On the plus side, there's some things we can chew through without playtesting, thanks to something known as the Monte Carlo method. Hey, if it works for theoretical physics, it damn well better work for dice-based games. A friend was kind enough to run a program to test some combat aspects that require no human input. Mainly, how long would we expect a one-on-one fight to last, with PC-like characters in a duel, using different ways to calculate HP and damage reduction. After much working out of bugs, we got some nice results, which I won't replicate here, because they are long, and boring. His blog's got a bit of an article about messing with this stuff.
Anyhow, the results were at first startling (because of a programming error). But, we still came to the conclusion that Dark Heresy is a lot less lethal than it initially appears. Most notably, with everyone able to reduce damage by their Toughness bonus (usually, around 3), with a bit of added armor, they take no damage from attacks about half the time. So, we kind of dropped the whole toughness-based damage reduction from DitS. Toughness now adds to player health. Which has been slightly reduced in overall total as well. We might need to re-check things, but combat should probably last no more than about 10 rounds, on average. Nobody wants to back-an-forth for 20 or more rounds of shooting before downing one target. Hell, ammo won't normally last that long, anyway.
A summary of current system errata spawned by these investigations:
- Characters no longer gain damage reduction from Toughness. They only reduce damage with worn armor.
- This calls into question whether toughness needs to remain as an attribute, but I will find other uses for it, and it is important as some other mechanics require rolling it in checks.
- Some thoughts on uses include mucking with the injury table, or mucking with one's maximum speed.
- Characters begin with [10+toughness bonus] HP, instead of 15. This hardly changes anything.
- On the plus side, we don't need to go in and re-balance most weapon damages, by altering the health side of things.
- Corollary: Anything that does 2d10+X damage can really ruin your day.