News for June 2010
Knowledge, Power, & Free RPG Day 17
Deathwatch Psychic Powers + Free RPG Day Extras!
Deathwatch | Published 18 June 2010

by Ross Watson, Senior RPG Developer, and Owen Barnes

Greetings, Deathwatch fans!

Deathwatch Kill-teams often rely upon the psychic powers and learned guidance of a Librarian. These specially trained Space Marines have highly-developed psychic abilities and battle-disciplines that make them into potent warriors. Librarians can communicate across stellar distances, confuse an enemy force, or strike down the strongest foe with bolts of conjured lightning. Librarians are also taught much secret knowledge, and it is this role that often proves most useful to a Kill-team.

Deathwatch Librarian characters in the Deathwatch RPG have access to a number of different psychic powers to choose from. There are some powers that all Librarians share, and in addition, each Chapter has their own particular abilities that only a Librarian from that Chapter may use. Similar to the psychic power rules in Rogue Trader, Librarians have a great deal of control over their abilities, and may choose to use them at a tightly contained manner (the Fettered level), exert their abilities at a fuller level of power but with some risk (the Unfettered level), or they can summon every erg of effort into a massive feat of psychic dominance that incurs a great risk indeed (the Push level).

Here is an example psychic power found in the Deathwatch core rulebook:

Force Dome
Action: Full
Opposed: No
Range: 5m x Psy Rating radius
Sustained: Yes
Description: Summoning up a shimmering field of force, the Librarian fashions a shell around himself and nearby allies. The shell is a sphere extending up to the radius around, above, and below the Librarian and protecting him and any within it. The shell provides 2 AP x Psy Rating against all kinds of ranged attacks or hazardous environmental effects (this additional protection stacks with any worn Armour), even trapping air and water within it. However, it does not stop melee attacks or creatures (friend or foe) that may pass through it without restriction.

Deathwatch Psychic Powers
Librarians are an iconic part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe and play a vital role in the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. They are also among the most formidable battle psykers the Imperium has to offer, with truly fearsome powers and abilities. With this in mind the Psychic Powers Chapter for Deathwatch was designed to take Player-Characters with psychic abilities to a whole new tier of power and provide them with a potent arsenal of with which to vanquish their foes.

In many ways Librarians function just like other psykers, tapping into the warp and channelling energy to create effects (players familiar with Rogue Trader will recognise many of the rules for using psychic powers). Of course a Librarian naturally has more raw power (Psy Rating) and can develop their power to a point beyond the endurance of weaker, more mortal minds. Psy Rating is also used far more extensively in Deathwatch and governs all aspects of psychic power such as its range, area of effect, damage inflicted or how hard it is to resist. This means that the same power manifested with a Psy Rating of 2 will be noticeably weaker than if it were manifested with a Psy Rating of 6. In some cases having a higher Psy Rating can even unlock addition benefits and effects from a power unavailable to those with weaker gifts.

The real changes however exist within the selection of the powers themselves and how characters can use them. Like other psykers Librarians have access to a section of Telepathy and Divination powers (both important to their role communicating with the fleet or advising their commanders), however they also have their own special Discipline of Codex Powers. These are battle powers, abilities that can turn the tide of war and immolate entire platoons of soldiers in clouds of fiery death. Players familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 miniatures game will probably recognise some of these powers; like Smite (which can tear foes apart with psychic lightning), The Gate of Infinity, (which can transport Battle-Brothers instantly across a world), or Vortex of Doom (which opens a hole in the world that will devour anything in its path).

In addition to a large selection of Codex powers each Chapter has a number of their own powers – secret of unique abilities passed down by through specialised training and the gifts of their gene-seed. This means that a Blood Angel Librarian will have access to powers and abilities unlike that of a Dark Angel or Ultramarine, reflecting the strengths of their Chapter. One of my favourite of these Chapter powers is the Storm Warden ability Hammer of the Emperor, which allows the Librarian to literally level entire buildings by calling down a hammer of psychic force kilometres across!

Given their impressive powers (added to the fact that Librarians have access to far more knowledge than any other kind of Battle-Brother) Librarians make for very a useful addition to any kill-team.

Forward, Battle-Brothers!

Don’t forget that tomorrow is Free RPG Day! At any participating local game store you can find copies of Final Sanction, an introduction to the Deathwatch roleplaying game! Final Sanction contains quick-start rules to get you going, pre-generated Deathwatch Space Marine characters, and a high-stakes adventure that puts your Kill-team right into the middle of the action.

As a special bonus, you can find two additional pre-generated characters for Final Sanction on the Deathwatch Support page, and there will be a Final Sanction FAQ thread listed on the Deathwatch forums!

