View Full Version : Dark Heresy: Ascension

04-08-2010, 03:46 PM
So, anyone here have it?

My group's currently switching to Ascension at the moment, Just curious what other people thought of it. I find it pretty interesting, a nice way to have characters higher than 13k xp.

04-11-2010, 10:01 PM
I've looked through it. Was a little dissapointed, actually. They've made the advanced careers a little inflexible in some cases, and a little... insane in others.

For example, the Stormtrooper career seems like the no-brainer class for the guardsman or thug character in a Dark Heresy group. I considered it myself, except that while most careers get some kind of stunning Unnatural Stat (inquisitors get Unnatural Willpower X3, or 4, I think; Sages get intelligence similarly unnatural), the Guardsman does not. He gets implicit bonus to wearing Stormtrooper Carapace (which does not help you when the Storyteller throws you into a social situation, or has goons bust in the windows of your underhive lair, at which point you have THAT argument again - you know, the one about whether or not your character sleeps in their armor?) and also when weilding a hellgun or Hellpistol, so you'd better hope those were your chosen weapons.

Conversely, the Vindicare assassin gets a jaw-dropping Unnatural Agility, Unnatural Strength, Unnatural Toughness and Unnatural Speed, a handful of stunning class abilities and ultimately the power and ability to utterly outclass any other choice of combat class. Sure, they don't get the fistful of Peer:So and So talents the others get, but the degree by which they are superior in combat is.. shall we say, true to the lore.

Vindicare is the natural choice for any Acolyte pursuing an aggressive role in the party, and if there's one, he'll utterly outshine the rest of the group. That's a problem. A little more careful choice of classes and application of Unnatural stats would really have made a different in Ascension's production.

04-12-2010, 09:55 AM
Wait, you mean soldiers aren't as good in social situation as other classes?


04-12-2010, 05:48 PM
Well, look, there's more to it than that, isn't it? Maybe it's just the group I run with, but when RPGs come up, everyone likes to have two things:

1. A useful skillset to add to the group.
2. Something to contribute in combat.

And usually, that's okay. Even the brainiest adept with sit there at the back, plugging away contently with his Fatebringer and picking off mooks with reasonable panache.

The Vindicare particularly violates this tradition as, even though he brings a useful skillset (stealth and asskicking), he drastically alters how folks feel about their input in combat. The assassin can kick you in the face with his bare foot for something like d10+ 11 damage, and in ascension levels he's almost certainly got some kick of wicked sweet sword. He can dodge a number of times - and I don't have the book in front of me, and everytime I talk about this I'm convinced I'm wrong - equal to his agility bonus (which is unnatural) and on average a lasrifle will need to roll a 10 for damage to harm him if it hits.

For some groups, I suppose, this is okay; for many others, I worry.

04-27-2010, 12:31 PM
Some groups will always have munchkins.

And, IIRC, stormtroopers DO have more general skillsets. They aren't as specialized for combat as the vindicare is. The Vindicare is actually hideously bad at social interaction... just BEING a vindicare means you have to give up a substantial amount of fellowship, intelligence, and gain a not inconsequential amount of insanity. Becoming a stormtrooper only has the fellowship loss, but you gain MUCH more... ballistics skill, willpower, strength, toughness...

Stormtroopers that come from a background of the officer path of Guardsman are quite well-rounded, with a good amount of social skills and talents, and plenty of combat. But even other Guardsman types can get Command, Interrogation, and Intimidation early on in the Stormtrooper class. They also get more good reputation and peer talents, talents which Ascension is practically designed around... they can become peers with the Adepta Sororitas, Adeptus Arbites, Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Titanicus, Death Worlders, Feral Worlders, Imperial Navy, Inquisition, the Military (which covers the Munitorum and Guard), PDFs, any number of specific planets, and Voidborn. Quite a list there, and quite damn useful in a socially minded Ascension campaign. In fact, I think only Heirophants, Interrogators and Inquisitors can have more peer and good reputation talents.

