Fantasy Flight Games has announced that they are finally putting out a Space Marine Warhammer 40k RPG called Deathwatch.
I never played the Warhammer 40k minis game, but it’s hard to be a gamer and not be aware of the general mythos. Space Marines, Chaos Marines, Orks, Eldar… But after everyone waited for 20 years for there to be any Warhammer 40k RPG, what did they come out with? First Dark Heresy for Inquisitors, then Rogue Trader for… traders. They’ve been successful enough, but they just seem kinda fringe to the core 40k experience. I had at least head of Inquisitors, but I hadn’t even heard of Rogue Traders. But the one thing everyone who has even wandered by a table of people playing 40k have heard of is the Space Marines!
It’s a pretty… daring plan to leave your big bang for the third game. I’m not a minis player, but liked the 2e Warhammer Fantasy RPG, and thought “Hey, a 40k RPG would be nice” – for some reason the “space marine” concept, though a super popular part of the genre, hasn’t been treated well in RPGs. There’s a couple super old ones (Aliens, Bughunters), a new indie-high concept one (3:16), and you can do it “on the side” in Traveller… But oddly, there’s not a lot of crunchy space marine games out there given the proportion of popular SF that features them.
I bought Dark Heresy, and thought it was OK… I had done a lot of stuff along that Inquisitor line in Fading Suns… Basically it boiled down to “this is nice, but I don’t think I’m going to run it.” Rogue Trader, I didn’t even buy. Other games like Traveller have traders as the core gameplay, I didn’t see the need. A Space Marine game, though – that I’d buy and really want to run!
P.S. In researching this article I discovered Rogue Traders do date back to the first edition of 40k (1989) so I guess they have nostalgia value to grognards, so that’s something. I still think most vaguely informed bystanders have never heard of them.
P.P.S. Going and looking at the FFG forums, there’s a bunch of people hand-wringing about “Oh but how could this be a viable RPG, it’ll just be all combat! What opportunity for roleplay will there be?” Oh, come on. Never watched Space: Above and Beyond, Battlestar Galactica, or Starship Troopers have we? Never seen games like 3:16 or Bughunters? Never read Hammer’s Slammers, Honor Harrington, or The Forever War? Oh never mind, anyone who thinks a military genre is necessarily limited to “kill kill kill” clearly doesn’t want to think more than 2 seconds about it. Heck, I’m watching an episode of “The Unit” on TV right now and that thing’s half military show half soap opera.
P.P.S. I really hope they don’t go the component-heavy route that Warhammer Fantasy 3e has gone… That’s not my thing.