Depending on the nature of your Dark Heresy campaign, the idea of rolling up in a tank and excessively obliterating the heretics might seem awfully appealing to your average acolyte (and most certainly your average player). During a mission on a war world - not being explicitly related to the war itself, mind - my players had an opportunity to "borrow" a Leman Russ and accomplish an objective with thunderous effect.
Now, many GMs might be wondering who in their right mind would give their players a tank, much less license to use it, unless you're planning on blowing the thing up shortly thereafter. I wasn't, though it was distinctly possible that that should happen. Instead, what I did was draft up a really quite complicated yet realistic set of rules as far as driving an Imperial AFV went. Once it was over and done with, my players largely decided that it would be easier for them to just do things on foot unless they were actively going into a real warzone. Mission accomplished.
To start with, there is the following disclaimer: after reviewing all of my Imperial Armour books in close detail, I've decided that the Leman Russ is a horrendously bad tank design. Like, not explicitly in game terms, but that the modelers at GW either have no idea what they're doing, or have deliberately decided to make the Leman Russ still look like it did during the Rogue Trader era. Compare a present-edition Russ to a Predator, then look at what the Predator looked like back then. See what I mean?
I, for one, don't miss the good old days.
So, to start off with, I essentially junked what a Leman Russ "actually" looks like. Heavy Support's "Mortian" tank fits the bill much more nicely since the thing has a resemblance to what I'd consider a runty Macharius tank - low, wide hull with a long turret and a very aggressive profile. Instead of looking like a toy, our Imperial armor now looks like the 60-ton xenos-smashing death machine it wants to be, and which the rules quite clearly show that it is. It also looks a lot less incongruous next to a Macharius or Baneblade, or even a Chimera for that matter, which is nice.
Moreover, I can now actually work with a layout that makes sense for a multi-crewed vehicle - this part is essential to probably the best aspect of this entire endeavor, having the players individually operate their parts of the tank and really make good use of teamwork and cooperation to pulverize their enemies most righteously.
Now, this treatise will be divided up into a few key components:
I. Crew positions. When you're faced with the prospect of charging into battle ensconced within a mighty adamantine steed, it's important to divvy up your crew into tasks they're best suited for. Moreover, if you have less than the recommended number of people at your disposal, as my party did, deciding which spots to leave open becomes a factor.
II. Tank greebles. Various things that the tank has which can be used by different people depending on their position. The wonderful thing about having a tank is getting to enjoy the full range of equipment and gear it has, most of which either kills things or makes it easier for other parts to kill things. The array can seem quite bewildering at first, which is why it's very important to have a commander that is calm, collected, and knows when to employ what thingus.
III. General rules for using the tank. This is probably the most crunchy part of the segment so that's why I'm leaving it for last. As GM, you must be very clear and explicit that everyone who might be driving the tank knows exactly what's what, this way they know what they can and can't do in a given moment or what bonuses or penalties might be affecting their current action. Shooting some scummer with an autogun might normally just be a Ballistic Skill Test, but if you're shooting that same heretic with a coaxial weapon on a moving tank, you're probably going to be adding in some pluses and minuses to that.
Still with me? Good, on to the fun bits.
I. THE CREW:
By specification, a Leman Russ will have a crew from five to seven men, depending on whether or not side sponsons have been attached and armed. In order of seniority, you will have a commander, gunner, driver, vox-operator, sponson gunners (2, if applicable), and loader. If you only have four men, you can get by reasonably well without a vox-operator. Three, however, becomes extremely problematic since it will leave at least one essential position empty. If you only have two you can basically make the tank go from Point A to Point B and that's about it.
Detailed descriptions of each position follow:
Commander: Responsible for directing the actions of the tank. He sits in the back of the turret, on the right side, behind the gunner. Because of the vision blocks in the cupola, he has the best visibility of any crewmember, which is essential for maintaining combat awareness. The commander can make sight-based Awareness Tests in any direction at a -10 penalty from within the tank. He has an intercom headset for two-way communication with other crewmembers, and can open specific channels to individual crewmembers if he desires. He can also use the vox-caster to communicate, but only if the vox operator has transferred the signal to him. The commander can operate the tank's auspex scanner as well as the logis targeter. If he chooses to open the hatch, he can stand up or raise his chair to observe the outside directly (no penalty to sight-based Awareness Tests), and can also use whatever weapon is pintle-mounted to his cupola.
