Author Topic: New to the Inquisition  (Read 640 times)

Offline Pi-Thrower

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New to the Inquisition
« on: January 07, 2021, 10:40:08 AM »
Hello and happy new year!

Greetings from Berlin... a new hub for Inquisitor (or so I hope).
Over the past year I picked up four inquisitor miniatures, and a recent auction provided me with a couple more. Enough to start two or three Warbands (I am starting out small) - and introducing my friends to a new miniature game.
More auctions (all on their way to me via the postal services of Europe) will provide me with more parts and miniatures... I am starting out on a rather grand scale of possibilites.

My tabletop background is firmly routed in Warhammer Fantasy. The armies (and minis) I can field are numerous... lately going heavinly into conversion-armies (hence my intereste in Inquisitor 54mm - where every miniature should be a conversion of some kind). My halfling dogs-of-war always make me happy when I play them, despite the luckless-ness they apparently bring. We still play the 7th edition due to the more tactic-heavy battles and higher skill based movement (basically... guessing ranges for artillery and attacks are where we feel at home).

Other tabletop games include Battelfleet Gothic (currently inactive on my hobby bench), Dreadball (Mantic, also inactive) and Necromunda - which I started playing two years ago (Living rule book, not the new battle-card based kind).

Last but not least, do I have a big board game collection - said collection (and enhancement thereof) leads me every year to the SPIEL fair in Essen... which also was cancelled last autumn.

Last year allowed very limited oppertunities to play anything (board games and miniature games alike)- I am sure, it's the same for all you, too.
Basically the only WFB games were played via a battlereport-system in emails going back and to.
Magic the Gathering simply works more easily via Webcam sessions (yes... another money sink of mine).

Narrative games for me were either board game based... or Shadowrun, DSA or Splittermond (all RPG games, that I enjoy). I was Gamemaster in two of them.

My hope, for the vast amount of games I own, lie in this years vaccinations and lifting of restrictions thereafter.

My overall goal is to incorporate the Inquisitor game with Gothic and even Necromunda (so that everyone of my friends sees a connection to a different board game)... except for WFB of course.

My background in 40k politics therefore is also lacking. For me Gothic (another discontinued game by GW) provided me with the ship battles I wanted... the narrative background wasn't my primary focus.
This must change with Inquisitor... as it is a narrative game. As the primary Gamemaster I will need to be able to tell a story and incorporate the characters the players design/pick.

Again being used to Warhammer, I will (in the beginning at least) rely of the points system in the last pages of the ][LRB to balance out the warbands.... I feel that I need this (though mostly frowned upon) system as a backup net.

The first games should be simple and use two or three models per player. Maybe an NPC (or security drones) as a distraction (and something to fire on).

Reading the rules - and fitting them to the miniatures I own - I already have a couple of questions.
---Where can I find the rules for the Servo-Skulls (I only found a new with the Tau Emissarsy that his drone follows the same rules... but those I can't find)?
---Where can I find the rules for the Cyber-Mastif?
---If I try to balance them point wise (again, please bear with me... In the beginning I must "weigh" my teams somehow) do you happen to know the point value... or is that arbitarly allocated (like apparently the MIU-linked shoulder cannon in the Covenant-example)?
and
---What is the Wt-column in all the weapon charts? Is it Weight? And must I therefore compare to the characters strength to see if the BS (or WS) ito figure out the negative impact or the roll?

And... as a very last question... the rulebook mentions that a calculator is needed to figure out the modifiers for each die-roll... Is that really the case? Because... I haven't fully gotten into the depths of the rules yet when something is halfed... my basic understanding is: division first, then subtract or add at will. However... with the amount of modifications this is almost scary (from the Necromunda kind of view).
Has someone maybe developed an app to make that part of the game easier (i.e. ask for the kinds of modifications)?

Many questions from my end...

let's finish this post with many Hello's, as well.

Hiya! Hello, Hi y'all! Howdy :)

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2021, 03:34:09 PM »
First of all:

Welcome to the Conclave!

Again being used to Warhammer, I will (in the beginning at least) rely of the points system in the last pages of the ][LRB to balance out the warbands.... I feel that I need this (though mostly frowned upon) system as a backup net.
I'm probably going to be pretty intense here (I can be overly passionate at times...), but my starting advice is: Don't use the Ready Reckoner.

No, seriously, do NOT use the Ready Reckoner.

It's worse than useless; having a points system actively encourages players to try to play the metagame of optimising within those limits, which is one thing when the points system is at least broadly accurate, but becomes a disaster when the system is as poor a metric of a character's power level as the Ready Reckoner is. It gives players a false impression that the game is a play-to-win experience, which it isn't meant to be - Inquisitor is  closer to tabletop improv theatre than it is a conventional RPG.

(I don't entirely blame the Ready Reckoner though; I don't think it ever could have been a good system. The variables to account are too numerous, so it's forced to exist on a sliding scale between "horribly clunky" and "horribly inaccurate" with no happy medium).

