Tag Archives: 40k

Free RPG Day Swag

Thanks to my FLGS, Rogue’s Gallery, for participating in Free RPG Day!  I got two items – it was one per person, but my daughter was with me, so we were two!  (And it worked out well for them, because she successfully wheedled me into getting a cute plush Cthulhu doll for her.  This led to a later argument about whether Cthulhu pees and poos or not – she insists yes, but I think no.)

Anyway, the first thing I got was the thing I was specifically wanting, the Pathfinder module Master of the Fallen Fortress.  They’ll be putting up the PDF for free later so don’t weep too bad if you didn’t get one of these.

It’s a super short level 1 dungeon crawl (arguably 10 pages of adventure in the 16 page piece), glossy full color with Paizo’s standard high production values.  The more notable part of it was the full page writeups of the new iconics representing classes from the upcoming Advanced Player’s Guide – Damiel the elven alchemist, Alain the cavalier, Imrijka the half-orc inquisitor, Alhazra the blind oracle, Balazar the gnomish summoner, and Feiya the witch (who is smoking hot by the way).  These give good insight into the new classes – although I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have any personality or background writeup at all.  They all seem very interesting and a little additional personality would make them valuable NPCs/better convention or fast-play PCs.  So in the end, it’s near and VERY pretty, but I’m not sure how much use I’ll get out of it – even as an “here let me introduce you to Pathfinder” adventure, it would last about an hour.  But – it’s free!

There were a lot of choices for item #2.  I considered the Goodman Games Cthulhu adventure, but finally went with the Deathwatch: Final Sanction, and intro to Space Marine roleplaying in the Warhammer 40k universe.  It’s fat – 36 real pages – and full color.  You get 4 pregen Space Marines, one from each major chapter (Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and Ultramarines).  Because their stats aren’t all that complicated, they actually have a brief history and demeanour section in addition to the numbers in their one-page writeups.  Then there’s six pages of quickstart rules that don’t differ in any immediately obvious way from the other WH40k RPGs.  Next is two pages of “Horde” rules, which adds a bit of the “3:16 – Carnage Among The Stars” aspect to this – a horde is a mass of attackers you get to mow down en masse.  They also talk about the Demeanours, which aren’t just role-playing – you can leverage them by triggering them via roleplaying, but they then give you the effects of a Fate Point.  Nice!

Next is weapons and gear, and then a 17 page adventure, complete with location writeups and NPCs.  It’s quite a value for $0 – hell, people try to sell something of this size nowadays for $10 or more!

I never played any Warhammer 40k.  I got their first RPG, Dark Heresy, about Inquisitors, it was vaguely amusing but not moving.  I didn’t get Rogue Trader because it seems lame to me.  But even being a WH40k noob I know about space marines and orks.  There’s a lack of good space marine games.  Bughunters was good and is REALLY old, Aliens was not, Starship Troopers was OK, and 3:16 is good but all indie and super rules light and all.  If you want to shoot the shit out of hordes of aliens, this seems like a good bet!

Space Marines? About Damn Time!

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.

Dark Heresy Character – “Shiv,” Your Kind Of Scum

Dark Heresy, the Warhammer 40,000 RPG, is up for a bunch of awards at the ENnies this year.  I really like it.  To give you a taste, here’s a character – you can choose, but you can also make a completely random character.  Here’s a completely random one for your enjoyment!

Gaius, also known as “Shiv.”

Home World: Imperial World (a major “first world” civilized planet), but a largely forgotten backwater.

Imperial World Traits:

  • Blessed Ignorance (ignorance of naughtiness gives a -5 on Forbidden Lore)
  • Hagiography (meditation on the lives of the saints gives Common Lore: Imperial Creed, Imperium, and War as Basic Skills)
  • Liturgical Familiarity (accustomed to the preaching of the Ecclesiarchy; Literacy and Speak High Gothic are Basic Skills)
  • Superior Origins (knowing the Emperor loves you gives +3 Willpower)

Characteristics: (on 2d10+20, I was pretty darn lucky)

  • Weapon Skill: 32
  • Ballistic Skill: 39 (Simple Advance)
  • Strength: 31
  • Toughness: 30
  • Agility: 36 (Simple Advance)
  • Intelligence: 30
  • Perception: 31
  • Willpower: 37
  • Fellowship: 28

Career Path: Scum (you know, scum.  Like it sounds.)
Starting Rank: Dreg

Basic Skills: (You roll percentile versus the relevant characteristic)

  • Awareness (Per) +10
  • Blather (Fel)
  • Dodge (Agi)
  • Deceive (Fel)

Advanced Skills:

  • Common Lore: Imperium (Int)
  • Common Lore: Imperial Creed (Int)
  • Common Lore: War (Int)
  • Drive (Ground Vehicle) (Agi)
  • Literacy (Int)
  • Speak Low Gothic (Int)
  • Speak High Gothic (Int)


  • Ambidextrous
  • Melee Weapon Training (Primitive)
  • Pistol Training (SP)
  • Basic Weapon Training (SP)


  • Shotgun and 12 shells
  • Knife
  • Quilted vest
  • Dirty coveralls

Wounds: 10

Fate Points: 2

Cash: 12 Throne Gelt

Shiv is a fit stripling of 30 years.  He has ruddy skin, green eyes, with hair dyed to match.  He wears David Bowie-style makeup.  His Imperial Tarot reading is “Only the insane have strength enough to prosper.  Only those who prosper may judge what is sane.”  He starts with 2 Insanity Points as a result.

Now comes the only non-random part; I spend a starting 400 XP to boost his abilities.  First I advance Shiv’s BS and Agility characteristics.  As for skills, I advance his Awareness +10 and buy Drive (Ground Vehicle).  It’s actually a little unclear how you do this.  If you buy the skill twice, you get a +10 in it (Skill Mastery).  But it’s not clear if you can buy a skill “on top of” your Homeworld and Starting Career Path skills.  Could I buy Dodge, which is in the advance list, to boost my Dodge to +10?  Hmmm.

OK, so that’s the character generation.  The character concept emerges easily – Shiv is a makeup-bedecked gangster in the tradition of Clockwork Orange (an opportunity to call his fellow party members “droogs”!).  He is very handy behind the wheel, and saved the life of a visiting Inquisitor.  He was acting as his hired driver, and a Chaos-touched gang tried to take them out.  With steering wheel in one hand and his shotgun in the other, he got them the heck out of there.  The Inquisitor decided an enterprising chap like this would be valuable as support to his Acolytes.  He doesn’t know that Shiv’s a little unhinged from being a former member of that Khorne-worshipping gang they fought!

Now, Shiv travels with the Acolytes and hunts down psykers, xenos, Daemon worshippers, and freaks and heretics of all descriptions in the name of the God-Emperor!

And that’s Dark Heresy in a nutshell.