Gunner: Fires the tank's primary weapons. He sits in the front of the turret on the right side and is provided with binocular telescopic sights for the tank's weapons. He can make sight-based Awareness Tests at a -10 penalty, but only within a narrow sighting range that the turret is presently aimed at. The gunner controls the rotation of the turret, and may fire either the primary or coaxial weapon (if one is installed) on his turn. The gunner may take an Aim action if he has not rotated the tank's turret that Round. Firing any of the tank's weapons is a Full Action. The gunner has an intercom headset for two-way communication with other crewmembers. Unlike the commander and loader, the gunner does not have his own hatch, and so must wait for the commander to exit the turret before attempting to crawl out the cupola hatch, or drop down into the hull of the tank and use one of the hull hatches.
Loader: Has the unenviable job of loading the tank's main weapon. The loader has no vision blocks or sighting devices so he may not make any sight-based Awareness Tests. The loader may reduce the amount of time necessary to load the tank's main weapon by 1 Round with a successful Challenging (+0) Strength Test, with failure inflicting one level of Fatigue due to overexertion (or pulling a muscle or something). Once the tank has exhausted the ready ammunition in the turret, the loader has the even less enviable job of climbing down into the hull to retrieve ammunition from the storage racks and bringing them up to the turret. The loader does not have an intercom as the gunner simply yells at him over the gun breach. The loader has his own hatch in the turret roof.
Driver: Controls the movement of the tank's hull with Drive (Ground Vehicle). The driver sits in the hull on the left side opposite the vox operator and sees out through vision blocks in the front hull. The driver can make sight-based Awareness Tests at a -20 penalty, but only against things within a 30-degree cone in front of the tank. This penalty can be reduced to -10 by opening the vision blocks to look directly at the battlefield, or eliminated entirely by opening the front hatch (which is also how the driver exits the vehicle). The driver has an intercom for two-way communication with other crewmembers. Because he cannot see backwards at all, the driver and commander must maintain communications when attempting difficult maneuvers.
Vox operator: Has double duty operating the tank's vox-caster as well as firing the hull-mounted weapon and sits at the front of the hull on the right side opposite the driver. The vox operator can communicate with other contacts using the vox-caster personally or route the feed to the commander's intercom. The vox operator has a fairly primitive binocular gun sight for operating the hull-mounted weapon, and can make sight-based Awareness Tests at a -20 penalty, but only in a fairly narrow range when directing the hull-mounted weapon. The vox operator has no other vision blocks. The vox operator has an intercom for two-way communication with other crewmembers as well as vox contacts. The vox-operator doesn't have his own hatch and so must exit the tank through the driver's hatch, or use one of the side hatches. If the tank has an enginseer attached, he will typically be in this position.
Sponson gunners: Manually operates one of the sponson-mounted weapons. Each gunner is responsible for aiming, firing, and reloading his weapon (if applicable) and sits in a sling or collapsible chair that rotates opposite the fulcrum of the sponson pivot. Each gunner has a fairly primitive binocular gun sight for operating his weapon, and can make sight-based Awareness Tests at a -20 penalty, but only in a fairly narrow range when directing their sponson weapon. Each gunner has an intercom for two-way communication with other crewmembers. The sponson gunners exit the tank via the side hull hatches, which are typically located either fore or aft of the sponson depending on how far back it is mounted. If the tank is not equipped with sponsons then these positions are obviously not included, the area typically being occupied by extra storage for supplies and/or additional hatches.
II. TANK SYSTEMS AND PARTS:
Multiple bits of tech and gear are installed to improve the tank's fighting prowess, and knowing what to use and where to use it can be a deciding factor in winning a battle. Moreover, effective use of the tank's equipment acts as a force multiplier - a better crewed and drilled tank will inevitably triumph over one whose operators are unfamiliar with its use.
