If you read DungeonMastering.com, then you most likely play or at least come across video games. Console Cleric is a column that looks at various video titles to see what digital counterparts can add to tabletop sessions. Last time our controllers took a tour of Gears Of War 3. This time we’re jumping into THQ’s Warhammer 40K: Space Marine where you take on the role of an Adeptus Astartes, an armored superhuman defending humanity against hordes of monsters and the forces of darkness. Games Workshop’s Warhammer Universe is the Ying to D&D’s Yang- dark & gritty rather. Here are d4 (relatively) spoiler free lessons from Space Marine’s elements that will improve your D&D sessions:
1). Begin with a bang: When the game opens, the Space Marines are trying to stop an Ork invasion of a strategically important Forge World (i.e. where various war machines, including the nigh-unstoppable ginormous Titans/BattleMechs are created). The central character that you play, the captain of the Ultra Marines chapter, decides to ditch their playbook (the Codex Astartes). Equipped with a Jump Pack he leaps out of a descending Thunderhawk transport so as to board an Ork flagship, encouraging his colleagues to keep up as he soars down. Landing on their ship alone, he wades through bunches of Orks seeking to get to their main gunport. Once there he wrenches the cannons around so they fire upon the ship, which promptly crashes. Captain Titus gets out of the wreckage to carry on the liberation efforts. And cue the opening credits. So for certain sessions, simply start with action. Just jump right into something that gets the dice rolling & your player’s heartbeats moving.
2). Have Common Respect: The majority of humanity’s forces in the 41st Millenium are the billions of the Imperial Guard, divided into literally millions of regiments. But if they are the quantity, the Space Marines are the quality. Decades of training coupled genetic engineering with the powered armor/weapons makes them the Imperium’s elite force. They are seen on some planets as angels of mankind’s God Emperor. In the game the surviving Imperial soldiers offer prayers on your behalf usually while kneeling or calling you ‘My Lord.’ The esteem is nice & completely believable given both the pessimistic situation as well as the literal power difference between the 2 groups. So in D&D, when the player’s characters reach the point where they are able to stop hordes of Orks with swords or sorcery, consider having the average layperson treat them with some obvious R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Not necessarily outright toadying, but certainly manners consistent with enough differences in Levels to show are called for.
3). Lead them into temptation: Evil is indeed a growth industry because it offers a quick and easy route to power. Towards the end of Space Marine, Captain Titus is given the opportunity to join the Dark Side of the Warhammer setting. The offer is made for him to lead his chapter over to the other side & thereby begin to dominate the galaxy. Unlike a number of other Space Marines who succumbed to this siren’s song, (becoming Chaos Marines, aka the infamous Traitor Legionnaires) Titus declines & a fight ensues. While he resists this immediate seduction, there are implications from how Titus is able to survive the battle with the BBEG that insinuiate he still might have been corrupted anyways. So rather than all your Bad Guys simply only fight the PCs, have some of the cooler NPCs appropriately try to convince a character to turn bad. Better still, perhaps develop a plot that leaves in question whether a PC has unwittingly started down the path. Good going Evil is an incredibly interesting story development.
Thats’s Console Cleric, recommending aspects of THQ’s Space Marine that can make D&D better. But remember that while video games are fun & fast, RPG’s are where you can try anything. ’Til next time.
Oh- my Battle Brothers & I are looking for fellow Space Marines to join us on Xbox Live & stand against Chaos. My GamerTag is MythicParty- if you see me on, send me a message.