Monday, 19 September 2011

Beginners Guide to Deathwatch - Part 4 - Deathwatch Apothecary.

Lets go with an age old system and go through these in Alphabetical order. Apothecary first then and I'll be using the system detailed here to do it,

Deathwatch Apothecary - An Overview.
As expected the Apothecary is the member of your kill-team who patches you up when the dangerous world of 40K role-playing decides to bite you, shoot you, explode around you or otherwise subject you to some event that lowers your Wounds total in some way.

Though each Speciality has it's own role to play, the Apothecary is pretty much essential. Whereas some skills can be attempted by anybody (classed as Basic in game terms) albeit at a penalty, due to the way that Skills work in Deathwatch only those trained in any Skill classed as 'Advanced' can actually attempt to use it at all. Basically this means that even a guy who's never exercised in his life could attempt to jump across a hole in the ground but would be unable to perform brain surgery without the necessary training. The relevant Skill in this case is called 'Medicae' and an Apothecary gets it for free whereas any other Marine would be unable to gain it until Rank 7 (ridiculously high in Deathwatch terms).

If your team doesn't have an Apothecary your going to be in serious trouble should your team get badly hurt in a combat engagement of any kind.

Characteristic Advances.
The Apothecaries primary skills are Weapon Skill, Intelligence and Perception. Of these the most important is Intelligence as it directly effects Medicae. The other two have obvious uses but none of these are important to the Apothecaries primary function.
Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness, Agility, Willpower and Fellowship. So basically everything else then...As you can see there's great scope for shaping your Apothecary into a wide variety of secondary areas of expertise as the ability to heal others can be enhanced relatively easily and early on in your career path.
None. Apparently Deathwatch Apothecaries are very well rounded individuals, lol.

If your Intelligence score is below average then you should use your one re-roll at character creation to attempt to improve it if at all possible.

Standard Equipment.
Astartes Power Armour, Astartes Bolt Pistol, Frag Grenades (3), Krak grenades (3), Astartes Combat Knife, Repair Cement and one Chapter Trapping. All Deathwatch Marines get these but I've listed them here just so you don't forget about them.

Additionally an Apothecary gets the following,

Astartes Bolter with Fire Selector.
The signature weapon of a Space Marine as I'm sure you all know. The Fire Selector allows you to switch between up to three different ammo types as a 'Free Action'* and is fitted to Deathwatch Bolters for free.

* In game terms this basically means you can do it so quickly that it doesn't impact on your ability to perform other actions that turn.

This allows an Apothecary to retrieve the Progenoid glands (or Gene-seed as it's also known) from a dead Battle Brother. Though he could still extract the glands without it, the Reductor reduces the time needed considerably (down to a single turn per gland). It can also be used as a melee weapon that doesn't do a great deal of damage but has an excellent 'Penetration' rating so will punch straight through most standard Power Armour (which is sort of the point, I suppose). Progenoid retrieval is extremely important in game terms as it gives some bonus's to the stats at the character creation stage when you build a new character to replace the one that 'died'. This is another reason why the Apothecary is an essential part of any kill-team.


The 'Tool of the Trade' for any Apothecary worthy of the name. In rules terms this device adds +20 to Medicae tests when used on a Space Marine patient, raises the threshold at which a patient is considered Lightly damaged** and doubles the amount of damage healed by first aid. It also can contain up to ten doses of any one drug, but this drug (if any) must be requisitioned separately.

** Briefly then...A lightly damaged character can be healed by more than a heavily damaged one. The Narthecium raises the threshold of Lightly Damaged to three times the characters Toughness bonus rather than two times.

You may also want to requisition yourself a Diagnostor Helmet (15 Requisition) as it gives a further +10 bonus to Medicae. As it's below 20 Requisition you could also take it as Signature Wargear so you don't have to requisition one from the armoury before every mission.

Starting Skills.
Well what were you expecting, lol. This means you can heal people.....without it you can't.....It's that simple.

Performing 'First Aid' on a subject involves rolling against your Medicae score which as a starting character will be you your base Intelligence (40 is average) added to the +20 bonus from your Narthecium (detailed above). If you roll below this score (60 in this example) each of your subjects wounds suffered will be healed by the Apothecaries Intelligence bonus (which would be 4 in this example).

