Sandboxing in Deathwatch – House rules for handling Objectives and Requisition for Killteams operating without supervision

Deatchwatch Sandboxing small 2Deathwatch features a brilliant approach to military-style campaigns; from the integration of objectives and unit cohesion into the game mechanics to the requisition rules limiting the theoretically unlimited access to equipment. But how to use those for Killteams cut-off from command?The Deathwatch background already mentions Killteams far behind enemy lines or on deep reconnaissance missions handling the situation on their own and as they see fit. And with Deathwatch Stations spread among the stars, a Killteam may easily gain access to equipment far beyond their needs. The potentials of abuse are manifold, and while no true Space Marine would dare to transgress his limits, players are not as well indoctrinated.

The following two house rules offer suggestions how to have the players define objectives for themselves and how to limit Requisition by using Corruption as balancing factor.

Self-defined Objectives

“The duty to the Emperor tolerates no vagueness. To know thy time, to know thy place and to know thy enemy is the only way to serve.”

This house rule deals with Killteams defining objectives of their own.

Many people mix up targets with vague intentions and wishes. A target is typically described as having three aspects: being specific, being measurable and having a defined timeframe. This is especially valid for military objectives. It easy to deduct that the higher the importance of an objective, the more specific it has to be.

The generic, unspecific objective of any Deathwatch operation is to fight the Xenos and to protect the Imperium. It is valid to declare any action measurably damaging a Xenos force or measurably advancing the Imperial agenda at least as a Tertiary Objective, even after the fact.

On the other hand, the Primary Objective(s) should be specified in advance and in detail. Consequently, a Primary Objective is created by the specific declaration of the Space Marines as they set out on an operation. To qualify as Primary Objective, the target of the mission has to be distinct (e.g. killing a distinct enemy commander or destroying a distinct object), it must be clearly measurable (e.g. wiping out at least 80% of an enemy force) and it has to have a specific timeframe (e.g. before a specific event or before reaching a location).

Secondary Objectives fall into the middle ground. Like Tertiary Objectives, Secondary Objectives may be made up on the go, but they must have a specific and measurable effect on achieving the Primary Objective(s).

The Killteam has been dropped on a Tau-occupied world to keep the enemy busy until an invasion force can be mustered. The Killteam decides to take out communications for starters. This is still very unspecific. They decide that they have to move fast so the enemy cannot spread any warnings by messenger before all communications relays have been put out. They identify four major communication hubs and estimate they have half an hour before a messenger can get a warning to the next relay. Now we have a very specific objective: Take out the four communication hubs. Allow not more than half an hour between the destruction of one relay and the next in the chain. This is the Primary Objective as the Space Marines set out.

On their way, they encounter a supply convoy and decide to take it out unless it interferes with their mission. While this is certainly worthy of counting as an objective, it does not specifically further the Primary Objective and is thus rated Tertiary. With the convoy, the Killteam finds the coordinates to a supply cache containing replacement parts for the communication hubs. The Killteam decides to take out this supply cache as well, to keep the Tau from quickly repairing their communication hubs. As this directly furthers the Primary Objective it is rated as a Secondary Objective.

Requisition without Supervision

“Hubris and self-righteousness are not roads to Heresy and Chaos like any other. These are the roads that seduce the most valiant and the most devoted, for not always are our superiors standing ready to guide us, to divide what is rightfully ours from what is insolence.”

This house rule limits Requisition for Killteams whose access to equipment is not managed by their superiors.

Without supervision but access to only one remote Watch Station, a Killteam might requisition the weaponry to equip an army and to reign death and destruction on a whole world. Sometimes, a Killteam might even find this as appropriate way of action. But how to stop a Killteam from abusing their privilege? Taking as right what is none is surely the way to heresy and damnation. Consequently, the punishment for such transgressions comes naturally: Corruption.

Let the Players decide freely what equipment to requisition. Should a Space Marine requisition beyond his Renown, immediately award a point of Corruption for every degree of transgression. Furthermore, using above rules for self-defined objectives, calculate the allowed Requisition. Divide what the players requisitioned by what would have been allowed and round down. The outcome is the amount of Corruption the Space Marines additionally gain at the end of their operation.

A new Killteam is cut off from their home base and has to fight its way back. Luckily, they have access to an old but fully equipped Watch Station. The Space Marines expect not too much resistance and equip for 20 Requisition each. Kilian decides to take the Power Sword he always wanted in addition. The GM awards one point of Corruption immediately, as Kilian transgressed his Renown of Initiated by one rank. Unfortunately, the Killteam omits defining a Primary Objective, but stumbles across three encounters ranking as Novice Tertiary Objectives. Consequently, the GM calculates that 18 points of Requisition would have been appropriate and the Space Marines get one point of Corruption each. Kilian, who effectively requisitioned for 40 points, even gets two points of Corruption, totalling three.

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