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WFRP Fan Fiction: Time Bomb by Mark Lord

I recently had a go at writing a short story inspired by the Old World setting of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP). Please let me know what you think in the Comments.

Time Bomb by Mark Lord

Berta looked down at the note again.

I am not paying for this terrible pile of bricks. Workmanship is poor. The whole thing is crooked. The joints don’t fit. The doors don’t shut properly. The arrow slits face the wrong way. And the murder holes are too narrow.

And then she read the last line. The one that really hurt.

I can’t believe Berta Hadrasdotir claims she is a Dwarf. The Gatehouse looks like it was built by a goblin.

Those words made her angry even now. Even after she had realised that her anger was misplaced. She wished she had misplaced that bomb. She looked up at the sun as she walked briskly down the hill towards the town of Alfensburg. But it was obscured by clouds. Not unusual in this part of the Drakenswald. She couldn’t remember the last time it hadn’t been cloudy or rained. She rummaged in the pouch on her belt. She had a sand timer that would measure an hour. She reckoned that was about how much time she had before the fuse burnt out. If she turned the sand timer now, she could keep track of how long she had left. The trick though was to keep the timer level as she walked down into the town.

She turned it anyway and carried on thinking about that problem as she walked. She carried the timer in front of her looking at the tiny grains of sand as they slipped from the top of the glass to the bottom through a very narrow gap. Already the sand at the bottom seemed to be filling up. She knew that was just her anxiety playing tricks on her. Her legs started walking just that little bit quicker.

As she thought about the problem of the timer, something else sprung to mind. The list of ingredients for Herda’s cake. Her daughter was desperate to make a cake for her dad. Okri had been injured during a cave-in at the mine. His leg had been broken in two places, and although he would heal, he was grouchier than a hill troll. Herda had set her heart on making a carrot cake with icing to cheer him up. But they needed ingredients from town. Berta checked in her pouch again and her pockets. No list in there. She was terrible at cooking herself and left that to others – Okri had passed his cooking skills onto Herda. She couldn’t turn back now. She was already ten minutes away from camp—she would waste another twenty minutes going there and back. Eggs? Flour? Carrots? That would do wouldn’t it.

Berta repeated the words “It will be fine,” to herself under her breath, but there was sweat on her brow. I need to be fitter, she thought, not used to this fast walking.

The trees of the Drakenwald began to open out. There were some fields along the path and some small farms. A boy herding some goats in a field waved to her. She raised her hand to wave back and knocked the sand-timer. The hour-glass nearly slipped from her hands, but she held on. Her heart jumped and began thumping more loudly and her hands felt greasy. By Grimnir, she needed to have a plan for this timer.

She looked down at her coat. She was wearing the work clothes she used when building. There was a leather tie that was used for holding a harness in place when working high up on the scaffold. Human builders thought such safety measures were an extravagance. But Berta and the other dwarfs knew that far more human builders died from accidents than dwarfs. She was more than happy with that extravagance. She could tie the sand timer to the leather tie. If she stayed upright so would the timer.

Good. That was one less thing to worry about. Now she just had the big thing. Oh, and the shopping list. But the big thing was more important. She would sort that out first. And then she could go shopping couldn’t she. She would be so relieved at not blowing up the Graf that she wouldn’t mind buying the whole of the grocer-shop’s supplies if that would keep Herda happy. She might need a mule to carry the stuff as well.

The path became more of a road now. There was a village half a mile from the walls of Alfensburg. A good tavern there as well. Often Berta and her work crew would stop on the way back after a day’s work. You built up a thirst cutting and hauling stone around. The door of the tavern was open. A sign with a picture of a swan towering over a fat little halfling hung outside. A couple of her crew were there. Gromli and Tromli. They had finished the work yesterday and were taking it easy today. They nodded at her.

“Coming in, Berta, for a pint? Ale’s nice and warm,” said Tromli.

She shook her head vigorously. “No, I have to stop a … I have business in town,” she corrected herself.

“We’ll still be here when you’re on your way back,” said Gromli.

