Mazer Rackham, 16 April 2020 - 08:26 PM.

You see, it all started with an Only War game I played long ago. I wanted an Autocannon, and guess what? I got it! I howled and cheered and professed my luck as an insult to Tzeentch, and ever since, I swear that begrudging clown has had it in for me.

 

#17
Commissar Molotov

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Mazer's right - as long as your damage is enough to get over Armour and Toughness bonus, then you're fine. In the example above, Greysight is doing 1D10+11 damage, he'll automatically do 1 Magnitude damage to the Horde for every hit. So there is no actual point to even rolling damage. That's totally evocative for Space Marines.

If you had a situation where there was a Horde with high armour and toughness bonus, you may still want to roll damage and Righteous Fury.
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QUOTE (voi shet magir @ May 31 2011, 05:38 AM) 
That is an unexpectedly strong assertion from a dead person.

 


#18
Mazer Rackham

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In the example above, Greysight is doing 1D10+11 damage, he'll automatically do 1 Magnitude damage to the Horde for every hit. So there is no actual point to even rolling damage. That's totally evocative for Space Marines.
 

 

Quite so, in fact it gives you a great opportunity to embellish how powerful the shot looked, how puny the foes are and also is a bit of a GM Life Hack, saving you admin time msn-wink.gif

 

Personally, I always have my players roll damage to make it feel like they're dealing it out, it makes for a bit of theatre. smile.png

 

MR.


Edited by Mazer Rackham, 16 April 2020 - 10:03 PM.

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You see, it all started with an Only War game I played long ago. I wanted an Autocannon, and guess what? I got it! I howled and cheered and professed my luck as an insult to Tzeentch, and ever since, I swear that begrudging clown has had it in for me.

 

#19
Inquisitor Eisenhorn

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Is there a minimum size for a horde?  is it 20?



#20
Steel Company

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Horde is an abstract thing really, it could just represent the moral of a group of things that on their own are not a match for an Astartes.

For example, I usually treat a squad of Firewarriors as a horde of 20, even if there are only ten Tau in that squad... any more than a mag 20 and they start doing bad things to Astares...
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The Iron Hands, they are the real emo marines. Seriously. The Dark Angels aren't the ones who sit around cutting off bits of themselves, wearing black, and complaining about weakness and ennui...

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#21
Commissar Molotov

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Steel's right to say that Magnitude doesn't need to equate to size (but rather force projection.) A Magnitude 30 horde of Genestealer Cultists could easily be 50+ individuals. In that sense, reducing a Horde's magnitude by 1 may actually involve multiple individuals being blown apart by bolter-fire or hacked to pieces with a chainblade. Deathwatch is absolutely a game around exulting in the overkill.

Obviously for each 10, the Magnitude gets stronger, and to me there isn't a lot of point having a starting magnitude that's too low (especially given the many and varied ways in which the Deathwatch can reduce that magnitude...)
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QUOTE (voi shet magir @ May 31 2011, 05:38 AM) 
That is an unexpectedly strong assertion from a dead person.

 


#22
Mazer Rackham

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I have to agree.

 

Rule of Thumb: Horde Magnitude should be no lower than 30 if you want it sticking around for more than five minutes and still be a threat.  You can make the Horde more dangerous by giving it leaders, plus special and heavy weapons.  You can even give it traits (within reason).

 

For an introductory game, to let players learn the ropes and feel powerful, Mag 10 - 20 is acceptable.

 

There's nothing stopping you from having individual (non-horde) enemies roaming about (to simulate a couple of sentries/looters/rioters for example), that's perfectly fine too and can lead to interesting situations.

 

MR.


Edited by Mazer Rackham, 17 April 2020 - 12:32 PM.
Clarity.

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You see, it all started with an Only War game I played long ago. I wanted an Autocannon, and guess what? I got it! I howled and cheered and professed my luck as an insult to Tzeentch, and ever since, I swear that begrudging clown has had it in for me.

 

#23
RipOffProductions

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Steel's right to say that Magnitude doesn't need to equate to size (but rather force projection.) A Magnitude 30 horde of Genestealer Cultists could easily be 50+ individuals. In that sense, reducing a Horde's magnitude by 1 may actually involve multiple individuals being blown apart by bolter-fire or hacked to pieces with a chainblade. Deathwatch is absolutely a game around exulting in the overkill.
 

speaking of Genestealer Cultists, I have a ton of the Dark Heresy books, and in the "Creatures Anathema" supplement it has rules for Genestealers, but not for their hybrid spawn, saying "The full scope of such an infestation is beyond this book", was there ever another supplement that covered this? and if so what is its title?



#24
Mazer Rackham

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speaking of Genestealer Cultists, I have a ton of the Dark Heresy books, and in the "Creatures Anathema" supplement it has rules for Genestealers, but not for their hybrid spawn, saying "The full scope of such an infestation is beyond this book", was there ever another supplement that covered this? and if so what is its title?

 

 

As far as I am aware, no, there was never anything officially produced, however, there was some fan service that produced their own book - which looks good too!

 

You can find a link to it here.

 

Diclaimer:  This isn't my work, I have nothing to do with it and if you have a Genestealer infestation in your house as a result, I never heard of you. ;p

 

MR


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You see, it all started with an Only War game I played long ago. I wanted an Autocannon, and guess what? I got it! I howled and cheered and professed my luck as an insult to Tzeentch, and ever since, I swear that begrudging clown has had it in for me.

 

#25
Commissar Molotov

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The Deathwatch starter game "Final Sanction" has rules for baseline cultists which I used. When I used an Aberrant in the game, I used the profile for the Stigmartus Ogryn Brute from The Achilus Assault, P.73.

If you're looking to play Dark Heresy against a cult, you might want to be less abstract than if you're playing Deathwatch; in such a case, the fanmade project Mazer links to might be useful for you.
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QUOTE (voi shet magir @ May 31 2011, 05:38 AM) 
That is an unexpectedly strong assertion from a dead person.

 





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