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So here's a half-baked idea: let's make psychic powers automatically go off. Well, with caveats.

WHAT I'M TRYING TO IMPROVE
1.) Mainly, this is a fluff thing. Yes, yes. Fluff isn't an excuse for broken mechanics, but fluff should inform mechanics. At least in a game like 40k where capturing an army's lore through the rules is a large part of the appeal. I've read a fair few BL novels and codices over the years, and the phenomenon of psykers randomly failing to cast powers and/or blowing their heads up is... actually not a thing that happens to most psyker units in the game. Sure, untrained human might struggle to cast a power and then die horribly along with everything in their vicinity. But librarians, chaos sorcerers, any flavor of aeldari psyker, and daemons really don't. Those characters might get some dramatically-appropriate nose bleeds or even end up dying by over-exerting their powers, but they I can't recall a time that a librarian's attempt to shoot fire from his hands just straight up failed out of the blue. I've never seen a shadowseer or warlock take out a squad of aeldari because they goofed up their focus on their powers. Daemons never really seem to suffer from perils at all in the lore. The only exceptions that spring to mind are things like wyrdvane psykers and weirdboyz, but those are very much the exception rather than the rule. And if the lore says that only highly-specific types of psykers randomly fail to call upon their powers or go boom when they do so, I'd think that would mean perils should be a special rule for that minority of units rather than a general rule that applies to everyone.

2.) Randomly failing psychic tests (and high WCs) seem to be used as a way of balancing and justifying more powerful psychic powers. And I don't like that. If something like Warp Time or Doom is considered so powerful that letting it go off every turn is too powerful, then hoping that the power fails an average of X% of the time (based on the power's WC) seems like a pretty haphazard way to reign it in.

WHAT I'M PITCHING
* Get rid of WC. Replace it with "Stress."
* After you cast a power, the psyker unit gains Stress Counters equal to the Stress stat of the power cast.
* When you cast a power, roll a d6 + the unit's current Stress Counters. If the result exceeds the unit's Leadership, the unit takes a number of mortal wounds equal to the difference, and the power is not cast.
* Perils of the Warp is gone. Or at least, it becomes a special rule for things like wyrdboyz and wyrdvane psykers.
* You can "push" some powers. Basically, you can cast a more potent version of the power, but you add an amount to the d6 roll as specified in the power's description. So Smite might have a Push(3) option that does d6 mortal wounds instead of d3, but you'd add 3 to the d6+Stress roll meaning you're more likely to fail to cast the power and take damage.
* At the start of your own psychic phase, each psyker in your army removes a single Stress Counter. Some units might have special rules that let them remove more than 1.
* Personally, I'd probably be inclined to just get rid of Deny the Witch entirely and convert anti-psyker rules into Ld debuffs and/or penalties to the d6+Stress roll. But if that's unpopular, you could also just do a d6+Stress roll off at the time your opponent declares he's going to try to deny the power.
* EDIT: Thinking on it the math probably works out better if you have an option to spend the psychic phase using a "Meditate" action that lets you remove d3 or even d6 additional stress counters. That way, you could set the Stress of more potent powers at 2 or 3 without accumulating so much stress that your powers become suicidal halfway through the game. This would also give you an incentive to take less potent powers (with lower Stress stats) so that you could control the pace at which you accumulate stress. A farseer, for instance, would be at stress 8 (yikes!) by the end of turn two if he cast two Stress 2 powers each turn. But if he cast a Stress 2 (Guide?) and a Stress 1 (Smite or a Runes of Fortune mini power), he'd only be at Stress 6 by the end of his second psychic phase. Maybe less if his Runes of the Farseer power was reworked to let him lower his Stress by 2 instead of 1 at the start of the psychic phase.

The intended end result is that you have psykers who are more or less guaranteed to succeed in using their first couple powers and can continue to cast without issue if they're selective about when they use what powers. Instead of constantly throwing out every power in your arsenal (unless you're worried you'll randomly die), power usage becomes more of a resource management minigame. Is it worth smiting a few extra guardsmen to death this turn, or would you rather hold off so that you can safely cast a super smite against the tank behind them next turn? Or is it important that you do both and just pray to the Emperor that you don't fail d6+Stress psychic test? Ahriman might slip up on casting a spell if he's been frantically tossing around as many powers as he can the last few turns, but he won't have a brain fart and fail to cast his first smite of the game because you flubbed your dice roll.