“Don’t spend all your coins. We’ve not been paid for the gatehouse yet,” she said as she strode past.

“Eh what?” called Gromli after her. “Wait up Berta. What’s the hurry? They owe us, don’t they?”

Berta didn’t answer that. She would have had to turn around and slow her pace. They certainly did owe her and her crew. A few of the materials like the wood and the iron fittings had been paid for. But the stone had been quarried from the dwarf’s own works in the hills, and their labour hadn’t been charged for yet. They were owed a lot of money by the Graf for building him such a fine new gatehouse for Alfensburg.

But if she blew up the Graf and the gatehouse then there was no way that they were going to get that money.

Above the fir trees of the thinning Drakenwald she could see that gatehouse. She felt pride when she saw it. It was a fine construction. Solid and well-built. They had spent a year building it. That was quite fast—especially considering the special extra features. And then that beastman attack had not helped. They really messed up the scaffolding when they tried to charge into the town that night through the gap in the walls.

That’s probably when it started, the tension with the Graf. She had shouted at him the next morning about not leaving enough guards in place. He had come back with an accusation that the temporary palisade had not been strong enough. But she knew it had. They had spent three weeks just setting the foundations with proper cement for the palisade, and then another two weeks lashing the wooden stakes together. That was a good palisade. And there was a ditch dug by the Graf’s serfs. But a good wall was no good unless it was guarded well.

After that raid there were always complaints. On both sides she had to admit. The Graf would complain about how long the work was taking, even though they had got back onto schedule. Or his steward would come to her and question all the receipts for materials. He was a slimy individual. And she grew irritated with how often her crew were stopped and searched by the guards. Sigmar’s love of dwarven kind did not extend to Alfensburg. They were Ulricans here and had decided that if Ulric’s rival Sigmar loved dwarfs then they would take a dislike to them. She had made her views known to the Graf personally about that.

Then yesterday they had laid down their trowels after putting the finishing touches to the last piece of stonework. All was perfect. Solid and sound. Just how Berta liked it.

She had sent Tromli to let the Graf’s steward know that the construction was complete. She was hoping for him to rush down and tell her what a great job they had done, and that despite all the issues between them all forgotten, and here’s your payment.

Tromli returned and passed on the steward’s message that the Graf was busy and would come another day. She had shrugged and looked at the ground and pushed a bit of dirt around with her boot when she heard that. She knew in her heart that she was sad that the Graf wasn’t excited to see the finished gatehouse. But she didn’t let that show to her crew. “Come on lads, you all deserve a pint. And yes, for once it’s on me!”

They had celebrated that night—not at the Swan and Halfling, but back at the mining camp in the hills. To say it was a mining camp did it a disservice. Dwarfs had mined there for ten years now and the homes and storehouses of the dwarf community were solid stone and timber buildings. Not permanent like a hold (or that gatehouse), but better than any human construction.

Despite having a sore head, the next morning Berta had gone in alone to see the gatehouse again and to enquire if the Graf had seen it yet. The palisade was still being guarded by the Graf’s soldiers—that would need pulling down once the guard had been shown their new quarters. She nodded at them as she passed, as she always did every day. But something felt different that morning. No-one wanted to make eye contact with her.

Her jaw dropped when she saw it. Someone had stuck a dagger into her new gate. The dagger had been used to pin the note to the gate. A double insult to her work. The words just made it worse. The Graf’s crest was stamped in black ink at the top of the paper. Although it was not signed and not pressed in wax with his personal seal.

She had all she needed on the building site still. They hadn’t taken away their tools yet, just in case. She was an alchemist as well as a builder and found the ingredients she needed to make saltpetre quickly enough. At that moment she didn’t know how she was going to deliver her special reply to the Graf. But she certainly wanted him to get the message loud and clear. She always felt a nice big bomb helped to clear up any misunderstandings. She was in the site workshop next to the palisade when the steward came. He announced himself with a cough outside, which was lucky as that avoided him coming in and seeing what she was making. She rushed out, her anger at the note forgotten in her excitement at working on her revenge.

