Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Beginners Guide to Deathwatch - Part 3 - Other Bits and Pieces

So far we've looked at the basic game mechanics as well as a look at the various characteristics which govern just how good our particular Space Marine is. Now lets look at the different ways of making your character unique as well as enhancing his own specialities* particular abilities.

* For those familiar with other RPG systems think of your speciality as your 'Class' and your Chapter as your 'Race' and you'll do just fine ;-)

I'm going to cover a number of general rules that apply to all specialities in this first article of this section rather than repeat myself in every article on specialities that follows, but I'm hoping you'll read them in order anyway, lol.

Advance Tables.
When it comes time to spend all those experience points that your kind and benevolent GM has graciously gifted you out of the goodness of his heart** you will have certain limitations on just how you spend them. There are a number of lists referred to as 'Advance Tables' that contain various upgrades, their XP cost and any prerequisites that apply to them. Your 'Rank' is decided based on how many XP you have spent so far and each advance table is split into a number of Ranks from 1 (starting) to Rank 8 ('Uber' marine). It's worth noting here that you have to actually have spent the XP for them to count towards your Rank. This obviously means that your character needs to have spent points lower level abilities before he can start spending points on fancy ones and makes a fair bit of sense for exactly that reason.

**Sucking up to the GM is a vitally important RPG skill.....especially when you want something .....dubious ;-)

General Space Marine Advances.

All Space Marines have access to the 'General Space Marine Advances' table which includes a large number of generically useful Skills and Talents such as common areas of learning as well as skills that don't fit into a specific specialities area of responsibility (Things like 'Demolition' for example) and at higher Ranks has some skills that other Marines get earlier (An Apothecary gets 'Medicae' as standard whereas a normal Space Marine would have to wait till Rank 7). Most likely you'll be using this table early on as at Rank 1 it contains the rather useful 'Signature Wargear' Talent which allows you take a piece of Wargear up to 20 requisition value and count it as 'Standard' Wargear from then on rather than have to requisition it before every mission. It also has the 'Sound Constitution' upgrade which gives your character an extra wound (you can take it twice from the Rank 1 table) at the bargain price of 500 XP*** (It's 1000 XP*** everywhere else).

*** this is one of the most common areas that gets 'House-Ruled' as quite a few GM's halve this cost (mine doesn't, but then again I've never asked him to, lol).

Deathwatch Advances.

Any Marines of the Deathwatch also gain access to the 'Deathwatch Advance Table'. The bias of this table is towards abilities which give you knowledge about Xenos races (Various 'Lore' and Cipher knowledges) and those that enable you to kill them more efficiently. Amongst other things this table gives you access to the various 'Hatred' Talents (Hatred gives you +10 Weapon Skill against the Race that you 'Hate' but must be taken for each race individually) and other more generically useful and subsequently more expensive abilities such as 'Hunter of Aliens' (which adds +10 to Weapon Skill and adds 2 to Melee damage). Pretty much all abilities in Deathwatch stack so a character with Hunter of Aliens and Hatred (Orks) would get +20 to his Weapon Skill vs. the aforementioned Orks as well as the +2 to damage.

Chapter Advances.

Each of the Space Marine Chapters mentioned specifically in the Core Rulebook and in Rites of Battle have their own Advance table with appropriate abilities in it. Additionally there are a number of tables in Rites of Battle that cover specific chapter preferences that you can use for home-grown chapters and/or successor Chapters that they haven't covered yet. Unlike the other advance tables there are no rank requirements for Chapter advances, simply pick one and pay the points (some may have prerequisites, obviously). Though still useful for the most part this is were you find abilities that can add that extra bit of Role-playing flavour to your character. Space Wolves for example can buy 'Carouse', 'Performer' and 'Hardy' (amongst others) that greatly help your character if he needs to impress his pack-mates by telling a rousing tale while pissed out of his head. Ultramarines get things such as 'Charm', 'Command' and 'Tactics' which are more suitable for a load of 'by the book' twats with sticks up their arses****

**** Neither me as a real person or my RPG character particularly like Ultramarines ;-)

Speciality Advances.

