Saturday, 9 November 2013

Deathwatch: The Price of Hubris, part 10

Contains spoilers for, funnily enough, The Price of Hubris from The Emperor Protects.

As always, be aware that the podcast is not really family-friendly, and features a fair amount of background noise, if that sort of thing bothers you.

The Episode

While we'd obviously had a couple of fights so far, the camp was the first part of this adventure where we really got to pull the whole Angels of Death schtick. It's very, very noticeable how effective well-prepared Space Marines with their own gear are against ordinary soldiers. Although this wasn't a challenging fight with us expecting trouble and acting first (I don't know what it might have been like if we'd walked into an ambush), I think it was a good way to signal the change in the tone of the scenario from sci-fi hijinks to There Is Only War.

Also we strode implacably through an enemy camp as it erupted into a burning hell of death and destruction around us, which is always nice.

The cave sequence I found pretty effective, because at that point we knew damn well that there were 'Nids in the tunnel, but we didn't know what to expect. Unlike the valley scene with the unexpected boys, which had quite a complicated set of interlocking IC/OOC concerns and I was worried about the scenario trying to screw us over, this scene was tense from a more straightforward perspective: our characters were worried about getting eaten by genestealers, and I was worried about my character getting eaten by genestealers. These were perfectly normal concerns and very appropriate to the situation, since narrow tunnels and genestealers go together like cheese and toast. Murder cheese and death toast.

My auspex scan is clean, brothers

Now as it happens, the scenario designers had intended to screw us over here, by making it essentially game-mechanically impossible for our characters to find the damn aliens. Arthur's decision to ignore the railroad F*** You ending they'd planned, and enable our characters to get the proof they wanted by taking some time, turned what would undoubtedly have been an infuriating roadblock that we fought to get around into essentially some nommy flavour.

The issue here is that regardless of what actual evidence the scenario is prepared to give you, the situation is really pretty obvious if you know anything about Warhammer 40,000 or have watched an kind of monster film ever or read a book featuring something scary. If you go from somewhere clearly affected by monsters, through a series of creepy narrow passageways, and into an apparently empty room with some kind of innocent-looking feature that a monster could hide in, there's a 90% chance that the monster is in fact hiding in it (and a 10% chance that no, it's behind you - which was clearly not possible in this case because we were very specifically keeping watch everywhere). There was a very small chance that this was a red herring and the 'stealers had swum through into another cave, or maybe just flat-out weren't here right now for some reason, but in those cases no harm would be done. So there is basically no reason for the characters not to take a tactical assumption that the pool is full of genestealers and blast the hell out of it. I'd hope the scenario doesn't actually suggest stopping you, but it certainly does its best to prevent you from proving the thing you know is true.

It now occurs to me that - depending on the likely temperature of a frag grenade explosion - we could quite possibly have just hurled a bucket of frag grenades into the pool in safety. The shockwave would propogate through the water very very nastily, and unless they hit about 750 degrees it wouldn't risk any fire.

The Shadow in the Warp

Oh, and second Arthur-praise for today - I think the decision to use the Shadow in the Warp as a hint system was a very nice idea and very appropriate to the source material. The thing is that if you're a ruthless implacable warrior, then making sure you've finished off a purge of a species renowned for infestation, lurking unseen for decades and spelling the doom of entire sectors of space as a result is the kind of thing you take very seriously. The SITW fluctuations provided a way to tell us that yep, this part of the job is finished off, and stop us from spending too much time on practical but not very interesting things like extra sweeps, setting up watches on recaptured areas, blowing everying up from orbit just to be sure, and otherwise double-checking our work.

Link to Episode 10.

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