“Yes, well,” he said, as if expecting Berta’s quizzical look to be different. “Ahem. I see you are still busy. Have you actually finished the gatehouse?”

She nodded. “Yes of course.”

“Well the Graf would like to inspect it. He wants to brief his captain of the guard on it and show the burghers what their taxes have been spent on for the last year. He will come this afternoon to view it. Will you be there to show him everything?”

Berta nodded. “Of course. That would be perfect. At what time exactly? I need to return to the camp first.”

“At five o’clock. Is that acceptable?”

“Oh yes quite. That makes it just the right length.”

“Excuse me?”

“Length of time to get to the camp and back again, that’s all.”

The steward nodded and left. His news was perfect. An opportunity to repay her grudge against the Graf. The bomb would damage the gatehouse, but not destroy it. The structure was excellent. And she would place the bomb near the ground underneath the arch. She could even shield the structure of the gatehouse itself and ensure that the blast went outwards to harm people. She had enough fuse for a four-hour timed explosion. That would give her plenty of time to walk back to the camp. She had no intention of coming back again at five. Shortly afterwards to see the results would do well enough. It was important to know that a grudge had been satisfied. Some dwarf holds retained whole books of grudges, but she had plenty of space in her own head to store hers. And besides, she was the type of dwarf who liked to get payment as soon as it was due. In this case it looked like she wouldn’t be collecting on what was owed for finishing the gatehouse.

She was panting hard but felt relieved as the walls and fabulous new gatehouse of Alfensburg came into view. Pennons flew from the towers. Looked like the Graf had sent someone to put the bunting out. There was a large gathering already inside and outside the gate. Townsfolk milled about chatting. Stallholders had set-up to sell food and drink. A small band of musicians were paying and passing round a hat for contributions. The bomb was likely to kill and injure a lot more people than just the Graf and his cronies. And he wasn’t even to blame.

She had realised it only when she got back to the camp. She had gone through the contracts and all the letters and receipts again. She wanted to check what their rights were if the gatehouse was destroyed before payment was made. She knew whoever was left of the Graf’s household would be in little mood to pay out after the explosion. They may even point a finger at her. But even so it was always good to know what your rights were. If there was a chance of still claiming payment, then she would. It would be worth sticking around. If not, then she would suggest to her crew and her family that it might be time to move on.

She didn’t rush to look through the papers. She had lunch with Herda and Okri first. She had noticed that Okri seemed down as well, and afterwards said to Herda quietly that she could make her father one of her cakes that he liked so much. She didn’t think that would result in her being given a shopping list. As she read through it, she was reminded of another list that she had been given a while ago. The list was on the Graf’s letterhead but, like the note pinned to the gate insulting her work, not signed, or sealed by the Graf. And she knew not written by him, because the person who wrote it told her as much.

The Graf’s steward had given her the list. A list of the materials they had bought for the construction. He wanted to have confirmation of what had and hadn’t been used. The implication had been that Berta didn’t need it all and would use it for other projects or sell it. At the time she put it down to the normal tension between both parties. She rushed off to look for it in her files.

Soon she was surrounded by boxes and scroll-boxes. She needed to sort out her filing system. That was something Okri could help her with now that he wasn’t moving around very much. Would give him something to do. She must remember to talk to him about that, but not today.

She found the list finally and drew the note from the gate out of her pocket. She had crumpled it up in anger and had to lay it flat on a table next to the materials list the steward had given her. The handwriting was the same.

The steward had been undermining her. He was obsessed with money. More than likely he was stealing from the Graf and wanted to pin the blame on her. She remembered a conversation they had early on at the start of the project. He took her to one side and suggested she add on twenty percent to the cost of everything. She had refused. She thought he meant to be kind to her in a strange way—to facilitate her making more money, but she had taken it as a minor insult on her honour—not enough for a grudge, but she never liked the man after that.

