Deathwatch: Apocalypse - A Space Marine Apocalypse World mashup

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Why Deathwatch: Apocalypse?

This is my Apocalypse World (AW) hack of Fantasy Flights Warhammer 40.000 RPG Deathwatch (DW). DW is a game where the players take the roles of gene-enhanced super warrior monks battling the enemies of mankind’s fascistoid Imperium. That star spanning colossal being the last line of defense between humanity and certain extinction. Since the players take the guise of glory seeking warrior monks coming from different chapters, a lot of internal rivalry is to be expected, and is also somewhat catered for in the rules.

However, I feel that the game really falls on its face when it comes to the action part. Instead of being the action filled romp it ought to be, filled with oath taking, boasting and ‘for the Emperor’-s it is a sluggish, bookkeeping fest of future world simulation. Not at all what I had expected when I opened the book. Since having played through a small campaign which died out due to the tedium of the rules I have been searching for a game system that would allow me to play DW the way I had imagined it would be.

Reading on the forum that someone had started a reskinning of the “The Regiment”-hack I realized that AW was probably the system I had been looking for. In AW reality is brutal and unforgiving and everything is tethering on the brink of oblivion. At the same time relations between the characters are important and help drive the story forward. This coincides with how I see how DW should be. But The Regiment introduces a more fine-tuned combat system than AW, a more simulating approach if you will. That is exactly what I want away from in Deathwatch. But still a lot of the very good ideas from The Regiment have been shamelessly stolen.

Considering that the subject matter is 7’ tall superhuman warrior monks 38.000 years into the future simulating reality should not be among the concerns of the game. Creating a fast paced action focused game where questions of valor, glory and chapter history are more important than how large the percentile gain is of a night vision scope when firing through smoke, on the other hand, should.

So this leads me to using the original AW as basis for my hack. When I found Mike Sands’ “The Juggernaut” playbook I knew I was onto something.

Why I originally had not thought about doing an AW hack is that the original playbooks are very singular in how the players create their roles, whereas in DW character creation is very binary; i.e. Chapter/Class. But now I believe I have a solution. It came to me as I sat folding playbooks for a game of AW. My printer at home is unable to print both sides so I simply printed them and then folded them back to back. Holding them in my hands I realized how I could combine the cool playbooks with the binary Space Marines of the future. I’ll make one side of the playbook the class and the other side the chapter!

So this is how Deathwatch: Apocalypse came to be.

I have a playtest document set up that should include most of what you need to try it out with four players. I.e. rules, moves&oaths, an ork beastiarium, armories, five specialties and four chapter backgrounds. I recommend that you print one each of the armories and moves.

I realize that I've forgotten to add an MC agenda but the whole game hinges on the MC being versed in 40k lore so it basically boils down to: Keep it grimdark and invoke history.

Here's the document: Deathwatch: Apocalypse

TL;DNR: Deathwatch has stupidly complicated rules, AW rules fit better, voilá!

Sadly, no space marine mammals included

Please feel free to comment and feed me feedback, for the emperor.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 09:48:32 AM by Jens »

Re: Deathwatch: Apocalypse - A Space Marine Apocalypse World mashup
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 04:26:13 AM »
Hey Jens. I am thinking of continuing some work on this project. Would you mind sharing your templates and/or resources?



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Re: Deathwatch: Apocalypse - A Space Marine Apocalypse World mashup
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2017, 07:50:27 AM »
I'll post everything but I'm swamped right now, will try to get it up next week.



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Re: Deathwatch: Apocalypse - A Space Marine Apocalypse World mashup
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2017, 03:55:11 PM »
There has been some interest in this old gem so I’m putting it all up if anybody wants to tinker with it.

First some more words on the design:

As for the design my main idea was that the specialization would form the basis of the character while the chapter would add, ehm, character. So an assault marine would be just as efficient, game-wise, regardless of which chapter he belongs to. At the same time some combos would be more obvious, just like it is in Deathwatch (Black Templar Assault Marine anyone?).

This means that the specializations brings the stats, the moves and the stuff that is more worky, while the chapter choice adds character flavor through special moves and Hx with the combination giving unique characters.

The reason why there's both a chapter ability and a special is because I found it hard to boil down chapter traits to just one thing. So the design idea was that the chapter ability simply is a rather nice buff for the character while the special is something that can boost but also complicate. Or is a boost with a very narrow application. As an example the Black Templar's special is complicating, while the Imperial Fist's is narrow.

Then the Hx statements further help to define the character and add chapter identity.

As for the other loyalist chapters I actually have skeletons for them in my design document. I just finished the four I did to get to playtesting. The reason for why I “finished” them was that I figured a cool looking RPG would have a greater chance of finding my gaming group willing to try it out.

Normally you should just make the rules and try them out before going into the design phase. Believe me, I got burned on this one.

Since I actually playtested the hack a bit there are some changes that I should implement and then re-make the PDF, but I haven’t:

The Black Templar chapter ability is overpowered and the Dark Angels special and chapter abilities should be switched around. Otherwise it pretty much worked as intended.

Here are the links to the good stuff:
The design document with everything in it:

The beastiarium (containing only the basic beginning of orks so far):

The armories:

The templates:
The templates are for a open source desktop publishing program called Scribus which can be downloaded here:

It’s a kind of non-intuitive layout program that lacks the grace and ease of use of indesign and it’s buddies, but it’s free. Just open one of the templates in scribus and you’ll see what I did. I think you need to get two fonts for it to work properly: “Vtks good luck for you” and “Crust clean”, but those you’ll have to google yourself.

I put the pictures I used in the same folder. I don’t know if they have to be relinked or if they’re inside the scribus files.

Doubtlessly I’ve forgotten something, but this is a start. Good luck!