The other problem it creates is that Inquisitor doesn't work well with too many characters on the table, so it's common practice to swap team members in and out as appropriate for the scenario (assuming that the others are away performing other duties). That's problematic with a points system unless all characters have very close points values.

~~~~~

As is, the best balancing metric we've found over the years is the good intentions of the players and the GM. There are no exploits when players are actively trying to be reasonable.

Admittedly (aside from some self control), it takes experience to be able to do that well, but the good news is that we have some guidelines that provide a good starting point, known as the Conclave Standard.

If you're really stuck? The forum has access to some of the most (and quite probably THE most) experienced Inquisitor players and GMs in the world; you can always ask us for help.

Quote
---Where can I find the rules for the Servo-Skulls (I only found a new with the Tau Emissarsy that his drone follows the same rules... but those I can't find)?
---Where can I find the rules for the Cyber-Mastif?
Other equipment, right at the end of the Armoury section. (They don't have very elaborate rules).

Quote
---If I try to balance them point wise (again, please bear with me... In the beginning I must "weigh" my teams somehow) do you happen to know the point value... or is that arbitarly allocated (like apparently the MIU-linked shoulder cannon in the Covenant-example)?
I'm going to stick with my above commentary. With the limitations of the ready reckoner, you're probably better off guessing.

Quote
---What is the Wt-column in all the weapon charts? Is it Weight? And must I therefore compare to the characters strength to see if the BS (or WS) ito figure out the negative impact or the roll?
Yes, that's the weight value.

Unless you're going to worry about encumbrance rules (and frankly, the best encumbrance rule is usually the WYSIWYG one - if you can actually model the character with it, fine), this usually only affects BS rolls, and frequently is only important if a character is using a very heavy weapon or has become injured. Don't worry about it too much.

Quote
And... as a very last question... the rulebook mentions that a calculator is needed to figure out the modifiers for each die-roll... Is that really the case?
No, I usually do it mentally. For the most part, it's mostly multiples of five and ten, and with the quick reference sheets it's not too hard to look them up. (I probably couldn't do it so well at the moment, as I'm out of practice, but when I'm on form, I can usually remember most of the range and damage tables without having to look them up).

The main pain in the arse is hand to hand combat, where each parry/dodge in a turn does halve your WS for each successive attempt (to which you then have to reapply the penalties), and this is usually not very pretty as far as the mental maths. As such, this mechanic was emphatically abadoned for the Inquisitor Revised Edition (IRE) fan project. (Instead, IRE uses a mechanic that compares the margins of success of both the attack and the parry to decide who wins, rather than expecting the attacker to wear down their opponent before they've got a decent chance of getting through).

One of my big pieces of advice here is "just roll the dice". Is the character a marksman with a sniper rifle and several levels of aim? Then you can confidently say that rolling a 17 on a d100 is a hit without having to worry about calculating the exact target number. Also, a five or less is always a hit, a ninety-six or more is always a miss - a tenth of rolls don't even matter what the target number was.

If, after rolling, you're not sure if it's a success, then you can worry about checking the exact modifiers. But only doing the maths when you need to can save a lot of time and hassle.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2021, 11:31:33 PM by MarcoSkoll »
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Offline Pi-Thrower

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2021, 08:24:06 AM »
No worries,

I totally understand your emphasis on not using the point system.
After my initial post I already had found the conclave standart on my own.

However... (please don't roll your eyes)... I still intend to rate the characters I create with this system to get an idea of how powerful they are.

No point system in the history of GW has ever been perfect. Necromunda has, to my knowledge, the best so far - as does probably Mortheim. Both are exclusive to a single race with the same starting stats (again... my point of reference is the "old" living rulebook, not the changing stats and basesizes stuff of the new iteration). To it is only used to rate equipment.
Let's assume for a moment that a rifle and a baseballbat are comparable. With a starting ganger both have a different value, based on the damage they can do. That's already the point where he buck stops. The point system cannot include the likelyhood of "getting some use out of the item" - i.e. it is more likely to shoot at someone in necromunda than it is to get into CC if you move your gangers carefully.
And again, in here is skill, experience and a wee bit of luck (when has a jump across a gap between building ever worked in the moment that you needed it to?). And I am aware that that isn't planable either. Since it is not planable, it is not to be pressed into a point rating system.

Even simpler games, such as WFB, struggle when it comes to points and value on the battlefield. I play the 7th edition, as I mentioned - where the only first strike army are an archenemy of mine, the High Elves. Outright they had to increase the point costs of every unit... How likely is the overpriced archer to use that rule? Not likely at all. And even if it gets into CC, Strength 3 will not help the archer that much anyway. Are the elite troops (all CC oriented) too cheap? Probably. But they are still expensive enough that only small units are used - In this case, the size of the unit is the balance the game requires.

Inquisitor, being more complex than Necromunda, having no rank and file bunuses like Warhammer, starts out with different races. Including the Space Marine (genetically engineered and power-suited-up nonesense) was an early mistake in my eyes when Inquisitor started out.
With obvious close combat characters and obvious ranged characters, no point system can ever evaluate them in comparism.
Add to that psychics and hero-scaled characters (the Inquisitors themselves) and you get a convoluted starting band from the beginning that not only depends on the situation in the playing area - but also on experience of the player.

I meant no offense when I wrote that I intend to use the bad point system.
I was aware that it is subpar... but then... it always had to be.

And when I wrote that I will be using it, I imaged some backlash.

So let me explain, how I intend to use it:
Comparing alike characters.
I recently tried to create my first character: an arbites enforcer and rolled the values. I rolled luckily... compared them to Barbaretta and noticed that my character was just better. That immediately gave me two options: a) decrease the volume in equipment or b) decrease the stats.

Having no game experience, I don't know how much the stats really matter. Looking at the range table alone, provides the problem, that yes... with a 4' by 4' field the last third of the columns is never used, which means... very situational circumstances for every weapon.

Building an Arbites Enforcer, cutting back on the equipment is (since it is a police unit)... odd. Why would this one not be issued the standard equipment? Would she/he have had a different training? How many different tactical equipements can I assemble that still resemble the Enforcer role?
Frankly... not many.

So in the end, I must compare this createed character with a baseline somehow.
The conclave standart states that most characters in the rulebook are concidered to be too strong...
So that is confusing right from the start. Does the document mean the Inquisitor type characters? Or "grunts" like Barbaretta?

So when it comes down to it... I must start somewhere. When I let my players create a character on the own, I must be able to compare them. Having no experience, I must somehow find out, which of the two, or three created leaders is stronger. Which should get slightly worse companions...

I never meant to assign every character a point value and add it up with all other companion characters to get a sum of x and compare that with a different band.  But I must somehow be able to fathom what will be on the playing field, and how the others can interact with that in return.

I want to allow my players some freedom. And I must be able to evaluate what they create.

I am sure you can understand my point of view... since it will fall upon me to be the GM... balancing is a big part of that. An unbalanced game is less fun for everyone (I learn from my mistakes).

That said...
Do you play with the revised fan edition rulebook instead of the living rule book?
Are there other (useful) simplifications than the CC?

And back to the servos and mastifs... thanks for the pointer where to find their rules. I got a mastif with a 40mm base in the mail, what size do the servos get mounted on usually?
Are there any characters that you put on bigger bases (such as the Space Marine or the Kroot for example)?


Offline Mentirius

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2021, 05:17:47 PM »
I'm nothing like the Inquisitor rules experts Marco and our other hobby-focused vets are (more of a roleplayer/writer myself really), but I do remember attempting to use the ready reckoner myself as a GM, back in the early days of the game.  I therefore feel I'd be remiss in not making at least some comment here.

