Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Screw 7th Edition: Warhammer 40K 6.5

With 7th edition 40K looming on the horizon, my blood boiling and pocket book moaning, I have come up with some suggested rule fixin’s that will neutralize the need for such an obvious, insulting money-grab.  With a few minor tweaks, 6th edition could be pretty damn good.  (Of course there's no "perfect" version, and my personal ideas here are no exception to that.)  

Note that not everything I have some degree of disagreement with is addressed here, but I can live with the other aspects and/or don’t have a better suggestion.  Also note that I am not familiar with Apoc, Escalation, and all the other expansion texts that have come out.  As far as I’m concerned, those expensive hardback expansion rules are all good to go, as agreed upon by those players standing at the table that night or organizing the tournament.  Period.  No need to print yet another expensive tome just to get them all inside the same cover and collect taxes on them again.

In fact, my 40K 6.5 edition (let’s call it “40K Fred”) alterations could be issued as a thin, inexpensive paperback/ebook at a reasonably low price, thus no need to rake all GW’s loyal and already abused customers any further than we already have been.

1. Force Organization Chart: 

The golden rule here is, whatever those folks playing decide to do, that’s good for them.  If you want to go Apocalypse, Unbound, take whatever, that’s fine, go for it.  Barring that, I like the standard, balanced chart with its minimum 1 HQ, 2 Troops, but with the following standing order: 

     -- One (and only one, maximum) Force Org slot can be traded for another among all but the Troops categories.  Thus, you can decide to turn one of these into any other of these: HQ, Elite, Fast Attack, and Heavy Support. 

For example, you might decide you’re not going to take a 3rd Elite unit, but would like a 3rd HQ model.  Or you only need one HQ but want another Heavy choice.  You can trade one for one, as long as neither is a Troop slot.  (It’d be too easy to give up one of six Troops for something better.)  You need not use all Force Org slots to do this; you can take just one Elite and still take four Heavies (hell, you weren’t using that other Elite anyway, right, so why not?)

2. Allies:

While we’re at it, let’s alter the allies just a bit.  Actually, I’m not going to rehash an allies chart here, but I would alter it some.  I do like the allies contingent force org limits as is too.  My only changes would be:

     -- The chart needs reworking in general.  Mainly, I’d limit battle brothers to racially/historically sensible match-ups (for example, Tau being battle bros with Eldar???  I guess Tau just needed a friend?).  I’d also allow for Genestealer Cults, which would need some additional rules and minimum units, but would allow Tyranids to ally with guard, tau, and whatever else might make sense for infiltrating isolated planets.  (In fact, Guard could ally with just about anybody; I can see a storyline where they get corrupted or influenced by just about all the others.  Except maybe Necrons.  It’d take some desperate and evil forces to ally with them.)

     -- Battle Brothers CAN share transport vehicles.  How stupid is it that winning the battle might hinge on getting a unit of guardsmen safely across no man’s land but the marines would refuse to take them there???  Just dumb. 

3.  Ambush:

Assault units took several hits in the 6th edition.  Not only can you shoot at them first (which is fine, I like the overwatch rules), but when your sneaky assault units outflank or come off a transport they are required to stand around to be shot before doing anything else.  Terrible, and neutralizes the very things that some units where designed to do.  The solution: An “Ambush Roll.” 

     -- An Ambush Roll is an Initiative Check.  Units coming in from reserve or disembarking* from transports may attempt to assault in the same turn but must prove quick enough of mind and body to pull it off.  This is accomplished by an Initiative check.  If they pass, they may declare an assault as normal this turn.  If not, they cannot.
     -- *Units disembarking from transports must do so BEFORE the vehicle moves this turn.  If they disembark before the vehicle moves, they do so up to 6” from the hatch as their move and then act as normal this turn, meaning they can shoot/run and declare a charge, provided they pass an Ambush check.  If the vehicle moves before they disembark, they can shoot/run but not assault.  This does not apply to assault vehicles and open-topped transports (no ambush check needed for them). 

I think this is a good compromise for this situation.  It makes it possible that a unit won’t be able to assault, but doesn’t outright prohibit it.  Thus your sneaky assault units don’t have to stand by a full turn to be killed before performing the very job you brought them to do.

4. Challenges:

I’ve been struggling to find a better way to do this ever since it came out.  I think I have one here, adding a few details without trying to revamp the whole system. 

     -- The winner of a challenge (meaning they kill their opponent) adds an additional +1 to the total number of wounds for combat resolution when determining who won the combat round.  Thus a challenge between champions has some weight and a morale benefit for the winning side.

