Saturday, January 25, 2014

Warhammer 40k - Creating a Space Marine Chapter in Deathwatch

So I've been getting back into Warhammer 40k quite a bit over the last couple weeks. I'm playing in games of Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy (both of which started quite recently) and I'm gearing up to GM a game of Deathwatch. This, combined with a distinct lack of excitement when it comes to gaming, is why I haven't had anything to blog about over the last three weeks or so. Hopefully, with a bunch of 40k gaming starting up for me, I'll have more to talk about in the near future.

Now, for Deathwatch, I won't be creating my own character, but I do intend for my Kill-Team to have some
I love this game.
Image from here.
interaction with some Space Marines from a new Chapter, so I figured I'd go through and create this Chapter using the rules from Rites of Battle. I'll be using a combination of die rolls and just choosing options that I think would work well.

First up, when and why was the Chapter founded? A couple of die rolls say Crusade and in the 41st millennium. So, the as-yet unnamed Chapter was created specifically to go on grand crusades around the galaxy, crushing the foes of the Imperium, and it was created within the last thousand years. I'm actually going to ignore the book and say that it was closer to the beginning of the 41st millennium, as the game takes place sometime around the year 830.M41. Having the Chapter be founded in 738 wouldn't leave much time for the Chapter to really establish itself.

For the Chapter's gene-seed, I'm going to pick Raven Guard. I really like the Raven Guard, so that's what I'm going to go with. For gene-stock purity, I rolled A New Generation, so when I choose a Demeanor for the Chapter, I'll be picking or rolling something new, rather than going with the standard Raven Guard Demeanor.

Speaking of Demeanor, I'm going to pick Scions of Mars for the Chapter. I've always liked Techmarines, and the idea of a traditionally-stealthy Raven Guard successor mixed with the big, heavily-armored Techmarines is pretty interesting to me.

Next up, Chapter characteristic bonuses. My roll of 32 gives +5 Perception and +5 Strength, so the Marines of this Chapter are both strong and alert.

For the Chapter's heroes, my first rolls indicated that a Chapter Master was assassinated by agents of the Imperium itself. The write-up in the chart suggests the Officio Assassinorum, and that there isn't an apparent reason why he was assassinated. I'll put some thought into this. A secondary hero is the Master of Sanctity (a Chaplain, probably), who led forces against an Eldar craftworld.

For a home world, I'm just going to pick fleet-based. Since it's a crusading Chapter, like the Black Templars, I think this makes sense. For recruiting worlds, maybe that's why a ship of the Chapter is in the Jericho Reach for this campaign: they're searching for a suitable world to recruit new initiates to replenish their strength. A couple random rolls indicate that the Chapter has five major vessels, and that the fleet is currently damaged or otherwise suffering some kind of complication.

Space Marines and Inquisition.
Image from here.
Another die roll indicates that they're a divergent Chapter, so they don't follow the Codex Astartes to the letter. So how about a Chapter that focuses on Lightning Strikes? They move in, hit the target fast and hard, and get right back out, with a focus on quick vehicles like bikes or Rhinos.

For Solo Mode abilities, another random roll means that they'll be getting one of the Raven Guard's abilities. Since the Raven Guard currently only have one Solo Mode ability, Master of the Shadows, that's what this Chapter will get as well. So far we've got a Chapter that has an affinity with tech, likes fast vehicles, and does well in the shadows. Interesting stuff.

For Squad Mode abilities, I rolled Storm of Hell and Swift Advance. Both seem to fit with the Chapter's fast-attack tactics, so I'll stick with those.

For special equipment, I got 93, Modified Weaponry. How about, instead of standard power swords, the Chapter prefers power scythes with blades that kind of resemble a bird's talons?

For Chapter believes, I rolled The Emperor Above All, so the Chapter reveres Corvus Corax, but holds the Emperor even higher and their Chaplains' sermons reflect that. This should go interestingly with their ties to the Mechanicus (from the Scions of Mars Demeanor), but I think they'll have the belief that the Omnissiah is just another aspect of the Emperor.
Heraldry in keeping with the raven theme, I think.
Image from WotC.

A roll of 4 means the Chapter is under-strength. So their fleet is damaged, they're at half-strength at best, and they're looking for a new world to recruit from. I think I can come up with an interesting story from that.

A few more die rolls later, and I've determined that the Chapter has close ties to the Adeptus Sororitas and maintains a vicious hatred of the tyranids, particularly Hive Fleet Dagon. Maybe that could be part of the reason why they're under-strength.

Finally, we come to the name, heraldry, and livery. I'm not going to bother rolling, but after thinking about it, I'm going to go with Night Falcons. I'm thinking they'd be armored primarily in black, but with white shoulder pads, helmets, and backpacks. For heraldry, I'm going to go draw on my love of D&D 4E and snag the insignia of the Raven Queen, because I think it would look cool on a white shoulder pad, and it kinda fits with their Raven Guard origin.