Auspex: To improve in sighting and destroying enemies in cover, the Leman Russ has an auspex installed in the turret. The auspex has a range of 500m and can be activated with an Ordinary (+10) Tech-Use Test to scan for enemy targets. The commander controls the auspex from a small panel attached to the turret wall on his left side. Targets identified by the auspex appear on a small screen integrated with the panel, which the commander can use to instruct the gunner on directing the tank's weapons. However, the principle use is in feeding target information to the logis targeter.
Auto-Launchers: Tanks can be vulnerable to close range attacks by groups of enemy soldiers armed with demo charges or other explosives, so a Leman Russ can be equipped with auto-launchers to discharge grenades over a wide area for self-defense or screening purposes. These are controlled by the commander and can be fired off in a 45-degree arc, with the exact direction depending on how the launchers have been installed (located on the hull or turret, aimed to the front or sides, etc). Each auto-launcher fires three heavy grenades, which are set to explode at a distance of 10 meters, 25 meters, or 50 meters, and are typically fitted with either frag, smoke, or blind grenades. Blind grenades are extremely useful for shielding the tank from other tanks and aircraft, but they also prevent the tank from looking through the smoke either and so their use should be considered carefully. The launchers have to be reloaded manually from outside the tank after being used.
External Storage: The sides of the tank's hull and turret will typically be used to store equipment and other gear that can't fit inside the tank. Imperial tanks tend to have a cramped interior due to their thick armor and large machinery, while fuel and ammunition is often stored in various other areas that take up cubic space very quickly. Tools like shovels and axes as well as jacks, hammers, cleaning rods, and other equipment will typically be lashed to the sides of the tank or tossed into bins on the back of the turret. Basic weapons are generally too long to be maneuvered inside a tank, so tank crewmen who are bringing lasguns or other larger weapons with them (Inquisitorial acolytes borrowing a tank, for example) will secure them in a rack or bin while traveling. These areas can also be used to store extra rations, fuel drums, camouflage netting, and ammunition for secondary weapons.
Extinguishers: Eruption of a tank's fuel supplies usually force the crew to evacuate at once for fear of a catastrophic explosion. A smaller fire breaking out in the fighting compartment is less likely to result in the tank immediately blowing up, but it will start causing rapid smoke accumulation and could possibly ignite stored ammunition. Chemical extinguishers are installed at various points inside the fighting compartment for the express purpose of putting out these types of fires. Quickly snuffing out a fire can save the tank and allow the crew to keep fighting. In an active battle situation, the vox-operator is usually the man tasked with grabbing an extinguisher and putting on a fire. In general there should be between four and ten extinguishers, each of which is sufficient to put out a small fire before being exhausted.
Logis Targeter: The logis targeter requires the auspex already have successfully detected a target to be used. This system provides accurate ballistic calculations overlaid to the gunner's binocular sights, and further improves the precision of the gun stabilizers. If it has targeting data available, the commander can attempt an Ordinary (+10) Tech-Use Test to relay firing data to the gunner, in which case the gunner gains a +10 bonus on any Ballistic Skill Tests he makes when firing the tank's primary or coaxial weapon at any one target identified by the auspex. The commander can make subsequent Tests at the same difficulty to provide the gunner with the Ballistic Skill bonus when firing at other targets.
Hatches: Being able to exit the tank in a hurry is a valuable skill in the event of a surprise attack or the vehicle suffering critical damage - a fast bail-out can be the difference between living to fight another day or burning to death as the tank's fuel and ammunition cooks off. Crewmembers that have their own hatches - the commander, loader, and driver - can exit the tank as a Full Action, which also allows them a Half Move worth of movement to climb down (and presumably start running). Crewmembers who don't have their own hatch - the gunner and vox-operator, and sponson gunners, or any other crew whose hatch has been blocked - can either wait a Round for a hatch to become available, or spend a Full Action to find another hatch. The hatches for the commander and loader open out the top of the turret, while the driver's hatch opens out the top of the hull. The driver's vision block plate can also be swung open and used as a hatch as well. There are usually two or four hatches in the sides of the hull that can also be used to evacuate the tank, though their primary purpose is for loading ammunition into the hull.
