|Deathwatch | Published 30 April 2010|
by Ross Watson
Greetings, Deathwatch fans!
I know that I’ve spent a lot of time over the last several weeks talking about Space Marine Chapters...it is difficult to overstate just how significant a Space Marine’s Chapter is to a Battle-Brother, particularly in the Deathwatch. One of the core elements of the Deathwatch is that it is the one unique place where you will find numerous Space Marines from completely different Chapters serving together in the same squad. A great deal of the Deathwatch RPG was built upon the foundation of that one simple idea. The designer diaries up to this point have pointed out many of the differences between the Space Marine Chapters in the book, illustrating what makes each one unique.
One of the best things about getting the chance to build a game about the Deathwatch was a special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that speaks to the heart of almost every Warhammer 40,000 fan; the opportunity to create a completely new Space Marine Chapter. I have been a huge fan of all things 40K for over thirteen years, so there was absolutely no way I would ever pass up an offer like that!
I worked very closley with Games Workshop licensing manager Owen Rees to help develop this brand-new Space Marine Chapter, taking it through the approval process one step at a time...from the Chapter’s history to its combat doctrine and battle cry all the way through to its heraldry and colour scheme. As a tip of the hat to original Dark Heresy creators Owen Barnes, Kate Flack, and Mike Mason, I chose to place the new Chapter’s home base upon a world in the Calixis Sector, a forbidden planet known as Sacris. In addition to this, there were a number of Deathwatch RPG-specific details that needed to be designed as well...and many of these details will be revealed in the next few weeks. Designing this Chapter from the ground-up was a very eye-opening experience, and I learned a great deal about what it takes to have our brand-new Space Marine Chapter—the Storm Wardens—join that august group alongside such renowned Chapters as the Dark Angels, Revilers, and Sable Swords.
I gained a lot of inspiration from Space Marine-centric communities like the Bolter & Chainsword forums (particularly from the fan-made Chapter known as the “Warriors Eternal”), and from Black Library novels such as Sons of Dorn, Brothers of the Snake, and the Horus Heresy series.
During the creation of the Storm Wardens, I took a lot of notes about what I learned along way—because I knew that I could apply these lessons towards making a thorough create-your-own-Chapter system for an upcoming Deathwatch supplement. I know there are a lot of Warhammer 40,000 fans out there eager to see this, so it was very important to give it all the space and attention that it deserves! In a similar vein, many of these philosophies could be applied towards creating a successor Chapter to one of the First Founding Chapters such as the Blood Angels and Ultramarines.
Keep an eye on the FFG website for more information about this and more future Deathwatch products in the coming months! Without any further ado, I am deeply honoured to be able to present for the first time, the Storm Wardens Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes:
The Storm Wardens
“We are the storm! We are the fury!”
–Lorgath Maclir at the Purging of Vigil
The Storm Wardens are stoic defenders often found upon the very borders of the Imperium. Up until recently, these Space Marines focused their attention upon the great warp storms that trouble the Halo Stars region on the galaxy’s western edge. There, they protect frontier worlds from the predations of xenos threats, Chaos renegades, and heretical recidivists. They are often unknown and unsung heroes to those planets they defend, for the Storm Wardens are highly insular, and there are only a relative handful of monuments and records that celebrate their long list of battle honours. A bizarre twist of fate occurred in the depths of the 36th Millennium, during the Age of Apostasy—an event that many hold responsible for the Chapter’s aloof nature.
The Storm Wardens lost many of the records of their founding during what later became known as the Nemesis Incident in roughly 945.M36. This event began during an ill-omened joint operation involving elements of the Inquisition against the Enslaver infestation of the Steropes Cluster. It is unknown exactly what transpired amongst Steropes’ cyclopean ruins, but the aftermath of this campaign forever altered the destiny of the Storm Wardens Chapter.
Upon the conclusion of the Nemesis Incident, the serving Storm Warden’s Chapter Master, Owin Glendwyr, consulted with an Inquisitor Lord of the Ordo Xenos upon a most dire decision. The Chapter Master sealed many sections of the Storm Wardens’ fortress-monastery by the authority of the Lords of Terra. All traces of their history and even the proud legacy of their heritage to one of the primarchs were destroyed or hidden away. The Storm Warden’s home world of Sacris was forbidden to have greater contact with the Imperium at large.
The only sanctioned record of that time, the Liber Tempest, claims that many Storm Wardens were placed in hidden stasis vaults, including the Chapter Master and the entire veteran First Company. The Chapter’s Dreadnoughts are the guardians of these hidden chambers, and each has taken a vow of silence, standing as mute sentinels over these forbidden places.
After the Nemesis Incident, the Chapter re-built its First Company. These honoured Battle-Brothers know themselves as the “The Inheritors”, custodians of the Chapter’s honour until the day their ancestors rise from their timeless slumber.