Psykers fail powers because they're overwhelmed, not because lolrandom. Limiting the use of extra-potent powers becomes a matter of resource management rather than a matter of randomly failing a psychic test X% of the time. Psykers are no longer time bombs just waiting to nuke any friends standing nearby (unless they happen to be a unit that warrants a special rule that does that.) Your psykers feel cooler, and failing to use their powers is more cinematic. You reduce the amount of time spent rolling dice for psychic tests, and you're presented with more meaningful decisions regarding the management of your psychic power-related resources (mostly stress). This seems pretty appealing on paper. Am I missing something?

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 04:53:29


 
   
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On initial glance, though? Good stuff. I like!

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This is really interesting, and I love the return to Leadership-based psykers, but it also looks like a bit more book keeping than I'd want. Removing randomly failing powers is also definitely appealing - very few other abilities work that way, and for good reason. Although I suppose you could argue that attacks do.

My suggestion would be to instead reverse the order of operations. Rather than powers adding Stress after being cast, each power has Stress/WC. When you cast it, roll D6+Stress/WC; if the result is higher than your Leadership, you eat Perils. Each time you cast a power, increase its Stress/WC by 1 that phase across your army (encourages varied power use without banning you).

Then the "push" version is just an alternate "firing mode" of the same power that has a higher Stress/WC, or requires an extra D6. Orks get a special rule where a nat 6 means they Perils *and* cast at the highest level, or something.

EDIT:
PSYCHIC TESTS
To take a Psychic test, roll one D6 and add the power's Warp Charge. If the result is equal to or less than that PSYKER model's Leadership (Ld) characteristic, the Psychic test is passed. An unmodified roll of 1 (or double 1, for an Awakened power) also always results in a passed Psychic test, irrespective of the total result. When a PSYKER unit in your army successfully manifests a Psychic power, add 1 to the Warp Charge of that power until the end of the turn.

In any other case, the Psychic test is failed, and the PSYKER unit immediately suffers Perils of the Warp.

AWAKENED POWERS
Some psychic powers can be manifested in a more powerful form, called an Awakened power. Select which version of the power you want to use before you take the Psychic test. An Awakened power is considered to be the same psychic power for all purposes, but when a unit takes a Psychic test to manifest it, roll 2D6 instead of one D6.

SMITE (Warp Charge 1)
The closest enemy unit within 18" of and visible to the psyker suffers D3 mortal wounds.
Awakened: That unit suffers D6 mortal wounds instead.

Something like this? Maybe make Deny a lot less common (equivalent to being able to manifest two powers) and turn it into a "reverse" Psychic test, so you're risking Perils by doing it. So for Thousand Sons, basic Smite is 100% safe and reliable on Aspiring Sorcerers for two casts, then creeps up to a 16%, 33%, 50% chance of blowing you up, while Awakened Smite starts out at a 40% chance of blowing you up, then creeps to 60%, then 75%. By comparison, current Smite always has a 5% chance of blowing you up, and an 83% chance of success that creeps to 75%, then 60%, then etc. It's less reliable, sure, but less risky since failure doesn't mean Perils.

You'd probably also want something to lessen the Warp Charge increase in bigger armies, since it's so much more dangerous here. The worst that can happen to 1k sons at the moment is that their powers stop working when you've used too many; here, they become more likely to kill them. Could just be something like:
Brotherhood of Sorcerers: The ranges of all psychic powers manifested by units with this ability are increased by 6". In addition, when this unit fails a Psychic test to manifest a non-Awakened power, it does not suffer Perils of the Warp if it would have passed that Psychic test using the power's unmodified Warp Charge.
Example: An Aspiring Sorcerer takes a Psychic test to manifest Smite, and rolls a 6. Two other PSYKER units in that army have manifested Smite previously in that phase, so the power's Warp Charge is 3. The total is 9, greater than his Leadership characteristic, so the test is failed and the power does not manifest; but the power's unmodified Warp Charge is 1, for a total of 7, so the Aspiring Sorcerer does not suffer Perils of the Warp.

Astra Militarum get something like:
  • Choir of Minds: Each time you take a Psychic test to manifest a non-Awakened power for this unit, subtract 1 from the result for every 3 models in this unit.
  • Summary Execution: The first time an ASTRA MILITARUM unit fails a Morale test or a Psychic test whilst it is within 6" of any friendly COMMISSARS, you can execute a model. If you do, one model of your choice in that unit is slain and the test is re-rolled (do not include this slain model when making Morale tests this turn).


  • This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 11:09:34


     
       
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    This is a pretty nice system and probably far more lore accurate to what psycher's actually go through.

    It gives incentives for a higher Ld stat on pyschers as well (even makes the +1Ld on ultramarines benefit Tigurius more).

    You could even make it work with psychic secondaries, saying they succeed with no stress accumulated but still having to roll (incase they had already accumulated alot of stress).