Intercoms: Wired headsets allow to the crew to communicate with each other. The inside of a moving tank is noisy - between the rumbling of the powerful engine and loud droning of ventilators that keep the air from becoming stale or compromised by fumes, it is difficult to maintain conversation except at almost point-blank range. The headsets all share a given channel so that each crewmember can talk to any other. The commander and vox-operator have a more advanced version with a toggle box that allows them to select specific units and establish a private channel to that crewman. The vox-operator can also use this feature to give the commander a private line to anyone being contacted by the vox unit itself.
Ready Storage: Twelve shells for the Conqueror cannon may be stored in so-called "ready storage" inside the turret ring, giving the loader immediate access to the ammunition. The rest of the ammunition for the main gun is stored in racks in the floor of the hull, requiring the loader to arduously carry shells up into the turret to refill the ready storage racks. Ammunition stored in the hull floor is protected by water bladders to reduce the possibility of a catastrophic explosion, but the ammunition in the turret is offered no such protection as it must be accessed as quickly as possible. Giving the possibility of a penetrating hit to the turret sides or rear, some tank commanders will elect to store less than a full load of shells in "ready storage".
Vision Blocks: When all the hatches are closed and locked the tank is effectively a suit of sealed armor and fully protects the crew from toxic gases, radiation, and other nasty effects, but being able to see outside is a useful trait for engaging the enemy. The Leman Russ is outfitted with a number of vision blocks, sturdy armaglas periscopes used so that the crew can at least get a decent idea of outside conditions. Most of the crewmembers have at least one vision block that allows them to look outside - the gunners and vox-operator to help aim their weapons and the driver to help see where he's going. The commander is provided with a cupola that has vision blocks looking in all directions, and as a result he's the only member of the crew that can actually see what's happening all around the tank. Vision blocks provide only a fairly small viewable angle and as a result always impose a penalty on sight-based Awareness Tests. Further, observing objects directly adjacent to the tank is simply not possible. Vision blocks can be shot out or damaged by enemy fire, but it is unlikely that a crewman using that block would be injured by the periscope's destruction.
Vox-Caster: The Leman Russ is fitted with a powerful vox unit in order to maintain in communication with command vehicles and other tanks in the division. This bulky unit takes up a good amount of space on the left side of the forward hull where the vox-operator makes use of a large panel of dials and knobs to isolate specific vox channels and frequencies. Use is broadly similar to a normal portable vox-caster albeit with a greatly enhanced range and the ability to still be used at short distances even in areas of high interference.
III. USING THE TANK
Now that we've described everyone's job and the various bits and pieces that get used to make it happen, let's get to the part where the tank crushes the heretics (in the Emperor's mercy). To start off we'll focus on moving and shooting, then go to the more greebly bits.
IIIA. Moving: The driver controls the mobility of the tank via two steering sticks and a series of pedals, the latter of which aren't entirely different from common ground-car designs. The tank is powered by a multi-fuel V12 engine giving it very strong engine power, which is helpful when you weigh 60+ tons, and has a manual gearbox with a clutch pedal and selector knob (five forward, two reverse). Acceleration and steering are controlled by the sticks, which apply power to the tracks on each side of the tank - turning is accomplished by applying more power on one side than the other, with the sharpness of the turn varying on how much faster the one side is moving. The Leman Russ cannot turn in place and so has to have at least a minimum turning radius of open space to commit a 180-degree rotation of the hull. The driver accomplishes these various tasks by making Tests, as appropriate, of his Drive (Ground Vehicle) Skill. Tanks like the Leman Russ are designed to handle rough terrain and uneven surfaces quite well, so Drive Tests are not necessary when making normal Maneuver actions even on Difficult Terrain - however, a jostling hull does make it harder to aim and shoot the tank's weapons, so the driver and gunner must cooperate carefully when moving and shooting is involved at the same time.