     -- Refusing a Challenge:  Sometimes a hero might wish to refuse.  It isn’t that he’s a coward and ashamed, it just isn’t a good tactical move.  After all, a greater daemon or avatar wouldn’t cower in shame from a lowly IG sergeant, they just wouldn’t want to waste their time with them.  However, the loud-mouthed IG sergeant might still convince them to take him on and him alone.  If a challenged character wants to refuse, both sides roll a D6 and add the characters’ Leadership scores.  If the challenger’s total equals or ties the challengee, the challengee cannot refuse and must fight him.  If the challengee’s score beats the challenger, he manages to avoid/dismiss the fight but at a minor cost: he now must act last in the combat, effectively at Initiative Zero.  He still gets to fight, but everyone else this round will act first.  (The Challenger, having proven the bravest and fiercest of the bunch, acts normally without penalty.)

5. Vehicle Damage - Glancing Hits:

This is perhaps with worst new rule in 6th edition, reducing your heavily armored tanks and walkers to cannon fodder to be taken down by basic infantry squads.  In 5th edition, a glancing hit slowed the vehicle but wouldn’t destroy it.  I have here a compromise between the two that I think works nicely:

     -- When a glancing hit is caused against a vehicle, roll a D6 on the following table:
Crew Shaken, 1 Hull Point damage
2 – 3
Crew Shaken, no hull point damage
4 – 5
Crew Stunned, no hull point damage
Crew Stunned, 1 Hull Point damage

     * Open-Topped always add +1 to the roll (thus pushing toward Stunned and HP damage).
     * In addition, AP 1 hits add or subtract one (+/-1) from the die roll to manipulate the result.

Thus a glancing hit always shakes or stuns the crew and there’s a 1 of 3 chance it’ll do a hull point as well, but it’s not automatic.  And the chart is easy to remember: 1 and 6 = hull point, 1-3 shaken, 4-6 stun.  And the most powerful weapons (AP1) get a +/-1 bonus.  BAM, easy-peasy!

And there you go!  FIVE measly alterations and suddenly 7th edition is unnecessary, as is gouging GW’s loyal customers for another $80 book!  It could be issued in White Dwarf or even as a light-weight pamphlet.  Although I do like the sound of this rumored changing objectives card deck thingie.  Let’s throw them all in the same issue of White Dwarf and be done with it, shall we? 

Now let’s play some Fred!

* * *

UPDATE Sept 20, 2014:  I have to say, after playing it, I do rather like 7th edition.  Though I think greedy GW could have just released a seven page update and accomplished the same thing without gouging their loyal customers.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Eldar Weaponry: Monofilament Webbing

One of the cool, seemingly low-tech yet gracefully deadly weapons at the Eldar's disposal is the mono-molecular, razor-sharp filaments cast by warp spiders and heavy weapon batteries.  The 6th edition version is certainly effective (no complaints about that), but to me, it's not very fluffy.  Meaning, the stats of the weapons don't really match the description.  And while no one actually asked for my version or opinion, I'm going to give it anyway.

The weapon is described as a cloud of near-invisible line that is cast into the air to float down on top of enemies, and the raw power of gravity bringing this oh-so-light fishing line of death to the ground is what delivers such a high strength attack.  Really?  That graceful cloud of string falls that fast and furious?  Doesn't make sense.

So this is my version.  It may not always be as deadly (or maybe more so?), but it certainly makes more sense:

Monofilament: The enemy becomes entangled in line cast at them by Warp Spider death spinners, or find themselves trapped by drifting clouds of razor-filaments thrown over the battlefield by shadow weaver artillery and night spinner-mounted doomweaver weapons.
   * Non-Vehicle Targets: Because it is the target's own strength that causes the monomolecular line to slice through them as they struggle, the weapons Strength is always the target's own Strength +1.  (Most often, this will wound on a 3+.)  The attack is AP- (nil) unless the to-wound roll is a 6, in which case it becomes AP1.  In addition, being so entangled, the next time the unit moves all models suffer from both Difficult and Dangerous Terrain as they struggle to free themselves from the deadly web.
   * Vehicle Targets: Often times vehicles (including walkers) will ignore the entangling line, snapping it with the great strength of their mechanisms.  The razor-thin filament does occasionally find weak spots, however, slicing hoses and cutting into vulnerable areas.  For each hit against a vehicle, roll a D6.  If the result is 1-3, nothing happens and the filament is broken harmlessly.  On 4-5 treat as a "crew shaken" result.  On 6, treat as "crew stunned" with a hull point of damage.  (Note that special abilities that might normally allow vehicles to roll against or ignore crew shaken/stunned results, like possession, do not apply, as this is not affecting a crew but simply has similar effects by entangling the vehicle.)

(my spiders -- have to paint them someday...)

And for the life of me I can't imagine what a "spinneret rifle" would be.  How do you focus and fire monofilament so that it hits harder???  While I love to give my Spider Exarch a guaranteed AP1 weapon, fluffily-speaking, I think I'd have to remove this as a choice from the codex.

