|Deathwatch | Published 23 April 2010|
Greetings, Deathwatch fans!
My name is Ross Watson, and I am the Senior RPG Developer in charge of Deathwatch. When I sat down to think about how to approach the Deathwatch RPG, one of the foremost things on my mind was the interaction between characters. The player characters would all be Space Marines, of course, but what is the foundation of a Space Marine? The answer is simple: nothing is more core and central to a Space Marine than his Chapter; it’s beliefs, traditions, and experiences wrought by the Chapter’s Primarch, its battle history, and much, much more.
Once I saw that the bedrock of a Space Marine is built upon his Chapter, it was easy to see that the Deathwatch RPG needed to present to the reader a set of the most distinctive and iconic Space Marine Chapters in all of Warhammer 40,000. By selecting these particular Chapters, the players would be able to understand where their characters came from and what guides them into the future. Because each of these iconic Chapters is greatly different from each other, they present a wealth of opportunities for great roleplaying and stories that the players can tell about their particular characters. Within his home Chapter, each Battle-Brother knows the members of his squad and his company very well, having campaigned with them for decades or even centuries of war against the Emperor’s enemies. That all changes, however, upon being seconded to the Deathwatch...the Battle-Brother is suddenly placed with strangers, some of whom may turn out to be friends, rivals, or even both!
This direction informed every aspect of Deathwatch. A Blood Angel, for example, will have a particular way of doing things, and that should be represented in how he leads his Kill-team on a mission. Likewise, a Space Wolf would have a very different outlook on many subjects, and this would create some fantastic gateways for some really interesting stories and roleplaying.
What you will find in Deathwatch is that every Chapter has their own individual flavour that is represented in a number of ways, from Special Abilities and Advance Tables to special Demeanours and other abilities, depending on whether that Space Marine is acting as an individual or working with the other Battle-Brothers of his Kill-team...but perhaps I have said too much, at least for now!
I depended a lot on the writers of “Project Iceberg” to bring across the special nature of each Chapter so that the reader would gain a deep understanding about what the Chapter stands for and what a Space Marine of that Chapter would be like in the game. As an example, the designer diaries for the six Chapters in Deathwatch are simply presenting a very small piece of the entire puzzle; much like the codename of the project itself, there is a great deal more beneath the surface!
All this brings me to this week’s Chapter for the Deathwatch RPG: The Blood Angels. I have a special affinity for these noble Space Marines. One of my first armies I collected for Warhammer 40,000 was the Blood Angels, and I have followed their impressive exploits ever since the 1996 Games Workshop Codex, titled Angels of Death.
Below, I am proud to present the Blood Angels Chapter, from the pen of talented Warhammer 40,000 author, Andy Hoare:
The Sons of Sanguinius
“For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my Battle-Brother eternal.”
–Last Line of the Invocation Initiate of the Flesh Tearers
The Blood Angels are the noble descendants of that most puissant and angelic of the primarchs—Sanguinius. They are perhaps one of the most celebrated Chapters in the entire Imperium, their countless heroic deeds and victories known to untold billions of the Emperor’s subjects across the length and breadth of the Imperium. The beauteous, angelic visages of the Chapter’s heroes adorn gothic facades and stained glass windows in a million holy basilicas, and their portraits gaze serenely from endlessly copied and much cherished illuminated tomes.
Yet, hidden from the multitudes, the Blood Angels harbour a terrible curse. When their beloved primarch was slain at the hands of the arch-traitor Warmaster Horus at the very height of the Horus Heresy, every Blood Angel was doomed to share a portion of the pain inflicted upon his flawless form. From that day forth, every Blood Angel has been tormented by visions of the last moment of Sanguinius. The older the Space Marine gets, the more frequent and debilitating such waking nightmares become. Should he not fall in battle, every Blood Angel will one day become so consumed by these soul-searing visions that he will descend into a madness in which he must witness the death of Sanguinius over and over again, ever unable to intervene as the warmaster enacts his vile treachery.
The very inevitability of their curse ennobles the Battle-Brothers of the Blood Angels, driving them ever onwards to a glorious death in the name of the Emperor and their primarch. Where lesser men might have surrendered to the dark urgings to shed the blood of the enemies of the Emperor, the Blood Angels have remained pure and noble for ten thousand years. Despite this, the Chapter is dying, for each year ever more of its brethren succumb to the so-called Red Thirst—the desire to rend limb from limb those responsible for the death of Sanguinius, and by extension every enemy of the Emperor.
The Blood Angels are amongst the longest-lived of all of the Space Marine Chapters, their gene-seed granting a vastly increased lifespan on all who possess it. It is not uncommon, therefore, for a Blood Angel to live for a millennium or more, if death in battle or the Red Thirst does not claim him first. These vastly extended life spans allow the Blood Angels to perfect their techniques in art as well as in war. They have centuries to perfect the disciplines to which they turn their minds, and this accounts for the fact that Blood Angels’ armour and banners are amongst the most ornate ever produced.
