The "Conclave Standard" is a set of community developed guidelines made to help players balance their characters.
Why use the Conclave Standard?
It serves a popular replacement for the random profile generators and Ready Reckoner from the rulebook. Although these systems are "official", the general consensus amongst the community is that these mechanisms didn't really work; they both failed to balance the game and they made the character of the characters secondary.
For the random profile generators, it was easy for a player to roll well during creation and thus have a permanent advantage over the remainder of his gaming group (after all, "random" is not a synonym for "fair"), or for a character conceived as a master swordsman to roll poorly for his Weapon Skill.
When it came to the Ready Reckoner, it was far too simplistic to be able to accurately evaluate a character's prowess on the table (treating all stats and skills equally, regardless of their utility). Moreover, the introduction of points could encourage certain players to "game" the system; taking off a few shotgun rounds from one character in order to squeeze in True Grit or Heroic on another, all in the name of winning more games.
Instead, the Conclave Standard serves as guidelines for players and gamesmasters on how to write to write profiles that best represent the characters and, as far as possible, will produce interesting and tense games.
The Conclave Standard
For stats, the range of 1-100 establishes the limits of human ability. A mortal human could not possibly exceed Strength 100, for example. However, this is an absolute limit for humanity - a theoretical ideal that would only be obtainable by a very few genetically lucky individuals if they did nothing but dedicate their entire life to nothing but that.
Across most stats, the following holds:
- 30 represents an average human with no training whatsoever in the area.
- 40 would come from a little understanding of basic principles, but is relatively poorly trained and practised. A mediocre level of skill at best.
- 50 represents a character we could describe as competent in an area. They're not great and they don't stand out, but they're good.
- 60 would be a someone who really knows what they're doing.
- 70 represents a very expert level of skill.
- 80 is someone who could be considered a master.
- 90 is, if the character is not somehow superhuman (bionics, implants, chemical conditioning, etc), about the most a human could feasibly attain, a pinnacle of humanity.
Most player characters will have most of their stats in the 50s and 60s. Some characters might get some 40s in there. Many characters might have a stat (or stats) in the 70s (but do not automatically have a right to it). When you get to 80 or above (particularly if it's more than a single stat), this should only be very rare and well justified.
Obviously, a character being really good in one area often means they're less likely to be good in other areas. While a character's Strength and Toughness values will usually be similar, a titanic physique takes time to maintain - such a character is unlikely to hold a doctorate in astrophysics.
Slightly more detailed recommendations for specific stats are below:
- Ballistic Skill is best capped a little lower (more than 70 should be rare), as it's a skill that can have multiple +20 bonuses stacked on it. Marksman or sniper characters are better represented with a modest BS but an increased aim bonus to +25.
- Avoid Toughness values below 40, even for the absolutely most frail and wizened character you can imagine. Such characters are incredibly brittle, which is neither fun to play or play against.
- The mental stats can be given a bit more leeway on having high values. They're used more rarely, and a combination like Sg & Ld 80 is (usually) less dominating on the game than WS & BS 80.
When should a stat go above 100?
Rarely, and only in superhuman cases.
Thing is, 100+ stats really rather stretch the game. They make for massive stat bonuses (which make for some very weird damage rolls - strictly, a rulebook Space Marine should roll roughly D6+19 for knife damage), they make for very predictable rolls (it's boring if you know that character's almost certainly going to make that shot - where's the tension?), and some parts of the rules really break down at those levels (particularly the injury system, which gets pretty rocky after about Toughness 85-90).
In a lot of these cases, it's better to handle it with special rules rather than higher stats.
Skills and traits are a bit more difficult. Different skills are more powerful than each other (with a player easily able to write new ones) and certain combinations are complementary.
Some players are quite sparing with skills, but other players will use them in abundance, writing small and unique flourishes to a character. The exact approach is up to you and your gamesmaster.
A good benchmark for balancing skills:
- If a character has more than two skills representing one area of their capabilities (say, shooting, swordfighting, agility), it might be worth thinking if they could do without some of them.
- If the same skill (or a similar skill) is being more than once in a warband, consider if it's really necessary. Aside from it perhaps being a sign that you're adding the skill because "it's good", it dilutes the uniqueness of each character.
- If you find yourself repeatedly forgetting that a character has a skill, it's probably not a particularly important part of the character - consider removing it.
And for some additional advice on some particularly popular skills:
- Nerves of Steel & Force of Will: Such skills are not so much representative of a brave character (a high Nv can represent that), but of one that doesn't feel fear at all.
- True Grit & Heroic: Where possible, avoid putting both on the same character. (Otherwise, most people put both on their Inquisitor). Think about your characters based on their personalities - are they hard as nails like Rambo, or would they pull off the daring, barely planned stunts of Indiana Jones?
- Fearsome: The character has to be something that would genuinely scare characters. Although gruesome scars and mutations are often suggested as a reason, an Inquisitor is unlikely to be very fazed by what is essentially just a very ugly person. It's better reserved for characters which are genuinely and obviously dangerous in close-quarters: Arco-flagellants, Ogryns, Space Marines - stuff you would genuinely hesitate before charging!
More skills are looked at in-depth in the skill guidelines article.
While this is something of a modelling issue, but it should be borne in mind when writing character sheets too.
From a balance perspective, Inquisitor is not the same as Warhammer 40,000.
When it comes to weapons, lasweapons are good guns (not mere flash-lights!), stub/auto weapons and shotguns are very dangerous, and bolt weapons are terrifying and can dominate the game. Power weapons and bolt weapons are easily capable of taking someone out of the game in one hit, and with usually only 3-4 characters per side you don't want the game to be over too quickly. That's not to say you shouldn't use them, but one or two in a warband is plenty - they certainly shouldn't be as prevalent in Inquisitor as they are in 40k.
When it comes to armour, flak or mesh armour are respectable protection, with carapace armour absorbing a lot of damage. Power armour can making the character almost immune to certain weapons (while realistic, not hugely fun to play against).
When picking equipment, you should consider the setting of the game. Inquisitor mostly represents a shadow war of covert and semi-covert operations. While an Inquisitor could easily afford and requisition thunder hammers, plasma guns and power armour, these are rare, conspicuous and high-maintenance items. Carrying them throughout an investigation would quickly blow a cover, so characters will often eschew them in favour of equipment that blends in better with the shady world in which they're operating.
Beyond that, remember that many Inquisitor scenarios are not circumstances where the characters would be expecting a fight - they might be arriving for a meeting with a known contact, or responding to what seems like an overly cautious request from an Arbites judge to assist at a murder scene. Of course though, an Inquisitor will always be prepared for threats to their life, so they'll never be truly unprepared. If you're not going to model multiple versions of a character, you normally want a medium between the characters being "cautiously prepared" and "ready for a reasonable scrap".
Equipment vs stats
For balance reasons, you should consider a character's equipment when picking their stats. Does he have a boltgun? Then he should probably have a slightly lower BS than he would if he had a lasgun - aside from this reining in the power of the weapon slightly, it is also fitting in background terms. A bolter is harder to use than a lasgun, and the fact he's had to take time to learn the correct technique and maintenance will make him slightly less skilled than a character who has instead stuck to the simpler and more reliable weapon.
Generally, best intentions are what you need. If you're actually trying to make a character who is balanced (both fun to play and fun to play against), then you're on the right track.
Don't be too surprised or worried if you get it wrong the first time. Even veterans can get it wrong, and you can always come back to the character sheet after a game or three and adjust it should it not be living up to expectations.
- To quote Gav Thorpe himself from a discussion of the Ready Reckoner in a Facebook group: "I’d use those pages to give more useful advice if I had a time machine."