Thursday, August 11, 2011

GenCon round up part 1

Finally, after I'm all settled in I'm ready to give a little round up of what went on at gencon.  My first post will just hit the 40k stuff.

At our store, the 40k RPG by Fantasy Flight is picking up steam and roping new role players and veteran role players alike.  I haven't been able to get into it because of my limited hobby time (usually only one night a week so I'd have to go RP or play table top) but from the sounds of things it seems like a decent system.  All of my knowledge for this post comes from talking with the designers and an RPG player based in my past experiences in D&D.

A quick over view of how FF has broken into the role playing possibilities of the 40k universe is with their now four campaign settings; Dark Heresy, Rouge Trader, Death Watch and the newest release, Black Crusade.  Each of these settings follow the same rules sets and can cross over into each other with some tweeking just to match power levels.  Obviously it's hard for a lowly henchmen to fight off the space marine elite of the death watch, but not impossible to have your characters enter into the Deathwatch world or for your Deathwatch characters to be challenged by the meddling from some humans.

Fantasy Flight has released a ton of source books for these.  They follow the general construction rule book, campaign/adventure book, tool box, bad guys, and source book.  I was awed by the number of books they had when I went to the FF booth and they were all lined up.  There is a ton of information on building a setting or just running out of their source book.  All though they don't have as many source books as D&D usually puts out, they do have just as many settings.

The settings, though similar, have different nuances.  For example, each have different power levels with Dark Heresy being the weakest, then Rouge Trader, Black Crusade and finally Deathwatch.  Also, their themes are very different.  In Dark Heresy, you're bringing the light of the emperor focusing on the inquisition and heretics and the most bleak of times.  In Rouge Trader, you're making money and building that enterprise.  In Black Crusade, you're working in the screaming votrex to unite the planets within and eventually launch a Black Crusade out.  In Deathwatch, you're space marine elite being space marine elite and running around kicking things in the balls.

The designers said there were a lot of new changes and modifications in the Black Crusade book that should help players better mesh their campaigns.  They've combined skills that are similar into one skill, for example move silent, follow, stealth became one skill which I think they called concealment.  They've changed some names of skills because they wanted the same skills available in Dark Heresy to be available to Black Crusade so the names became more neutral.

An aspect I found pretty interesting was the push towards chaos gods.  Players don't start aligned with a god, but instead the skills the pick up in their advancement push them there.  Players talking combat skills will find it easier to buy more combat skills and harder to buy psychic skills.  Eventually you can earn your mark.  Eventually you'll get powers because you're aligned.  If you manage to stay unaligned you'll get exalted powers, which by the name sound pretty awesome.  They've also opened the idea of demon weapons and having the internal struggle of using the weapon without falling to the demon bound within the weapon.  Finally, they pushed humans to the same level as space marines by opening up psychic powers.  Sure a space marine would rip humans limb from limb, but that same human can turn you to goo inside your power armor.  Also, if you want to infiltrate a world to corrupt in, space marines are a little obvious when trying to mix into a group of humans....

One last thing I really liked about this book was the corruption system.  I wasn't aware of this, but in the other settings you can gain corruption, and eventually fall to chaos.  The designers sort of made this book with that in mind so now, instead of your characters just ending once they reach full corruption, they just get flopped over into Black Crusade with what the designers said have three ends; Death, Chaos Spawn, or Daemon Prince!  Who wouldn't want to Role Player a badass daemon prince leading a black crusade against the false emperor??

Finally, I really liked that this campaign was designed not only to play, but for GM's to hash out their antagonist (whatever FF calls them) in your imperial campaign.  On the other side of this coin, if you're playing a Black Crusade campaign, a GM can use Deathwatch to make an antagonist for their campaign as well.  It really reminded me of the Book of Vile Darkness/Book of Exalted Deeds from D&D in that you can play a campaign with them or take from them to thicken your plot in your campaign.

So, that's about as good as I can report back from a perspective of someone that doesn't play the game.

At the end there was a Q&A.  Almost every answer was "We can't speculate" so I was over all disappointed with the seminar because it was advertised as '...see what the future holds...'  One person asked about there being future books on playing xeno's, like eldar or dark eldar and though they said 'we can't speculate on future products' they also said 'It's impossible for us to ignore the fact that in the universe there are more than just humans as sentient beings.'  So I'd say you'll see that in the future, and it actually would be awesome just to get some fluff on those races.


  1. I am looking forward to the Black Crusade personally. I have been having a hard time ramping up my NPC's and baddies in my Rogue Trader game. I have been using baddies out of Deathwatch because they seem to be about the power level I need for rank 5 Rogue Trader characters.

    I really like the direction Fantasy Flight has been going with the 40K RPG's. The system is simple and easy to pick up yet its complex and flexable enough to deal with all the situations that get thrown at you as a Game Master

  2. Hmmm ... I could be a daemon prince? Well, if the 40k scene is non-existent at my next duty station maybe I could head in that direction ...