Following the example of their primarch, the Blood Angels espouse a vision of the galaxy in which the enemies of the Emperor can be defeated and mankind can progress to the life he was always fated to live. There is a deeply mystical streak in the Blood Angels’ doctrines, and a strong belief that things can be made better. After all, the Blood Angels are recruited from the scrofulous wastelanders of Baal, and if such can be transformed into a tall, proud, and handsome warrior, then there is hope for mankind yet. This belief can be seen in everything the Blood Angels do. They strive for perfection in all of their endeavours. Their works of art are things of beauty and symmetry. Their martial disciplines are practised unceasingly. Their doctrines are permeated with a sense of mortality and the fallen greatness of Man.
The beatific countenance and noble bearing of the Blood Angels is in stark contrast to the curse they bear. While lesser warriors might become morose or fatalistic, weighed down by the inevitability of their fate, the Blood Angels remain stoic. The Blood Angels’ cadre of Sanguinary Priests—the equivalent of Apothecaries in other Chapters—tirelessly pursue a cure to the Red Thirst. But each year, more and more brethren succumb to it. Perhaps in an effort to hold the curse at bay, many Blood Angels sleep in the same casket where their bodies were transformed from the ravaged Baalite wastelanders to the perfect forms they emerged as, the arcane machinery filtering and purifying their blood as they slumber. This is even true of many Blood Angels seconded to service in the Deathwatch. Their caskets are stored within a watch station or watch fortress, and the Blood Angel sleeps there to heal any wounds suffered during a mission, emerging whole and unsullied once more.
The quest for perfection in all they do makes Battle-Brothers from the Blood Angels ideal warriors to serve in the Deathwatch, yet their curse becomes all the more terrible. A Blood Angel may find himself isolated from others of his kin while he serves in the Deathwatch. He appears a paragon of virtue to his fellow Deathwatch Battle-Brothers, but by night he fights damnation alone in his cell, praying fervently that the curse will not claim him here, so far from his Chapter and the Sanguinary Priests who may aid him on his final journey. When the Red Thirst takes hold, it can only be overcome with extreme difficulty.
Join me next week as we reveal the sixth Space Marine Chapter for the Deathwatch RPG!
Deathwatch is a roleplaying game in which players take on the roles of the bio-engineered super-soldiers known as Space Marines. United with their battle-brothers, players will complete extraordinary missions involving some of the greatest heroes and deadliest opponents the Warhammer 40,000 universe has to offer.
And don't forget.You can add story line to mess with the players! Like how the Templars don't trust "The witch", the Dark angles with the hunt of the fallen,and trying to hide that from the rest of the team. The Space wolves? well maybe the kill team will encounter the 13 co. and see some wolfen and the rest of the kill team want answers about the "Tainted" gene seed.Plus how each member deals with the others.Emotions are something you don't think of when you mention Space Marines, but they can drive any game for days.
I so want to get my grubby hands on this game.I have like days of gameplay ideas in my head.
Yea, codex chapters are for Deathwatch are: Ultramarines.
Non codex chapters with the most individuality: Space Wolves, Dark Angels, Blood Angels
non codex chapter with only one break away: Black Templars.
Hmm, I already see a very interesting way to run a 5 player group with one from each chapter.
Your BT is a Knight, he is going to be on the attack but he is also going to be pressing the attack for glory and the Emperor.
SW: Controlled frenzy in distracting the rest of the foes sent against while one of your brothers moves in for the kill with your help.
DA: The one to find those areas that can be used for a stealth assault (Read the Ragnar novels for the Deathwatch Kill-Team), able to defeat the enemy by a way that isn't thought possible or with a suitible distraction.
BA: The one that talks to non astartes, the space marine who will be able to relate more and let the forces of the imperium know what is going on while the Kill Team is en route to whatever is needed.
Ultramarine (otherwise known as smurf by me): The one who follows a book that has the most tactical advice and strategies ingraned in his head. So that whatever happens, he will adapt to it.
Wow, book not even out yet and I can already make a group that works together for a Deathwatch game in its simplest form.
@Dicky's Trick: 100% agreed!
@Vercundus: the picture looks as like as all FFG artwork! AWSOME, but you are correct, the shoulder pads of the Blood Angels are either "Blood Angels red" with black edges or in the case of veterans black with "Blood Angels red" edges. Or they used to be... Also they don't use the "Squad Markings" (on the knees and shoulder guards) from the Codex Astartes to the letter. They are one of the "non Codex chapters" along with the sons of Russ and the Dark Angels (counting only the first founding)
I'm not sure where some of these posters are coming from. FFG is telling us about this game and you people use the anonymity of the internet to flame it? Get a life!!
If you like the game enough to complain, you should turn your energies to making it better for your group. Make up your own stuff and have fun!
I actually *LOVE* that marine picture.. but could the artist please tweak the colours before its used in the book as its blatantly obvious that the artist wasn't every sure of the difference between a Blood Angel and a Blood Raven..
A well guy here is some food for thought.