Ever since this time, the Storm Wardens have redoubled their diligence, and their fortress-monastery mounts sophisticated scanning technology placed reluctantly by the Adeptus Mechanicus as payment for an ancient pact. Currently, the Chapter is led by Lorgath Maclir, a cunning strategist who constantly challenges his captains with tactical exercises and obsessively studies the Tactica Imperialis. Some rumours claim that Lorgath has managed to memorise these precepts of war, an impressive feat even for a Space Marine’s enhanced memory.
The Cleansing of Vigil
A singularly savage conflict was fought entirely underground in the tunnels beneath the dead world of Vigil. In those lightless passages, the Storm Wardens battled metre by bloody metre in a series of close-range firefights against the foul Slaugth and their warrior constructs. The cleansing of Vigil proved to be a crucial test of the Chapter’s resolve, as the tight quarters of the tunnels precluded the use of heavy armour and the alien forces seemed particularly adept at provoking the Storm Wardens into abandoning a cautious, methodical approach. The planet was cleansed at last, but at the cost of many veteran Battle-Brothers. The survivors, however, had learned to pay closer heed to the wisdom of the Codex Astartes, and Chapter Master Maclir promoted many of these veterans to his honour guard.
While fierce upon the field of battle, Storm Wardens are no less committed to the tenets of personal honour and obligation. Generally considered clannish and aloof even by other Space Marines, Storm Wardens prefer to remain distant from the Imperium at large. A Storm Warden is slow to make friends, but esteems and protects those who persevere to become companions.
Amongst the Storm Wardens, one’s word is his bond, and honour is paramount. The night before battle is often spent in meticulous planning of tactics and strategy, sharing quiet camaraderie amongst their fellow warriors. Many of the most senior Battle-Brothers engage in ritualised duals, the victors gaining a coveted place in the vanguard.
Most Storm Wardens enjoy debate and crafting points to support their arguments, although some outsiders see these tendencies as quarrelsome or insubordinate. However, once a course of action has been agreed upon, a Storm Warden will set aside any dispute and carry it out. Perhaps because of their fondness for debate or their own turbulent history, Storm Wardens have an interest in mysteries and engimas. This curiosity has led more than a few Battle-Brothers to volunteer for the Deathwatch.
When battle begins, Storm Wardens fight with keen fervour, often seeking out an enemy champion or commander to test his skills against.
Come back next week to see another Deathwatch Designer Diary as we start to dig into more details about how the Deathwatch RPG works, its innovations, and how it connects with the other Warhammer 40,000 RPG lines, Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader.
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.
Bad Kage! Bad! Do not doub the super-human-ness of the Marine! Think of the cloak as more like a supplemental filtration system that occasionally malfunctions. As for the claymore, it's just... Uh.. Magnetically attached, and magnetically unattaches and leaps to hand when the marine needs it!
Kudos, by the way, on reverse-engineering to your own system. I don't lack the know-how (nor, often, the desire) but I -do- lack the motivation - Otherwise, I'd have long ago put somethign together for the folks back home.
Even if Deathwatch turns out to be as horrible as it could possibly be, I'm just glad someone is making the effort that I'm too bloody lazy to make.
Actually, Atheosis - I think Rant was tossing barbs at me this time, what with my suggestion of referring to a Wiki. His remark about "you're simply complaining" may be pointed at all of us - though it's a hefty generalization. I like what I've seen so far, I just feel that Deathwatch would be better served with a creation system that focuses on the Chapters rather than on what becomes just so much 'background noise' for a typical Marine in the grand play that is the 41st millennium.
It's not easy to put together a game - Anyone who says it is is blowing smoke. Even assuming that I felt I had a good idea that would grab peoples' attention (I don't) and enough additional material to pump out a complete book (Again, I don't) I still don't have a core group of people that I could target successfully - Let alone the production capabilities to push out a large-scale game.
In agreeance with Mr France, when I told my friends back home (being currently overseas, myself) that I'd be puttign somethign together for the when I get home, I discovered that half or more are at least passingly familiar with the premise behind the 40K metaverse. Several have played 40K with one army or another, some had read some of the fiction. The ones who didn't know what to expect all asked me one thing: "Is there anything I should read to get familiar with the genre?"
By our very natures we gamers tend towards a more expansive worldview. Yes, we have people who do it simply to be social and don't care to know any more than the color of their armor and how big their weapon is. We usually, however, do have a passing familiarity with games we don't even play - It just sort of comes with the territory.
Most people who picked up Dark Heresy would have had at least an inkling of the game concept before picking it up. If they didn't, they probably flipped through it to get a feel - Maybe reading the first dozen or so pages, to see what the setting was like. I don't know anyone who goes to a bookstore, sees a brand new gaming book and compulsively buys it without knowing anything about it. I'm close, but I still don't compulsively buy outside the genres I play in - if I'm going to buy outside 'my games' then it's the basic book, because a friend is running the game and wants me involved.