But since GW didn't ask me, I guess I'll just keep using them as-is. :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Today's Your Last Chance

Last day on my week-long Kindle sale.  After today the prices on everything go up.  You have about 14 hours to grab three different books for $0.99 each and while Tarnish is still $2.99.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Four Books for Three Bucks: Fantasy Sale & Free Comic Book Day

You read that title correctly: This weekend, May 2nd through May 4th, you can rack up FOUR eBooks for a grand total of only THREE bucks! 

My sword & soldiery fantasy novella The Prince of Luster and Decay is FREE to download on Amazon all weekend.  (Click the title or cover image to go there now.)

Want a bigger deal?  My fantasy novel Tarnish is on a Kindle Countdown this week.
     * May 2-4: Tarnish is reduced to $0.99
     * May 5-8: Tarnish moves up to $2.99
     * May 9: The ebook goes back to where it started at $4.99
Click the cover or title to go there now and grab it while it's cheap!

These two books are related, by the way.  Prince takes place 10 years before Tarnish and illustrates an episode from the World's Shadow War that provides Tarnish with much of its history.

Okay, so far that's two books for only a dollar.  What else you got?

I have two more books regularly priced at $0.99: the military sci-fi tale The Thorne Legacy, and the horror/noir collection A Long Walk Down a Dark Alley.  Just click their covers to go directly to their homes on Amazon.  Or maybe you don't take your ebooks via kindle?  Click here to go to the Fugitive Fiction Library page where you'll find links to Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and more.

As promised, during this extraordinary sale weekend, 
Tarnish + Prince + Legacy + Walk =  3 Bucks!  
(Well, $2.97, so even better!)  So grab 'em while they're cheap!!!


ALSO, for anyone in the San Antonio, Texas area: On Saturday May 3rd, I will be signing books at Dragon's Lair Comics and Fantasy during their Free Comic Book Day celebrations.  Come check it out, get some free comics, and buy some of these books as real, live, signed paperbacks!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mark of the Wulfen: "Hunted" (part 7 of 7)

The final fight and conclusion...


(Part 7)

