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View Full Version : Deathwatch Codex Chapter (non-Deathwatch) Campaign Advice/Suggestions



GrandmasterRay
09-12-2012, 02:37 PM
So my players want to play a deathwatch campaign, but want to play without being in the Deathwatch. They would like to all be from the same chapter, and I would like for them to start as scouts and work their way up. There are a couple of areas I'd like to get some advice and suggestions about:

First, is there already a resource that I can access that has this idea already worked out? Failing thatů

The DW Rulebook is designed so that characters start out as vet marines in the Deathwatch. I would like to eventually use the DW advancement tables, but not until after they've gone up some ranks as non-vet marines. I was considering doing this by scaling back skills, talents, and characteristics that characters start with, and adding them into a table for scout advancement. Does anyone have input on this area?

What I'm not sure about here is what should I do after scouts, but before vets? I've always thought that the DW starting character package better represents a "normal" marine better than a 200-year-old combat veteran. <rant>Also, It's apparent that either the British combat forces operate very differently than US ones, and/or Matt Ward has no fing idea how introducing new soldiers to these units works. According to C:SM, marines graduate from Scouts, to Devastator, Assault, then Tactical squads. This makes no sense to me, as when I was in the 82nd for 8 years, we always went from trainees to (equivalently) Tactical, then we'd either stay in Tactical Squads, or go to Devastator or Assault squads respective of our aptitude in any capacity. With that being said, I'm changing the fluff in my campaign.</rant> I was considering here, allowing access from all of the rank 1 advancements (and maybe 2) for all specializations, excluding some of the librarian and techmarine advancements. This would be as if marines are not, in fact, elite or specialized until after rank 2 (and thus would be ineligible for DW or 1st company service until this point), and that they are introduced to all capacities of the combat roles before rank 2. After rank 2, they would be required to "specialize" and would be restricted to choosing advances from their specialization from rank 3 on. I'd have to figure out what the characteristic advancement table would be for this level. Any foreseeable complications I've overlooked?

Another possibility for handling the in-between ranks would be to just call the specializations something different. It would be more like a combat style preference, not the position that they fill in squads, for instance, Tactical would become "Leader", Devastator would become "Heavy", Assault would become "Melee" and so forth. This would kill 2 birds with one stone. I wouldn't have to develop a characteristic advancement table for general marine ranks 1 and 2, and I wouldn't have to explain why an Assault Marine is in a Tactical Squad, or a Tactical Marine is in an Assault Squad. Thoughts?

The floor is yours.

Nabterayl
09-12-2012, 03:44 PM
EDIT: Non-wall-of-text version: the progression isn't scout-devastator-assault-tactical. That's just the training program. The full career path is scout-devastator-assault-tactical-(one or more of: devastator, assault, or tactical)-veteran.

With respect to the codex advancement, I don't think you have quite the right sense of what the codex actually calls for. Devastator, assault, and tactical are squad designations, not individual service specializations. Unlike some Imperial organizations, such as the Sisters of Battle, marines don't have a name for marines who specialize in assault, heavy weapons, etc. The eighty year old assault marine who has been flying a jump pack for fifty years and the twenty-five year old who just got his hands on one yesterday are both "assault marines." This may have to do with the organizational conceit that each marine is a one-stop shop commando. While they clearly acknowledge that individuals do have different aptitudes, I think space marines would look at calling individuals assault or fire support specialists rather like the Corps would look at somebody suggesting that individual marines be called "riflemen." The conceit is that all space marines are assault and fire support specialists (and every other kind of specialist a commando might be), even if their squad is not assigned that role.

A scout who has successfully had his black carapace implanted is placed in a Devastator squad because that's considered the safest place for him. Eighteen year old kids who "only" have a few years of commando/scout-sniper experience aren't considered up to the standards of marine line commandos. Before he's considered up to snuff, he's expected to do stints in the fire support and assault roles, and then survive a stint in a tactical squad, who are the "real" marines - the ones who have proven they can do anything. Once a marine has done a stint in a tactical squad, if his aptitude is appropriate, he may be placed back into an assault or devastator squad (the marines wielding the heavy weapons in a devastator squad are those who have gone back in this manner). In other words, despite being a "full-fledged" battle brother with several years of combat experience at 18, a new marine is not considered fully trained until he's done stints in all three squad types, which itself takes several years at least.

Judging by Imperial Armour, most chapters seem to consider you eligible for "veteran" status after about 50 missions, by which they seem to mean deplpyments. It seems fair to say, then, that most marines spend at least 25 years going from devastator to assault to tactical and then specializing - more if we estimate less than two deployments per year.

Is it a goal of yours for your players to rise from scout to veteran in a single campaign?

GrandmasterRay
09-12-2012, 04:24 PM
Thanks for the input. I need to look at the Imperial Armor stuff. By campaign, I don't really mean a "single conflict in X theater". I mean it in more of the traditional RPG sense. Like the lifetime of this particular set of PCs. In that sense, yes, I would like for them to eventually work themselves up from the bottom.