For Atheosis, I understand the let-down of not having your favorite Chapter - but consider that any Chapter that follows the guidance of the Codex Astartes so much so that they don't get a TT Codex to delineate special rules can fairly easily be replicated with the basic rules for the Ultramarines - I know, it's not exact, and that there are a lot of differences between the Ultramarines, and the Iron Hands (As an example) but until we -do- get more specific rules it's a safe and simple way to handle it.
In fact, that may be the intent of FFG at this time. After all, the Ultramarines represent what... 90%+ of all modern Chapters, as far as geneseed and style of play in the 40K strategy game? Put in a "vanilla" chapter, and then include the remaining truly divergent Chapters - Ravenguard may be focussed on fast attack, but they're close enough to the Codex Astartes in how they operate that they are considered a Codex Chapter - In comparison to the Space Wolves, who exult in their genetic divergence, or the Black Templars who emphasize being able to stare their foes in the face and ace their opponents in glorious hand-to-hand combat.
Ultimately, I'm prone to agreeing with the moderates here - The ones saying "Let's see what's goign to come next." "Let's get some system information."
I think, ultimately, there are plenty of ways to get the material - Players that are totally new to the genre should be encouraged to pick up "fluff" - 40K novels - or any Codex for an Imperial force (Marines or Guard) and read the fluff chapters before they get the core book, if they want to know more about the setting. I'd even suggest a trip to the local library to print off a few suggested pages off the 40K wiki pertaining to the setting.
If, as I assume Sgt Rock means, the group as a whole is composed of people who can't afford the books at all (which is not unheard of - Some of us started that way too. One guy owning the books, the rest getting involved as we can) then I encourage the guy who owns the book to make copies of fluff pages from the main book. Or to let players read some of the texts we've acquired over the years - Like those old Codices.
Will we all have parts of the game where we go "... Ugh. Really?"
Yes. Yes we will. One thing has held true through every iteration of 40K - Change. Things we knew from one edition didn't carry over into the next. The next edition brought in things that didn't exist in the old ones. The best way to handle instructing people totally new to the genre will -probably- be to paint it in broad strokes, and let the more experienced gamers fill in the finer details - With guidance from the GM as to what will and will not be appearing.
My game, for example, will have a few rare Squats - sure, their worlds were devastated by a Hive Fleet, but there's no reason why some few thousands weren't off-world at the time, travelling the galaxy as part of an Inquisitor's retinue. There will be rumor, at least, of female Marines - heresy, I know, but given that the Emperor was a man of science, there's no reason why He, in His Holy Wisdom, wouldn't have seen fit to elevate superior women into the ranks of the superhuman.
As for the Chapter Creation rules, I'll be adapting to my personal Chapter - at the moment, a sort of nebulous blend of Dark Angels and Black Templars (fluff-wise) who hail from Sentinel, the Shrine World in the Drusus Marches that were originally a strike force attached to the Angevin Crusade and were later officially formed into a Chapter with the mandate of watching over the Calixis Sector.
To be honest, I'm as equally confused by the idea that you have to use the official information as is. I have to convert everything over to another system, so the idea of reverse-engineering the official rules is not quite as daunting as it might be to some.
FFG's first post on Deathwatch adventures was, IIRC, a bit more inspiring than "kill everything."
My question? Isn't that cloak going to really bugger around with the ventilation ducts of the power pack? Also, how is the Marine going to draw his claymore?
"Reality pwns 40k artists." :D
When I said the "Kids"can't afford the codex,I didn't say that I couldn't. At the same time I can afford the CRB! My point is that some younger players who do not have access to them would like to have some background info.Here is another "For instance" There is a game out there called "THE NAM". If a youngster who wanted to play a game about Vietman in 1965-1975, but has no idea of how things and events played out.The game would be no fun.And yes they could check out some books or vids on the subject. but its nice to have a small amount of history in the CRB. As for that being "Shakey" Well I guesss its all in how you look at it. I don't post on the msg brds to Flame or be flamed. I'm just trying to point out some reasons that may or maynot be their thinking.
I do think that flame jobs pointed at the game creation team are pointless.Until we see what is or isn't in the book, I for one am just happy that some one wants to give this game a shot. And As another postr has said. And I don't mean to be a jerk by resaying it. If you don't like it you don't have to play it. But I hope that Everyone here will atleast give er a shot.
This whole "just adapt it, create your own Chapters, being creative" is just so much non-sense. When I spend sixty dollars on an RPG I want most of that work done for me. Is that so hard to understand? I don't pay that kind of money only to have to build everything from the ground up.