A savage eagerness within him told Volstag that he’d reached his destination.  The laboratory doors slid open.  It was a large chamber with two metal medical slabs at center.  Still strapped to one was the cold corpse of the wolf scout Holm Blackfoot, left to decay in disgrace.  Each of the three walls were dedicated to profane equipment: one a bank of instrument cabinets; one displaying tanks of chemicals and vials of drugs; and the third alive with mechanical medic arms and warp-infested growths pulsing with white eyeballs and gibbering mouths.  Standing at that wall, feeding a monstrous mouth with a lump of flesh cut from Volstag’s lost pack mate, was the depraved apothecary Abaenon.  He was cloaked in black.  His face and exposed hand were more dark metal bionics and black tubing than pale flesh.  Two augmented slaves were also present in the room.  All three stared to see what had opened the door.
  The smoldering, wounded wolf stood in the threshold, highlighted from the right by the flickering wall of fire outside.  His body smoked, his chest heaved, his eyes shined, and he showed his teeth.
“Quickly,” Abaenon snapped, directing the nearest slave to grab the Claw of Agony from a pedestal in the corner. 
Volstag paid no attention.  His glare was locked on the bank of glass tanks and bubbling vials, a wall of multi-colored potions lit from behind.  Somewhere in one of those alchemical elixirs could be a captured Space Wolf gene-seed. 
The second attendant stood before of that chaotic aquarium, frozen in the wolf scout’s sights.
Volstag raised his boltgun and held down the trigger, spraying explosive bolt rounds in wide arcs until every bolt was spent and every tank was shattered.  The mutant slave that had stood between him and the tanks was now a warm heap lying atop broken glass.  There was the sound of heavy rain as a mix of alchemical soups and blood rushed through the steel grid floor to the decking below. 
The gun’s barrel smoked and its chamber clicked several times, empty.  Volstag dropped it.
The first slave retrieved Abaenon’s weapon and held it up in front of his master.  The Night Lord shoved his spindly metal hand into the bionic glove.  Its thin scalpel blades hummed to life and took on an azure glow. 
BOOM.  A single bolt pistol round exploded inside the slave’s forehead.  His remains slumped to the floor. 
Volstag dropped the pistol. 
Abaenon showed his own teeth now, some dark iron, others rotten bone.  His bladed fingers twitched playfully.
The Space Wolf paused to lock the laboratory door behind him.  He revved his chainsword a couple times, making slow sweeps with it through the air, then dropped it too. 
It’s time, he told himself.  The wolf within stirred and stretched, as if it’d been lying in its den after a nap, patiently waiting for its turn at the hunt.  Volstag flexed his fingers and felt a pleasant ache as they grew a full centimeter longer, the nails thickening and curling into claws.  His senses sharpen even further: he heard alarmed voices in the hallway outside; smelled the stinging chemical fumes dripping through the floor; saw more clearly the scars and bionics of Abaenon’s altered face, the single yellow eye flinching anxiously, a bead of nervous sweat rolling down his cheek. 
“You’ve met this side of me before, haven’t you?” Volstag growled.  “You remember better than I do, and you fear it.  Good, traitor.  Fear redemption.  By the time your servants cut through that blast door, I will have torn out your throat and spit it out.”
Abaenon side-stepped over his dead servant, never taking his eyes from the transforming Space Wolf.  His glowing, bladed fingers scratched at the air between them.  “You think you’ve destroyed my reserves, my samples,” the Night Lord said, “but I still have you.  And what a wonderful specimen you are.  The gene-seed I take from you will be far more valuable than everything I took from your brothers—”  
This was too much for Volstag to bear.  The beast within snapped its mental leash and the Space Wolf lunged forward.  He moved fast but had to dart around a steel table.  That obstacle allowed Abaenon the chance to react.  The Claw of Agony met Volstag as he pounced around the table, four humming blue blades slicing easily through the knotted muscles of his left shoulder.  Volstag threw himself to the right, smashing against a cabinet of medical instruments and torture toys but successfully avoiding the Claw’s follow-through, which certainly would have severed his entire arm.  Four deep cuts sizzled and smoldered, the smell of burnt flesh overwhelming all else.  Abaenon’s mechanical smile shined from beneath his hood.
  The apothecary then danced backward to a small arms locker in the corner.  He tore off the cabinet door with his Claw and seized a bolt pistol from within. 
But when the Night Lord turned to fire the Space Wolf was already there, centimeters from impact.  Both bodies slammed against the sundered locker and the bulkhead behind.  Savage instinct took hold and Volstag tore at the throat before him with elongated fangs.  Instead of flesh he found a mouthful of fragile tubes which now leaked their black fluids down his bearded chin.  The wulfen claws of his right hand dug deep into the flexible ribs of the Night Lord’s power armor and found a spring of red blood there.  But Volstag’s full-on charge had made him vulnerable as well; the four scalpel-like fingers of the Claw of Agony were now buried deep into his bare flank.  The searing heat of the blades pierced his vital organs. 
The Space Wolf pushed himself away, dragging some of Abaenon’s innards out as they parted.  Four streams of blood broke from the wounds left by the Claw of Agony, wounds that would not clot, despite his superior Astartes anatomy.  Just like the torture scars on his chest, the Claw’s power defied all healing.  And Volstag’s left arm now hung limp and nearly useless, vital muscles and tendons having been cut in the first attack.  But at least he was standing.
Abaenon’s dark form slumped to the floor.  The mechanical side of his face seems frozen now, as did the entire left side of his body; the hoses Volstag had bitten through must have provided his artificial parts with whatever they needed to function.  The black fluid mingled with red blood across his exposed intestines.  The pale, human side of his face seemed even whiter now.  With great effort, Abaenon raised his bolt pistol in an unsteady hand.  Volstag stepped forward again, paused.  The Night Lord’s hand shook, the pistol’s muzzle flashing wildly at and away from its target.  Volstag slapped the weapon away with his good arm and returned with claws to finish the job, ripping under the collar and hood and all but severing the dark apothecary’s head. 
Now three more bodies leaked blood and organs, the room stunk of death and chemical fumes, and broken glass littered the floor.  And despite the gory scene, Volstag felt a calmness come over him.  It was done.
There was pounding at the door and angry voices outside.  A few seconds later came a hissing sound, followed swiftly by green sparks spitting through the edge of the door.  A plasma cutter, Volstag realized. 
He looked around at the wrecked lab and ruined bodies, and drew a deep breath. 
“It doesn’t matter,” he told himself.  He had done all he could. That which he had denied himself hours before he could now succumb to: it was time to give himself fully over to the Wulfen.  Perhaps I’ll wake again in another tree, he thought.  The beast managed to escape before.  Though Volstag really didn’t care if he ever awoke from the rage again.  It wouldn’t matter now.  The traitors of Tundra Station would be found and dealt with by his coming Wolf brothers.  He’d destroyed any stolen gene-seed of Leman Russ and he’d had his vengeance.  All that remained was an honorable death.
He rolled his head about, feeling the muscles of his neck tighten and swell as his jaws bit down in anticipation.  The green sparks continued and the stink of burning metal added to the chemical bouquet of the room.  Pain flowed from each digit along the bones and into his wrists as the beast readied its claws.  His head started swimming.  Was it the fumes or was he simply losing domain over his own body?
The Space Wolf that was Volstag Dragonclaw faded back into the darkness of his mind, trusting the beast within to finish his legacy for him.


Come back tomorrow for the big ebook promo deal:
Four eBooks for Three bucks!