As far as the fluff goes, I know what the fluff is, and I know how and why Ward (I keep blaming him because it wasn't *** backWARDs until his edition of the fluff) explained for it to be the way it is. However, I disagree with it being that way from having experienced combat units. It's not practical. I know that if I put a guy into a weapons squad and have him learn the role of a weapon's squad in an infantry platoon, it is the safest spot. We're not in the business of safety. And, a weapons squad doesn't function the same as a line squad. So he won't get experience as a line soldier. However, in a line squad, he will get more general experience that is applicable to a weapons squad. This is because a weapons squad supports a line squad, so the experienced guys go to the weapons squad because he also knows and has experienced duty in a line squad.

So to draw the parallel to Space Marines, a tactical squad marine doesn't need to know how to be a devastator (even though it would behoove him to) in order to function. However, a devastator needs to know a tactical squads functions in order to be a devastator. AND, as a tactical marine, he will be exposed to being a devastator and an assault marine because they do both, only in a more limited degree. A tactical marine is generic. Anything else is a specialty. Totally disregard the safety idea. It's war, not the boy scouts.

So, any advice on the RPG meta aspect? I've got the fluff covered, I'm just looking for ideas on how to transform the Deathwatch rules from starting as elites to starting as sh*tkickers and working up to elites.

Nabterayl
09-12-2012, 04:46 PM
I guess I'm confused as to what the career path is in your fluff, then. Are you having marines skip the training stints in devastator, assault, and tactical squads before they pick/are assigned a permanent home in a given squad type? That is to say, a kid can go straight from scout to tactical marine, say, and never have to learn the assault or devastator roles? If that's your career path, then I think you can just use the Deathwatch ranks as they are, and perhaps simply represent the transition from scout to "real" marine by giving them Deathwatch classes with no discretionary XP.

GrandmasterRay
09-12-2012, 07:16 PM
They will do tours in all of the squad types as normal with a variation on the order. They would go from tactical marines to devastators and/or assault, then to their semi-permanent squad assignments in any of these. After that, they will be Sergeants most likely. That is why I am considering allowing selections from any specialty from the first 1-2 ranks, as they will get a little experience in all types of roles semi-universally.

Chris*ta
09-13-2012, 07:10 AM
EDIT: Non-wall-of-text version: the progression isn't scout-devastator-assault-tactical. That's just the training program. The full career path is scout-devastator-assault-tactical-(one or more of: devastator, assault, or tactical)-veteran.

Once a marine has done a stint in a tactical squad, if his aptitude is appropriate, he may be placed back into an assault or devastator squad (the marines wielding the heavy weapons in a devastator squad are those who have gone back in this manner). In other words, despite being a "full-fledged" battle brother with several years of combat experience at 18, a new marine is not considered fully trained until he's done stints in all three squad types, which itself takes several years at least.

I was going to say pretty much exactly what Nabterayl said, but without the comparison to the US Marines :D

Remember also that when a new marine goes into each squad type he's probably serving in the Reserve Companies, which are presumably used quite different tactically/strategically to the Battle Companies, at least ideally, and so require less experience of how the other squad types actually operate.

One detail I will pull you up on, Nabterayl, is that only marines who've gone through the complete "training sequence" are issued with heavy/special weapons. While they may be preferenced when it comes to issuing those weapons, all marines in a given squad are expected to be able to wield all the weapons that can be issued to their squad.

@ Grandmaster Ray: I wouldn't say that Tactical is really that similar to a Leader role. It requires a deeper understanding of tactics and strategy than the other squad types, and more of an ability to make decisions on the battlefield, it doesn't necessarily mean bossing people around ;)

Finally, regarding the change from scout --> tactical --> devastator --> assault to scout --> devastator --> assault --> tactical. this used to annoy me too (even though I couldn't quote sources on the old pattern). But I've made my peace with it, and I really like the implicit "tactical marines are the best" idea.

GrandmasterRay
09-13-2012, 07:21 AM
Chris*ta, the only reason I referred to the tac marine as "leader" is solely based on the talents and skills they offer them in the RPG. I totally agree with you about them not actually being leaders of everything.

So, having looked at this more last night, the usual rules have marines starting with almost all of the rank 1 advancements. So what I think I will do is make the rank 1 general marine advancements the scout advancement, and shift all of the other general advancement tables down one. Thoughts?

Chris*ta
09-13-2012, 07:31 AM
Chris*ta, the only reason I referred to the tac marine as "leader" is solely based on the talents and skills they offer them in the RPG. I totally agree with you about them not actually being leaders of everything.

Cool. I haven't actually read the Deathwatch RPG, so I can't really comment.

Nabterayl
09-13-2012, 10:18 AM
Chris*ta, the only reason I referred to the tac marine as "leader" is solely based on the talents and skills they offer them in the RPG. I totally agree with you about them not actually being leaders of everything.

So, having looked at this more last night, the usual rules have marines starting with almost all of the rank 1 advancements. So what I think I will do is make the rank 1 general marine advancements the scout advancement, and shift all of the other general advancement tables down one. Thoughts?

