Campaign of the Month: December 2013
Fate: Warhammer 40,000
Running Games for Space Marines
Rather than simply scaling up the skill cap for space marines, I have opted to distinguish space marines from human PCs by allowing them to make more extensive use of aspects through the Astartes Doctrine stunt, which adds a new layer to character generation and tactical thinking.
The astartes also have many defensive options, including easy access to power armor variants, which are standard issue for battle-brothers, and the Hard to Kill stunt, which makes it impossible to one-shot a space marine in combat.
Challenging Space Marines
Because the Astartes Doctrines stunt allows them to free tag one aspect per turn, effectively allowing them to make a skill 7 attack each turn in combat. The standard power armor provides 4 points of armor. When facing weapons with no penetration, a space marine making an all-out attack is more difficult to wound than a regular human PC in cover taking a full defense action (athletics 2, plus 2 defense from cover). This allows space marines to laugh off most basic attacks from basic weapons, even when deployed in squads.
To challenge space marines in combat, treat them as skill cap 7 characters. An NPC with a skill column capped at 7 will be a minor challenge for a space marine. Any NPC with lower skill rating should maneuver to create advantages, since armor value does not play a factor there. A challenging encounter will feature a 9-capped character. Because of a space marine’s Hard to Kill stunt, feel free to pit them against exceedingly powerful enemies without fear of them being one-shot.
It is important to include encounters that challenge the space marines in arenas outside of physical combat. For instance, they may need to interact with important imperial figures, who cannot simply be killed without ramifications. The perils of the warp also lurk in every shadow, ready and eager to corrupt zealous space marines.
The space marine package offers a few boosts in noncombat situations: both Astartes Doctrine and Inspire Zeal are usable once per scene, and require seeking an opportunity to apply their aspects in the situation. If the space marine’s skills are particularly combat focused, and they may actually be less effective in social / mental challenges than the average skill 5 PC.