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Author Topic: WH40k RPGs: Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch (and Black Crusade!)  (Read 4089 times)
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TiLT
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« on: November 16, 2010, 08:19:03 PM »

So, I headed to my local gaming store yesterday while waiting for someone I was supposed to meet a little later. I don't often go to these kinds stores any longer as I do almost all my purchases at online stores. What caught my attention was a rulebook called Deathwatch, which is an RPG system that lets you play space marines in Warhammer 40k. "That's neat" I thought, "they finally got around to publishing the next RPG in the setting after Dark Heresy". Then I noticed Rogue Trader, which is from the same setting with the same system (with some modifications to suit the type of gameplay) where you play, well, rogue traders traveling across the galaxy trying to earn the big bucks. I was flabbergasted. How did I miss both these?

Fast forward to today. I've now ordered both Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, and their respective GM screens from my favorite "local" online store (not interested in Dark Heresy really, so I'll skip that one). I've been... ahem... "previewing" the Rogue Trader book while waiting for the package to arrive in the mail, and it looks very interesting so far.

Does anyone here have any experience with these systems?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2011, 12:09:04 PM by TiLT » Logged
kadnod
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2010, 11:26:24 PM »

I haven't played any of them yet, but I've purchased 2 of the Rogue Trader books and the Dark Heresy monster book.  I was really impressed with all 3 of them.  In particular, I think the Rogue Trader "Profit" system is just great.  It looks like an awesome way to motivate players to come up with their own adventure ideas. 
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TiLT
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2010, 08:14:32 AM »

Quote from: kadnod on November 16, 2010, 11:26:24 PM

I haven't played any of them yet, but I've purchased 2 of the Rogue Trader books and the Dark Heresy monster book.  I was really impressed with all 3 of them.  In particular, I think the Rogue Trader "Profit" system is just great.  It looks like an awesome way to motivate players to come up with their own adventure ideas. 

I haven't even read about the Profit system in detail yet, and I still thought in the same lines as you. smile I'm thinking that this could be a great system that easily lets the GM improvise most of the adventures.
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kronovan
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2010, 08:40:36 PM »

I haven't played any of them, but I know Dark Heresy has a cult like following in my city - albeit it's only a few gaming circles. I was looking to join one, so I did a lot of reading up and was very impressed, but I was looking for something to possibly get my son involved with and DH seemed a bit too...well...dark. slywink There'll all produced by FFG and not GW, so I have no doubt Rogue Trader and Deathwatch are also excellent.
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Lockdown
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2010, 11:12:36 PM »

Don't forget...

You can find almost anything on youtube nowadays.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtlV9pstJQI&feature=related

I have a tougher time determining if these guys are spoofing or are giving an honest review.  It's really a bit scary in a way.

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Turtle
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2010, 07:08:27 AM »

I've run both a successful Rogue Trader and and a current Deathwatch campaign, and played in campaigns of them as well.

Did you have any specific questions about them?

My thoughts about the games is that they make good use of the rich Warhammer 40k setting, but the games and system have their own little problems. These problems come to a head in deathwatch, where as much fun and crazy as it is to play a space marine (and it does a good job of letting the player feel like SPESSSS MEHREEEENS) it also exacerbates some of the issues with the game.

These problems, however, are not that much more than any other RPG system in how they choose to abstract or not abstract various gameplay/story elements. There's also plenty of errors and odd wording in the books. There's a big part of the Deathwatch book that's really difficult for me to find exactly how it's meant to be used.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2010, 07:11:45 AM by Turtle » Logged
TiLT
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2010, 07:34:30 AM »

I'm very familiar with the Warhammer FRP system that these games are based upon, so I'm curious what you see as its greatest failings, seeing as you have actual play experience?
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Turtle
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2010, 08:52:13 AM »

The percentile system works, but each character in rogue trader often has a pretty crappy skill in something, even at the highest levels. For some reason the rolls in the game just feels like characters can't quite do the things they should be doing as often as they should. At least, not if the GM isn't on the ball with changing the difficulty levels to represent a character being at ease. Although this may have something to do with the kind of systems I like to play.

One of the biggest problems with the game is in Deathwatch, with the way combat damage is handled, and just general shooting overall. Each player has his toughness characteristic, toughness bonus (the tens digit of the toughness characteristic), and armor. Both of these reduce the amount of incoming damage by that amount.

Each weapon has a rate of fire, and you'll almost always be shooting at the highest rate of fire you can that turn since it grants a bonus to hit and the better you roll the more shots hit. Then each shot also has a number of damage dice, and often times weapons will have extra damage dice on top of that for things like tearing (roll one extra, take the highest), then there's the Penetration number on the weapon/ammo, which negates that number worth of armor, but not toughness bonus.

Well, with Deathwatch and Rogue Trader, you're firing all this hardware, getting 1-10 hits on the turn. Each shot you're rolling out the damage dice for each round that hits individually. Oh and if you roll a 10 on any of your damage dice you can get Righteous Fury, where you reroll the to hit roll and if you succeed you get to roll your damage again and add that, rerolling again if you get another 10 on a damage die. Then each shot you're subtracting the Penetration from the armor, but not the toughness, then applying what's left of the toughness + armor to the damage roll. And you're doing this for every single shot.

