Thursday, 31 January 2019

WuFRuP 4 Eva?

I haven't played an RPG in nearly 30 years. Yup, it's been that long. We used to play all the time. I think we started when a friends older brother let us play D&D at lunch time in one of the Maths Huts (portable classrooms, there was about half a dozen divided up into 12 or so Classrooms, long gone now along with the rest of the school, although interestingly, if you approach the site from the direction we walked to school on google streetview, it appears again. Very odd. But I digress...) when we were in 1st year. Once we were trusted enough to have the use of a teachers room at Lunch (a very trusting member of the History dept) we started to play our own games. I can't remember how we got on to Runequest but that's what we played next, thinking of ourselves as way more sophisticated than rubbish old D&D (a prejudice I carry to this day) and a game that we played for years, convincing several rugby/football playing types to have games with us over the years. It was WFRP that we ended up playing though and it would have been that game that was more than likely the last RPG I played before girls/music/drink/university took away our childish things and locked them in a wardrobe that our mothers cleaned out when we weren't looking. When I was about 30 the lure of gaming came a knocking and I got back into wargaming, I keep thinking it wasn't long ago that I got the feels back but it was actually quite some time. And although wargames and miniatures are a massive part of my life now, RPG's have never made that come back.

Recognise this?

The thing is, they have made a comeback. In a huge way. Silly old D&D is now in it's 5th Edition (after what I believe to be some poorly received previous versions) and it has become a bit of a phenomenon. Just take a look at Youtube or Twitter and you will see that it is the Hipster game of choice. Friends that I made during university who wouldn't have been seen dead anywhere near smelling gaming nerds in the past have let slip that they are playing D&D. The popularity is stunning. No doubt the exposure that it gained from TV shows like Stranger Things, Big Bang Theory and Community have helped it over the 'NERD ONLY' hump but also the glorification of anything to do with Nerd culture must also have had a very positive effect. The thing is, just like 'Warhammer' has become short hand for the entire wargaming hobby, D&D has become the same for Roleplaying games. This means that the market is a tough one to break into. It hasn't stopped Chaosium giving it a go with a brand new version of Runequest which looks far more glorious than the 3rd Edition that we played as youngsters. And now, trying their hand at taking a bite out of D&D's market, Cubicle 7 have launched a new version of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I caved. I bought it.

Yep, it was a page header in 1st Edition. 


I suppose you want to know what it's like?

First of all, I'm well out of practice with these types of games so don't expect some expert dissection of game mechanics. There are plenty of over long videos on Youtube going into the details, if you can stomach that kind of thing for 40 - 60minutes plus. There are good podcasts about this kind of thing as well. The Grognard files did a couple of episodes all about WFRP and they teamed up with 'What would the smart party do' to broadcast some actual play which is fun to hear from a bunch of Northern blokes rather than excitable Americans. So don't assume that anything I have to say is definitive. I'm just an ex-player who has been tempted enough to spend my money on a new version out of curiosity and nostalgia so bear that in mind.

I was struggling with how to start so I hit upon the idea of simply asking a bunch of other gamers what they wanted to know and use their questions as starting points.

Does it still have all the stats?

Yes and No. You will certainly recognise all the stats from 1st edition (and all the other WH games for that matter) but some have been moved out of their traditional place in the stat bar and moved elsewhere on the character sheet. Move, for instance is split into three speeds and has its own box and Wounds has a different section so that other uses can be made of it. You no longer have an 'Attacks' stat with which to pummel your opponents to mush and Cool is also gone. Added to the stat bar is Agility which is useful for being an acrobat or a cat and i'm sure you can figure out what it's use is. Fate points are still a thing but they have been added to with 'Fortune' which is a kind of lower level version that allows rolls to be retaken or tweaked if you feel they are important enough, a human starts of with 2 Fate points and 2 Fortune points (everybody else doesn't for some reason - racist!). In addition to these you also have 'Resolve' and 'Resilience'. Resolve is used to allow you to keep fighting despite the scary situation you are in, using it overcome Psychology effects or Ignoring the effects of Critical wounds for one last lunge at your opponent. Resilience is to do with being able to withstand the corruption that is seeping in to your soul should you be unlucky enough to have come in to contact with the machinations of the Chaos Gods.

Does the combat system still end up as ‘who gets the lucky hit’?

In 1st Edition, combat took place in initiative order. When it was your characters turn, you roll D100 and see if you roll under your Weapon Skill. This could lead to a lot of missing. In 4th Edition combat is an opposed roll using Success Levels. This sounds alien but it's really not. You still fight in initiative order and you still roll D100. But so does your opponent. You are both trying to roll under your WS but they key thing is how much you roll under. The difference in '10's' that you are under your WS gives you your Success Level (SL) and this is compared to the SL of your opponent. If you were attacking and gained the higher SL then you have hit, you gain 1 point of advantage (more of which in a bit) and we move onto wounding. If your opponent has the higher SL, then he gains the point in advantage and your turns ends, he has successfully defended against your attack. The traditional method of flipping the number of the attack roll to give the hit location is still around you'll be pleased to hear and the same method of determining damage is used except you get to add your SL to your weapons Damage stat. If you survive the first round an advantage gives you a plus 10 to your next combat roll and advantages stack to simulate the gradual beating down of the opponent. Of course you can lose the Advantage by losing a round of combat or getting injured. Any double rolled in combat will allow you to roll on the critical table (so yeah, the lucky hit can win you combat) and most critical hits will carry a 'Condition' that hampers your performance. Conversely, any failed combat roll that is a double means that you have to roll on the Fumble chart. What fun!

