Sunday, June 26, 2011

Warhammer Fantasy RP 2nd edition game

Ok so last night we finished our 5th session of  a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd edition game.  The game is going well so far.  My home gaming group is an eclectic mix of folks based largely on my geography (Ogden area of Utah) and also being somewhat new to the area (been here about two years now). The group is all folks in their 20s (save the old man GM … me … mid 30s). College students and all pretty hardcore gamers. But not grognards, more video game fans that dabble into tabletop gaming a bit.

The group started out playing 4e together and right after the first of the year that fell by the wayside for several reasons that I won't go into right now (not a bash of 4e or D&D at all, just our group has lost our interest in it for a variety of reasons and I hate 3.5 and pathfinder … again not a bash just my personal feelings). I'm a big indie RPG fan but this group is mostly not of that persuasion. I have a nostalgia and affinity for old school RPGs as well but this group mostly has the take that “if we are going to play D&D lets do 4e or 3.5 … period.” So pulling off a T&T, Labyrinth Lords, Castles and Crusades, LoTFP or whatever is a non-starter with this crew.

So a few months back I tossed out the idea of running a 2nd edition Warhammer Fantasy Role play game. I don't dislike 3rd ed. … but I have 4/5ths of the books from 2nd and the entire group has played Dark Heresy so there is at least some intuitive familiarity with the mechanics of it. Plus everyone is a HUGE fan of the Warhammer universe. My final twist which got the entire group 100% on board was … we are going to do a Chaos centered game (evil) and they were in. So the group rolled up characters and we have a Chaos Dwarf engineer and human Warrior, Marauder, and Sorcerer. I'm running the game sandbox style with some key milestones/plot points. We have a central storyline that involves a journey to a lost dwarven hold far to the north in the chaos wastes (loosely based on Karak Dum for any of you Felix and Gotrek fans). However the party has stopped off to aid a large tribe of beastmen (actually nearly enslave) and become embroiled in a battle against undead who where plaguing the tribe.

The party has pretty considerable resources and they are sort of mid-level (2nd nearly 3rd advance) … basically the equivalent of 7th or 8th level D&D characters. The combats have been decent but the issue I have with the WHRP system is the crazy critical charts, the cumbersome (but optional) armor system and pretty complex combat mechanics. I've boiled down the combat system and magic system to its core mechanic (following the suggestions in the main rulebook to do so) and things seem to be going pretty smoothly. Fortunately the group is really interested in the story more than just randomly killing things. I also engage in a lot of email/out of game conversation with each player about things. We've had dream sequences, visions, extended research sessions, etc. etc. I'm having a blast with the game and the group seems to be as well.

The big thing that I'm looking at adding to the game though is the plundering of a rules mechanic from the new Deathwatch Space Marine RP game by Fantasy Flight. Particularly the “Hordes” mechanic. Essentially to simulate the awesomeness of the battle brothers the game employs a combat methods for GMs to use in terms of combat against large numbers of mooks/minions/etc. In Deathwatch those encounters are treated like fighting one big beast basically.  To quickly describe the essence of it, the hits are just multiplied and so instead of a swing of the sword or axe hitting one baddie ... it hits 5 or 10.   Similarly with ranged.  So I'm going to basically just hack it to fit fantasy ... I'll have to toy with the mechanic a bit and figure out how powerful I want it to be. But even there the player power curve isn't as big of a concern as it normally would be for me.  I'm not worried about them being over-balanced and having it ruin our fun.  They are basically heading off to hell ... where the laws of the universe no longer apply ... they'll likely be facing hordes of demons and all sorts of chaos/warp tainted monstrosities.

So as I am not running the standard Warhammer game where players die every other session and crazy random criticals are potentially one shoting bosses or the PCs, etc. its not a standard game. The players are very heroic (anti-heroic rather) and while I want them to feel danger and consequences for their choices … I don't want them re-rolling characters every third session (characters that they have invested hours and hours into now, developed deep backstories, etc.). Also I want them doing really epic, fun, stuff. I want meaningful, memorable combats. None of us are interested in grid based, tactical miniature game 3.5/4e style combats in this game either. So I feel that adding this mechanic will also help us have really big fights that feel epic.

I'm excited about using this mechanic and I think its something that will add to the game. So far we've been able to really have a solid campaign with a lot of player involvement and a really fun narrative story that the players are really helping weave and so the game really feels live and full of action and adventure. We've had a lot less cheesy “we get in a barfight” “my character gets drunk … hehe” this time around which was a hallmark of our D&D games and a lot more focus on individual character goals and the central storyline. I've also had a lot of in game player vs player conflict (all in a good way) that is adding to the suspense and tension (again in a good way). I just hope we can keep it up for another 6 to 8 sessions. At least until the end of the summer.

I know I haven't posted much (any) original content on my blog for ages. So of the 58 people “following” the blog maybe 1 random person actually reads something here every few months .. lol. Such is life and really this blog is just mostly a mental placeholder for me. Honestly a place where I post and a few old friends occasionally check it. If I pique any actual “public” interest … cool!! but that isn't why I do this. I make no pretension of being a “pro” blogger. I don't have the time, nor probably the talent, to be such. That disclaimer aside I'll try to do some more posts (more coherently as well) on the game. Our group is taking up Warmachine/Hordes and Dystopian Wars as well so I hope to have some pics and updates on that too.


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