Sunday 17th November 2013
Crap, I'm slipping a bit aren't I?
I'm all too aware that I've not posted a comic in about 3 weeks now. This is due to real life getting in the way of my normal comic-writing schedule, but I'm hoping that I'll get back into the swing of things next week.
Tales of the Kolean 411th
Sunday 27th October 2013
After my review of Only War last week, I thought I'd share the exploits of the party I ran a game for recently.
Rather than my usual gaming group, I was running for a bunch of friends from the 40k Live-Action Roleplay system I play. It's always nice to vary your rpg groups, as different players can have widely different playing styles. Plus its nice gaming with a different group of friends from time to time.
Prior to the game I'd asked my players what kind of regiment they fancied playing, so I could write my plot accordingly. As a few of them are avid World of Tanks players they quickly settled on an Armoured Regiment. Cool, I could work with that.
I then asked for a rough idea of the kind of homeworld they'd hail from. After a bit of discussion they came up with the idea of an agri-world with a society similar to the Home Counties of England prior to World War 1. Officers drawn from the local landowners and nobility and the rank and file from the farm workers. Lark Rise to Candleford meets the 41st millennium.
Although I knew my players could (and probably would) change their minds, it was still a pretty cool concept for a regiment and homeworld.
However, then came the day of the game.
We sat down to generate the homeworld and regiment and, as I was reading out the homeworld options, I mentioned the Frontier World option. My players eyes lit up. They took it. They then chose a Maverick commander and named him Aloysius "Big Al" Custer. Finally they spent their last regiment point on buying every member a additional piece of regimental equipment (a stub revolver).
So, long story short, I ended up GMing for a bunch of stetson-wearing, revolver-carrying, space cowboys in tanks.
Rather than the intro track for the game being "Fednet March" from Starship troopers, it was "Back in Black" by AC/DC. The characters they created were pretty badass as well.
There's the 18-year old tank driver named "the Kid" who also took Ambidextrous and likes to perform trick shots with his six-shooter.
There's the party engineseer, who chain-smokes and is an abject coward (but also a mean shot with the tank lascannon).
The squad heavy is a preacher who carries an autocannon (and who managed to roll the 'psycho' comrade).
The medic is grumpy and has a worse bedside manner than Bones McCoy and the squad sniper is also the defacto leader but hates being in charge.
The campaign I'm running them through can best be described as 'Orks Drift'. The player's tank squadron (50 men and their 5 tanks) are stuck guarding a remote fuel depot on a warworld, surrounded by thousands of orks. They have to hold out until help can reach them.
I'll keep you all posted of their exploits as we continue the adventure.
Only War Review
Sunday 20th October 2013
Finally, the last of the FFG 40K RPG reviews!
Only War came out a little while back and I've only recently got a hold of the books and run a game.
Just to cover the basics, Only War is Gaunt's Ghosts the RPG. You play Imperial Guardsmen and the standard setting for the game seems to be a blend of Saving Private Ryan and the Dirty Dozen.
Players can choose from a number of Imperial Guard classes such as Heavy Gunner, Medic, Operator (that's a tank or sentinel driver) or a specialist class such as Engineseer, Ogryn, ratling or psyker.
As the system follows on from Black Crusade the skills and talents aren't bought from class-based lists but instead any character can buy any skill or talent. What has been added as 'Aptitudes' which are set by your homeworld and class. Each skill and talent now has 2 aptitudes listed and if you have one you get a discount to buy the skill; if you have both you get a further discount.
It's a nice way of doing things, although the only problem is there's no way of changing aptitudes or buying new ones, so once you've made your choice of class you're pretty stuck as for what your primary skills will likely be. That said, if you really want to play a heavy gunner with stealth you can still do so, just expect to progress slower than your squadmates who are happy to buy their cheaper skills.
A major part of character generation is deciding the player's regiment. All characters hail from the same regiment and the book provides a few examples such as Cadians, Catachans, Mordians and the Calixis-based Maccabian Janissaries. There are also rules for creating your own regiments, which work very well.
Regiments work like Homeworlds, setting the character's starting skills, equipment and abilities.
Another new edition are Comrades. Every character (bar a few classes) all have a pet NPC called a comrade (or Redshirt, as I like to call them). These guys are there to bulk out the rest of the player's squad and die at the drop of a hat. Comrades are controlled by the players and grant characters bonuses to hit, aid them with skills and so on. They're also expected to die fairly regularly, hinted to by the list on the character sheet by the long space with column headings of 'Comrade name' and 'Cause of death'.
Comrades are a nice mechanic, and really add flavour to the squad when you generate them thanks to a huge table of pre-set personality types. When running the game for my friends we managed to generate an Oblivious driver's mate, a psychopathic loader for the heavy gunner and an incompetent spotter for the squad sniper.
As Only War centres around the Imperial Guard the rules are heavily canted towards mass combat and war world stories. There are some nice rules for tanks and armoured combat, with a few examples of classic vehicles including the Leman Russ, Chimera, Hellhound and Sentinel.
As with Deathwatch, Black Crusade and Rogue Trader, there is an example mission layout to help gamesmasters quickly put together missions for their games, although I found it to be too heavily combat-orientated.
The appeal of the Gaunt's Ghosts novels is the inter-squad relationships, as well as the high-octane battles, and that is the kind of thing I'd want to have in my games. It's not a great stretch to add such encounters, but by the rules they're not standard fare.
One thing that surprised myself and my players when we started the game was the level of destruction a payer squad can unleash on the enemy. When you play Deathwatch and Black Crusade (and even Rogue Trader to an extent) you start out with the idea that your characters are above normal humans. In Only War you play bog-standard guardsmen, and we were kind of expecting them to act as such.
However, as I said earlier, this is kind of like the 40k version of the Dirty Dozen.
When we started the game I let my players generate their own regiment and they settled on the idea of an Armoured Company. That means the squad started with their own tank. Luckily they'd already mentioned this concept to me, so I'd written the game accordingly, but as soon as we got into the first encounter it quickly became apparent how badass a squad of troops inside a Leman Russ can be.
I think that, much like the Gaunt's Ghosts novels, the combat is almost secondary in Only War; a framing device against which to set the more personal drama of the story.
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