Penalties may apply to Ballistic Skill Tests when shooting the tank's weapons while the tank is moving, depending on its speed, the terrain, and any maneuvers being undertaken. In general, consider the following:
Tank moving in reasonably straight lines at Tactical Speed or less: +0
Tank moving in reasonably straight lines at more than Tactical Speed: -10
Tank moving in reasonably straight lines at more than twice Tactical Speed (aka hauling ass): -20
Tank makes any sharp turns: -10 for every 45 degrees
Difficult Terrain: normal penalty when moving at Tactical Speed, double normal penalty when moving at more than Tactical Speed
Ideally, when making attacks the tank will come to a complete stop to give the gunner the most stable firing position. The gun stabilizers on the main weapon can help in this situation, but their principal application is in improving the gunner's aim when the turret is rotating. It can be nearly impossible to hit anything while traveling over very uneven ground at speed, so commanders should always assess the battlefield ahead of them when giving orders to their crew as far as mobile battles go.
Crashing a Leman Russ on flat ground is exceptionally difficult to do - the mass of the tank combined with a fairly low maximum speed will usually keep it firmly anchored to the ground. However, badly bungling a maneuver can cause a track to rip off, which must then be laboriously hammered back into place. When a fumbled Drive Test calls for a vehicle to crash, if the tank is not on some kind of very uneven surface (like a slope) the GM should consider having it throw a track rather than tip over like some drunk noble's touring car.
IIIB. Shooting: The principle function of a tank is to aggressively destroy enemy assets with its weapons and most Imperial tanks are outfitted well for the task. A tank's weapons are broadly divided between primary and secondary weapons. The tank's primary weapon includes the "big gun" in the turret along with a coaxial weapon if one is installed. Secondary weapons are other mounted guns, such as lascannons or heavy bolters installed in the tank's hull and sponsons as well as any weapons attached to the commander's cupola, hunter-killer missiles on the barrel, and so forth.
The gunner controls the primary weapons as well as turret rotation from his station and makes use of a control yoke to adjust aim and firing, along with weapon selection if applicable. Aiming along the horizontal axis is affected by rotating the turret, while aiming along the vertical axis is affected by elevating or depressing the gun mantle. Imperial tanks tend to have a low turret roof and so their ability to "aim down" is extremely limited. A Leman Russ turret can be rotated up to 45 degrees as a Half Action and 90 degrees as a Full Action, with full 360-degree rotation taking 4 Rounds. Firing any of the gunner's weapons is a Half Action - even those capable of Full Auto attacks - so any target that is in the tank's "facing quadrant" (fore/left/right/aft) that the turret is currently pointed in can be attacked that Round. Note that the gunner may only take an Aim action in a Round that the turret has not been rotated, so lining up a carefully placed shot can take some time.
The tank's primary weapons are stabilized by a logis-controlled gyro system which attempts to compensate for the tank's movement. This system means the gunner does not suffer any penalties to his Ballistic Skill when rotating the tank's turret, and further reduces any penalties he is suffering due to the movement of the tank itself by 5.
It is often faster to bring the tank around by rotating the hull as opposed to the turret, however this will inevitably place a penalty on the gunner's Ballistic Skill Tests. To wit it is always preferable to make use of the turret's rotation to bring the gun around except in emergency situations. The driver may turn the tank while the gunner turns the turret, so it is possible to fire at a target directly behind the tank's original facing after one Round.
A tank's secondary weapons can vary widely depending on the pattern and configuration. A Leman Russ will in general have at least one weapon installed in the hull, and may have more weapons installed in side sponsons or on the commander's cupola. The secondary weapons are largely intended for use in defensive or support fire due to their limited firing arcs and the fact that unlike the primary weapons they do not have any gun stabilization. A weapon mounted in the front hull could theoretically be fired at any target within a 45-degree arc of the front facing of the tank, while the sponson-mounted weapons could do the same along the hull's axis out to a roughly perpendicular angle. A pintle-mounted weapon on the commander's cupola could be rotated in any direction, but requires the commander to at least partially expose himself to enemy fire. Because a cupola-mounted weapon rotates with the turret, firing that weapon sustains penalties during turret rotation just as though the hull had turned.
IIIC. Loading & Reloading: Some weapons, such as lascannons, can be powered by the tank's engine running and thus the crew need not worry about reloading the weapon as long as the tank has fuel. Most tank weapons fire projectiles or bursts of flame, however, and just like their infantry counterparts these will need to be reloaded periodically.