Example: Brother Tripsalot has suffered several different wounds in a recent encounter with something or other scary and is considerably below his starting total of 20 (for the sake of this example). He has taken 3, 7 and 5 Wounds of damage respectively and has asked his teams Apothecary to patch him up. Brother Sawbones has an Intelligence Score of 45 so (but for some reason has left his Narthecium at home) needs to roll under 45 in order to successfully heal his Battle Brother. Sawbones rolls a conveniently below average 40 and so therefore succeeds on his test. With his intelligence bonus of 4 (the first digit of his Intelligence score) he heals 4 wounds to each separate injury. So the 3 damage is healed completely and the other two lots of wounds are reduced to 3 and 1 respectively. Brother Tripsalot is now restored to a more respectable total of 16 and marks this on his character sheet. The 4 wounds total that were not healed are still classed as 'treated' and can not be healed further until extended medical care can be obtained. If he had his Narthecium then he would have needed to roll 65 or under (due to the +20 it gives him to his Medicae score) and would have been able to double the amount healed from 4 to 8 therefore completely restoring Brother Tripsalot to full health.

Special Ability.
You get a selection of three but you can only pick one so choose wisely.

Guardian of Purity.
As long as the Apothecary has access to his Narthecium any Corruption points picked up by him or his team are reduced by 2 (to a minimum of 1). I'd personally only pick this ability if I had an extremely strong role-playing reason for doing it as it's (in game terms at least) the least generically useful.

Create Toxins.
If you can get a tissue sample of a specific race you can manufacture a poison specifically to poison that enemy type. This takes an hour of game time and adds the Toxic quality to the kill-teams weapons for a number of rounds equal to the Apothecaries Intelligence Bonus. This ability isn't bad but as with 'Guardian of Purity' detailed above I'd only take it for role-playing purposes because of...

Enhance Healing.
On a successful Medicae test for First Aid you heal an additional 1d5 Wounds. This is the one that most players should take as it's the most generally useful.

Advance Tables.
As you'd expect, the Apothecaries advance tables deal primarily with the use of chemicals and drugs (Chem-use), bodily enhancements (Resistances, Hardy) and also Interrogation. What you take will depend entirely on how you perceive your Marine's character to be. Fortunately most of the Apothecaries upgrades are pretty obvious in purpose.

Some General Advice.
Re-roll your Intelligence score if it's particularly bad, upgrade your Intelligence score with experience points as a priority and take Enhanced Healing as your Special Ability and your basic duties should be easy to accomplish. What else you wish your character to be good (or bad) at is entirely up to you ;-)

Well I hope that was of some help. Next time we'll look at Assault Marines.....

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.


  1. A good article mate. I would add from my experience that the Medicae Webbing that you can get in Rites of Battle is also a great help to an Apothecary, it adds another +20 to Medicae tests and only costs 3 requisition a go.

    although I did read the Medicae rule differently, the way i read it is that the wounds taken are grouped together before being healed and then healed with one test with any remaining classing as being treated. for example, brother tripsalot takes 4, 7 & 5 wounds which add together to 16 wounds. when the apothecary comes to heal him he passes the test and heals 4 wounds leaving 12 being classed as treated and requiring extended care. obvioulsy from reading that the wounds healed seems low but when the narthecium and Apothecary's higher intelligence (usually around 60-70) comes into play the amount of wounds left untreated becomes significantly less(4-2 depending on intelligence).

  2. @ Fat Lad - The 'First Aid' section of the Core rulebook specifically says 'each wound' and the addition in the extra example in the errata simply says that one test is used for all the wounds. I can't see anywhere where it says to add them up.

    Good call about the Medicae Webbing. For those of you who are interested it's on page 144 of the 'Rites of Battle' book in the section marked 'Astartes Combat Webbing'.

  3. I would second Fat Lad. The way i read it and the way the errata reads i believe you heal the group of wounds not each seperate one.

    In the core rule book it says 'First aid may only be applied to each wound once' from which you would assume that you can treat each wound seperately. But in the Errata it says 'A single application of First Aid treats all damage taken, even if it came from multiple sources.' meaning i believe you take one test it heals the wounds/total amount of damage collectively.

  4. @ A.D. - My interpretation makes more sense. Otherwise a Marine with half a dozen minor scratches of 2 damage each is exactly as difficult to heal as one guy with a gaping 12 damage hole in his chest.

    On a different note. The more I read that 'Combat Webbing' section, the more it makes me think that their referring to pouches for Scout Armour not extra's for Marine armour as I fail to see how what's effectively a bag of plasters is going to be giving bonuses when used as well as the Power Armoured Marines Narthecium would be. Also there's no need for things like the 'Knife Sheaf' or 'Sidearm Holster' on anything other than Scout Armour as Power Armour can have these items mag-locked to it.