Whatever his motive the insult against her work was not from the Graf himself. Indeed, it looked like a carnival had been arranged to celebrate the new gatehouse. Alfensburg needed better defences and the gatehouse was supposed to be the first part of that. Berta was hopeful up until yesterday that they would get a contract to do the rest of the walls as well—that would take years, but it would be very lucrative and would give Alfensburg the ability to fend off any beastmen raids—as long as they were guarded well as she kept on reminding the Graf and his captains.

But now she had to stop the bomb killing them and wrecking the gatehouse. But she had time. She looked down at the sand timer. It was still upright. She untied it. About a quarter of the sand left to go. She had plenty of time.

She walked through the crowd. People got in her way. They were idling as if there was nothing to worry about. Did they want to get blown to pieces? Suddenly a man in robes was in front of her. The steward. He smiled. He looked pleased with himself.

“Back just in time, I see.”

She would dearly love to send him flying with a good right hook. But she didn’t have time for distractions. She could deal with him later. She side-stepped past him, but there was a shout as she knocked against a man carrying a tray of drinks through the crowd. She was covered in ale. It was crappy human ale at that. Nasty stuff. She coughed and spluttered as the ale ran down her face and got in her eyes and mouth. She breathed the stench of malt through her nostrils and felt like retching.

The man carrying the tray was shouting at her. She didn’t hold back from thumping him hard in the gut and he bent in half at the waist in pain. She pushed him away and forced her way through the crowd. She was stopped again. Someone put her a hand on her shoulder and pulled her to a halt. She spun around spitting with anger. The next second she was apologising as she saw the Graf looking down on her, with the steward just behind him. The man was tall even for a human, and also aging. His grey hair was long and straggled underneath a fine broad hat. He was wearing his best clothes. Silks and furs. Gold and jewels glittered from around his neck and on his fingers.

The Graf looked stern. His mouth tended to always look cruel. But to her surprise it broke into a smile. “Getting into the party spirit I see! Where are the rest of your work crew? They should all be celebrating with us this afternoon. My steward said you had gone back to get them.”

“Umm, they’re on their way. Some of them just stopped off at a tavern. Could you excuse me for a minute? I need to get something from the gatehouse. Just some last final additions.”

She didn’t wait for a reply. Soon she was inside one of the towers. She unlocked the manhole cover that took her to the tunnel that went under the gate. There was a sally port that opened in the ground on the outside of the gate. That’s where she had placed the bomb. The bomb would be strong enough to blow through the concealed trapdoor and hit anyone underneath the gatehouse. It would have destroyed the tunnel as well. So, while the rest of the gatehouse would have been left standing the gate and the sally tunnel would have been ruined.

But the bomb wasn’t there. But there was another note.

Berta. I was watching you and saw that you placed the bomb. I have it in safekeeping now. You will remit to me half the payment for the gatehouse. You know who I am. Although you have no evidence to frame me, so don’t even try. And I can always use your nice big bomb whenever I choose. So, watch out! Enjoy the carnival!

This note was on plain paper and the handwriting was different. Almost a scrawl as if someone had tried to obscure their handwriting on purpose by using a different hand or writing upside down.

Berta took the piece of paper. Fine. The steward had won that day. But she would take that piece of paper and take it back to the dwarf camp and bind it into a book. Time to create her own book of grudges.

 

THE END

Death on the Reik PDF Published!

Cubicle 7 have just announced the publication of the PDF for the second instalment of the Enemy Within campaign, Death on the Reik.

Death on the ReikAs well as the normal edition there’s also a funky collector’s edition. See the covers of that one below.

Here’s some more information from the publisher’s site:

Welcome to Death on the Reik, part two of the revised and updated Director’s Cut of the Enemy Within, one of the most highly regarded roleplaying campaigns ever written! Created by legendary WFRP writer, Graeme Davis, one of the original writers of the campaign, the Director’s Cut provides additional material to create an enhanced experience that maintains all the mood and paranoia of the original.

Death on the ReikThe adventure carries on from where Enemy in Shadows left off, taking your unlikely heroes on a grand adventure up and down the remarkable Reik, the largest river in the Old World and trade route to the heart of the Empire.