Does damage effect performance?

I kind of touched on this in the previous answer. Your character starts off with a number of wounds and if he gets down to zero then they automatically become unconscious. More than likely though you will have been reduced down below zero or you may have been unlucky enough to have been the victim of a critical hit. This means that you will have to roll on the Critical Hits tables. The old ones in 1st edition were hilariously gory with body parts flying off around the room. The new ones are a little more sedately worded and are worded as if the character has suffered the wound rather than in first where it was your character causing the wound. The condition covers things like being on Fire, Bleeding, being Stunned etc etc. Some of which will lead to death unless you are treated and some that will seriously impinge on your combat performance. A lot of them will also ask you take a test of some sort to avoid another condition of some sort. Combat can hurt you. A lot.

Is it set in the same world?

Yep. It's the Old World. The focus is much tighter though, with only the Reikland of The Empire. There is a detailed Map of the state (with inserts of the Empire and the Old World to give it context) and descriptions of typical towns and the landscape you are likely to encounter. In the introductory pages there are pairs of texts that cover the sorts of places that your adventurers are likely to find themselves in during their wandering. One of each pair reads like a review from a travel guide and the other is the opinion of a local down the pub. This gives a neat 'Light and Shade' view of the settings that a GM could use within a game. The bestiary contains everything you would expect from a Warhammer game but you are definitely in a 21st century version of Warhammer, the Orcs (not Orruks buy the way) are 'Hulking' and the beast men are 'Gors' and 'Ungors' and the range of undead will keep you busy. And there are Fimir! Huzzah!
This is the Old World, other languages from other places are mentioned but your common all garden adventurer will have a narrow view of the world and pains are taken to explain that the average citizen of the Empire will barely see the outskirts of their village never mind know the finer details of Tilean politics. Which is fair enough. Oh, and Castle Drachenfels gets a mention....

Are the career paths the same?

Careers are still a very important part of your character. Where in 1st edition they were divided into 4 Classes they are now divided into 8 (adding Burghers, Courtiers, Peasants and Riverfolk) and these lead onto 8 choices of career in each class. This is a pretty good level of choice and each of the careers get a full page description and a lovely illustration. You still use your career to advance your stats but there is a change to the old game of career hopping that used go on. In the new version, each Career contains 4 levels (Lawyer, for instance, goes from Student of Law to Lawyer to Barrister to Judge) and as you advance up the career path you gain access to different stats that can be advanced. This means that you are encouraged to stick with your career for longer rather than hopping about (you can change career if your GM agrees and you've got a decent reason, no frivolous shit please!)

How does Killing Skaven make you a better Cart Driver?

It doesn't really. The career advances don't really make sense if you don't roleplay them properly. The career that you choose represents who you are before the adventuring life comes along and drags you, screaming and kicking, into the next village. The way you have to think about it in WFRP is that no one wakes up in the morning and decides to go on an adventure. An adventure is something that happens to you by mistake. You may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, you may be tasked by and employer, you may have been blackmailed into it by the authorities, whatever the method of instigation, the scenario you are playing is not a normal part of your life. It is also likely to be a deeply unhappy experience. The realisation that there are horrible things in the world and they want to kill you in horrible ways is a deeply scary one. It all comes back to the 'Pathetic Aesthetic' which sets WFRP apart from things like D&D where your characters are professional XP hunters, ready to level up like into a un-defeatable super-beings. The career system should be used to show the development of your character in his normal life. His adventures have taught him a lot about the real world and he has developed as a person but at the end of the day he still makes a living catching rats. 4th edition contains a chapter about what to do inbetween adventures and contains rules about 'Endeavours' that you can undertake during this time. This gives some structure to your striving to move up your career ladder and, combined with good roleplaying with the GM, allows your character to develop as a person and within their career without it appearing that killing Skaven has made them a better Nun.

How easy is it to convert characters to use in big battles?

Not as easy as it used to be. In the old days you could just divide all the stats by 10 and, hey presto, you've got Warhammer Stats. The stats have changed for both games so it would take a bit of fudging to get everything to fit but it's not beyond the bounds of reality. There just isn't any hard and fast, easy set of rules to do it.

Can old scenarios be ported to it / how cross compatible is it with older versions ?

