News for June 2011
Hive Fleet Dagon 12
A preview of The Achilus Assault, the upcoming supplement for Deathwatch
Deathwatch | Published 16 June 2011

“Though never a verdant world, the lifeless ball of rock that we discovered was unrecognizable as Tyran Primus. The creatures that did this are a threat to the galaxy and must be exterminated by the light of the God-Emperor.”
      —Inquisitor Kryptman, concluding his report on the ruins of Tyran Primus

Last month, we announced the upcoming release of The Achilus Assault, a supplement for Deathwatch. This guide to the fires of war raging in the Jericho Reach, from the numberless tides of the Tyranids in Hive Fleet Dagon to the hellish legions of Chaos pouring forth from the Hadex Anomaly, provides Game Masters with a surfeit of antagonists and mysteries to confront a Deathwatch Kill-team. Today, we’re pleased to present a preview by contributing writer John Dunn.

The Deathwatch development team was kind enough to grant me an opportunity to work on the Tyranids of the Orpheus Salient for Achilus Assault. Specifically, I was asked to focus on the background and methodology that made Hive Fleet Dagon a distinctive force within the Jericho Reach. This meant an opportunity to delve into the rich history of previous Hive Fleets, and to identify those aspects that were special about the incursion within the Reach.

A Question of Scale

Space Marines of the Deathwatch have an opportunity to look at the world of Warhammer 40,000 from many perspectives. Within the Jericho Reach, a battle brother might face a lengthy discussion with a few Imperial officers, then later go to war with his companions against a swarm of thousands of Tyranid monsters. One day’s conflict might be fought on a barren world in its final death throes against the hive fleet, while the next deals with the incursion of a single Lictor upon a bastion of Imperial civilization.

The Hive Fleet Dagon section of Achilus Assault presents a timeline of events that occur when Tyranid forces attempt to devour a planet. With dozens of planets at different stages of the Tyranid invasion, just keeping track of the opposition can be a challenge even for veteran Game Masters. Successfully developing and executing scenarios that take advantage of the themes and worlds of the Orpheus Salient requires careful research, plotting, and a familiarity with the Tyranid swarm. Each stage is examined in detail, along with the goals for the attackers and for the desperate defenders. By using this section as a reference, a Game Master can more easily design scenarios that expose these differences and reflect the desperation of the Crusade forces throughout the Salient.

A Gradual Doom

While there is some variation between different invasions, the Hive Mind is generally consistent in the way that it attempts to devour a planet. Different organisms are used to identify a target system, infest the world, assault the resistance, subjugate the foes, and then absorb the world’s biomass. While a Lictor might play a key role in the earliest stages, the latter become far more dependent upon a Capillary Tower. Knowing which monsters are crucial at these different stages helps the Game Master to choose the foes and helps the players to know which enemies their characters might target to as they attempt to curtail the incursion. Of course, these stages may proceed at different rates, but they are most likely to proceed at a similar sequence throughout the Salient.

It is also important to consider how the attackers change life on a prey world. As the Hive Fleet attacks, there are clear ecological shifts, which typically occur in concert with the military actions. Defenders must be prepared for temperature changes, atmospheric shifts, and even the collapse of structures as biomass is absorbed from the planet’s crust. The very climate of their world may become another lethal weapon to overcome. At the same time, if Deathwatch Kill Teams can successfully target the crucial elements of the incursion, the ecological shifts may be substantially delayed, halted, or even reversed. Without the correct forces, the Tyranids are incapable of conquest.

The Deathwatch’s Challenge

The Achilus Crusade’s forces within the Orpheus Salient are already stretched far too thinly to be effective defenders. As the Crusade scrambles to try to find reinforcements, the Tyranid Swarm moves ever onward through the Reach. This leaves the Deathwatch as the only force capable of assuming responsibility for the xenos incursion. By observing different systems and selectively choosing their targets, the Deathwatch may be able to blunt or even halt the Tyranid attack.

The Orpheus Salient also presents a variety of different planetary systems, each with their own distinctive environments. From the toxic earth of Atonement to the water world of Manuxet, the xenos attacks are endless. By combining these different game worlds with the varied stages of the Tyranid assault, a Game Master can craft a broad range of distinctive environments to create diverse scenarios. By examining the consequences of the Deathwatch actions, he can also decide how quickly a prey planet might proceed along the invasion timeline.

The xenos threat represents the core of Achilus Assault. By presenting a snap shot of the different battlefronts, the book highlights the most key elements in the ongoing Crusade. By assisting the Achilus Crusade, the battle brothers might be able to turn the tide in the Imperium’s favour. Alternatively, if they fail in their actions, the Jericho Reach might soon be devoured by the overwhelming forces arrayed against the Imperium.

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 (12)

Published: 6/22/2011 4:08:47 AM

I must buy this for the additional Tyranid info alone. That it will also be invaluably useful for me running the rpg is just icing on the cake.

Martial Hubris
Published: 6/20/2011 3:50:56 PM

Yeah... Can we please have the rest of the chapters now?

Published: 6/19/2011 9:01:35 PM

Deinos- You can send a poisin extracted from a pure bio-sample of a hive fleet through the capillary towers to at least weaken it so a kill team could go kill it from inside (sounds like a cool situation for the GM to split up the party)

Published: 6/18/2011 3:02:49 PM

MarqueeModels - I think it was going to be called another name - that is ok it is just a name - the contents will be just as good!

Published: 6/17/2011 3:30:20 AM

Has this had a name change?

Published: 6/16/2011 11:58:48 PM

I wonder how big the reach actually is, eventually the nids will run out of planets.

Published: 6/16/2011 5:34:10 PM

This ought to be interesting. The impression I've always gotten is that there's nothing at all astartes can actually do to counter the tyranids -- the entire thing is decided by the navy intercepting the hive fleet before it gets to the planet, and everything on the ground is just digestion. The only important part of the tyranid-Ultramarine battle was, afterall, when they sent a cruiser to detonate in the hive fleet's core. This, in turn, makes it rather disappointing to only have ground stats for tyranids, and no space stats for them.

Now, if this does have ways that tyranid invasions can be fought off from the ground -- and not, say, "roll fellowship to convince the navy captain to attack the tyranids and abstract the space battle" I'll be extremely pleased. I'm also hoping it'll provide an elaboration of what exactly "biomass" consists of.

Published: 6/16/2011 3:52:50 PM

 This sounds really great! I've been on the fence about getting Deathwatch, but this kind of stuff definitely makes it more attractive. 

Published: 6/16/2011 3:40:34 PM

 @Peacekeeper - I believe its to be a setting book much in the vein of Rogue Trader's Edge of the Abyss.

Published: 6/16/2011 3:35:51 PM

So is this an adventure series or is it a supplement like Disciples of the Dark Gods?

Published: 6/16/2011 3:15:05 PM

Seems cool. Love the artwork! BTW it's "death throes."

[ADMIN: Updated. Thanks!]

Published: 6/16/2011 2:36:44 PM

 Seems interesting enough and always got to enjoy throwing more Tyranids at my players.

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