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Sunday, 25 July 2010

The return of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

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After a few busy weeks moving house and travelling I've managed to squeeze quite a bit of gaming out of this week. Last Sunday we played a game of Planet Steam and then Runewars, both with three players. We played Planet Steam incorrectly so there was no real winner in the end, but in Runewars Micke managed a surprise win, even after my undead armies had ground his into the dust. I really thought I had it in the bag, when it turned out he actually had managed to get a sixth rune! Next time we'll try the Epic variant.

However, the big news is that we finally got rolling with our long planned Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition campaign! We've decided to try to run shorter sessions more often (during weekdays) rather than trying to squeeze in marathon sessions during weekends. So we had our first session this Tuesday and then the second on on Friday. Actually it was more or less the same session though, as we decided to do a restart. More on that later.

I hadn't really touched the books for a couple of months when Anders suggested we get going with WFRP so I started flipping through them to refresh my memory and re-read the demo adventure "A Day Late, A Shilling Short". It's really no more than an encounter and not a complete adventure, but considering this was our first foray into the 3rd edition I thought it'd suit us just fine. Some SPOILERS coming up below. You have been warned!

The group consited of Manfred the mercenary, Dieter the thief and Heinrich the Grey Wizard. Although the characters only knew each other briefly they each had different reasons to stick together so when the coach they all had been waiting for didn't arrive they decided to go investigate. After a few hours walking through the Drakwald forest they found that it had been ambushed by beastmen and as one of the passengers was still alive and fighting they drew their weapons and charged!

Or actually, the thief drew his dagger and charged(!). The wizard advanced more slowly and the most heavily armed and armoured in the party stayed back and used his crossbow. Here things kind of started to break down as Dieter found himself hard presses, all alone against three ungors and Manfred and Heinrich weren't having much luck with their ranged attacks neither.

In the end they managed to dispatch the four chaos monstrosities and discovered that someone was still alive inside the coach. They were just about to smash the door in with a tree trunk when three more ungors led by a giant wargor came stalking out of the forest! As all of them were already wounded this turned out to be a tough fight. In the end Manfred and Heinrich were knocked out but Dieter actually managed to kill the beast with the mercenary's crossbow.

At this time it was getting late and we ended the session. We decided to play again on Friday so I had a couple of days to read up on the rules till then. And I discovered that we'd played a bunch of things incorrectly. This combined with it being the first time and everyone getting to know the system I decided to restart the campaign and to let the players modify their characters as they saw fit. This resulted in the Manfred the mercenary becoming a much more defensively oriented soldier and Dieter the thief became Dieter the ratcatcher! Heinrich the wizard stayed more or less the same though.

Although everyone knew what was coming this time around it was good practice for us all. The group of Glory Hounds approached the fight more tactically and made good use of actions such as Guarded Position (that gives bonus to defense to both yourself and nearby allies) and Assess the Situation (which lets you recover from Fatigue, Stress and also gives bonus to defense. However, they also discovered what can happen when a wizard use the aggresive stance!

The Grey Wizard generated a lot of power through his Channel Power action (which is good!) but also rolled a chaos star which meant that he'd loose all power in excess of his Willpower and for every point lost he'd get one point of Stress. Since he had some Stress from before as well this led to him being more or less unable to do anything for fear of generating more Stress and hence falling unconscious.
Although this was very bad news for the characters we all loved how the mechanics really helps fuel the imagination and roleplaying. It was very easy to visualize the grey wizard biting off more than he could chew, making him kind of dazed and confused. Great fun!

In the end the wargor smashed poor Manfred over the head again and then ran off into the Drakwald as the storm broke in earnest. Now the party had to deal with Klaus, the burgher who had locked himself inside the coach during the fighting. At first it seemed like wasn't going to let them in but Dieter had some good arguments and they could continue the discussion out of the cold rain. However, in the end the wizard lost his temper and used his Veil of Fear to put Klaus in his place. This had the opposite effect though, as Klaus bolted out of his seat, darted out of the coach and ran straight into the woods! Never to be seen again, probably.

They returned to the Red Moon Inn where they were greeted as heroes! As I write this they're resting there and seeing to their wounds, thinking about what to do next now that their first act of glory is complete.

Things ran much smoother the second time around and I can really see this new rules system becoming a favourite in our group. The rules are very simple and actually very concise. There's a rules summary sheet at RPGG that actually sums up all the rules on just six pages! I think it's this minimalist approach that appeals to us the most. After you learn it it kind of fades into the background while still promoting roleplaying.

Hmm... I'm kind of raving here. I'm sure we'll discover things as we go along that we don't like, but so far it's looking pretty good! Now we just need to get some figures painted so we can use something other than the standups.

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