If you are up for a bit of creative accounting then there is nothing stopping you from using any of the old adventures or books. The Enemy Within campaign is one of the all time RPG classics and as well as the adventures themselves, the books are chock full of all sorts of info and gaming aids. I have heard that Cubicle 7 intend to update the whole adventure and possibly even rewrite the last book (which was seen as a bit of a let down) and Graeme Davis is actually working with them on it. The new edition is similar enough to 1st edition that anybody with an ounce of sense will be able to convert old to new without requiring any slide rules or scientific calculators. 

How do you generate characters or a party of adventurers?

Character generation is pretty similar to the way it worked way back in the 80's. Tables are supplied to allow you to randomly roll your race, your class and your career but we all know that most folk pick these rather than stick to the whims of fate. You have the choice of Human, Dwarf, Halfling and Elf, just the same as in 1st ed but the Elves are split in High Elves and Wood Elves and are treated as separate races. Classes are open to all races but some careers aren't available to all. Your stats are determined by random rolls plus a standard number that is unique to each race (Dwarf WP is 2d10+40 for instance).  The '10's' from these stats are used to work out Bonuses that can be used in tests throughout the game. Each race comes with a set of Skills and Talents and your career adds to these as well. Skills represent things you are able to do whereas Talents represent things that you are particularly good at. You decide on your names, height, haircolour etc as well your back story and your motivations. The stuff you own, you trappings, is determined by you race, your Class and your career.  There are other bits and bobs that need determining, like your status within society and how much cash you have as well as the weapons and armour you have but thats the general idea. As a group of players you can decide how the Characters know each other and determine what their short term and long term ambitions are so that you have something long term to aim towards.

Does it play faster?

I haven't a clue. I'd have to play it to tell you. Fancy a game?

Other things that I've noticed is a more expansive look at Gods and how they effect the usefulness of characters who have a 'Holy-ish' career path. Obviously warrior priests weren't around in the old days them Nun wasn't a career you could choose either. In 4th edition you can use a couple of different talents to be able to call on the Deity of your choice to aid you in your task, and there is a chance that they will actually do so. Furthermore you may be able to Invoke some sort of miracle to happen that will aid you in your moment of need. The prayers and miracles are particular to your chosen God but there is plenty of info about a wide range of them so your ecclesiastical knowledge can be bang up to date. 

Talking of Gods, Chaos is mentioned but not dwelt on. There is no big section covering it detail simply a discussion of Chaos in the religion section and obviously there are creatures of Chaos covered in the bestiary but don't expect the whole book to be dripping with mutations co you'll be disappointed.

The old insanity points have gone and you now have corruption which is basically a way of tracking how much contact you have had with the ruinous powers and how that contact has affected you. Essentially if you witness, touch, read too much bad stuff, bad stuff is going to you in the form of mutations or mental aberrations. These are rolled on tables and the very same tables are used to roll for mutations for the chaos characters. So beware of licking things that you find in Skaven nests.

The book is gorgeously presented and comparing 1st and 4th gives a fairly good idea of how far book printing has come in the last 32 years. Reading it doesn't fill you full of 'the grim' but to be fair most of that 'feel' in the previous book came from the adventure supplements rather than the main book. The narrow focus of the geography covered suggests that their is tons of room for following supplements to cover other areas of the Empire and the Old world and these may be worth looking forward to but I suppose it will depend on the success of the rules as to whether they ever see the light of day.

The illustrations are lovely but I admit that I miss the black and white drawings from the horde of old school artists that GW used to employ. I liked the mix of styles and although Tony Ackland is ubiquitous, people like Martin Mckenna and Russ Nicholson did a hell of a lot to shape the WFRP world in the supplements and adventures.

In conclusion, WFRP4 is definitely an attempt to hark back to the days of first edition. The approach will be familiar to anybody that played first and it has enough subtle hints and touches to make you feel at home. The rules have been tightened up in places and expanded in others to try and deal with the issues that people seemed to have with the 1st edition set (and from what I know of them it has far more in common with 1st than either 2nd edition or the much maligned 3rd edition). Even the cover is a blatant echoing of the 1st edition cover which pretty much says 'Look, it's just like the original but it's newer!'

It worked on me,

and in the first time in nearly 30 years,

I fancy having a game.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

If You Turn Italy Upside Down......

It's my Birthday. And that means I get to spout nonsense about anything I fancy. Today I fancy diving head first into the wonderful world of Tilea and specifically the Army book that came out just over 20 years (how did we miss that anniversary?) I give you the wonderful world of The Dogs of War!

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

New Regiment of Old Thugs

On a bit of a roll at the moment so we might as well take advantage and splatter the paint while the mood takes me. This is a regiment of the classic Marauder miniatures Chaos Thugs form way back in 1990. 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Starters Ready! And they're off..........

Happy New Year folks! I decided to live up to the promises in my last post by painting up a Bakers Dozen of Pistoliers/Reiters. I figured that if was going to keep myself in a painting mood then I needed to kickstart my mojo straight away. These guys will be initially used in Dutch revolt games but they are still perfectly useable for Warhammer games.

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