Death on the ReikDeath in the Reik includes a selection of ‘Grognard Boxes’ that add entirely new ways to play through the adventures, ensuring even those who have played the Enemy Within campaign before will find Death on the Reik new and exciting.

The Enemy Within is the campaign all roleplaying game enthusiasts should play at least once in their lives, making Death on the Reik an essential purchase for all gamers.

Available from Cubicle 7 and from DriveThruRPG.

You might also be interested in my post about the influence of Call of Cthulhu on the original adventure.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Combat (WFRP) Made Simple

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) combat rules for 4th edition have got a lot of stick for being overly complicated and crunchy. I think they are to a certain extent. Certainly there’s lots of added complexity if you want to include it. But at their heart the rules are quite simple. I hope that this blog post will make the combat rules a bit easier to understand. I’m going to present the simplest version of the rules – so don’t expect all the ins and outs and options! If you are starting playing WFRP 4e I would recommend not including all the rules as they can slow things down and add complication while you’re learning the system.

Initiative in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Combat

Many Tabletop RPGs use Initiative to determine who goes when during combat. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition is no exception. They give you three choices on how to determine Initiative. To avoid complication Initiative order can be determined by simply ranking in order of Initiative attribute for each PC, NPC or Monster.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Melee Combat

Each participant in combat takes a turn based on their Initiative rank as above.

The heart of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay combat system in 4th Edition is the Opposed Test. For Melee combat you roll against your opponents skill and whoever does better wins and inflicts damage.

All Tests on skill in WFRP 4e are made using a d100 with the aim to roll lower than your skill. You compare the 10s dice against your skill to determine the number of Success Levels. So if your skill is 45 and you roll 21, that’s a Success Level of +2. If you rolled 61 it would be -2, and if you rolled 46 that would be -0 (44 would be +0).

In combat your opponent rolls and you each compare your Success levels. The one with better Success Level wins. Normally you attack using a Melee skill and your opponent defends using a Melee or Dodge skill. There are other possibilities – but they fall out of the scope of this guide.

For example:

Ulric rolls 21 against the Melee skill of 42. That’s a Success Level of +2. The goblin he faces rolls 65 against her Melee skill of 33. A Success Level of -3.

You then add the Success Levels together – so that would be +5 in favour of Ulric. Ulric wins the combat and the damage inflicted is 5 plus Ulric’s Strength Bonus, plus the Weapon’s Damage. You then deduct the goblin’s Toughness Bonus and Armour Points (if any).

So in this case the calculation might be:

+5 (Success Levels)
+4 (Weapon damage)
+3 (Ulric’s Strength Bonus)
-3 (Goblin’s Toughness Bonus)
Total = 9 Wounds of damage!

The goblin would then get to attack (assuming it has lower Initiative and has not attacked already!) There would be another Opposed Test – but this time Ulric gets +10 if using the Advantage rules.

Probably this calculation is the thing that makes things slowest in combat as you’ve got some maths to do here.

Advantage Rules

One of the most controversial aspects of combat in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th editions is Advantage. I won’t go into all the ins and outs, but in simple terms every time you win a Test you get 1 Advantage that then gives you +10 in your next test. That means your Success Levels will get better, you should win more Tests and do more damage. Advantage is meant to simulate the balance tilting  in one combatants favour. The Advantage system can make things quite swingy, so some gamers have tried to limit it or houserule the effects. I have found it OK as written.

Advantage is lost if you lose a test or take damage – so if someone shoots you with a bow , which you can’t oppose, all that carefully accrued Advantage goes.

Tracking Advantage adds some complication, so to start with you could elect to ignore this rule. But making a note on piece of paper for each combatant or using coins, chits etc is vital to keep track of Advantage.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Ranged Combat

For Ranged Combat things are simpler as you just roll on your skill. It is possible to defend sometimes, but again here’s not the place to go into that.

You add your Success Level in your Ranged skill to your weapons damage and then deduct your opponents Toughness Bonus and Armour Points. They take that many Wounds.

Critical Hits

If you roll a double (e.g. 22) and win the Opposed Test you do a critical. You roll on the Critical Hit tables. If you roll double and fail a  test you fumble instead. If you are defending and roll a double and less than your skill you can inflict a Critical to the attacker as well. There’s also other rules that can influence Critical Hits.