Each Speciality gets their own Advance Table which contains abilities that reflect their own particular area of expertise. Assault Marines have access to the expected upgrades required to kick ass while the Apothecary has access to the sort of skills required to sew your ass back on again after a Carnifex bites you in half, lol.

So these will be the charts were skipping to as we work out which upgrade allows us to power-game role-play our character in the most min/maxed fun way possible.

All characters generally start at Rank 1 and work their way through to Rank 8. The only real exception is if your creating a character to join (or re-join with a new character after your old one dies) an already established Kill-Team. Once you reach a predetermined total of XP spent you automatically become the next Rank up and can then choose abilities of that Rank. You can also still pick abilities from ranks lower than your own if there are still lower ranked abilities that you think would be useful. Certain Squad and Solo Mode abilities also become more powerful at higher Ranks and some aren't available at all till your of a certain level.


I bet this guy doesn't need to justify his equipment requisitions.....Of course he's an Ultramarine so there's likely still forms to triplicate most likely.....

Renown level is a measure of how famous, popular or just plain feared your Marine is. Renown is awarded after each mission by your GM at the same time (and in the same way as XP) based on your exploits and success (or failures). It's also entirely possible to lose renown should you do something particularly bad such as losing a sacred Deathwatch Relic, failing a mission utterly or killing a Novamarine that's on your side by setting him on fire with your psychic power after his armour was already full of holes after being attacked by Tyranids*****.....

Certain equipment has a renown requirement to it as well as a requisition cost in order to indicate it's rarity and/or importance to the Deathwatch. Any Marine could requisition himself a Chainsword, but he's need to be 'Respected' to get a Power sword and 'Distinguished' to get a Power Fist. Chapter Relics are understandably only available to Hero's.

***** Our Kill-Teams Librarian actually did this due to grossly underestimating the amount of damage that the 'Avenger' psychic power could do if you rolled above average. Which is why our kill-team now has the dubious honour of having the 'Talent' Enemy (Novamarines) even though we spent most of the missions bailing the useless motherfuckers out due to their utter incompetence.....

In Conclusion.
So as you can see many of the stats that make up your character are intertwined with one another. Experience needs to be spent in order to increase in rank which will mean your team will obviously need to be given more difficult missions appropriate to their new ability levels. This increased mission difficulty will require you to use more formidable equipment which can only come with a subsequent increase in your renown which you get from.....doing missions, lol.

Well that's the generic bit of character development covered. I have received a few e-mails from people wanting to start Deathwatch asking if I can do some more specific articles on the various specialities.

Though I enjoy Deathwatch a lot I don't particularly want turn this into a blog just about a specific RPG, lol. On the other hand I also want to give my 'followers' what they want. Therefore I'll do the articles on specialities that have been requested as well as the usual Saturday article covering our Deathwatch sessions (when we have them) and see how much feedback I get on those. I'll still have the usual 40K content in-between so there will be plenty of that stuff for those of you who come here for that ;-)

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome as I'm basically a comment whore with one eye on the site hits counter, lmfao.....


  1. Everyone loves the Deathwatch :D

    Especially when they torch Novamarines.

  2. @ A.D. - I've been getting quite a few e-mail requests for articles on Deathwatch which surprised me a bit as I would have thought that there would be plenty of material about it on the internet already.

    Also from a GM's point of view what do you think about halving the XP cost of 'Sound Constitution'? I never really thought about it much but there are quite a few decent arguments for it being over-pointed at the moment. The main one being that it's Power Armour and Toughness bonus that does the most to reduce damage which does make spending 1000XP just so you can take a single extra point of damage seem quite excessive.

  3. Oooo a question.

    As you say the main modifiers for damage being Power Armour and Toughness. Power Armour being a fixed amount (unless your armour changes). Each time you take a Toughness increase the XP cost also increases. So why should wounds not take on the same premise? After you have taken the first couple of cheap wound upgrades, it should cost more XP for your character to get even harder.

  4. i dislike nova marine deaths

  5. I'm not sure if it was just bad dice rolls on their behalf or what but the Novamarines where fucking rubbish. Even their Dreadnoughts couldn't shoot for shit, lol.


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