In short, while I do sympathise with your desire for some way of gauging approximate power levels of the characters in your campaign, I'd say your problem isn't that a points system exists and is deeply flawed.  It's that from the point of view of an overwhelming majority of players and the man who actually wrote the ready reckoner, no such system does exist.  RR is so flawed as to be worse than just looking at the stats and trusting your gut, as you (rightly) did with your Arbites and Barbaretta.  It will pass over or even create balance problems that a bit of critical thinking would easily identify.  It misleads GMs and players as to character tabletop power and actively helps to cause imbalanced games rather than avoid them.  The values given there have very nearly no bearing whatsoever on character effectiveness.

It's not really a matter of game philosophy; it's an issue of false equivalence.  Inquisitor is a complex game with a lot of options compared to E.G. 40K, while RR is so horrifically simplistic, it's like deciding to call every single person in a country by one of three randomly chosen names, and expecting not to have constant misunderstandings.  If you're Dave Daveson, but NOT the Dave Daveson who just brutally murdered three different Jim Jimsons and is wanted by the law, then you might have a serious problem in such a system.  If you're an employer to whom fifty different Dave Davesons just applied for the same job, you'll want to select from the half dozen who are actually qualified.  The ready reckoner assumes all Dave Davesons are the same - it's the equivalent of actively deciding to ignore every detail about every applicant EXCEPT for the name, despite the fact it's the one thing about them all that is totally interchangeable.

I don't know how much sense that made, but this isn't me naysaying, honest!  It's just that if you want a workable points system to use a power-level benchmark for an Inquisitor campaign, and I'm not saying that's a bad idea for a GM (although I'd avoid telling players they have "points" to spend or you'll get a plague of min-maxing) you would honestly be better off writing your own metric from the ground up and basing it on actual mathematics.  For example, a formula for gauging approximate/average weapon damage per turn and having that effect the "cost" of the weapon, or something.  Alternatively, you could start with the Necromunda points system as a base, figure out a formula for "converting" those costs into an Inquisitor format (I saw someone do something similar with D&D stats at some point), and add complexity from there to account for the greater variety. 

You may also run into lore issues sometimes, whereby the rarity of certain gear or abilities in the 40K universe doesn't correlate with how effective they actually are, E.G. a common lasgun is one of the all-round best weapons in the game...  But that probably isn't going to ruin any games, though it might undermine immersion for some players.  Pursuing game balance is not a bad thing, just a bit of a doomed endeavour with this particular game.  The community tends to feel strongly that Inquisitor should be played non-competitively from an OOC point of view, E.G. "my Inquisitor is going to do this stupid thing that will probably get him killed, because it's what he'd do in this situation based on what he knows"...but that doesn't mean the characters shouldn't be trying hard IC to achieve contrary goals, and when two of them end up in combat, it is more exciting if the fight takes a while and could easily go either way than if one is a massive underdog by virtue of his opponent wearing power armour.

The CC rules do suck, by the way.  Essentially you need to get very lucky or attack twice in one turn not to get endlessly parried, and yet even the greatest swordmaster of all time will get butchered in seconds by someone frenzied enough to take three or four wild swings in quick succession.  This was the aspect of the original rules that annoyed me the most, since I'm big into dramatic sword duels - I haven't played with Marco's CC variant but it is almost certainly better.

I may be in a tiny minority here with this next bit, but "Conclave standard" as a system is a little on the harsh/frugal side with stats in my personal opinion, given how exceptional Inquisitors and their retinues are meant to be in most of the existing fiction.  I also find it excessively vague in its descriptions of what level of aptitude constitutes a certain number (E.G. what exactly is the difference between an expert and a master?).  On the other hand, having read through the threads where people tried to be more specific and always ended up in savage arguments without resolving anything, it probably is as specific as a community consensus was ever going to get.  I do sometimes end up seeing the CS Inquisition as implausibly inept, BUT these are more gut/lore objections on my part than comments on the game balance that results from using the Conclave Standard.  Those who do espouse it have probably played more hours of Inquisitor between them than the rest of the world put together, and certainly more individually than I have, so I imagine they know what they're talking about.  On balance, if I do resume playing the game at some point, I probably will use it myself.

But, with all that said...personally I don't see a problem with soldiers in a universe as gritty as 40K having stats mostly in the 70s, and full Inquisitors rocking multiple 90s.  The important thing is that whoever they're up against should ideally be comparably competent, and that there should be some correlation between how likely characters are to hit each other, how much damage they are likely to do, and how tough/well armoured their targets are likely to be.  Some GMs (I get the impression this is the majority) prefer lots of bullets to fly around without finding a mark but to have a serious impact when they do hit, so they tend towards moderate BS and Toughess for their characters.  WS/BS are then the crucial stats to balance between sides, while keeping Injury Values relatively low, so a bullet isn't just shrugged off.  That is pretty much the core of Conclave Standard as I see it, and from this point of view, yes, every single character in the Living Rulebook is grotesquely overpowered.  Slick Devlan is a classic example of a character who avoids nearly all penalties related to his area of expertise and is almost guaranteed to hit when he shoots you. 

Others prefer to have the drama rely on how much damage characters can weather before going down - this tends to result in longer games and means one has to be very careful with how prevalent the skill "True Grit" is allowed to become, but for my money it's a perfectly valid way to go about getting an exciting story out of your game/campaign.  This does end up requiring higher average Toughess values to compensate for higher BS and/or more damaging weapons (I'd say 70ish for a soldier as opposed to than 50ish), and generally results in players wanting heavier duty gear; not that you're forced to let them have it.  From this point of view, and with a couple of exceptions (looking at you, Artemis) I'd say the rulebook characters are mostly fine - so long as you stick with that as a benchmark and have everyone on the table be comparably nasty.  This is a less popular way to go about the game than CS and probably a less balanced approach overall, but I freely admit it's how my group used to play, since we didn't know any better in those days, and we had enough fun using "Rulebook Standard" that I'm still nostaglic about it 20 years later.

Really, it seems to me that the fundamental problem the Inquisitor community always wants to avoid is a situation where two players who have never met before have a one-off game at an event, and one warband totally flattens the other without any fun being had, on account of their differing views on how to translate 40K lore into a workable percentile system.  If you're GMing this campaign for people you actually know, you shouldn't have that problem, or much less so.  When in doubt, play-test, and encourage your players to adjust their stats up or down as appropriate if balance issues come to the surface during the campaign.  Above all else, remember that as far as the campaign is concerned, you are the God-Emperor and your gut is Law!  Whatever you decide to do about game balancing, don't be afraid to write your own rules whenever existing ones don't pass muster for your group.  In fact, if you do manage to come up with a better points system than the ready reckoner for GMs to use when quickly gauging the relative power of player characters...post it up on here!  Sooner or later there will be someone else with the same problem, who will be overjoyed to discover someone else already came up with a solution.

Re: Base sizes, in theory everything should be round 40mm bases (assuming you use 54mm scale models, which I think it's a bit of a shame not to really).  In practise, servo-skulls usually use 40K-style clear flying bases, and especially big models sometimes have to go to 50mm bases to fit both feet.  It doesn't really matter a great deal, since Inquisitor boards tend to be free form rather than divided into squares or hexes.  At the end of the day, do what you think looks best!

Good luck with it all anyway.  I hope I haven't come across as too pro- or anti- any one approach, as it really has been an obscene amount of time since I played myself.



Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2021, 12:56:17 PM »
Mentirius has already touched on this, but the problem isn't merely that Ready Reckoner just isn't a good system, it's that it's actively a terrible system.

It evaluates all stats equally, all skills equally and many of the most dangerous weapons are actually some of the most common (in most cases, a boltgun is considerably more useful than a meltagun, despite being half the cost). The granularity is poor (a character with all 50s on their stats has the same pricing as one with 59 on all their stats, despite the considerable difference that represents), and there's no consideration of the synergy between elements.

Since writing it, Gav Thorpe has said that it's something he'd remove from the rules if he had access to a time machine.