The primary focus of this segment is for tanks with a large cannon as the primary weapon - this covers most common Leman Russ variants. The example here is for a Leman Russ Conqueror, which was the tank that was used in my campaign - adjustments should be considered for other variants like the Demolisher and Vanquisher types.
Reloading the main weapon is the inglorious task of the vehicle's loader, who has access to up to twelve shells in the "ready storage" racks inside the turret. This requires five steps, each of which is a Full Action - to wit, a well trained crew could expect to fire two shells a minute. First, the loader selects the desired warhead (usually being screamed at him by the commander or gunner), removes it from the rack, and primes it for loading. Second, the loader drops the warhead into the loading tray and shoves it into the open breech. Third, the loader retrieves a propellant charge from the rack and prepares it for loading. Fourth, the loader drops the propellant charge into the loading tray and shoves it into the breech, creating the complete "round". Fifth, and finally, the loader collapses the loading tray and closes the breech, rendering the cannon ready to fire. The loader must use caution throughout the entire process as there are a great many ways to be injured or lose a finger while maneuvering the large shell components in the cramped interior of the tank's turret. When the gunner fires the weapon, the recoil of the weapon slides back on pistons and automatically opens the breech, ejecting the spent propellant charge with great force. The spent charge flies directly into a hardened plate at the back of the turret and clatters to the floor of the hull to be refilled and used again later. The loader or commander could be seriously injured or killed if they happen to be within the path of an ejecting charge; both would be well advised to lean towards the turret wall during firing just in case. With the breech now open and empty, the loader can begin the process again. During an intense battle situation, the floor of the tank can become quite mired in spent cartridges, another thing for the loader to be mindful of when retrieving new shells from the "wet" racks in the floor.
Reloading the tank's secondary weapons broadly follows their infantry counterparts. Heavy bolters are typically used with the more compact ammo drums containing 60 bolts, while plasma cannons and heavy flamers will often make use of attached ammunition canisters that are little more than the typical infantry backpacks condensed down into a more squat profile and lacking the attachments to be carried by soldiers in the field. Depending on the specific nature of the ammunition in question, the GM may wish to increase the number of actions necessary to Reload any of these weapons due to the more cramped interior of the tank and the need to retrieve fresh supplies from elsewhere in the vehicle's hull. The tank's secondary weapons are designed to be reloaded by the crewmember who usually fires them. If the tank has a coaxial weapon installed, however, that tasks falls to the loader.
IIID. Things Going Wrong: Tanks are complicated, precision war machines (as any enginseer worth his augmetics would tell you) that generally dislike having their functions upset by penetrating hits from krak missiles and bioplasma bolts. As a result, there's almost as many things that can break or malfunction, possibly with catastrophic results, as there are ways for a tank to kill the enemy.
The Vehicle Critical Hit Charts published in the Rogue Trader and Deathwatch rulebooks are perfectly good for generalist vehicles, but I would encourage any GM even considering the small book above you to flesh this out with more options and effects that could conceivably occur - this would be especially appropriate for Critical Hits caused by Righteous Fury as many of these are detrimental to the tank's functions but will not stop it either.
Minor Fire: Something flammable comes alight within the fighting compartment, causing acrid smoke to begin filling the tank's interior. If the fire is not extinguished within 1d5 Rounds smoke completely obscures visibility inside the tank; a further 1d5 Rounds later and the crew will begin to suffer from Suffocation due to smoke inhalation. From this point on there is a 5% chance that the tank may spontaneously catch on fire (see the Fire Critical Hit effect in the book).
Turret Jammed: An enemy shell lodges in the turret ring and prevents it from turning, freezing it in the current position. The primary weapons must now be aimed by turning the tank's hull, requiring a Hard (-20) Drive Test by the driver for the gunner to have any chance of hitting what he's aiming at.
Turret Motor Destroyed: A short in the power system or a lucky knocks out the turret motor, forcing the gunner to turn the turret via a hand crank. Rotating the turret now takes twice as long.