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    Sorry for taking so long to reply. Life has been busy here.

    Eihnlazer wrote:This is a pretty nice system and probably far more lore accurate to what psycher's actually go through.

    It gives incentives for a higher Ld stat on pyschers as well (even makes the +1Ld on ultramarines benefit Tigurius more).

    You could even make it work with psychic secondaries, saying they succeed with no stress accumulated but still having to roll (incase they had already accumulated alot of stress).

    Thanks! And yeah, that seems like an excellent way to handle psychic actions.

    RevlidRas wrote:This is really interesting, and I love the return to Leadership-based psykers, but it also looks like a bit more book keeping than I'd want. Removing randomly failing powers is also definitely appealing - very few other abilities work that way, and for good reason. Although I suppose you could argue that attacks do.

    Fair points. I always try to avoid adding bookkeeping with rule changes, but here it felt like the benefits were worth putting stress counters next to your psykers. But yeah, I didn't manage to avoid that this time. Attacks are "random," it's true, but not getting to resolve a power at all has always felt more disappointing to me than missing with an attack. It's kind of fun to picture my missed projectiles ricocheting off of the scenery. Psykers failing to conjure lightning blasts just makes me picture constipated expressions and comedic anticlimaxes.


    My suggestion would be to instead reverse the order of operations. Rather than powers adding Stress after being cast, each power has Stress/WC. When you cast it, roll D6+Stress/WC; if the result is higher than your Leadership, you eat Perils. Each time you cast a power, increase its Stress/WC by 1 that phase across your army (encourages varied power use without banning you).

    Then the "push" version is just an alternate "firing mode" of the same power that has a higher Stress/WC, or requires an extra D6. Orks get a special rule where a nat 6 means they Perils *and* cast at the highest level, or something.
    I like most of that. Allowing the same power to be cast multiple times is something that would have to be looked at carefully. I'm picturing Quicken warlocks catapulting multiple units forward per turn or a second casting of Doom letting me reroll basically every to-wound roll during my turn instead of only the ones made against my first/main target.

    I'd probably just make pushed/awakened powers have a higher stress rather than adding to the number of dice rolled. Partly because other psychic-related mechanics would probably be a lot easier to phrase if it's always just 1d6 + modifiers. Partly because the math changes pretty dramatically when you add a second d6. (You jump up the average a lot, raise the number of wounds you might receive from perils significantly, and also introduce a bell curve.)

    You'd probably also want something to lessen the Warp Charge increase in bigger armies, since it's so much more dangerous here. The worst that can happen to 1k sons at the moment is that their powers stop working when you've used too many; here, they become more likely to kill them. Could just be something like:
    Brotherhood of Sorcerers: The ranges of all psychic powers manifested by units with this ability are increased by 6". In addition, when this unit fails a Psychic test to manifest a non-Awakened power, it does not suffer Perils of the Warp if it would have passed that Psychic test using the power's unmodified Warp Charge.
    Example: An Aspiring Sorcerer takes a Psychic test to manifest Smite, and rolls a 6. Two other PSYKER units in that army have manifested Smite previously in that phase, so the power's Warp Charge is 3. The total is 9, greater than his Leadership characteristic, so the test is failed and the power does not manifest; but the power's unmodified Warp Charge is 1, for a total of 7, so the Aspiring Sorcerer does not suffer Perils of the Warp.


    I like where your head's at, but I feel like there might be a simpler solution. Even if we allowed multiple castings of the same non-smite power, choosing to up the WC/Stress of that power is entirely within the player's control. So it's only especially dangerous if you make it so. If someone is trying to cast the same non-smite power 4 times a turn, then that seems like a red flag that said power might be imbalanced when you're allowed to spam it.

    On the topic of smite, I was pondering making it a WC/Stress 0 power when cast as a "baby smite" that only does 1 wound. I was also wondering whether the increased WC of smite is unnecessary in 9th (assuming we don't apply a similar rule to all powers per your suggestion). The changes to detachments make it harder for most armies to spam smite. Armies that can spam it (Tzeentch daemons, 1k Sons, GK) generally only do 1 MW with it. Considering the changes to marines and the increased lethality of 9th, that doesn't strike me as being game-breaking. Although admittedly being able to push/awaken multiple smites per turn would probably be a bit much. Hmm....


    Astra Militarum get something like:
  • Choir of Minds: Each time you take a Psychic test to manifest a non-Awakened power for this unit, subtract 1 from the result for every 3 models in this unit.
  • Summary Execution: The first time an ASTRA MILITARUM unit fails a Morale test or a Psychic test whilst it is within 6" of any friendly COMMISSARS, you can execute a model. If you do, one model of your choice in that unit is slain and the test is re-rolled (do not include this slain model when making Morale tests this turn).