The Vindicare has no social talents or skills except for Sleight of Hand, all other social talents and skills must be purchased as expensive elite advances. The Vindicare Assassin only gets one each of Peer and Good Reputation-- Peer (Inquisition) and Good Reputation (Inquisition). They exist SOLELY for killing people. Personally, I would say that Stormtroopers are much better for most groups.

04-27-2010, 11:01 PM
I'm not saying that the Stormtrooper is useless, but since you bring it up...

Some players will take their character in the heartfelt direction they have regardless of the game's mechanical drawbacks, and Emperor bless those resilient souls. For the rest of us, there is a dilemma.

While it's possible to play a social-themed Guard character (my main DH character is just that... sort of), it is a poor acolyte troupe that relies on him in any real way for that. Even disregarding the fact that Feral World is an attractive starting point for Guardsmen and that entails a fellowship hit, the stat purchases for the Guardsman career are just awful. Compare the stat purchase scheme for, say, the Cleric, and you can see why the disparity here is so terrible. A Guardsman character who -does- go into the Officer career path (driven by a player with either a passion, or rocks in their head, in my opinion) does so relying on fellowship which he will need to sell his organs to afford raising, because it begins at 500 XP and skyrockets from there for the 5% blocks.

One encounters a similar issue if they intend their character to, for example, be reasonably intelligent, or to not keel over, vomiting and spasming in terror, whenever confronted by fearful foes.

The net effect of this is that a Guardsman character is discouraged from stat buys (beyond the early, cheap ones for WS, BS, S, etc) and will instead load up on cheap, broad skill and talent proficiencies, like Chem-Use, Demolitions, Navigation, and so on.

This is okay. The career isn't useless, it just punishes you for diverging too far from a jack-of-all-trades leg-breaker.

I think it's fair to say that's your Average Guardsman character. This is a generalization.

Going from there into an Ascension career, it would be sensible for Stormtrooper to be a martially based class with some military fraternity aspects, while the Vindicare is a murderous loner whose social abilities are lost for greater proficiency in killing.

The problem is the Vindicare's trade-off isn't commensurate. It's outrageous. When your character is staring down the barrel at the options:

a) Potent killing abilities, mediocre social abilities, or
b) Preposterous killing abilities, nigh-absent social abilities

...One can not blame many players for considering that the Scum-Turned-Interrogator or Cleric-Turned-Heirophant is going to cover the social field anyway, and they should instead turn their Guardsman into a character who can noogie Khorne Berserkers.

There are some generalizations and hyperbole above. Be aware.

04-27-2010, 11:07 PM
Actually a Stormtrooper could have an EASIER time socially than a cleric, depending on the campaign. And they can be more kily with heavy weapons.

04-28-2010, 12:02 AM
Do you think so? You could be right, but I don't see it.

Considering that Fellowship is the single dominant factor in social situations, and diversity of social skills a politely distanced second, I struggle to imagine a campaign so spun that the guardsman has an easier time.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the cleric has first tier FS progression - that is, 100, 250, 500, 750 (or is it 1000?).

The guardsman has third tier FS progression, or 500, 750, 1000, 1500. These are huge gobs of XP which the Cleric has spare to spend on social talents like Air of Authority, Master Orater, and so on.

The Guardman's primary schtick is All-round combat badass, and military-style skills. The Cleric's schtick is Social-fu, cash, and fire.

EDIT: Forgive me, I assume you mean Cleric->Heirophant and Guardsman->Stormtrooper, or alternatively the Stormtrooper career in original DH and the basic Cleric package. Either works.

04-28-2010, 07:35 PM
A Stormtrooper has a damned good set of military-based peer and good reputation qualities. Depending on the setting and character builds, this can mean that, with a stormtrooper, the group will have more sway than with the Heirophant. Peer, good reputation, and influence are extremely important.