~~~~~

If I *had* to re-write the ready reckoner rather than obliterating it from orbit, I'd go with a system more along these lines:

- Convert each stat to decimal (So a stat of 64 becomes 0.64), square that, then (seeing as the RR gives a stat of 100 a cost of 15), multiply by 15 to get its cost. (I guess round off to the closest half point).

- Abilities have the same cost as the main stat they affect (so True Grit costs the same as the characters Toughness, Rock Steady Aim the same as their BS, etc). Every successive ability affecting the same stat cumulatively has its cost increased by half. (So a second Toughness ability would cost 1.5x, a third one 2x). For things like Ambidextrous, base it on whichever of their WS or BS is more likely to be used (or, if they're likely to use it for both, then count the cost of both).
For Psychic Powers, I might instead make the successive penalty based on the number of disciplines. Stuff from your first discipline costs 1x, from a second discipline 1.5x, etc.

- Weapons and gear, again, have their cost evaluated based on the relevant stat. Common gear costs half their stat cost, Rare the same, Exotic twice, and Legendary three times. You might need to nudge some gear up or down rank categories, as the rarity lists aren't a great metric for their power.

- For armour, I'd be inclined to take a similar approach to the original rules' stat pointing method. The first 4 points on a location are 1 point each, after that it's 2 points for each additional point. Reflec/Ceramite coatings cost 2 points for less than 4 AV, 4 points for over 4 AV. Ablative armour costs half.


That is by no means a balanced and tested system (frankly, I came up with it in five minutes) - it'll still have many of the original issues, and I still doubt it's a good system, but I think I can be fairly confident about it being better at evaluating power level than the Ready Reckoner; there's a more granular assessment of stats, and skills and gear have more consideration about what they might be synergising with.

Quote
That said...
Do you play with the revised fan edition rulebook instead of the living rule book?
Are there other (useful) simplifications than the CC?
I play with the Revised edition whenever possible, although not everyone out there has adopted it. (That said, the Revised Edition has been written so that the character sheets are mostly back compatible, in order to make it so that players can adopt it without permanently forcing themselves to stick with it).

I wouldn't necessarily say that the IRE rules are always simpler, but they are generally more consistent and streamlined.
The main things it does is try to fix the close combat rules, make the psychic rules more flexible, and consolidate as many out of turn actions as possible into a general purpose framework that characters can use at will.

For the most part, the intention was to remain faithful to the feel and style of the original rules, rather than doing a massive re-write. (It is a fan edition after all, not an official reboot). As such, things like the injury rules, while perhaps a bit better explained, haven't had many changes. (We reduced the effectiveness of Stunning, and slightly changed System Shock, but not much else). It was an area where we couldn't agree on large changes without massively altering the feel and style of the rules.