  • I like these a lot! Very fluffy.
       
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    Wyldhunt wrote:
    Fair points. I always try to avoid adding bookkeeping with rule changes, but here it felt like the benefits were worth putting stress counters next to your psykers. But yeah, I didn't manage to avoid that this time. Attacks are "random," it's true, but not getting to resolve a power at all has always felt more disappointing to me than missing with an attack. It's kind of fun to picture my missed projectiles ricocheting off of the scenery. Psykers failing to conjure lightning blasts just makes me picture constipated expressions and comedic anticlimaxes.
    That's fair - I think a more complete way of considering the difference is that attacks are usually made in larger units, with lots of dice rolled, and weighed army-wide. If a boltgun misses, it's one of 20 shots. If a lascannon misses, you probably ought to have a few more in your army. The disappointment is aggregate. Psychic powers are much more "personal" to a specific model, and for many models are basically all it's going to do this turn. Failing this one roll feels a lot more disappointing than failing one roll out of a hundred - especially when failing bans you from doing it again this turn.

    Wyldhunt wrote:
    I like most of that. Allowing the same power to be cast multiple times is something that would have to be looked at carefully. I'm picturing Quicken warlocks catapulting multiple units forward per turn or a second casting of Doom letting me reroll basically every to-wound roll during my turn instead of only the ones made against my first/main target.
    Yeah. An issue with psychic powers, as I see it, is that they have to accomodate:
  • Armies that have no interest in or access to PSYKERS (e.g. Necrons, Sororitas, Black Templars, Tau, World Eaters, Custodes), which deserve to be effective and not get utterly bodied due to lacking "psychic defenses".
  • Armies that have one or two PSYKERS in their ranks, perhaps as a lone Sorcerer or a squad of Wyrdvane Psykers, which deserve to be effective and use those psychic powers as intended despite only "dabbling".
  • Armies that completely revolve around PSYKERS by choice or nature (e.g. Thousand Sons, Grey Knights, Tzeentch Daemons, Tyranids, Ulthwe, Blood Ravens), which deserve to be effective and not get crippled by anti-PSYKER rules or "psychic defenses", nor be ludicrously overpriced against armies that lack psychic powers due to the baked-in cost of "psychic defenses" as part of PSYKERS.

  • "No more than once per turn" feels like a restriction aimed primarily at the second category, to avoid spamming a single good power with the smattering of psykers, but it hits everyone - and while some armies can massage the "no more than once per turn" restriction by having multiple disciplines, it's kind of ludicrous that a Tzeentch Daemons or Grey Knights army can't even attempt to manifest more than 6 non-Smite powers each round, especially as game size gets bigger. But in practice, taking the brakes off tends to mean everyone picks the "best" psychic power and spams it relentlessly. It's tricky.

    I would definitely suggest sticking with Perils as a flat number of mortal wounds, though; otherwise it becomes horribly spiky.

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/05/24 15:18:05


     
       
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    One thing I think you need to consider is the ramped up output capacity of psyker heavy armies under your proposal.

    This means that if your army has 20 psyker units, then you are guaranteed +20 MW's via smite in the first round, assuming the targets are all in range.

    How do you balance MSU spamming under this proposal?

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/23 18:40:10


     
       
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    RevlidRas wrote:
    Wyldhunt wrote:
    Fair points. I always try to avoid adding bookkeeping with rule changes, but here it felt like the benefits were worth putting stress counters next to your psykers. But yeah, I didn't manage to avoid that this time. Attacks are "random," it's true, but not getting to resolve a power at all has always felt more disappointing to me than missing with an attack. It's kind of fun to picture my missed projectiles ricocheting off of the scenery. Psykers failing to conjure lightning blasts just makes me picture constipated expressions and comedic anticlimaxes.
    That's fair - I think a more complete way of considering the difference is that attacks are usually made in larger units, with lots of dice rolled, and weighed army-wide. If a boltgun misses, it's one of 20 shots. If a lascannon misses, you probably ought to have a few more in your army. The disappointment is aggregate. Psychic powers are much more "personal" to a specific model, and for many models are basically all it's going to do this turn. Failing this one roll feels a lot more disappointing than failing one roll out of a hundred - especially when failing bans you from doing it again this turn.

    That's a great way of looking at it. Similarly, failing a smite with a GK squad doesn't sting as much as failing smite with a librarian.


