July 30, 2014

Dark Heresy, wetting the fangs

   Two weeks ago I introduced some of the good guys of my Dark Heresy game group.  Tuesday we had our first game. It was slow with me being tired, not knowing how the group played together or didn't as the case was, and not getting going until 8 pm, still I feel it went decent.  As far as the players, it was a disaster.

   The players are a mixed group, and this being a very new game to them I don't think they know the role their character should play within the group or the story.  Dark Heresy is a much different game to the D&D they are used to, far darker, far grittier, and easy to die over.  If I had not been so forgiving they would already be gone.  But to give you a feel for the group, here are the 5 characters.

   My son plays a rogue know in Dark Heresy as a Scum, a rogue in the game which he wants to play as a faceman.  There is no issue with this, although when the game started, he headed to the nearest bar and didn't try to use any of his skills to get information from anybody.  He asked the bartender about illegal gambling, having never asked if there was legal gambling on the planet to begin with.

  The second player is my brother in law, an Arbitrator, or police officer.  He checked into the local fortress asking if they had any work for him instead of asking about the person of interest.  The person of interest had just escaped from the fortress without trace hours before, a fact that would have been quickly learnt had he mentioned the name.

  After that we have a Tech Priest, basically a mechanic.  He went to the local shrine to the Omnissiah but also asked for work instead of anything towards the case at hand.  In this case he would not have learned anything about the man himself, but he would have heard about a few rumors of machine spirits going funny in the area indicated on his auspex.

   Next is the young assassin.  I expected him to head towards the auspex blip immediately and set up near the area.  Instead he followed the other players around before finally heading off to find the blip.  Had he done that he would have found first hand that there was something weird in the area, see the bodies of dead in the tenements neighboring their suspect.

   Finally we have a standard guardsman.  He immediately followed my son to the bar but reminded me every time he spoke that he was not with him, near him, or part of the group in general.  Then he ran weapons hunting, purchasing a backup weapon and then spending some time testing it.

   Nobody did anything I expected them to, and the last player thoroughly upset me by making sure I knew he wanted nothing to do with the others.  Eventually everybody, except my son who is tied up, made their way where they needed to go.  This happened without any communication between them even though they all had radios.  In fact when I mentioned this the last of the group declared he refused to share info with anybody else.

   Now except the belligerence of the one player, yes still bothering me now, most of this is not their fault.  I didn't do a good job of setting the stage.  I dropped them on a planet without description, looking for a guy they only knew as a professional gambler, and a location on their auspex as to where he was expected to be.  All they know is the city looked normal as far as their view of normal went.  large apartment complexes, dirty and dark, and bad smelling.

   So now I am stuck at a point where I must decide if I try to coach them into playing more how I expect and hope they will, teach them what is expected of each career path within this universe, turn it into the dungeon bash they are used to, or give up and play something more in tune with the group.  I just can't decide if they will even find my game fun right now.


  1. It is difficult to DM something new for a mixed bag of people. If you have a player that refuses to work in the group then feel free to put him in some major peril that will kill or cure him of this leaning. As for the other players, it sounds like you're putting too much expectation on your players without real incentive. If your plot needs the players to do a certain thing to proceed you can almost guarantee they won't do it. From my experience 70% of DMing is learning to do it on the fly in response to player actions whilst still gently pushing them in the direction of plot. It also never hurts to ask the players what they want from the game too. If they want D&D in space then maybe Deathwatch would be better suited?

  2. Thank you Chris for the response, you have some good points there. I failed to mention this group is all high school seniors and college freshman. Other than my son I have learned in the last few hours none of them have played anything other than Pathfinder, and then only as a bash the beasts and grab the treasure game.

    I have talked to a couple of players and they seem to want an NPC leader for the first mission or two, unless I can get one of my old players involved to take that position.

  3. Ah, that figures. I do wonder how much the advent of videogame RPGs has had on tabletop roleplay expectations of new players. I've known plenty of players that couldn't care less about NPCs other than how much XP they were worth and any loot they had! That said I'm currently really lucky with my current group of players (been running a DH campaign since it came out) who properly engage with each other and the world. I look forward to hearing what happens next for your group. Are they getting an inquisitor or even a Deathwatch Astartes to guide them (no one could argue against the authority of a power-armoured super human)?