Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Very Special Episode of Games in Review, October 2nd, 2011 (Deathwatch)

Having been playing RPGs since the mid-80s, I've been aware of Warhammer and Warhammer 40K for a long, long time.  It was nearly impossible to read Dragon Magazine or walking into a game shop without seeing some manifestation of the game, so the very basics seeped into just about anyone that was gaming around the time I got into the hobby.

Since I was primarily a tabletop RPG guy I viewed miniatures games much as I would later view LARPs, as related cousins that were removed enough that I only needed to be passingly informed about them.  In general, I had the mindset that 40K was pretty much fantasy races put in high tech gear and throw into science fiction battlefields.

The next time the GW ads really caught my attention involved the Space Hulk game.  I thought I had this universe figured out, what with the whole "Tolkien-ish Fantasy Races in Space" concept that I thought I had sussed out.  But this Space Hulk thing seemed like it was mixing the Aliens franchise into the game.  Interesting, but I dismissed it as just mining a successful franchise for material.  After all, I was playing a fantasy game that totally wasn't just stitching together hundreds of fantasy and horror tropes and then shoving them into settings together  (irony, they name is youth).

It wasn't until my adult life where I actually met people playing 40K.  Instead of just shopping at the LFGS, I actually spent some time there, and began to talk more and more with people that painted little armies and then had them attack one another.  While I still wasn't ready to jump into minis gaming, but I did pick up more and more of the whole backstory, and apparently there was more to this whole 40K thing than just having orks and daemons in space.

Man, if only there were an RPG for this stuff, I might get into it.

Okay, so eventually there was.  Unfortunately, it didn't interest me that much.  I'm not saying its bad, and in retrospect, I'd certainly give the game a try if I had the time and a GM that I knew fairly well.  Heck, I even watched a session at Armored Gopher, and it looked like a lot of fun.

Still, I've been going through a lot of game systems lately.  I got out of Pathfinder, and my Hellfrost campaign just didn't seem to take off the way I was hoping it would.  I realized from work and home that I didn't need to get out of gaming, but maybe I could shift a bit more of my gaming from GMing to playing.

One of my players in my DC Adventures game told me that he could let me into his Deathwatch game if I was interested.  I had store credit from the Pathfinder material that I had traded in, so I picked up the Deathwatch core book, but at the time, I didn't think I was going to end up playing.

Within a week I picked up the Rites of Battle Book as well.  I had thoughts running through my head, ideas for characters and backgrounds, and I needed a little bit more of a fix . . . er . . . of background material I mean.

What is really funny is that when I started really looking at the 40K RPG line, I immediately knew that I would favor Rogue Trader, just because it offers the wider view of the setting, with all sorts of adventures being possible.  It wasn't until I got into reading about how the Deathwatch works and the interactions between chapters that I really saw the roleplaying potential in a Space Marine game.

I had a hard time actually making my character to begin with.  I first thought I would go with making a Blood Raven, since I knew something of them from the Dawn of War RTS computer game, but I didn't want my GM to have to make up or have to okay rules for a chapter that wasn't detailed, and I also wanted to not look like a noob  ("I'm totally making up a character based on a peripheral part of the universe that penetrated the mainstream . . . accept me!).  So looking over the existing, detailed chapters, the Space Wolves jumped out at me.

Thus Rangar was born.  In order to introduce me into the campaign where the PCs were at, I ended up being an old Legionary Marine from thousands of years ago, and was actually a young bodyguard of Leman Russ himself!  The more backstory my GM threw at me, the more I delved into the setting, and the more it got its hooks into me.

I had a lot of fun with that first session.  The group had started out running afoul of a Daemon, and apparently our location is under siege from multiple enemies of the Imperium.  I got to tell stories about Leman Russ and the good old days  (I made sure to pick up storytelling as a trained skill), and give our Blackshield brother a lot of crap in theorizing what his chapter was  ("the way you avoid direct combat, I'm guessing your chapter were ferrets.  Run, run up the pantleg of Destiny and hide!").

Also, should he read this, I had a blast, and I'm sorry I goaded you into trying to ram those Tau with a cycle.  You are most certainly a mongoose and not a ferret.

Disclaimer . . . somewhat offensive language to follow:

After discussing our situation and the manipulative Inquisitor whose judgement had brought us to this situation and being drawn into a political discussion, I got to utter this line:

"The Great Leman Russ had a saying about Politics:  Politics sucks balls!"

Other highlights?  Our Librarian caused an earthquake, turned the lights out, and knocked himself out, as well as killing lots of enemies.  Our Blackshield killed the Tau commander, but I got more kills.  Our tactical marine dove into a horde, killed a lot of them, lost his right leg, and died.  Our apothecary kept throwing a tarp over the daemon's head, and our tech marine jury rigged chapel's force field by doing the Happy Dance of Appeasement for the field generator.

I'm really looking forward to the next session.


  1. ha ha, ha ha, ha ha ha. You're doomed, dude.

    I was so glad to see you join this game. It fits you perfectly.

  2. I really feel bad for not realizing the potential depth of the game when I first looked at it. And how can you not love the bastard love child of stormtroopers and vikings in the form of Space Wolves?

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I *love* the 40K universe, but don't have the time or money to put into the table top games, so the RPGs are perfect for me.

    Rogue Trader was definitely the pick for our group; the scale is just staggering! Couldn't really talk everyone into Deathwatch as it is a hard sell to people who don't like soldiers/warrior brothers/avenging angels/etc.

    Glad you enjoyed it and am going to be laughing about your medic with that tarp for days!

    Keep us posted!