I may be in a tiny minority here with this next bit, but "Conclave standard" as a system is a little on the harsh/frugal side with stats in my personal opinion, given how exceptional Inquisitors and their retinues are meant to be in most of the existing fiction.
This is a case where gameplay concerns need to supersede lore (which, to be honest, is frequently rather "awesome awesomeness to the max").

The thing is, Inquisitor as a game is still forced to be turn-based, so the character that acts first naturally has a considerable advantage. Introducing a reasonable chance of failure into that reduces just how huge that advantage may be. If your opponent's first move is an 80% chance of blasting you with a plasma pistol, naturally this is less likely to turn into a thrilling and protracted fight than if it's instead a 60% chance of hitting you with a stub-auto.

The problem here is that both sides are the protagonists. In a traditional RPG, it's fine if your bad-ass one shots a tough NPC - you're probably outnumbered, and the GM isn't (usually) very attached to that NPC.
In Inquisitor? This isn't fun for either side; one player has just lost one of their characters with no chance to counter (at least in the LRB rules, there's no chance to react to shooting other than to choose to fail the pinning test after you've already been shot at), the other now hasn't got a challenge.

Many of the best combats I've had in Inquisitor have gone on for at least a few turns; there's the time for the tension to build up and the story to actually happen.

In any case, if all characters are brought down in kind, then the relative power levels are still maintained.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 03:03:48 AM by MarcoSkoll »
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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Offline Mentirius

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2021, 04:02:27 PM »
Many of the best combats I've had in Inquisitor have gone on for at least a few turns; there's the time for the tension to build up and the story to actually happen.

In any case, if all characters are brought down in kind, then the relative power levels are still maintained.

Just to say I entirely agree with these principles - the priority of any GM should be ensuring the game goes on for a decent while and everyone has fun.  In order to make that happen, two opposing swordmasters of comparable talent/experience backstory-wise should ideally have similar WS, or one have higher WS and the other have an extra CC skill or something, so that when they meet there's a good chance of it going either way with even the loser giving a good account of themselves.  What matters is how the power levels of characters on your table relate to one another, rather than how they compare to E.G. characters from the rulebook.  In the end I'd happily play using Conclave Standard or Rulebook Standard, so long as everyone else in the campaign was on board. 

It is probably worth noting that several of my own campaigns back in the day involved a lot of non-traditional "Inquisitor investigates cult/Inquisitors stranded on daemon world" scenarios, with warbands of GM-controlled antagonists opposing one or more groups of badly outnumbered PCs, and so were effectively PVE a lot of the time.  That isn't really how Inquisitor is meant to be played; I just had a thing for throwing gangs of cultists and daemonic gribblies at people, being mostly a Chaos player in GW's other games.  My group enjoyed these challenges, but given the size of some of the daemons we used as NPC bosses, this may have left me with a slightly skewed perspective on how powerful an Inquisitor should reasonably be.  As a result, while our characters from back then were balanced well enough against each other, I would certainly need to tone them down by several orders of magnitude in order to make them suitable for a Conclave meet event, and would probably be more inclined to just start from scratch with new ones.  This is the danger of heavily homebrewed approaches, so if maximum potential for playing balanced games with lots of different people is your goal, then following some kind of community consensus metric does seem to make sense, of which I'd say the most popular (at least on here) are Conclave Standard and Rulebook Standard in that order.  If, on the other hand, you only see yourself playing with your regular gaming group, then it really doesn't matter so long as you're vaguely consistent amongst yourselves.

Finally, I also agree that the points system Marco cobbled together there in five minutes beats the original ready reckoner hands down! I can't comment with any authority on LRB vs IRE, as I haven't actually played since the latter was created, but my guess would be that IRE ultimately wins on game balance, without departing too far from the original rules.  From what I've seen in various threads, the community put enough work into writing and testing the changes that personally I'd be astonished if they were anything but an improvement.


Offline Pi-Thrower

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2021, 05:36:50 PM »
Wow... first of all, thank Mentrius and MarcoSkoll  for your elaborate answers, thoughts and insights.

It is wonderful to know that responses in this forum can be quite thorough and well versed. I have never encountered another forum with the same emphasis on eloquence.

So thank you. Really.

Content wise, I must bow to your experience and wisdom. The ready reconer is off the table.

The 5-Minute System sounds good indeed... but I will after much consideration try to use my gut instead.

I will probably check it against a point system of my own (no idea yet how many formulas I will jam into that excel sheet), but my thoughts on evaluating the strengths based on the chosen abiliteis seems the most likely. When creating my first characters I found that the abilities shape the character the most.
So with basic character categories, such as distance-pro, close-combat-master, psychic-lord, I will (try to) evaluate the characters compared to another in the same category only.

Of course some will always stick out. The first team is an Adeptus Arbites Team, with three security officers. One will unleash two mastiffs, one will be more abled in the use of guns, and one will be more the riot control type.
They will probably feature in my first introduction campaign as the NPCs - a security force hired by a local heretic, which every player will try to get to.
If I balance it right, a player-created character (with one or two supporting characters) should be "outgunned" by the security force on their own, but when playing in a team should manage the opposition. The end of the game will result in the struggle who gets to abduct and question the heretic, and/or get to the secondary goals.
I should make it fun enough for the players involved.

Before I get to create more characters (and throw some out), here some questions from your game perspective and experience on the topic of balance:
First of:
the Mastiff... with the profile from the rules, and its basic mode (which costs an action of its controller)... how powerful is that in a scenario? I really can't compare that to any character on two legs - with (depending on its stats) multiple actions per turn.
Servo Skulls sound even worse... eventually I will try to build a cherub - being a mix between the mastiff and the servo... but that is not my concern at the moment - and will be a subject for a different thread.

Second:
My approach will be more on the low powered side of the spectrum (so characters from the rulebook should beat everything I will put on the table - when compared to a similar "class"). The reasoning here is, based on your posts, that it is little fun to be blown out by the first shot outright.
Having established that, the NPCs will likely be even worse than the players models... what in your experience is a good balance for the two (given a scenario like the one i described above). Or... let me put it more simple: In a solo player game, in an outright gunfight (since a game could always resort to violance) how many fighting NPCs have you forced upon your players?

