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FFG REVIEW: Deathwatch RPG

3 Minute Read
Aug 27 2010

Today I want to talk about the upcoming Fantasy Flight Games Warhammer 40000 Deathwatch RPG.  We’ve been poring over a review copy of mighty tome and it going to be a killer!

First up, lets talk some basics.  We are looking at a massive 400 page full color hardcover tome.  This thing is a monster of a book.  Deathwatch is the third in the 40k RPG series including the earlier Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader settings.  It is based around the same d100 rule-structure, and has similar skill, weapon, and combat systems.  These of course have been heavily modified to deal with a party of the mighty Astartes.

First off, the initial character generation is based on your Chapter of origin, with the book providing background and special skills and abilities for the following:

-Black Templars
-Blood Angels
-Dark Angels
-Space Wolves
-Storm Wardens

Its doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch to imagine add on books providing further chapters for your characters to hail from.  Did I mention there is a section on using your Astartes organs… seriously! Moving on, your “career path” will include:

-Assault Marine
-Devastator Marine
-Tactical Marine

Each of these of course comes with a boatload of special abilities and skill advancement trees.  The chapters on skills, talents and traits follow with hundreds of options all optimized for use by the Astartes from Forbidden Lore to Wisdom of the Ancients.

The Armoury chapter is a particular gem with full rules for all the equipment we expect to see in the Space Marine arsenal, as well all all kinds of little fiddly things like optional bolter rounds, exotic personal equipment and a full ruleset for rolling out the background and special traits and history of your character’s Power Armor.  VERY COOL stuff there.  My favorite is the prideful armor trait that has a palpable aura of authority, giving you a bonus on all command tests, but always clanks at the exact worst moment, making subterfuge and stealth non-starters.

The psychic rules are robust with all our favorite battlefield powers accounted for, and many new ones.  Next we get into the actual combat and playing of the game which includes the interesting dual mechanic if “solo-mode” and “squad-mode” which represent the abilities of individual marines who are not yet functioning as a cohesive team, vs experienced Kill-teams who work in unison like a finely tuned machine.  Its an interesting design concept and will open up lots of options for playgroups and GMs alike.

Finally we hit the background section which fully lays out not only the 40k universe, but the Deathwatch and how it is organized and operates.  Very cool stuff in there for the fluff bunnies.  The standard adversaries and samples adventure round out the 400 pages.

All in all a fantastic piece of work.  FFG says this baby will be shipping out very soon with a list price of $60 USD.  Enjoy the video review and I strongly recommend this product.  We’ve all been waiting decades for the chance to roleplay as the Emperor’s finest and that day is here!


Deathwatch: 5 stars (out of 5)

I almost forgot. FFG is also rolling out a limited set of crazy personalized Collector’s Editions of Deathwatch you have to see to believe. Have at it your RPGers.

Author: Larry Vela
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