I like to encourage my gamers to expand the game .If they want to play a Chapter that was over looked by FFG, and then I will ask them to do a back story for said Chapter. Right or wrong. At least they are willing to add to the game. I want to know what the weaknesses are such as the wulfen or the black rage. If your gamer wants it bad enough to do this that tells the GM that you’re willing to spend some time to develop the content. Again a good GM will roll with the dice and adapt to the needs of the gamers. I want to play a Chaplin, but FFG didn’t add that. Well guess what? Until they make one, we can do the rules for them as HOUSE rules. Then if they come up with the rules for them you can update your players. Next the games we play we use GW minis to represent your alter ego. I like to have a great base to draw from. And with FFG using the most common chapters they are making it easy to model your character. I for one am not a rule Nazi and I like to have a little give and take with my gamers. After all it’s about hanging with the lads and throwing some dice. And above all, have fun.
I find it good they went for the big ones first and foremost. They're templates for deratives anyway. I fail to see why people are always going on a whinefest about not opting for a marginal one. That's more something for expansions.
While I'm not surprised by the choice to use all the Codex Chapters in the introductory game, I'm a little disappointed, as I was hoping that there would be some more obscure chapters that don't have a large amount of history to overcome. At this point, the 6th Chapter means little to me, and like Scaedugenga, I'm hoping for chapter creation rules that will let us play whatever more obscure chapter we want to play, such as Mantis Warriors in my case. Truthfully, I don't expect them in the initial release, which will mean that Deathwatch will be reading material until the game is more fleshed out. I'll still get it, as I have all the other 40K RPG stuff, but I'll probably wait to run it until there's a way to not be stuck being the most popular Codex Chapters.
As they always say, it's your world when you play. If you don't like the chapters put forth, then make rules for your own. There is plenty of fluff out there. FFG ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m sorry boys and girls!
But I think a lot of you have totally missed the point here. It’s a Game. And FFG is setting guidelines.
But we as the GM will have the privilege of pushing the story and development of each gamer.
If any of you have played 40K or read ANY of the novels, then you know that ALL the Chapters
Listed have strong story potential. There are some of you out there who will call me a fool.
But come on The Wolves are as stealthy as they come! Read any novel about Ragnar and you will agree.
The Dark Angels, Hello The whole story about the Fallen and their never ending hunt to redeem the chapter. The Sons of Dorn in any guise. To show the Noble side of the Astartes. Blood Angles and the black rage.
All there to HELP the GM guide the story.
Any GM worth his salt can mod/adapt any game to fit the gamers.
Who the next Chapter will be isn’t that big of a deal. And remember that each chapter here has successors who have the same traits in part or whole. So just enjoy the game. Enjoy the sneak peeks and
Wait for the Core rules. Remember as a GM you can use house rules.
Just have fun. Thats what we game for, right?
I can see where theDevilofWormwood is coming from, and I'm forced to agree to an extent. Don't get me wrong, these Chapter introductions are a fine thing in that they get across how the design team has interpreted the fluff, and are doubtless of great use to newcomers to the WH40k universe.
But seriously, for those of us who've been in the scene a substantial amount of time, Chapter introductions don't do much. You can see this in the comments: there are relatively few comments about the roleplaying opportunities these Chapters will bring about compared to speculation on Chapters to come and griping about subjectively perceived points of incompatibility with the premise of Deathwatch.
Please give us something about the game system, the novel mechanics (such as the Demeanours that keep being getting mentioned), stuff that differentiates Deathwatch from Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader. Preferably with sneak peeks and previews, something substantial.
WH40k and Space Marines are awesome - a quick visit to Wikipedia or its ilk can prove that to anyone without an active aversion to them. Anyone can look up fluff from countless sources. But FFG is currently the only party that can tell us about the game!
As RPG-consumers our primary motivation for purchasing the game will not be the fluff (although that inevitably has some weight), but the way the game functions. I hope future design diaries will focus more on how the game plays than on what topics the book discusses.
Still, no matter what the topics of these design diaries are, they are at the very least an encouraging indication of enthusiasm and progress on behalf of the people doing the work.
So thanks, and keep them coming!
So; you want my bet on the final Chapter? My bet is "Who cares?" Don't get me wrong; I'm eager to see who's next - I really am - and I really hope it's a fluffless Chapter, with some awesome quirks. Don't get me wrong - Salamanders, Raven Guard, Iron Hands.. they'd all be great - But I think that the best possibility would be a home-grown Chapter so they can showcase the Chapter Creation rules. They've promised that there will be rules in there for it, right?
What better way to teach us all how to create our own favorite Non-Canons than by putting in their own, hand-crafted example of it?
I'm not a game designer, and I never will be - Because I don't have the patience for it - but in all honesty, I know that when you want to teach someone how to do something, the best way to do it is to do a crawl/walk/run - Crawl is showing us an example, hand-made chapter. Walk is showing us how they made the chapter with their rules. Run is letting us roam free, creating a chapter of overly-(suitable adjective) maniacs who happen to be the Loyalist chapter whose record is non-existant in the 20-chapter list of the First Founding.
Or, for the less crazy of us, a Chapter whose origins - like untold numbers of others - is shrouded in the distant past, perhaps tied in to some lost tech. Or a Chapter that's under the constantly watchful eye of the Ordo Hereticus for the large number of Psykers. Or the Ordo Malleus for suspected Daemon-worship....
That's what I'd like to see - A home-grown chapter, with descriptions of how to create it.