Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The B-Team+ Job

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone here that I run a Deathwatch game. Not because of how I act or anything, but because of the fact that I mention it a lot. Now, the next session of my Deathwatch game is going to be a bit different: four of my five players are playing Rank 1 n00b PCs while one of them is playing his normal main character. The reason for this job are all story related, but there are a few things that I am hoping to get out of it. Things that I am excited enough about that i'm talking about this now and not next week when the session will take place.

What is A "B-Team"?
The concept of a B-Team may be new to some of you, so let me quickly explain it. A B-Team is essentially a session where the players play characters that are not their main PCs. This lets you do a number of things, but one of the best is to use it to introduce scary new threats or to show off parts of a story that you want to have viewed by the players but don't have any way of getting their PCs to it for one reason or another.

One of the more common examples I've seen is using it to let the players be witness to a great defeat that their side in a war is going to be facing. This way the players see how "big and scary" some of the villains may be, but without having to gank a PC or the party to do so. It can be fun, when done right, and give the players a new perspective on the world.

Enter Normalacy
One of the things I'm hoping to do with this adventure is to show just how dangerous some things actually are in the world and that the players face. See, the group I have are not low level - even by Deathwatch standards. Everyone is around rank 5-6 and they've been through a lot of crap. Some of that crap was easier than it should have been maybe, but that was because we were all learning the system together. Since then though, I've had to ramp up the stat blocks on numerous NPC types in order to even come close to threatening the PCs, and even then they tend to whomp on them. This is complete with one member - the lowest level party member - soloing a Master class villain in less than two rounds while barely taking a hit.

So, with this mission, I intend to get across some of the danger. Both to cement the fact that people can die in the world and to show just how awesome the PCs are by comparison to a "normal" Space Marine of the Deathwatch.

Focus the Spotlight
I would by lying if I didn't mention that one of the things I want to do with this session is shine a spotlight on the PC that is a "main" character. The character is cool, and powerful, but tends to get outshone a lot in the normal game by all the things that everyone else can do. It is one of those cases where being second or third best in every category just means you never get to feel special. Now, the player hasn't complained about this - and in fact may be pissed at me for mentioning this - but I want to give them a chance to shine. Their character is a commander type, so having them in charge of some new bloods in a very dangerous situation should be a good test. If nothing else, it will be fun to see how many they can get back alive.

Test Run 101
The third thing I'm planning on doing is test running some new enemies that I am home brewing. These enemies need to be dangerous and deadly: a threat to the leveled up group. However, I also need to make sure that the mechanics work. Basically, if the group of lowbies can kill one of these things fairly handily, then they need massive buffs before they're reading for the spotlight they'll be having. If one of them kills 2-3 PCs without breaking a sweat (provided one of the 2-3 isn't the rank 5-6 char) then it'll probably be about right. We'll see how that goes though.

A Chance To Cut Loose
Finally, I'm looking forward to a chance to cut loose and really let things rock. While I tend not to pull punches in the game, I do scale things to challenges the PCs can actually overcome. In this game, with a B-Team, I can change the win condition to be "Fail the mission but survive" or something like that, and be ok with it. In short, I can cut loose, really stack the deck against the PCs, and see how they react with their new space marines. I'm expecting blood, carnage, and hopefully more than one call of "Retreat! There's too many of them!"

Have you run a B-Team game? How did it go? Ideas for what I should do to these poor rank 1 Space Marines are also welcome. >:->  

1 comment:

  1. I'm a huge fan of this technique. The only advice I would give is to consider, if it makes sense, some parallel action with the main PCs of the other characters so they don't get twitchy.

    I'd also consider having a few Imperial Guardsmen along for the ride as low level NPCs that players can take over if a member of the B-Team bites it too soon.

    A certain 'Ensign Mookler' was introduced in my Rogue Trader campaign this way and became a fondly loved supporting character.