    Yeah. An issue with psychic powers, as I see it, is that they have to accomodate:
  • Armies that have no interest in or access to PSYKERS (e.g. Necrons, Sororitas, Black Templars, Tau, World Eaters, Custodes), which deserve to be effective and not get utterly bodied due to lacking "psychic defenses".
  • Armies that have one or two PSYKERS in their ranks, perhaps as a lone sorcerer or a small squad of Zoanthropes, which deserve to be effect and use those psychic powers as intended despite only "dabbling".
  • Armies that completely revolve around PSYKERS by choice or nature (e.g. Thousand Sons, Grey Knights, Tzeentch Daemons, Tyranids, Ulthwe, Blood Ravens), which deserve to be effective and not get crippled by anti-PSYKER rules or "psychic defenses", nor be ludicrously overpriced against armies that lack psychic powers due to the baked-in cost of "psychic defenses" as part of PSYKERS.

  • "No more than once per turn" feels like a restriction aimed primarily at the second category, to avoid spamming a single good power with the smattering of psykers, but it hits everyone - and while some armies can massage the "no more than once per turn" restriction by having multiple disciplines, it's kind of ludicrous that a Tzeentch Daemons or Grey Knights army can't even attempt to manifest more than 6 non-Smite powers each round, especially as game size gets bigger. But in practice, taking the brakes off tends to mean everyone picks the "best" psychic power and spams it relentlessly. It's tricky.

    Yeah. I feel like the easiest fix to this would be to just label especially potent powers as once/turn and let the vast majority of powers be castable multiple times. So something like Quicken or Doom could be once per turn, but something like Empower or Hammerhand or what have you can be cast as many times as you have psykers. Address the powers that are actually the problem, you know?


    I would definitely suggest sticking with Perils as a flat number of mortal wounds, though; otherwise it becomes horribly spiky.

    That's probably a good call.

    skchsan wrote:One thing I think you need to consider is the ramped up output capacity of psyker heavy armies under your proposal.

    This means that if your army has 20 psyker units, then you are guaranteed +20 MW's via smite in the first round, assuming the targets are all in range.

    How do you balance MSU spamming under this proposal?

    Hmm. That's an excellent point. Thinking on it though, what armies can actually field 20 psyker units? Pretty much just Tzeentch Daemons, Thousand Sons, and Grey Knights, right?
    And of those, 1k sons and GK both tend to be quite pricey and thus unlikely to have a huge number of units. I don't know. I imagine that units that currently cast on a d6 wouldn't be allowed to Push/Awaken powers meaning that their smites would always do 1 MW. Is 1MW per GK or Tzeentch unit per turn too powerful?
       
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    Honestly smite would just be changed to deal only 1 mortal wound, and psychers that are more powerful could have a bonus to it.

    There arent actually any armies that field more than 7 psychers in any given 2k battle (Granted this could change that).

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    Wyldhunt wrote:
    And of those, 1k sons and GK both tend to be quite pricey and thus unlikely to have a huge number of units. I don't know. I imagine that units that currently cast on a d6 wouldn't be allowed to Push/Awaken powers meaning that their smites would always do 1 MW. Is 1MW per GK or Tzeentch unit per turn too powerful?
    A lot depends on execution, but I wouldn't personally think so? It's tricky because of how many mechanics MWs ignore. No hit modifiers, no Toughness, no Armour, no Invulnerable. Just FnP and Deny.

    1 unsaved wound on the stereotypically "toughest thing around", a Terminator, is 18 bolter shots or 3.375 uncharged plasma shots (on a marine, with no cover etc). That's what a mortal wound is worth, at the high end. At the low end, Smite-screening means you might be hitting a Gaunt, which is the equivalent of 2.7 bolter shots or 1.8 uncharged plasma shots. Against a horde player who can screen, 1MW is literally less valuable than a storm bolter. Against a Knight Paladin, it's doing average damage equivalent to a multi-melta (albeit obviously far less spiky).

    This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/04/23 21:45:12


     
       
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    Maybe one way to deal with it is to treat smite like a shooting attack made (with its own stats/roll to hit and MW) in the psychic phase? So as far as this suggested revisions for psychic rules go, smite isn't counted as one?

    This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/04/23 22:53:41


     
       
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    Wyldhunt wrote:
    Yeah. I feel like the easiest fix to this would be to just label especially potent powers as once/turn and let the vast majority of powers be castable multiple times. So something like Quicken or Doom could be once per turn, but something like Empower or Hammerhand or what have you can be cast as many times as you have psykers. Address the powers that are actually the problem, you know?
    I just realised you're effectively describing Stratagems, here.

    Smite and other multi-cast Psyker powers could be abilities on the datasheet, and bigger powers could be Psychic Stratagems (or an equivalent) that use Psyker-generated Warp Points.
       
     
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