Monday, September 24, 2012

Gameline Overview: Deathwatch

There are many RPG gamelines out there, all vying for your hard earned money and more importantly your time. Some gamelines are huge beasts with hundreds of books spread across editions (Dungeons and Dragons, and Traveller spring instantly to mind.) Some are smaller and complete while yet more put up with a steady release schedule and haven't yet made it to the realms of hundreds of books. Maybe dozens of books.

So I'm going to start a new type of posting to give an overview of some of these gamelines so people can see what all is available for them, what kind of material is published and a general overview of what it is about plus any other related information I think may be useful.

So first post, Deathwatch, published by Fantasy Flight Games.

Deathwatch is a game set in the Warhammer 40K universe (Wikipedia is as good a place as any for a primer on the setting,) in which the players take on the role of a member of the Deathwatch a powerful and secretive organization dedicated to combating the fouls xenos that plague mankind. Each member of the Deathwatch is a Space Marine (Adeptus Astartes,) a veteran of their particular chapter who has been sent to represent them in the Deathwatch. As such the players are already powerful at the beginning of the game.

So what do the players do? Mostly they run around and kill stuff, mainly aliens but also with a healthy dose of heretic and Chaos thrown in for good measure. Sounds like it could be boring, and that was my initial reaction to the line until I started reading it. The line is well written, and the published adventures and materials do a good job of making them characters into more than just mindless killing machines.

The default setting for the game is the Jericho Reach, a new front in mankind's continual war to claim all of the galaxy. Using a gate of alien technology the Imperium has launched a crusade into the Jericho Reach, an area that used to belong to humanity millenia ago, in an attempt to bring them back into the fold and the light of the Emperor. The Deathwatch have always been in the Jericho reach watching for threats and trying to put them down when they arise and this new crusade has stirred things up a bit. While the Deathwatch will assist the crusade at times, it is not their objective and at times will cause them to clash with it.

So far a fair amount of material has been released for the line. All items in the line are in a hardback full colour format, and the majority has been released in PDF format on DriveThruRPG.
  • Deathwatch rulebook: 400 pages including all the rules needed for play and a starting adventure
  • Deathwatch Game Master's Kit: A four panel hardboard GM screen that you could beat a player to death with and a 32 page booklet consisting of an adventure and an enhanced system for generating missions for the players
  • Rites of Battle: 256 pages containing enhanced character creation, background and abilities, new equipment, honour and reknown system and an overview of Watch Fortress Erioch the Deathwatch's main base in the Jericho Reach
  • The Emperor Protects: 144 pages containing 3 large adventures
  • Mark of the Xenos: 144 pages of aliens, heretics and chaos opponents for your games, plus more rules on hordes and mass battles
  • First Founding: 144 pages. Details on four more Space Marine chapters for players to come from, details on the traitor Space Marine legions, some specific chapter related equipment and a 20 page adventure
  • The Achilus Assault: 144 pages. Information on the Imperial Crusade into the Jericho Reach, the most important worlds embroiled in their assault and finally important NPCs in the crusade
  • The Jericho Reach: 238 pages on the enemies facing the crusade, Chaos, Tau and Tyrannids. More details on the three main arms of the crusade and adventuring and fighting inside those warzones
  • Rising Tempest: 144 pages. A three part mini-campaign
  • Honour the Chapter: 144 pages. Details on creating characters from younger Space Marine chapters, adventure seeds

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