I think it depends on how differentiated you want the pre-veteran career to feel. From a simulationist viewpoint I think the rank 1 advancements are more suited to the "rotation" period, after which a marine is considered to have achieved basic competentence and ready to specialize - and that's the point at which Deathwatch normally begins, with seasoned (but non-veteran) marines. As a consequence, though, Deathwatch is not very good at depicting the period from which an initiate is first let into the field through becoming "seasoned."

If it doesn't bother you to have a mechanically homogenous period from which a scout first survives his black carapace implantation to the point that he hits veteran status then I think your plan is a good one. Otherwise you'll have to start considering things like merging Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader guardsman types with Deathwatch, so you can reserve some "marine" advancements to be bought in the rotation period and still have your players be able to advance while scouts.

GrandmasterRay
09-13-2012, 12:13 PM
I'm thinking the best way to handle the non-vet period is to adjust the point that they are considered vets, rather than creating new tables to cover the in-between rank. That would be a lot less cumbersome. Also, since the normal rules give almost all of the rank 1 general advancements to starting marines, I'll just consider all of the rank 1 tables to be "Scout" tables. So the rank 1 tables (across all specialties) will be Scout tables, rank 2 (and maybe 3) will be the 15-25 years or so that they will be experiencing the tactical, devastator, and assault service, and then they will be Sergeants/Vets after that. Also concerning the talents, skills, and solo/squad abilities acquired by choosing a specialty, They will all receive the talents and skills given by the specialty (regardless of chosen specialty, discounting some from librarian, tech-marine, and apothecary) upon entry into that specialty service. For instance, all of the PCs will receive pilot(personal) and swift attack upon entry into a assault squad. The Solo and squad abilities for the specialization won't be unlocked until the receive veteran status.

Gotthammer
09-13-2012, 12:37 PM
What I did with my chapter background, which may be applicable to you, is do away with any idea of progression between squad types. Marines are marines, and if you're good enough to become one you're already a master of war. Battle companies have 100 dudes (and dudettes ;) ) and what they do depends on the tactical situation needed (http://collegiatitanica.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/rainbow-warriors-chapter-variance.html). My 1st company isn't vets but specialists - recon teams, sappers and so on - so if a line trooper is noted as exceptional in one area they get moved there.

Could work in your situation so you can have them running around with lascannons and such one day then strapping on jump-packs the next without worrying about some concept of progression. Also means you can ignore a squad type if nobody likes it.

Nabterayl
09-14-2012, 09:12 AM
I'm thinking the best way to handle the non-vet period is to adjust the point that they are considered vets, rather than creating new tables to cover the in-between rank. That would be a lot less cumbersome. Also, since the normal rules give almost all of the rank 1 general advancements to starting marines, I'll just consider all of the rank 1 tables to be "Scout" tables. So the rank 1 tables (across all specialties) will be Scout tables, rank 2 (and maybe 3) will be the 15-25 years or so that they will be experiencing the tactical, devastator, and assault service, and then they will be Sergeants/Vets after that. Also concerning the talents, skills, and solo/squad abilities acquired by choosing a specialty, They will all receive the talents and skills given by the specialty (regardless of chosen specialty, discounting some from librarian, tech-marine, and apothecary) upon entry into that specialty service. For instance, all of the PCs will receive pilot(personal) and swift attack upon entry into a assault squad. The Solo and squad abilities for the specialization won't be unlocked until the receive veteran status.
I think this seems pretty workable. Just to be sure, do you have a copy of Rites of Battle? Not all of its Advanced Specializations are appropriate for a non-Deathwatch campaign, but the Epistolary, Forge Master, and Veteran classes would all be good things to have for a campaign where you intend your PCs to become, well, veterans.

Psyfer
10-01-2012, 10:36 PM
From what I've seen, duty progression varies from chapter to chapter quite a lot. For example, Blood Angels tend to start out (after scouts) as Assault Marines (in a reserve force), then go to Devastator, then to Tactical, (assuming they decide to progress beyond a given step). The logic that is used is that the Blood angels have a natural predilection for assault (no quibbles there), but tactical duty requires a good understanding of all the aspects of warfare, which is a valid viewpoint. Veteran status seems to be based on experience, but I don't recall any requirement for a Marine to have progressed through x number of duties to join the hallowed ranks of the first company, the Sanguinary Guard or a company's honour guard.

Contrast that with the Space Wolves. They go Blood Claws (Assault), Grey Hunters (Tactical), Long Fangs (Devastator), based on experience tempering the Fenrisian predilection to get up close and tear things apart. Becoming a member of the Wolf Guard is based less on age and experience and more on a Marine doing something awesome, and scouts come from a deviation in the personality of the given Marine rather then specific training.

Two very different approaches to career progression based on the culture of the chapter.

So, to get to my point, I think you can pretty much do what you want with your chapter, just make sure it fits with the ethos of the chapter first. As an aside, if you haven't looked at it, you might want to review the character creation rules in Black Crusade if you want a baseline for a 'regular' Marine. Some tweaking will most likely be needed, but IMO it's a good starting point (it ends up being a 7000 exp point character off memory).