Download the additional Pre-generated characters here:

Brother Octavius and Brother Gregor (pdf, 456 KB)

In addition, you can come to the FFG Event Center in Roseville MN on that same day to play through Final Sanction with the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay Development Team! Myself (Ross Watson), Sam Stewart, and Mack Martin will all be on hand to guide you through this exciting debut of the Deathwatch RPG.

Deathwatch is a roleplaying game in which players take on the roles of the bio-engineered super-soldiers known as Space Marines. United with their battle-brothers, players will complete extraordinary missions involving some of the greatest heroes and deadliest opponents the Warhammer 40,000 universe has to offer.

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Comments (17)

Published: 6/21/2010 7:38:17 AM

This is one of the best Quick Starts for an RPG i've ever seen! I got a chance to run it 2 or 3times at my FLGS (i was the only oneof their customers who was familiar with any of the other games, so i offered to run it) and it went over well. The extra characters from the website were perfect, allowing us to easily fill up the table once people hadseen us playingthe first game


One thing that i would ask is that you make all of the characters avaliable for download, not only sothecommunity has an oppertunity to see the other characters, but also soi have handouts for the 4 core pregens without having to photocopy the booklet

Published: 6/20/2010 12:44:17 PM

I got a chance to play on free RPG day!!! It was soooo much fun! Thanx FFG!

Published: 6/19/2010 8:15:57 PM

I drove 45 minutes to the only store in my state that is actually participating. I had my doubts.

But it was totally worth it.

Published: 6/19/2010 3:43:57 PM

Thanks FFG for your excellent support of Free RPG Day!  The free booklet is awesome (40 pages!) and has our group pumped for the summer release of the Death Watch core book.  Also, thanks for "turning it up to eleven" with the two bonus characters for the preview!  You guys rock! 

Published: 6/19/2010 1:02:14 PM

Regarding the AP8: Don't forget to add in the 8 Toughness Damage Reduction.

So against most weapons, they soak 16 points of damage without a problem. And even from weapons that have a Pen of 8 or more, they still substract 8.

That's pretty darn hefty.

I still hope that the Power Armour behaves like in the Space Wolf and Ultramarine novels: Self-sealing, self-healing, trauma-dampening and Marine-healing/stabilizing. This, added with a Space Marine's internal healing powers should make SMs pretty darn good at survinvig all kinds of strong abuse.

Published: 6/19/2010 4:15:00 AM

Librarians have access to Astropath psyker abilities?

Published: 6/19/2010 12:48:22 AM

 Sounds great! But I'm a little worried that a Librarian will be just more powerful than other characters - I mean, in Dark Heresy, psykers are weaklings who can succumb to a good las shot, which balances out all the offensive power. But here? Still, fantastic, and I'll trust FFG that they've got it right. At worst, being over-powered is nothing that a battle with a Banelord Titan wouldn't fix ;-)

Btw, the 8 AP will be because they have simplified rules for the same armour on all locations - maybe it reflects the lowest armour values, i.e. on the helmet?

Published: 6/18/2010 11:03:47 PM

Nice to see a sample of real space marines.  I was surprised that Space Marine armor is only 8 AP.  I was expecting about 10 to 12 based on the sample given in Purge the Unclean.  I guess that Marines are vulnerable to Eldar and Ork firepower after all...


I wonder if the PDF will be available at the stroke of midnight...

Published: 6/18/2010 5:54:57 PM

I thoroughly approve of increased use of effective psy rating over willpower bonus for effects. I'm a little surprised the MKVII power armour has 8 AP but I'm curious to see what the other details are. It's great to see some stats for the marines finally.

Published: 6/18/2010 3:47:05 PM

c8tiff: Your FLGS that you're running the demo at should have a hard copy for you to use, assuming they signed up to participate in Free RPG day events with the Free RPG day folks.  I've had my copy for a week or so.

Published: 6/18/2010 3:44:36 PM

Fantastic preview!  Thanks for the details and the pregens, FFG!  I think making the effect of psychic powers much more dependent on Psy Rating is a solid move.  These detailed previews are making me more and more excited about the game.  Definitely looking forward to running Final Sanction for my group this weekend.

Published: 6/18/2010 2:38:09 PM

Hmm.  I haven't decided yet whether I prefer the Dark Heresy or the Rogue Trader system of using psychic powers (though the Fettered/Unfettered/Push system has been a godsend, and I will definitely be implementing it if I ever run vanilla Dark Heresy again).

It'll be interesting to see what powers like Smite and Vortex of Doom look like in Deathwatch.

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