For custom Chapter advances, I'm going with Xenos Bane. Since they're a crusading chapter, and they've been hit hard by tyranids, I think it fits rather nicely.

So, here's the final Chapter write up for the Night Falcons.

Battle-Brother with plasma pistol and power fist.
Picture from Bolter and Chainsword.
Night Falcons

Primarch: Corvus Corax
Founding: 26th in M41
Home World: Fleet-based
Chapter Demeanor: Scions of Mars
Solo Mode: Master of Shadows (First Founding, page 17)
Squad Modes: Storm of Hell and Swift Advance (Rites of Battle, page 33)
Characteristic Bonuses: +5 Strength, +5 Perception
Gene-seed Deficiencies: N/A
Chapter Advances: Xenos Bane (Rites of Battle, page 42)
Favored Tactics: Lightning Strikes with Rhinos, attack bikes, and similar vehicles

Chapter Master Annus Derax, who was assassinated by an agent of the Officio Assassinorum soon after vanquishing a hive tyrant of Hive Fleet Dagon.
High Chaplain Tyros, who led three squads of the Third Company on a daring hit-and-run attack on an eldar craftworld.

Created in the 26th founding in late M41, the Night Falcons are a Raven Guard successor Chapter. While they revere their Primarch, Corvus Corax, the Chaplains of the Night Falcons preach honor and reverence of the Emperor above all else, both as the Master of Mankind and as his other aspect, the Omnissiah.

Created as a crusading Chapter, the Night Falcons were given eight mighty vessels and the mandate to travel among the stars, destroying xenos and heretics wherever they might be found. After a nasty encounter with Hive Fleet Dagon on a planet known as Coraton IV, the Night Falcons were left with less than half of the thousand Space Marines they began with. Their beloved Chapter Master, Annus Derax, was dead, slain at the hands of an Imperial assassin soon after his miraculous victory against the Dagon hive tyrant. During this campaign, the Chapter fought alongside an order of the Sisters of Battle, who had an abbey on the planet. With three of their ships destroyed, the Night Falcons ventured into the Jericho Reach in search of a new world to begin a cycle of recruitment to replenish their massive losses.

The Night Falcons prefer to make devastating hit-and-run attacks to strike at their enemies, using concealment and vicious close-combat tactics to devastate foes. They have a strong affinity with technology and ties to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Their Techmarines serve in every role, using their technological training to supplement their fighting abilities. Rather than serving separately and being used mainly to maintain and operate Chapter equipment, Techmarines may also serve as officers or Chaplains.

In addition to normal power swords, the Night Falcons prefer the use of power scythes, styling these lethal weapons as the talons of the birds of prey the Chapter was named for.

Because who doesn't love Terminator armor?
Image from Bolter and Chainsword.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Campaign Prep - Rogue Trader

And the blog is back! I took an unannounced hiatus from the blog for a couple weeks, mostly because there was nothing really going on. I've been reading novels rather than game books, and my PbP games have slowed down a bit with the holidays, so I didn't have a whole lot to say on gaming.

But now, I'm back to gaming, and first up for this year is Rogue Trader. I love this game. It's complex, super detailed, steeped in Warhammer 40k lore, and fairly difficult to pick up for a newbie to the setting, but despite all its flaws, there's something about it that really sings for me. It's like a cross between Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Event Horizon. You don't just have a starship, you have a multi-mile long gothic cathedral capable of flying through hell itself and blasting all life from the surface of a planet. You don't just have a chief engineer, you have an Explorator Tech Priest of the Adeptus Mechanicus who may literally be more machine than man. You don't just carry around a pistol, you carry a miniature plasma reactor that happens to be shaped like a pistol and which fires blasts of pure plasma capable of immolating or melting whatever they hit.

It's over the top, gloriously violent, and is explicitly about flying around the galaxy and looting whatever the hell you find, all in the name of the God-Emperor and the Imperium of Mankind. And I love it.
How badass is this? Seriously, these are the kind of characters I want to play.
Picture from FFG.

So why did I title this post Campaign Prep? Because I'm leaning toward trying to run it via PbP this year. Maybe not this week or even this month, but I haven't been able to play very much of this game and one of my New Year's resolutions is to fix that. Hopefully I'll get in some Dark Heresy or Deathwatch too, but Rogue Trader is the main 40k game I'm looking to run.

But, in spite of my love of Rogue Trader, I've never GMed it, and I'm honestly not all that experienced with the system, since every group I've been in fell apart for one reason or another. I've played both a Rogue Trader and an Explorator, but both were fairly brief stints, so I'm asking you guys for your Rogue Trader GM tips. Which published adventures are good? Which are bad? Am I better off trying to write something of my own, or even just throwing together a quick sandbox and winging it?

Above all, what are your thoughts on Rogue Trader? Better/worse than the other 40k RPGs?