Vision Device Destroyed: One crewmember's vision blocks are caved in, smoked over, shattered, or otherwise rendered useless. That crewmember may no longer make sight-based Awareness Tests and may be unable to fire any weapons associated with his position. If the commander's cupola was damaged by this effect the pintle-mounted weapon may be rendered inoperable as well.
Auto-Launcher Misfire: If the tank has been fitted with auto-launchers the grenades are fired in their tubes. Frag genades may destroy the launchers (and have unfortunate effects if anyone's head happens to be sticking out a nearby hatch), while smoke or blind grenades go off in the tubes, possibly blinding the entire tank until the smoke clears.
Hatch Jammed: A glancing shot or ricochet beats a hatch inward or fuses the hinges in place, preventing the hatch from being opened. By itself this has no real consequence, but could prove to be less than optimal if a crewmember has to exit the tank in a hurry. Depending on the nature of the hit, the GM may wish to not inform the player about the hatch being stuck until they try to open it.
Armor Spalling: A severe impact from an enemy projectile is stopped by the tank's armor, but concussive force causes sheets of armor to blow off on the interior face of the fighting compartment. Treat this as a crewmember being hit with an attack from a shotgun at Point Blank Range, scoring extra hits for the Scatter quality as normal.
A final note regarding the vehicle explodes result on the existing charts: the figures provided seem adequate for a fuel tank explosion, but I believe the writers at FFG have drastically underestimated the power of a tank's ammunition "cooking off". A Leman Russ with a cannon armament that suffers a catastrophic explosion of its main gun's ammunition would be a spectacular sight - suffice to say I wouldn't be allowing a Dodge Test to try and fling yourself out of the hatch.
For a good example of that, I'll direct you to this picture of a Soviet KV-2 tank that suffered a similar ammunition explosion. You may note that the entire hull has been blown apart at the seam welds while the turret was blown into the air and landed upside down. I doubt there was anything left of the crew but a scorched mist on the interior of the compartment.
Anyway, that's my treatise on using a tank. Armed with the statement that this is meant to be as detailed, complex, and in-depth as possible, any further thoughts or criticism would be appreciated. Likewise, if any of you happen to approve of this sort of thing and would care for any of my more statistical crunchings and musings (like how much Damage a Conqurer cannon canister shell does), feel free to inquire.
I wrote the Macharian Handbook.
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I can see "PCs in a tank!" as a fun one-shot event, especially if it's the pay-off to a long scenario. As permenant equipment, though… Aside from questions of game balance, the real issue, it seems to me, is how do you keep the game from degenerating into a tedious series of 'drive' and 'fire' rolls? There was a thread on the Only War Forums cheer-leading the idea of an all-tank-based campaign; I posed that question, and the only response was to force the PCs to leave the tank to do most of the adventuring- in which case, why have a tank-based campaign in the first place…?
My 'fan-created content':
The idea of it being a one-shot event was the entire idea in my game at least, and while my players have had an opportunity to commandeer an armored vehicle several times since then, they've opted not to in all but one of them, precisely because it *is* tedious. That being the case, I also typically don't force engagements on my players where you'd really *need* a tank very often either, so in the assessment of effort to outcome - and the fact that blasting bad guys with a Conqueror cannon doesn't usually leave anyone alive to interrogate - they've opted to do it in a more old-fashioned style.
If a GM wanted to do this as a permanent equipment I'd question exactly what it is their acolytes are supposed to be doing, and moreover, if there wasn't another arm of the Inquisition that would be better suited for the task.
I wrote the Macharian Handbook.
I found your outline to be quite interesting. As I've just picked up my copy of Only War I'll be spending more time going over the vehicle rules with more care. From what I've read of them (skimming) I actually found your rules to be more palatable. Perhaps it was your in-depth approach to descriptions. That and the injection of humor. Excellent stuff.
Thanks. When I was doing the Macharian Handbook I tried to make healthy use of that sort of dry English humor that is a constant companion in 40k, so that kinda pervaded here too.
I haven't read Only War in detail so far so I couldn't really comment on if anything here would be applicable there.
I wrote the Macharian Handbook.
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