Friday, March 8, 2013

40K Friday - The Handy Guide to 40K RPG's for D&D Players

Well I have no new battle reports to ... report, and I haven't finished another 40K novel and I haven't picked up the Daemons codex yet. I could post up some pictures of my armies but I that's a little too "expected" to do the same week I post up an Appendix N post.  So I thought I would do something a little different and cross-pollinate two hobbies!

There is some crossover between 40K players and RPG players. Since 40K is likely the most popular miniatures game around and it has a line of RPG books that are doing well, and since D&D is traditionally the most popular RPG, I thought it might be handy to provide a perspective, an index on which 40K RPG game is right for you based on your preferred edition of D&D. Hint for D&Ders: anytime you see the word "Xenos" in one of these books, you can pretty much take it as "Evil". Same with "Chaos" but you already knew that. You can take "Imperial" as "Good"

The first 40K RPG release was "Dark Heresy". In this game you play the retinue of an Inquisitor (a character far more powerful than you will ever be), going around uncovering and eliminating threats to the Imperium, which are typically beings who either have different beliefs from you or are biologically different from you. This sounds something like every edition of D&D, but the emphasis on story and uncovering hidden meanings (and doing the bidding of powerful NPC's) places it squarely in the crosshairs of the AD&D Second Edition player. Alignment-wise Inquisitors are Neutral Good - sometimes they use the rules, sometimes they ignore the rules, as long as they protect the Imperium.

The second 40K RPG was "Rogue Trader" in which you play the crew of a trading ship and you get to travel around and meet aliens and other cultures without being required (or genetically programmed) to kill them. The galaxy is your sandbox! You have actual rules for traveling and rules for ship combat. Between this and the sandbox approach this is obviously the B/X/BECMI/Compendium/Retroclone sweet spot! Alignment: Neutral! You can do whatever you want and justify by saying "Hey, I'm outside the Imperium (neutral)"

The third 40K RPG is "Deathwatch" where you get to play overpowered genetically engineered brainwashed characters who live only for combat - clearly this is the game for D&D 4th Edition fans. Space Marines are fanatical Lawful Good and they're happy that way.

The fourth 40K RPG is "Black Crusade" where you mainly play holdovers from a previous golden age where things were decidedly unbalanced. You wage an unending war against the current incarnation of your old selves and between bolter shots complain about how much things suck now compared to the old days. Hello Pathfinder/3.5  fans! Alignment is "Chaotic", duh!

The fifth 40K RPG is "Only War" where you will be playing one of the lowest forms of life in the 40K universe: the unaugmented human soldier. You're going to die - a lot, and you're never going to be all that powerful except in a large party with certain character types. Certainly this is the one AD&D and DCC RPG fans should pick up. Your alignment doesn't matter as you will not be alive long enough to express your beliefs in any meaningful way anyway.

See, it's not just me saying this

What about OD&D? What should they play? Well, the truth is you don't want any of these new style 40K RPG books. Too many rules, too many assumptions about the universe, too much hand-holding in general. You don't need that! You want to go find the original Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader - it should bring back some old familiar feelings.

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