In a game like Deathwatch where combat is the norm, this can really, really bog down the game, especially so with the kind of enemies that Deathwatch, or even Rogue Traders, face. I've had situations where I've moved on from one player's turn when he started calculating damage only to loop back around through initiative just to have him barely finish calculating damage to find out he didn't kill his target.

There's also issues with the whole ship combat system, at least in terms of player interaction, there's some built in stuff but as above it can get a little tricky, especially with boarding actions and such.
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TiLT
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2011, 12:08:36 PM »

So, I've been GMing a Rogue Trader campaign for a little while now. We've only been through 5 sessions so far, but it's been all kinds of awesome! We're running the Lure of the Expanse campaign, which is turning out to be surprisingly good for an adventure book. The flaws mentioned above haven't really surfaced for me. I keep track of the rules and calculations on my side of the table (which I realize not all GMs are able or willing to do), as long as the players keep track of their own bonuses and penalties using a couple of simple handouts I've given them. It runs very smoothly. Combat turns are over quickly, and combat is fast and deadly.

Just to emphasize how cool the game can be, here's a little recap of what happened at the end of our last session. Be aware that it contains some mild spoilers from one part of the Lure of the Expanse campaign.

The players had been escorted into the rather primitive "mansion" of the leader of a large band of deserters from the Imperial Guard. The house was built out of gnarly wood fastened with vines from a local swamp, and didn't look particularly solid or luxurious, not to mention the fact that part of it was balancing precariously over the edge of a large crater. Their primary goal was to get a visual on a jewel the leader (calling himself King Komitzar) used to psychically control his population, and to obtain it, preferably through trade, if it turned out to be what they were looking for (as part of a larger quest). Their secondary goal, and also the one they openly presented to the guardsmen, was to initiate mutually beneficial trade with the planet.

The trade negotiations went reasonably well, even though King Komitzar (let's call him KK) accused the players of being bounty hunters sent to bring him back to the Imperium. The rogue trader, slick as always, managed to calm things and noticed that when he gave some subtle hints towards the jewel around KK's neck, KK grew angry and threatening. Despite this obvious clue, the rogue trader (Mordechai is his name) went all out and asked if the jewel was available for trade. Enraged, KK ordered his 10 armed guards to shoot the foreigners on the spot. Bad idea.

The group's arch-militant stepped forward with his hellgun, firing it semi-auto into KK, melting his flesh and fusing him to his "throne". The guards and KK's concubines did their best to attack, but barely made a dent against the vastly superior armor these intruders carried. The arch-militant killed the concubines and three guards in a hail of hellgun fire, while the navigator revealed her third eye to the remaining guards, exposing them to the horrors of the Warp and causing them to jump to their deaths (the throne room had one side without walls), rip out their eyes, or just die on the spot. With the immediate threats under control, the rogue trader snatched the jewel away from the burning corpse of KK and led his group to the roof while the arch-militant remained behind to guard the stairwell leading up to their position. There was only one way out, and they could hear large amounts of guards cocking weapons and preparing to charge from that direction.

However, the rogue trader had an ace up his sleeve. The group's void master was waiting with a gun-cutter (a rather large and well-armed shuttle) about a kilometer away. When the shit hit the fan, he had fired up the engines and was flying at great speed directly towards the group. Using the gun-cutter's auspex scanners he could see the groups of guards through the walls of the building, even from a long distance. Firing one shot from the twin-linked cannons on the cutter, he completely destroyed part of the building, including the stairwell and several of the guards preparing to climb it. Unable to get up, the remaining guards fired their weapons through the roof, almost hitting the arch-militant who dodged out of the way and tossed a stun grenade back at them, silencing them for a while. Sensing that the situation was reasonably under control, he withdrew up to the roof along with the rest of the group while waiting for the airlift.

On the roof, the group noticed a large group of people running towards the mansion, fury visible on their faces. The void master noticed as well and fired two shots into the front of the building. As the doorway exploded in front of the mass of people, they all stopped in shock. The void master's satisfied smile quickly turned to horror as the entire front of the building collapsed and the entire structure started to tip over the edge of the large crater it was balancing on. With the counterweight gone, the entire thing was about to fall into the depths of the crater, rogue trader and retinue along with it.

A few amazing feats of piloting later, the void master lined up the back of the ship with the now very unstable roof of the building, allowing the rogue trader and the navigator to jump to safety. However, as the arch-militant was about the jump the entire building started collapsing. The void master reacted like a pro and dropped the gun-cutter along with it, letting the arch-militant make one final, desperate jump to safety, which he made with style. Closing the shuttle doors behind them, the gun-cutter accelerated away from the stunned people who had just seen their entire leadership literally collapse and fall before them.

The mission had been a success, even though the trade deal hadn't worked out. The rogue trader was in possession of the jewel which would allow the group to finish their mission.

And that's why I love Rogue Trader!  icon_cool
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