Third:
Was a game fun for yourplayers, if one had a huge crowd (say... 4 or 5 Models), while the others only hat 3?
I do ask, because I am wondering if I build an alien (or two) - my eye is on the newest plastic model of a zoat - could it be fun for a player to just play that model?
Have you given a player a task with only one model, while the others tried to stop her and themselves - and... did that work?

Fourth:
Having a background in RPGs, how much is too much? As in, how many objectives, goals (individual or overall) and story-nodes which must be passed by the players (fulfilled) have you incorporated into a single game?

Offline Mentirius

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2021, 07:27:08 PM »
I don’t often attempt to give game advice, but it is good to know Inquisitor is still going out there, being tried by new people, and I’m glad we could be of some help to you starting out.  Thank you for keeping the game alive in these troubled times!  I figure a lot of Inquisitor players do a bit of writing on the side, what with its strongly narrative nature, the need for tailored scenarios and character backgrounds and so on, so if we tend towards lengthy posts on here, that probably has a lot to do with it.  While I’m far from an expert on Inquisitor in 2021, I have enough fond memories of running campaigns that it is easy to get talking about it, and once started it can be difficult to stop.   Anyway, to your follow-up questions:


1) A cyber-mastiff should probably be viewed in terms of gear belonging to its master, assessing them as a single unit rather than treating it as an independent entity – to that end, you could probably calculate the maximum and average damage it would deal in a round of combat, then compare that to the character’s other weapons for a rough idea of how effective it will be on paper? Of course it also has the downside that it can be killed, at which point its damage drops to zero, but the payoff is when people are attacking your mastiff, they aren’t attacking you…neither of those is especially easy to account for mathematically.  One on one, I’d expect a human(oid) soldier to win against a cyber-mastiff, but with the element of surprise or as an additional threat to worry about while fighting the master, it can be pretty deadly.  Of course this does require getting it into melee range, which is harder in some scenarios than others.  Servo-skulls are even less of a big deal to my mind – these aren’t characters, they’re gear with its own base, and while they are extremely useful, they’re also quite easy to smash.  With that said, I love the little guys and there are copious excuses within the lore for well-placed Imperials to have them.  For me, whether or not to use them is more about the flavour you want for the character they accompany than how useful they will be.  The extended awareness granted by having a second point of view that moves independently can be a game changer, but I’d still consider a familiar an extension of its master for the purpose of balancing warbands.


2) By way of disclaimer for this next part, if you want an authority on how things are generally done by the community, I’m probably not that guy, while MarcoSkoll very much is.  In cases where we disagree about the game, listening to him is usually a safer bet!  I was a pretty unconventional GM, and Marco has far more overall experience and recent practice running Inquisitor campaigns than I do.  He is your man for getting an idea of what might be considered a sane approach to PVP, which constitutes the vast majority of games that people play using this system.  The following advice is not the sort of thing you’re likely to see people recommending very often on the Conclave, as it can very easily derail a good story into mindless violence if you let it, and too much of this sort of thing can give people the wrong idea about Inquisitor as compared to E.G. 40K itself, or even Necromunda.  By way of a golden rule, the violence should always serve the narrative, rather than the other way around, and for me the key to a strong Inquisitor narrative is having compelling characters on all sides of every conflict.  Stories are about individuals, so armies of anonymous cultists can easily be counter-productive, though I do think they can be a powerful narrative device when carefully deployed. 

With all those caveats firmly front and centre, if you are considering some “solo player vs NPCs” scenarios, that is a type of game I was very fond of back in the day.  I’d say the largest number of fighting NPCs I ever threw at a player was somewhere between 30 and 50 models, depending on whether you count “dead” models being re-used as reinforcements, so about the size of a 40K army, although I did have several defensive positions on the map with fixed heavy weapons for them to commandeer at need – that sort of game is not how most people play Inquisitor, throws up a lot of complications and requires a bit of homebrew if you don’t want to spend a solid week on it, but providing you anticipate the problems and plan accordingly, it can be done well.  The key is for it to serve the story, and to put an interesting twist on it so it isn’t just a straightforward purge, E.G. two rival factions of NPCs on the board at the same time is a good way to compensate for only having one group of actual PCs – get some conflicting agendas, three-way fights and alliances of convenience in there! 

An urban battleground as the location for an objective, with the PCs caught in the crossfire as they try to reach and extract that objective (VIP, data-slate, mysterious crate or whatever) before their rivals, who could be more PCs or a third NPC faction, was an old favourite of mine.  I set more than one campaign on Imperial worlds in the grip of serious unrest, or had PCs causing/failing to prevent an uprising in the course of their investigations.  On one occasion I used a straight-up screaming mob of civilians as an environmental hazard, panicked by a bomb some nefarious actor set off during a Cardinal’s address to a huge crowd, who were represented on the table by the area they covered rather than broken down into individuals.  Then there’s the classic “two Inquisitors investigate the same cult independently, step on each other’s toes and come to blows, only to discover a third Inquisitor is behind the cult for allegedly altruistic reasons, but his puppet Magus has gone rogue and now the cult have gathered and are trying to summon a daemon, who it turns out has been manipulating everyone all along…”  All told, I’m confident in saying we probably hit fifty independent characters on one board at the peak of our most climactic game.

I’ll note that my gaming table was 4’ by 6’, and twenty-four square feet is a lot of space – most Inquisitor boards are probably gonna be rather smaller than that, or I assume so from the fact Conclave Standard favours 3-character warbands (we usually fielded 3-5 henchmen per Inquisitor, per game, but that still left plenty of room for NPCs).  Honestly, I’d say NPCs outnumbered PCs on the table more often than not in games I ran, not that this meant they were all a united front, or that shooting everything that moved was generally the right solution from a player’s point of view. 

