Friday, 29 November 2013

Deathwatch: The Price of Hubris, part 11

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

Arthur has written a fair bit about the buildup to the final battle, especially the GMing and mechanical side. I found it was a fairly decent go of building up tension as you skulk murderously around the infested village, throwing enough combat at you to keep the tone going, without just becoming a combat slog. We were also able to control things to a reasonable extent; things like being able to blast open the barn and gun down the cultists as they charged gave the feeling of actually being tactically-aware soldiers who are competent at their job, not just combat monsters.

The encounter with the first couple of actual genestealers was very nasty, and I think there was maybe a bit of miscommunication there. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I didn't realise that the genestealers would be on us next turn, or I might have reconsidered putting myself right in front of them. It does take a while to get used to the lethality of Deathwatch, though, and this was the first occasion that really brought that home - the Diablodon fight was just sort of odd, while the horde battles elsewhere were a cakewalk, and this was (I'm pretty sure) the first time we'd actually taken damage. This was a handy reminder, although I was to make the same mistake again in a later adventure. The other thing is, of course, that canonically genestealers are utterly terrifying and we perhaps weren't yet in the frame of mind to show the proper respect for their ability to kill a veteran Space Marine in a single round.

While in theory we could have been using detailed maps to plan this (and in some circumstances I'd have been up for a very tactical fight), we ended up with a much more free-flowing narrative approach using only a quick sketch map towards the very end, which worked well. Another thing I appreciate about Deathwatch is that being a Space Marine actually helps you feel justified in bringing out game mechanics: it's completely believable that the Astartes assign horde magnitude ratings, and have the HUD technology to calculate that stuff, judge distances and time-to-combat accurately, and match enemies to official threat calculation charts. This sort of thing can just cut through awkwardness and make things easier, because while in theory it's nice to stick entirely to beautiful descriptions, in practice it's sometimes hard to make narration give players an accurate impression of situations that their characters should be able to interpret accurately, such as how close or threatening an enemy is.

Nearly done now!

Link to Episode 11.


  1. Woo! I'd been wondering what had happened to these.

    I shall listen tonight.

    1. Mostly, work and reading project happened. Haven't done that much computer stuff in leisure time recently. Nice to hear you're enjoying them.