Saturday, 3 September 2011
Beginners Guide to Deathwatch - Part 2 - Characteristics
Due to problems getting us all together in the same place at the same time we didn't manage to get a game of Deathwatch in today and due to me being extremely unsatisfied with how the narrative I did for the 2nd part of the last mission turned out I've decided to redo it which will take a bit of time. Fortunately I have something Deathwatch related for you all anyway (whether you want it or not, lol).....
So following on from part 1, here's a look at some of the basic game mechanics of Deathwatch the RPG.
As mentioned previously most checks are done by rolling two d10's to end up with a number from 01 to 100 and then comparing it to the appropriate characteristic on your sheet. If it's equal to that number or under then you've passed. Each multiple of 10 that you beat the characteristic by is referred to as a 'degree of success' indicating that you've been even more successful which can mean you have managed to accomplish something extra special, conversely each multiple of 10 you fail a test by can mean something quite spectacularly bad has happened. So if your testing against your Perception score to see what's sitting in the dark corner of a room a success might mean that you can work out it's an Ork, whereas succeeding by several degrees might mean that you can also tell that it's an Ork Nob armed with a Power Klaw for example. Failing the test would mean you spotted nothing, failing the test by a lot may mean that the Ork sees you instead.....
There are also a large list of Skills that relate to certain areas of expertise to show if you actually know something about the activity your attempting. Broadly speaking skills are either 'Basic' or 'Advanced'. Any character can attempt to undertake an activity that's classed as a Basic skill even if he doesn't possess it but does so with the appropriate characteristic halved. For example your character might wish to climb up a rickety ladder in order to get to the floor above, which in this case would be an Strength test. If he has the 'Climb' skill he would use his Strength score, if he didn't he would have to halve his Strength score for the purposes of the test. So a character with Strength 40 would have to roll 40 or less to make the climb if he had the appropriate skill or 20 or less if he didn't. If the ladder is particularly shoddy then your GM may impose further penalties on the test or require a different test altogether (Agility instead perhaps).
An 'Advanced' skill on the other hand cannot be attempted at all unless you have the appropriate training. While attempting to leap out of the way of a moving car (Dodge) could be reasonably attempted by anybody, performing brain surgery (Medicae) obviously couldn't.
Your Characteristic scores are representing the peak of your ability in certain areas so a character with an Intelligence of 65 isn't going to be exactly pushing his abilities to open his front door but might have trouble rebuilding a Cogitator unit while blindfolded ;-).
In game terms a test would have to be challenging in order to use your full characteristic whereas an easy task would give you +20 to your score for the attempt. Modifiers range from Trivial (+60) to Hellish (-60) and no test can ever be modified by more than +/- 60 regardless of the help or hindrances effecting the outcome. Skills can also be upgraded to give you bonus's to tests by spending experience points. If the aforementioned smart-arse with Intelligence 65 also had the Skill 'Tech-use' at +20 then he might actually be able to rebuild that Cogitator whether he's blindfolded or not.....
Characteristic scores can be increased (by up to 20 points in intervals of 5) by spending experience points but the cost varies based on your chosen speciality. An Assault Marines first Weapon Skill upgrade costs a mere 200 XP whereas upgrading his Intelligence by the same level would cost 750 XP.
The first number in each characteristic is called the characteristic bonus and is used in some tests and abilities. A character with an Agility score of 39 would have an Agility bonus of 3 for example.
Weapon Skill (WS).
Ballistic Skill (BS).
Pretty much every test involves a roll against a characteristic modified by the appropriate skill's modifier which makes specialisation a way of life in a Deathwatch Kill-team. As characters stats are generated at the very beginning of the creation process it's relatively easy to pick a character specialisation and Chapter that suits the values that you rolled. However most people will have a concept in mind before this stage so it can lead to slightly odd circumstances such as rolling a dumbass Techmarine or an Assault Marine who can't hit an opponent for shit. Fortunately the advance tables for Talents and the XP costs for characteristic upgrades are heavily biased towards abilities appropriate to your chosen career path so there's no such thing as an unplayable character regardless of how poor your starting rolls are. It just may require spending your initial experience points allowance on 'bread and butter' upgrades rather than fancy ones ;-)
Next time I'll have a look at the various specialisations and also my personal opinions on what makes a 'balanced' and playable team of people.
Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.