Rules-wise, if you are going to use a horde in a scenario, you generally want them to be relatively homogenous and individually weak, probably all using the same stock statline to represent an untrained cultist, frenzied mutant or whatever else is attacking your player(s) en masse.  Personally I’d set their stats somewhere between 30 and 50 (easiest to make the whole statline the same number, E.G. I frequently used all 50s, but that was with some seriously heavy duty PCs knocking around, so I’d advise erring in the other direction in your case).  Simplifying the injury rules is also a good way to save time – rather than rolling for locations on every horde member hit, I’d do something like “all ranged hits on horde members hit the chest”, or just knock together a single consolidated injury table for the stock profile, depending on how easy you want them to be for PCs to put down.  We also used a clumping rule whereby up to six grunts could declare the same actions, roll one set of action dice and then all act as one that turn, so a horde might be made up of several such groups.  That wouldn’t have worked very well for melee so we had each horde member revert to independent characters once they got into close combat.  Gearwise, we just used WYSIWYG, which did mean there were instances of some pretty horrific weapons dotted about through a horde, albeit in less than expert hands, so those tended to be priority targets for sniper characters and the like.

Whether or not there’s a horde in play, I’d throw in a few named ringleaders to be the real villains, treating them as full PCs for the purposes of background and character development – my preference for most ringleaders was to set their power level at just above where I’d expect a player’s main character to be, so Inquisitor X taking Magus Y or Judge Z on in a solo duel meant being an underdog but wasn’t insurmountable, while ganging up on them was generally the wiser choice.  With that said, if it’s an end of campaign boss you’ve been building towards in earlier games, or even a recurring one to tie multiple campaigns together (daemons are great for this, since banishment is far from the end for them) then it really should take some killing – trying to solo the Big Bad in a fair fight should really be bordering on suicide.  If you’re tempted to have some really absurd powerhouses on the table, as I frequently was, that is generally the role where they fit best. 

Alternatively, in a more sane and reasonable environment with a smaller board, I’d treat groups of named NPCs like your Arbites as GMPC warbands, designing them as PCs while applying the player underdog principle.  If their involvement is supposed to force lateral thinking or short-term cooperation, it makes sense for them to be slightly more powerful than the PC warbands pound for pound, with the idea that you don’t “play to win” – in fact if it looks like your NPCs might be about to wipe out the PC warband, I’d look at contriving a cunning way to undermine them from within.  A favourite of mine was that Chaotic ringleaders are often rivals in their own right, so if a gang of them was doing a little too well against the Inquisition, I’d have a rivalry simmer over into outright combat and get two or more of the villains fighting amongst themselves, creating an opportunity for the tide to turn.  I saw my goal as a GM for any single player game being to never make it too easy or too hard for the PCs to prevail, providing the dice didn’t adore/despise them and no truly stupid decisions were made.  Given no plan survives contact with the player, devising ways to boost or hinder the NPCs during the battle by means of convenient reinforcements or plausible IC errors was a necessary safety net sometimes.  Essentially, the more like this Inquisitor gets, the more various principles from roleplaying games start to apply, although if you’re going to approach it as a full RPG, the Inquisitor rules only really give you the combat parts, so you’ll have to borrow or homebrew the rest.

Another thing to bear in mind is that more characters on the table means longer games – I was fine with that, happy to run the same game all day into the night and pick it up again in the morning if need be, but if you do have an upper limit on how long you want one to last, you’re going to want an upper limit on warband sizes too, as well as how many warbands you involve in a single game.  Again, Marco or one of the other vets could probably give you a more definitive answer about where to draw that line for best results.  One of my friends had a lovingly modelled fifteen-man warband which I let him field in its entirety for a solo campaign, pitting them against a gang of nine Boss-level villainous characters, all with conflicting agendas and several with numerous minions of their own, hence the weekend-long games that sometimes transpired, within a campaign lasting months.  All told, I’m definitely an outlier when it comes to how many NPCs is too many and how beastly they should be, so you might want to get a second opinion on this one!


3) I don’t think it matters much if one warband is a bit bigger than another, within reason and providing their overall effectiveness as a group is roughly the same.  A group of three facing a group of five could reasonably be given a bit more leeway with individual power in order to compensate, although exactly what equates to what comes back to those gut decisions (or presents an opportunity for writing complicated formulae based on probable outcomes of dice rolls, if you’re into that sort of thing).  Inquisitor is more about quality than quantity – a single Space Marine often has good odds of wiping out a five character warband without any Space Marines, for example (if game balance has a single arch-enemy then it’s those guys, although I’ve heard of Deathwatch-style “all Marine” campaigns being run successfully).  Anyway, limiting warbands to a certain number of characters does serve to roughly balance the time each player spends on their turn, which is generally a good thing, but I made no real effort to do that myself, unless one counts the suspicious frequency with which larger and more heavily armed warbands found themselves inconveniently attacked by scary NPCs.  I would usually have expected a player to field a group of 3-6 individuals, whose power level as a unit I would try to gauge against the other warbands, but there’s only so precise you can be in the end.  Given all my talk about hordes and Bosses above, I think it goes without saying that my group had fun with heavily unbalanced games sometimes!  There’s nothing like a late-stage underdog victory when you know full well the odds were stacked against it, and trying to salvage scraps from probably-no-win scenarios can be a fun challenge once in a while.

The problem with “one man warbands” like a Space Marine (or a Zoat, I’d imagine from their lore) is that in order to be capable of matching a whole group on their own, the character ends up able to solo pretty much anyone from the other groups, and sometimes that extends to major NPCs whom you want players to fear, rather than measuring swords with the first chance they get.  On the flipside, all that player’s eggs are in a single basket, so if someone does take them down then they’re sat twiddling thumbs until the game is over, and if the OMW actually dies then the campaign is over for them.  It can be made to work, but you do have to structure the scenarios very carefully to make sure everyone is equally challenged (or play the OMW yourself as an NPC, in which case they’re much easier to manage). 