  5. You say scratches, but the point at which you wound a marine (got through their toughness bonus), that marine has been hit hard. Therefore id see the scratches to be large gashes cut into the flesh. Pock marked with a few shells is still going to hurt. But anyway i believe it to be collective.

    As for webbing. You still have to buy the mag locks, so you can either mag lock your knife to you or put it in a 'knife sheaf'. Flavour as to how your marine rolls? ..... Which thinking about, you guys should all have to buy things like webbing or maglocks to take your knives, pistols and that with you or leave them behind. Seeing as your knife doesn't come with a mag lock standard.

  6. A.D. - I still don't agree with you about 'First Aid' but as long as your GMing it's your decision I guess.

    On the subject of carrying equipment, In the rulebook section on Carrying, Lifting and Pushing objects (page 208, core rulebook) it states that a character can carry one main weapon, plus one or two secondary weapons, a few extra clips of ammo and several pieces of misc. equipment in a backpack, satchel or similar container.

    The thought of a Space Marine being issued a pile of standard equipment and no way of carrying it is (lets be honest) frankly preposterous.

    For a 'Standard Marine' I see this as him carrying his primary weapon (usually a Bolter) either in his hand, mag-locked to a thigh or on some kind of strap, his Pistol and Knife either mag-locked or in a holster and scabbard respectively, enough pouches or whatever for the ammo to go with them, grenades on some kind of webbing (or in pouches, maybe) with another container of some kind for the few minor extras he might have with him.

    A 'normal' soldier would obviously need more gear as he suffers from little inconveniences like needing bedding and food, which an Astartes doesn't.

    If a character decides he want's to carry 3 Basic weapons and an extra 10 clips of ammunition then he'd obviously need to find some way to justify carrying it. However making him pay an extra 3 requisition for webbing to hold a couple of extra grenades that he could dump in a pouch is just silly, lol.

  7. A marine doesn't have a backpack or satchel. A Space Marine has great ways to carry gear, mag locks. Fair enough if you want to say your bolter is on a sholder strap, your knife in its sheath, but no gear comes with mag locks any additional gear must be carried somehow.

    So maybe it's fair to say your basic gear comes with such sheath, holster etc. But other than that lock it, hold it or drop it.

  8. @ A.D. - I think the line about 'Backpacks and satchels' is meant to apply to 'normal' characters or NPC's because (as I pointed out) they have to worry about things such as a bed-roll, extra rations, extra water, a medi-kit of some kind, etc. and all the other bits and pieces that a soldier requires to stay alive 'in the field' that a Space Marine either doesn't need or has equivalents of built-in to his armour anyway.

    I think it's one of those areas's where common sense needs to prevail. If Marine 'A' wants to 'dual wield' Heavy Bolters then a rules justification could maybe be found but any GM (not to mention other players) should feel entirely justified in punching him in the head for even suggesting it. However if Marine 'B' simply wants to take an Auspex then we can presume that it comes with a mag-lock, carrying case, pouch, lanyard or whatever rather than expect him to pay an extra 3 requisition on top of it's stated cost. Of course if Marine 'B' also wants a Cartograph, an Elucidator, Magnoculars, a Pict Recorder, a Screamer and a Vox Caster then 'Where the fuck are you putting them' is an entirely legitimate question, lol.

  9. this looks like a pretty old discussion, but i thought i'd ask anyway; i'm playing an apothecary, i took the create toxins ability- what weapons can you put the toxins on? blades, sure, but the book doesn't say it can't be put on like bolter rounds for example. anyone know?

    1. Though it doesn't explicitly say that the toxins can't be put on Bolter rounds we house-ruled that they couldn't as we presumed that any toxins would be destroyed by the shooting process.

      Saying that though there are weapons in other of Fantasy Flights systems (Dark Heresy for one) that have weapons that fire rounds containing poison (Off the top of my head I think it was called a Ripper Pistol or similar). Personally I'd discuss it with my GM as I see no reason why a Tech Marine couldn't make such a thing if he wished. You'd also have to take into account that certain Marine Chapters would consider such things to be off limits due to considerations such as honour and their Chapters own beliefs...I doubt your average Ultramarine would consider it for example.

    2. blood ravens sure as HELL would though, they're amongst the most pragmatic fighters out there. if it kills the Enemies of Man, so be it.

    3. True enough but it'd still be a 'discuss with GM' issue as it's not explicitly covered in the rules.

      Most GM's are open to reasonable debates about equipment and the like if it fits the 'fluff' or background for your character though if it's a thinly veiled attempt at power-gaming they can get down-right stubborn about it...both of mine did at least, lol.


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