05-09-2010, 08:27 PM
Well, you made me think about it, and I didn't want to run my mouth, so I got an opportunity to sit down with the Ascension and DH core books to assess that whole option, and here's the thrust of what I came out with.

Exploring the -social direction- for the Cleric/Heirophant and Guardsman/Stormtrooper, it's righteous to assume a few things. If they're both going to be social characters, they'll probably take a FS beneficial starting world (for +5), so let's say our contenders are both nobles or savvy hiveworlders. So far we're looking at an average fellowship of 36 on both sides.

The transition package one rides to Ascension is worth mentioning here. The Heirophant a core transition package which gives him -Heirophant Stuff- and +5 Fellowship. The Stormtrooper does not - indeed, if he takes the Stormtrooper transition package, he can enjoy a loss of 10 FS. It's probably kind to assume he takes a general transition package - there's a hero of the Imperium one which gives you +5 fellowship.

So far, we're at ~41 fellowship in both cases just from Origins and Transitions, and the Stormy has only had to go slightly out of his way (with the general transition) to be there. But ~41 FS won't cut it in ascension. Time to buy that stat up.

There are four FS bumps in standard DH, and two additional ones in Ascension. Assuming they buy them all (which they might not, but for the purpose of comparison)...

Stormtrooper: 6*FS bonus (for a total of +30)=11,250xp.
Heirophant: 6*FS bonus (for a total of +30)=4,100xp.

That's an experience disparity of 7150. That's huge! Thats thousands and thousands of XP the Heirophant can spend on social abilities and killing stats and powers. At this stage, the Heirophant is, by virtue of skill bonuses and talents, the Heirophant is considerably more potent in social situations, and also a much more deadly combatant that this particular Stormtrooper.

You're right - peers, good reputation, and influence are all important, particularly in Ascension games. I didn't get a chance to scope out the comparison of influence talents and good reputation talents - I was thumbing through the book, appropriately enough, while we were playing Dark Heresy, and my attention was divided as well as my time limited - but I did get a chance to count out the Peer Talents.

Your Stormtrooper ends up covering eight seperate peer talents - amoung them Imperial Guard, Imperial Navy, Nobles, Middleclasses, Lower Classes, and a few others.

The Heirophant ends up with peer talents encompassing a jaw-dropping twenty four catagories, including (if I'm not mistaken) every peer talent the Stormtrooper has (bar one, I think?) and then double that number again in additional fields of peerdom.

Don't get me wrong, I understand you're not saying that the Stormy is greater than or equal to the Heirophant in most or many cases socially, but even in military situations, the Heirophant possesses the appropriate military peer skills, a much cheaper FS buy-up, and loads more social talents. Unless your Heirophant is built specifically away from his design model (social aptitude) and the guardsman is build specifically away from his (combat aptitude), the Heirophant will be the winner in a social-off.

Which brings me back to my original point. Combat classes leave social classes for dead in combat situations. Social classes leave combat classes for dead in social situations. It's built that way. It's teamwork. My issue, specifically with the Vindicare, is that he leaves even the other combat classes for dead in combat, which means there is unlikely to be a situation in which a stormtrooper outshines the rest of his group unless these situations are specifically engineer for him by the GM. As a GM, I resent having to directly alter my stories to provide spotlights for characters. A rounded group in a balanced game should organically spotlight characters over a generally varied story. The solution? Dissuade players from playing the Vindicare.

Simply put, he is too good. Failure to do so may possibly result in group drama. S'all I'm saying.

05-09-2010, 11:46 PM
You're acting as if the fellowship score means everythiing.

I assure you that, in the hands of a competent GM, it does not.

05-10-2010, 07:39 PM
Well it doesn't mean everything, but it sure means alot! It's the thing you'll be rolling most times you open your yap in character. What it is is important. Significant.

Often enough there will be social encounters which are purely roleplayed (which give everyone a chance to enjoy their characters, so that's nice) but beyond that, social encounters that count on a stat other than Fellowship will be, to say the least, rare.