On a personal note and without my extremely dusty GM hat on, Zoats are awesome and I would love to see one modelled in 54mm and then used successfully in a campaign.  For me the beauty of Inquisitor is the freedom; pretty much anything from 40K lore can appear on the table if you anticipate potential problems and take the time to work out all the kinks, so the storytelling potential far exceeds any of GW’s other games.  Marco even has a 54mm Warhound Titan among his old projects, for which there are rules on here somewhere…purely for use as a GM tool of course, and I’d strongly advise against letting your players field anything on that scale!


4) I have a taste for complicated, convoluted stories with as many agendas and interwoven schemes as possible, but the campaign format does allow for a whole lot of that without all of it appearing in any one game.  For the sake of practicality I’d usually have a single prime objective for each warband in each game that ties into the wider narrative, E.G. “retrieve/destroy the artefact”, “extract the informant”, “assassinate the target”, with those aims conflicting, E.G. one wants to retrieve the artefact while the other wants it destroyed, and at least one other agenda involved, either via a third PC warband or a group of NPCs, E.G. the artefact belongs to a cult who are using it to summon a daemon.  Four or more agendas at play is fine, providing the board and the clock have room for them.  There’s also each character’s private agenda in a more general sense, which will vary according to their background, E.G. a daemonhost probably wants to escape its bindings, which it will have in mind during any and all scenarios, so under certain conditions it might manage that in a game and become an immediate problem for the one who bound it – its re-binding or banishment then becomes a new objective on top of the mission itself, and this sort of thing is a great way to complicate scenarios that appear simple going in.  Combing through their backgrounds for hooks can be a fertile source of interesting angles for a game.  I’d routinely throw unexpected problems at PCs in the course of achieving their objectives (ticking bombs, locked doors with passwords, hostile NPCs, notionally allied NPCs with political connections and conflicting opinions about how to proceed) and expect them to respond according to their characters, E.G. Inquisitors are Imperial agents so most of the time, a guy wearing Chaos sigils and shouting “down with the Imperium” is going to warrant pausing to shoot in the face.  The more “lived in” you can make the universe feel, the better, so nothing should ever go too smoothly as far as I’m concerned!  Inquisitor is all about secret conspiracies and shadow wars, so if the ideas for more twists are there, go nuts.  There’s no true upper limit on complexity in my book, other than how long you and your players are prepared to let a game run.

When in doubt, player feedback is your friend, presuming your players know what they’re getting into and aren’t just expecting “bigger 40K”.  Experiment and see what you enjoy.  Always bear in mind that the Inquisitor Rulebook actively encourages GM improvisation, and no one is forcing you to do anything a certain way if you reckon you can do it differently and still have fun.  They’re really more like guidelines than actual rules… ;)

Good luck!

« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 07:36:01 PM by Mentirius »

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2021, 04:44:43 AM »
the Mastiff... with the profile from the rules, and its basic mode (which costs an action of its controller)... how powerful is that in a scenario?
Normally, I have the Mastiff continue to act on orders until the owner overrides them. Also, as it's speaking, an order can usually be combined with most other actions with no penalty.

As is, a mastiff will usually lose a confrontation with a player character, a minor threat or a speed bump, but a character plus a mastiff obviously has the advantage against a single opponent. I'd sort of consider them "half a character" in terms of combat prowess,  but obviously not capable in other fields.

Quote
Servo Skulls sound even worse...
Servo Skulls can actually be pretty powerful. Normally it's assumed they just get on with their jobs, so I found that when I once gave a character two medical servo skulls, they actually had unreasonably powerful healing unless an opponent specifically took the time to take out the skulls.

Quote
Or... let me put it more simple: In a solo player game, in an outright gunfight (since a game could always resort to violance) how many fighting NPCs have you forced upon your players?
Normally, I use simplified NPC rules. See here: http://www.the-conclave.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=2134.0

As is, I think at the most extreme I've had fifty models on one table; twelve player characters (between six players), 35 expendable goons, a Warlock and Wraithguard as "bosses" and a Rhino APC.

Quote
Was a game fun for yourplayers, if one had a huge crowd (say... 4 or 5 Models), while the others only hat 3?
A bit of imbalance is fine, but like Mentirus says, a single character can have the "oh, they've been stunned for five turns, better start twiddling my thumbs" problem.

Quote
how many objectives, goals (individual or overall) and story-nodes which must be passed by the players (fulfilled) have you incorporated into a single game?
Honestly, that's a question of how long you want a game to be.

But generally, I find that it's a good idea to have one core theme (usually one that's not inherently solved by violence), and then modify that with other things - environmental conditions, perhaps an odd few secret or surprise objectives, some odd tricks up their sleeve that they wouldn't have in normal games.

For an example of the latter, one of the scenarios I ran at the "Legacy" event had one of the players attempting to protect a Cardinal from an assassination attempt.
The defending player was supposed to have placed smoke grenade traps around the area that they could use to try to foil any attackers. However,  rather than forcing them to declare the locations in advance, I let them decide on the fly, testing against their Sagacity to see if their character had correctly predicted where the traps would need to be placed. (As it happened, no they had not. They tried to use one, and it turned out it was actually on the next rooftop along).

That kind of unusual mechanic can make a game with a fairly basic premise ("Protect valuable target" is one of your fairly few basic objective types) quite different.

~~~~~

... anyway, I realise it's an un-Emperorly hour, so I'll have to pick this ramble up again at a later point.
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Offline maglash1017

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Re: New to the Inquisition
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2021, 03:56:57 PM »
Just dropping in to say hi, I'm based in the Netherlands myself, but if I'm ever in the area I would love to play a game of Inquistitor.

(Edit by Marco: Text size was unreadably small).
« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 12:48:33 PM by MarcoSkoll »