As it is, this game is looking like it's going to be A LOT of work to GM. I'm going to have to replace Black Templars outright because they simply have no place in this game as far as I'm concerned. I'm going to have to come up with appropriate rules for all the popular Chapters they aren't covering (which most players who are already into 40k are going to want to play sooner or later), and without any kind of blueprint from the book on how to do so. After that I'm still going to have to come up with a compelling stroryline that doesn't just boil down to 'kill everything' or 'fight with teammates because I'm from an asshole Chapter'. And as far as I can tell, based on the info they've released so far, FFG really isn't doing much to alleviate these issues. In fact the design decisions they've made public so far only seem like they're going to make matters worse.
Sorry if this bothers people, but I've been waiting for Deathwatch for four or five years now, and I'm just not too excited about the way it seems to be going.
Oooh... Sorry for the double comment, but I just read the end of the DD and realised that we will get to see more concrete details about Deathwatch in the next week or so. At last!
The one thing that was clear from the inception of Deathwatch was that it would polarise a lot of opinion. Space Marines are amongst one of the iconic interpretations of the 40k universe and seems to automatically engender nerd-rage. (Just ahead of the Eldar for the nerd-rage. ;)) We certainly seem to be seeing plenty of that in the comments.
First, let me be clear. While I have all the books of the 40k RPG lineat least those that have made their way to PDF on DTRPGI do not use the system. Rather, I use another system that I am "converting" over to abstract the 40k universe, or my interpretation of it. The Space Marines were an early project because of their iconic identity. After all, what 40k RPG would it be without Space Marines? (This just in case my comments are taken as me being a "nay-sayer.")
Am I overtly bothered by the Chapter selection? Not really. I'm more concerned with how they're going to handle Marines in the system, which we haven't heard a great deal about. They had to include some Chapters, so it doesn't really bother me which they selected (but see the above caveat!). On the other hand, do I think that it would have been good to include Chapter creation rules? To be honest, yes, I do think that it would have offered another opportunity for a player to connect to their character. You could include some example Chapters, but after that the shaping of the Chapter background is shaping the character.
...Gah! Talk about Chapter selection all you want, but I'm sick of the text box jumping to the bottom of the page every bloomin time I hit enter...
Personalisation of the Chapter ranks alongside personalisation of the armour and the "weapons load out," at least to me. Indeed, that's one of the things that I'm including in my own interpretation of the Space Marines for that other system. Anything that gets the player immersed into the character gets my vote and, as Ross admits in the opening to this DD: "One of the best things about getting the chance to build a game about the Deathwatch was a special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that speaks to the heart of almost every Warhammer 40,000 fan; the opportunity to create a completely new Space Marine Chapter."
If Ross gets to do it, and treats it as such a good thing, surely the players of the game might have the same reaction? Worth thinking about, perhaps, rather than throwing out vitriolic comments about imagination and creativity?
That's kinda my point, if they can afford the corebook, then claims of lack of funds are clearly a bit patchy at best.
If they can't afford the corebook, then they aren't customers of FFG, so suggesting that FFG makes it's decisions based around their needs and wants (as opposed to those of customers who can and will pay to buy books) is equally shakey.
Re your request that Atheosis comes up with how to house rule DW, clearly until the game is actually released and he's read the rules he is not going to be able to do that, even should he wish too. At the moment we're posting opinions of what we've been told so far.
Adam - Apparently somene has the money for the brb otherwise they wouldn't be playing.
And for Atheosis - my original point still stands too. You are criticizing something that won't change for just you - I guess you have an unlimited fuel supply for your trash talking. And surely the lack of imagination is YOU. They created it and you are complaining about it. Where's your counter offer or counter creation? I'm waiting to see it. FFG has created when you offer nothing but complaints - that really is 2D thinking.
Rant has it right: turn your energy to adapting this to suit your groups play style and you'll be much happier in the end. Now that we've proved how 2D and uninspired you are, prove me wrong. Do to me what you will not (or mentally can not) do to FFG - How would you change this system to make it better?
So ... they have no money to buy codexes, but do have money to buy this corebook?
Wow!!! Lots of emotions today on the ol' msg brd! 1 thing I'd like to mention. Some of the "Kids in my game group, are from single parent families and have no access to the web. also have no $ to buy a codex. This being said. It is nice that FFG is including the fluff for them.I have been playing 40k since 1st ed. so I have lots of books on the subject. But for a first time player the fluff and rehash are needed. All of us I'm sure know that we can mod the game to make it more to our liking. And I'm quite certain that the game dev. group are reading all our posts and trying to put this together as best as they can. Remember that its Two different companies trying to make a game that they both can agree on.
Don`t take Atheosis too seriously, I am sure he is quite capable of adapting a Ravenguard into his game. I like the Storm Wardens good job.