Monday, 27 February 2012

A 40K uncut?

An open question for 40K players; it crystallised here at From the Warp. What kinds of interaction in the 41st millennium haven't been seen yet in official or homebrew rules?

It's been 25 years and a lot of editions of a lot of games. We have campaigns, strategy, big battles at two official scales, plenty of skirmishing, miniatures-free, urban ruins and various interiors, aerial and space combat, plus landings. So what's left to be added?

So far I've got vehicle compartments, warp-based interactions and fraught diplomacy.


Mr. Pavone said...

Come to think of it, I have NEVER seen a WH40K naval (as in on the ocean or other body of water) battle. That would bring a whole new depth and meaning to the Space Marines. Surely, with over one million worlds some of them have large bodies of water to fight on and over.

sonsoftaurus said...

Harlequin "You got served" dance-offs?

Anonymous said...

Squat tossing?

Porky said...

@ pavo6503 - I remember seeing an Imperial patrol boat modelled up back in the early '90s I guess, possibly as a Golden Demon entry, and even at the late stage it still seemed somehow out of place, even though the idea of space marines on patrol boats feels very Rogue Trader. Even with the mood of the universe as it is today, it's reasonable to imagine there would be worlds of that technology level, and local people if not rival factions with the equipment. I guess it's mainly us not imagining there's a need with skimmers and spacecraft. It could be that low-cost transport and travel are still waterborne, and defence of that shipping is airborne or orbital. And how about encounters within liquids, maybe on ocean worlds or deep inside gas giants? Ork submersibles were supposed to have played a part in the Third War for Armageddon, and again we might imagine Imperial or alien vessels exist which could move from a vacuum through liquids of varying pressures, maybe used by explorators. The marines themselves I also reimagined recently based on the water link, here, but less seriously. It all shows there's still a very obvious dimension largely unexplored.

@ sonsoftaurus - It's actually a pretty cool idea, whatever we might think of the movie. It reminds me of Dave G's storyteller take on the harlequins, and has me linking it with the goading rules being worked on by TOOFATLardies, described here for example, in the pre-match warm-up section. Maybe harlequin performances, with the harlequins playing their foes in a prophecy acted out, could be a mini-game leading into games played using another system? Other races could even have their own approaches, and they could all be compatible for pre-game interaction...

@ Anonymous - Don't think we don't know who you might work for... At any rate, this seems to be getting a bit out of hand, so to speak. The Squats certainly have some good options, not least for that mini-game warm-up - even if the Space Wolves get the drinking, the Squats could get tinkering with machines and complaining, even beyond the more obvious invocation of the ancestors. It also makes me think there could be faction variations on the compartment rules I mentioned, for hot tempers in difficult conditions of course, but also jury-rigging and crawling into the works.

Infamous said...

@Pavo-the only example I can think of is from the third Last Chancers novel, but I think it was more an attempt to do the Apocolypse Now PT boat scene rather then some real 40K wet.

SketchbookGaming said...

I wonder if we don't see more rules like this because players spend their time playing the regular game.

We have expansions like Apoc, CoD and the stuff FW releases... but those seem to come and go. People try them out, but always seem to gravitate back to the "regular" game. I could understand why GW doesn't try out more "different" things if folks keep heading back to the regular rules. Why not just invest their time in there to serve the most players?

I think they may leave some of that kind of stuff up to us to do on our own.

Mr. Pavone said...

@Infamous: Yeah, I totally imagined a VietNam type patrol boat mission for the Imperial Guard. Boats may still be in use on lower tech worlds (for sure, they have rules for muskets and bows!), worlds that end up stranded by warp storms for decades to centuries at a time, or even on those worlds whose geology prevents the use of repulsor technology. It isn't hard to imagine some mineral or metal deposit that foils repulsors. What about poor civvies who don't have access to anything fancy? Low tech savages?
WH40K may be all high tech on the surface, but it really has a WWI "feel" to it. Tanks are enormous with great big rivets. Huge waves of bodies attacking across no man's land. It's a great setting for battleships and other surface dreadnoughts. On a water world it may be the only option.

Sorry about rambling, it's late and I'm trying to be a good husband listening to my wife while I type. :)

Porky said...

@ Infamous - Good recall. There could even be more hidden away in small scenes in the various novels. But if collectively this is all we can find, even off the tops of our heads, something's up. How could water be so neglected in so much material over so many years?

@ Ron Saikowski - I think you're spot on. Naturally, it has to sell or bring sales, either through more or less direct tie-ins like the bunkers or in renewed interest. GW know the figures they get, and given the relative lack of this kind of thing we might guess they're not excellent. That said, putting them out through White Dwarf, even over several issues, would seem to make sense, to dampen down the criticism of WD and generate a low-level buzz at little or even zero cost, and keep people buying for that period of time, which could even help with planning runs. Your general point makes me think the more popular systems are likely to be those that feed smoothly into one or more existing systems.

