I'm very intrigued by the Turning Point system at play in Deathwatch. But speaking as a GM, I'm torn between spelling out the Turning Points themselves, by explaining the time-limits, and how to defeat them, as opposed to simply just introducing them via character exposition or whatever.
What do you guys think? Would you prefer that your GM provide you with the Turning Point explanation, how to defeat it, and how long you've got? Or would you rather they simply point out the event, possibly by even introducing a Turning Point queue, and simply letting the players try and overcome it themselves?
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I'm going to use Syndalla to get them to tell them their primary objectives, suggest their secondary objectives and to guide them towards their targets of opportunity. Hardened Space Marines will already know how to put down a rebellion so it isn't rocket science for them to figure out that they need to secure the Governor, rally the troops and break the back of the command structure of the rebels. I think I'[ll ask the players through Syndalla how they will secure the city and then hints for them to figure it out for themselves.
Actually, no you are referring to Objectives. I was more specifically asking about Turning Points, when in battle with Hordes. For instance, the first scene in Final Sanction puts the Marines up against a Rebel Horde. There are multiple Turning Points, like the Heavy Machine Gunners from the high ground. Should I tell my players that there is a time limit to deal with them?
Ooh, that makes way more sense to me, than "here is some free information". Involving players by introducing skill rolls is a great idea!
I simply described it narratively. I said something to the effect of the following.
"The rebels are building up for a charge. They have melta bombs."
"The rebels are pushing across the killing ground."
In the game I run, the next line was "The few survivors break and run", but I had planned on a couple more.
"The rebels have reached the walls and are placing the bombs."
"The explosives detonate, tearing a tremendous hole in the walls. The rebel scum pours through the gap, forcing the PDF to retreat from this position with heavy losses."
I did the same with the other turning points. I didn't outright TELL the players how long they had, but it was obvious to them that if they didn't act then bad things would happen.
Of course I was playing with experienced RPG players. They were well able to read between the line. If your players do not have years of experience, then some more out of character information could be useful. One must always adjust for the players one has.
I finally got the time to read through Final Sanction last night to see what all the hullabaloo was about and one of the things that I paused and read multiple times was the whole Horde/Turning Point thing. It's interesting, but as presented—and I'm not saying that this is bad!—it almost felt like it could have been helped along by a flow chart/decision tree.
Thus, you start with "Conflict A" which moves along for n rounds until "Turning Point Z" occurs, at which point the Marines are met with a Challenge of a given duration (representing the tides of conflict and capitalising upon those). Resolution of Turning Point Z leads to either Conflict B or Conflict C depending on whether it is successful or not. If, for example, Turning Point Z was the massing of Rebels that needed to be broken before they could overrun the barricades, success would mean that the attack was defeated and the barricades preserved, while failure might mean the Marine's Horde (the PDF in the game) is reduced in Magnitude...
...Actually, that does raise the issue of whether there are Horde vs. Horde mechanics etc. in the final game. Irrelevant speculation perhaps, but seems like something that would be useful...
Conflict B is the successful resolution of Turning Point Z, so might allow a counter offensive by the PDF. Conflict C means that the Rebels have penetrated the lines and... Well, need those Horde vs. Horde rules. Turning Point Y, on the other hand, might be the Marines leading a heroic charge... Etc., etc.
You can also have "Blind Turning Points." For example, if a Marine sees the Rebel offensive of the barricades, they might make a Strategy test (or whatever) and have the PDF centre pull back from the barricades, allowing the Rebels to penetrate, and then flank the Rebels to cut them off and deal with them. (Again, might need those Horde vs. Horde rules for this traditional "horn of the bull" approach.) Thus, rather than Conflict B or C, they throw it into Conflict D which has resulted in a major reduction in the Magnitude of the Horde.
Obviously something that can be done on the fly in reaction to the players, but mapping it out as a flowchart might be a rather useful tool to develop. That and those Horde vs. Horde mechanics. Especially if you can break a Horde into separate elements that might be individually commanded by "Hero" elements such as the Marines.
Just some random thoughts. Guess I'm going to have to wait and see whether I'm going to have to include this type of thing in my own interpretation (i.e. the "Magnitude," for want of a better term, of a Single Mode Marine, a Squad, etc.)
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