05-10-2010, 07:47 PM
The thing is, if the GM says "roll fellowship" and uses that roll to determine whether or not an attempt succeeds-- without paying any attention to the actual roleplay-- then the GM is kinda behaving irresponsibly.

Furthermore? If you insist on there being rolls, Willpower, Perception, and Intelligence are also useful in social situations. Intelligence for obvious reasons (especially for Lores and Logic), Perception to notice reactions and so on and so forth, and Willpower to resist a particularly charismatic person.

05-10-2010, 09:45 PM
I don't have the book, but I've glanced through it.
Quick question Mel: does each core career have upper-careers/PCs, or are there a handful of them and each career path can go into? What does a Judge go into? A Sister of Battle? Etc.?

05-10-2010, 09:54 PM
The thing is, if the GM says "roll fellowship" and uses that roll to determine whether or not an attempt succeeds-- without paying any attention to the actual roleplay-- then the GM is kinda behaving irresponsibly.

Furthermore? If you insist on there being rolls, Willpower, Perception, and Intelligence are also useful in social situations. Intelligence for obvious reasons (especially for Lores and Logic), Perception to notice reactions and so on and so forth, and Willpower to resist a particularly charismatic person.

Well, I don't know how other gaming groups do it, but usually the way social interactions go with my group begins with the GM giving us a run down of the character we're about to try to sweet-talk some information out of, there will be some roleplaying, and when it gets to a bit where the acolytes are inevitably going to push their luck... ("So what do you think about this new Hive Governer? Kind of a jerk, am I right?") the fellowship rolls come out.

Furthermore, Guardsmen are terrible at Willpower, Perception and Intelligence, where the Cleric is awesome at everything. Apparently.

05-29-2010, 12:32 AM
I think Ascension is well done. A little tinkering may be in order for a specific group of players but that's true with the majority of rpg material out there.

06-03-2010, 07:29 PM
I don't have the book, but I've glanced through it.
Quick question Mel: does each core career have upper-careers/PCs, or are there a handful of them and each career path can go into? What does a Judge go into? A Sister of Battle? Etc.?

I'm sure Melissa would say...

The Ascension book presents a series of end careers none of which directly correspond with the Dark Heresy careers. If I can recall them, they're Inquisitorial StormTrooper, Deathcult Assassin, Vindicare Assassin, Judge, Heirophant, Crusader, Sage, Primaris Psyker, Desperado, Magos, Interrogator, Inquisitor.

Some of them are restricted (Magos is naturally only for Tech-Priests; Inquisitor is excluded from Tech-Priest), some of them are heavily implied follow-ons (Judge for Arbitrator, for example) and have abilities particularly complimentary to the earlier career's style of play. Judge, for example, is saddled with a great deal of verbal authority as a powerful individual representative of the Arbites, giving him large bonuses to social interactions with law-abiding citizens.

For the most part, there is nothing stopping most characters from going in most directions. While Desperado is the logical extension for Scum, he might become an Interrogator (and later an Inquisitor), or heck, a sage, based upon some agreed upon story of transition between player and Storyteller.

Some careers - most notably Sister of Battle - have no logical follow on. There's no "Canoness" career presented, though the Crusader class has a significant enough "Holy Warrior" template to provide an adequate thematic scaffold for a Sister's progression.

Sister of Battle, unfortunately, is a little slighted because it was somewhat clumsily included in playable careers in the Inquisitor's handbook with the proviso that "This character is largely predetermined by the fact that they are a sister of battle! They will hate psykers and heretics and be really, really bad with the moral-grey you're often expected to paint things in as an acolyte!". One might suggest that they are not part of the "Core" classes, and if they do, there's at least one logical extension class provided for the "Core" classes. Some, like Stormtrooper as we discuss above, are arguably less valuable than others, but the restrictions upon class choice are few and sensible.