Wounds and Damage

Suffice to say getting to 0 Wounds puts you out of the combat. There’s more complication in various conditions inflicted on you, but for simplicity let’s ignore that for now – the PC or NPC on 0 Wounds is effectively out of play.

Adding Complexity

There’s loads more complexity to add. There are modifiers that can be applied – for instance if outnumbered, or if opponents are bigger or smaller. Many weapons have special rules. There are Conditions to take account of. And also non-combat skills like Intimidate and Leadership can be used instead of Melee or Ranged skills. I would avoid these in your first few sessions. Probably starting off with the Advantage rules is enough for now.

Conclusion

That’s it. There’s loads more on combat you can include. This is really just touching the surface. My plan with this guide was to provide a really simplified version of the rules as written. Check out the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition Rulebook for details of how all the crunch works.

I have some other Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition on this site as well, so have a look at that as well.

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP) 4e Character sheets

I have added a page to this site that provides a resource for those looking for character sheets for WFRP 4e. 

I think I might also write a post in the near future about the character generation process as well – it’s a little bit convoluted, so having a checklist of what you need to do might be quite useful!

 

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) 4e Character Sheet Template for RPGGeek

This is a pretty niche post – so apologies to the rest of the world – but if the two Venn diagrams of WFRP and RPGGeek align for you then this might be of interest!

I’ve played a number of games on RPGGeek – basically its a way of playing tabletop RPGs but by posting on a forum – great if you don’t have the regular time to commit to a face to face session or an online Roll20/Fantasy Grounds/Skype session etc. I’ve had a lot of fun with it and have started GMing a few games as well.

The last one I did was for WFRP 1e, but I realised that not having a character sheet online for everyone made it a lot more difficult to manage – it involved me having to dig out the PDFs people had sent me and then asking them to update them etc. So now I’m running a game for WFRP 4e I decided it was essential to have the character sheets online – and that meant creating a template! That was hard work as formatting stuff for a forum post is not the easiest thing to do, but I had a look at other templates and managed it in the end.

So it’s done – it’s not perfect. But it can be accessed here: WFRP 4e Character Template for RPGGeek

To see some in action check out these real life ones from my current campaign: Starter Set Character sheets

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play – 4th Edition – Preorders to be open Thursday 3rd May 2018!

So obviously my last post was great timing!

Here’s the announcement from Cubicle 7:

The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition pre-order opens later this week! To whet your appetite, here are 4 things you can expect from the new edition of this beloved game.

Your Warhammer for You!
Something that is really core to *our* WFRP is that we’ve created tools for you to play *your* Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. We recognise and support that everyone plays their own version of the rules and the setting, and we fully embrace and encourage that. It’s your game! With 30 years of history under its belt, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay means a lot of things to a huge number of players.

Ideal starting point
Not much experience with RPGs? The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set is designed to be the ideal introduction, with a structured adventure to help you learn how to play. Also containing a guide to Ubersreik, there’s loads of gaming material for more experienced GMs too!

System matters
WFRP4 uses ten-sided dice, and a tuned-up version of the familiar d100 system. You can tailor the rules to your preferences or different in-game situations, choosing from a menu of fast ‘roll under’ Simple Tests, Dramatic Tests giving success levels where you need more than a ‘yes or no’ result, and even barely rolling at all, if that’s your style.

Passion for Warhammer
Our creative team are lifelong players of the three previous editions of the game, and between us we’ve worked on all these editions too! We bloomin’ love Warhammer, and we think it shows.

We’ll be bringing you more on WFRP4 regularly, so watch this space! And, very excitingly, pre-orders go live on Thursday…

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 4th Edition – What We Know So Far and Release Date

Before Grimdark, George R R Martin et all was a thing, there was …

Warhammer – and specifically Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP) that fleshed out the Old World which was the setting for Games Workshop’s Fantasy battle game. WFRP portrayed a world much like late medieval Europe which was dirty, deadly and dark – with the corruption of chaos lurking hidden within the normal society – evoking an atmosphere similar to the paranoia of the witch crazes of the 15th/16th centuries in Europe.

