Monthly Archives: June 2012

Dark Heresy – Planetary Assault!

Chaos Assault!

Last night really saw the beginning of one of my new story arcs in Dark Heresy.  On the shrine world of Maccabeus Quintus, the acolytes have been caught in a major chaos uprising, encompassing large elements of the local Frateris militia, the Ecclesiarchy, and the Schola Progenum.  Even worse, Space Marines of the Ruinous Powers have been spotted among the chaos cultists, wearing armor of blue and gold, and a chaos fleet of unknown size is in orbit above the planet.

The acolytes are now holed up in the Cathedral of Saint Drusus, a huge fortress-shrine, with around 10,000 survivors/defenders.  At the moment the cathedral is protected by void shields, but is under bombardment from orbit.  Outside of the cathedral itself, there are a few scattered pockets of resistance, but the planet is largely fallen to the Ruinous Powers.  In the initial defense of the cathedral, one of the characters (Brother Oleg, the assassin mentioned in a previous post) became separated from the others, and his fate is uncertain.

I want this story arc to be epic in scope – the desperate defense of the last bastion on the planet, fighting against mankind’s most terrible foe with no hope of relief, or even victory.  The odds appear insurmountable, and the players must keep fighting with only their faith in the Emperor to keep them going.  This will also be the first time they go up against Chaos Space Marines of the Thousand Sons, or Chaos Marines en masse for that matter.

Running an epic like this requires a lot of description, but thankfully by using Vyew I can access a wide range of art produced by Games Workshop, which means that I can have illustrations of major battle scenes, Chaos Marines, daemons, etc.  I think that adds a lot to my Skype games (even if some unnamed person DID draw bunny ears on my Chaos Marines last night).

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Assassination in Savage Worlds

Brother Oleg

In my Dark Heresy campaign, one of the players is playing Brother Oleg – an Imperial Assassin.  I have been trying to work up some scenarios for him, but have run into some difficulties.

The whole purpose of assassins is to take out high-value targets that are well-protected and generally immune from the sort of mayhem that a party of Player Characters can dish out just by leaping into the fray screaming “Huzzah!” (or “Praise the Emperor!” or whatever).  To be an effective assassin you really want to be able to kill someone with a single blow (or shot, or whatever), usually from concealment, and then get away without getting into a major firefight.  You leave the stand-up fights to the Guardsmen and Arbitrators.  There are a few problems with this in Savage Worlds.

1)  Generally, high value targets are Wildcard characters, meaning that they have several wounds, and some bennies to soak up damage.  In order to drop them in one shot you not only need to generate enough damage to blow through 4 wounds (16 pts plus their defense) but you really need to generate a couple of wounds on top of that to put the damage so far over the top that even spending bennies won’t be enough (so really 24 points or more, plus the target’s defense).  Those are some pretty high numbers to be hitting, even assuming that you go for the head shot, the aiming modifier, etc.

2)  Alternately, you can have a target who is a mook – really easy to assassinate (one wound does it).  But how many mooks are going to be high value targets?  Sure you are great at popping off guards and the like, but that’s really a job for a Guardsman sniper, not someone who has trained to be among the most lethal killers in the galaxy.  There is a limit to the number of high value targets who are mooks that the GM can supply – high value targets in the universe of 40k are things like Genestealer Patriarchs, High Priests of the Ruinous Powers, Eldar Farseers, and traitor generals.  Treating these characters like mooks just doesn’t give the right feel for the campaign.

(It ought to be noted that high value targets typically run around without helmets on in the world of 40K, which at least makes them slightly more vulnerable to assassination.)

It seems like some sort of advantage needs to be added to give that real “assassin” feel to an assassin character – something like an advantage that prevents the target from using Bennies to soak injury (though imagine the howls of protest when some chaos assassin plugs a PC that way),  I’ll need to think about this a bit more, but something needs to be added to bring assassins up to snuff in the world of 40K.

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