@ pavo6503 - Even more openings there. The design of the tech could be a lot of fun - I can imagine people getting excited by even a small official patrol boat kit, and GW or Forge World could release it with a set of river stretches, or a coastal board section, the first of which at least is long overdue. Thinking about the rules, we don't really need much more than we have, with maybe the marking of depth and a figure for the draught of each boat being most of it. The rest could be covered by existing rules, with minor tweaks. The repulsor problem is a good one. I didn't feel you were rambling, but that challenge is clear.

Dave Garbe said...

We saw campaign and levelling in Necromunda and GorkaMorka, but I always thought it would be neat to create a balanced campaign in 40k with levelling... or the reverse, a balanced attrition campaign.

3D combat could also be a neat aspect. I'm talking beyond the battlefield. Right now we're limited to ground units who may be within or ontop of structures. There are a few fliers, but they're still "just above" the battle, within range of conventional weapons.

What about burrowers and real fliers? Right now, they use deep strike rules... but what if instead, we used counters to "place" them on the battlefield instead? You could eliminate Deep Strike's randomness (because of technology that allows troops to home in correctly) but the other side is your opponent knows where you're going to appear... less surprise, more accuracy. Perhaps these units could even counter / attack each other.

If 40k were to take a lesson from PP, health could become more prevalent on troops. So could mana.

Which makes me wonder about resource starvation games. Rules for battles that have gone on so long, ammo is running out before the last ditch charge in to close combat. (Close combat armies balanced with either broken weapons or lower stats due to fatigue)

oh, and thanks for the linkie ;)

Porky said...

I like the idea of that development over a campaign. Again, it seems so obvious, and it really would surprising if it has never been done. I can't remember anything though, not even homebrew. As a stopgap, it could be adapted from the Necromunda / Gorkamorka approach, simplified and applied to whole units. But there certainly is something there waiting to be taken further.

I love the 3D idea too. You could get around the other players knowing what's what by using dummy counters, essentially the method behind the Space Hulk blips, with a given proportion of the counters actually being a unit or model, others not.

Your point about health makes me think something like a measure of fatigue could work. I have a starting point for low ammo here and another here, and a simple up/downgrade for survivors in 40K here. A quota of supplies for dishing out before a game could also be an interesting resource management element, and kept quick and clear with counters. None of this would have to burden a system, or even mean extra rolls.

Mr. Pavone said...

@Dave G: The original WH40K Rogue Trader book (published in 1987) has campaign and plot generation guidelines on pp.237-248. There's a chart for casualties and their losses of limb and abilities on page 239. As 40K has evolved, GW has done both good and bad in solidifying the game universe. They have both narrowed and expanded the possibilities. Personally I prefer the old book. The system is geared more towards letting the players create the setting.

Dave Garbe said...

I wonder how the old Rogue Trader rules would balance in today.

I really like the idea of blips. It makes sense that 40k technology could detect the tremors of incoming units, but hidden, that's neat. (Though only if there are multiple burrowers.. 1 unit, and the opponent would know what they are)

Hordes / Warmachine does mix health and fatigue... When you look at Warbeasts, they have 3 damage sections that are randomly wounded by attacks... Depending on what they lose, it can cripple their ability to hit, damage or use special powers. Warjacks also have similar zones that can be damaged, reducing their ability to work.

It's not a clumsy system at all.. every model / unit has a stat card, that you put in card protectors and mark health with an erasable marker.

Porky said...

@ pavo6503 - "As 40K has evolved, GW ... have both narrowed and expanded the possibilities." Very true. My feeling is the current state of the game suggests an evolution into a system of modular elements, with a streamlined, 'balanced' core allowing competitive play and multiple overlapping elements of varying official stamp offering more unusual, complex, historic or exploratory experiences. Something like that could be possible through an equivalent to the OGL, and that would be an open door for the return of the material in Rogue Trader, old WDs, the Compendium etc. With the fragmentation and erosion that's going on, it may be GW's one hope if they stick with proprietary IP for their miniatures, and their miniatures are where they seem to make the big money, with the rules a framework guiding the spending. I think what's happened with Epic over the years reflects the 40K experience quite well, and the more open development of the latest edition and its lively current existence in the hands of the players give a glimpse of a possible future.

@ Dave G - I'd love to see some work on that question, and I'm surprised we don't see more use of the RT rules online. The battle reports at From the Maelstrom lean on them heavily, but there's not much beyond that. Maybe a stripped-down variant could be made more palatable to modern tastes by community development through The Codex Project, and if Killzone Evolution is going ahead, why not a Killzone RT? Book of the Arbitrator is also worth a good look. I still know too little about Warmachine, but the more I learn, the more I'm interested.