Adventures such as Shadows over Bogenhafen cemented the reputation of WFRP as something more sophisticated and “realistic” than the dungeon bash D&D fare available during the 1980s. It was more a mish-mash of a Fantasy RPG and Call of Cthulhu.

And it was bloody brilliant!

Soon to be released is a 4th edition of this great RPG – and the new publishers, Cubicle 7 have promised to take the game back to its roots.

I can’t wait!

Here I’m going to collate and summarise the sketchy information we have so far about the new edition of WFRP.

Setting

A lot of assumptions have been made about this, but I don’t think anything concrete has been announced yet – it will be the Old World, we know that, but I don’t think they have given any indication what the chronology will be with vis a vis events such as Storm of Chaos or the End Times.

Most people are assuming before End Times, or at least flexible.

Design Philosophy

We have had some hints about this – Dominic McDowall, Cubicle 7 CEO has said that they are huge fans of 1e and 2e, so that should please older fans of WFRP who would like to see it go back to its roots. They have also indicated that they have given the system more of an overhaul than first planned:

“The initial plan was to make some small updates to the awesome second edition, and that would mean we would be able to release the game in 2017. We’re all huge fans of the first and second editions of WFRP, and we wanted to take the game back to those roots.

“When I got into the guts of the game I started seeing more opportunities to add in some of the things we’ve learned over the years. This more creative direction meant a longer development phase. Games Workshop are extremely supportive of us taking the time we need to make WFRP Fourth Edition the very best game it can be, and so that’s what we did. I’m very excited about the way things have come together!”

We also know that one of the old writers for WFRP, Graeme Davis, has been brought back on board to do a new version of the Enemy Within campaign for 4th edition – a kind of director’s cut.

But they have also promised there will be new material as well.

Products

Initial products will be a Starter Set and a Rulebook – cover art has been release for both, and they have also appeared in a distributor’s catalogue – with USD pricing (image from Lance Anderson on the WFRP 4e Facebook group):

Plus we know there is a new version of the Enemy Within campaign being worked on as well for all the nostalgic old timers (me included!) No more details though on that.

Covers

The two cover images released so far are for the Starter Set and the Rulebook. The rulebook image is certainly an homage to 1st edition, whereas the Starter Set strikes me as something that might appeal to fans of games such as Vermintide, so perhaps they’re trying to appeal to a new market of Warhammer Fantasy fans here? That can only be a good thing. I’m not sure if I love the artwork yet – it looks a bit too bright and cartoony for me. I also wonder if the archetypal hero characters displayed will give players the wrong idea about WFRP – where are the rat-catchers and artisan apprentices? Although having said that those mundane characters never appeared on the WFRP 1e cover either! WFRP 1e ended up having more of a pathetic aesthetic than perhaps the cover artwork indicated.

Rulebook Cover
Starter Set Cover

Release Date

Very possibly at UK Games Expo between 1st and 3rd June 2018 – the organisers have announced that it will be launched – see this video about the show.

Although there’s not much information, I’m excited to see what the game will look like and also to read people’s opinions as well over at the Warhammer Role Play 4th Edition Facebook Group.

UPDATE

New Teaser image published today (2nd May 2018) so including that as well as the Featured image at the top – previous image below. Looks like other careers are getting a mention!

Death on the Reik – Similarities with The Shadow over Innsmouth

WARNING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR A 1936 NOVELLA AND 1987 RPG ADVENTURE!

I’m a big fan of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP for short) having played it extensively as a teenager in the 80s – I GMed the Enemy Within campaign and several other adventures too. WFRP is going through a bit of a revival at the moment with a new fourth edition due out in 2018 from Cubicle7, and I have even started GMing 1st edition WFRP again with some old friends.

For those who don’t know it WFRP has a gritty, realistic feel to it – it’s set in an Old World much like late medieval Europe and was grimdark before grimdark was a thing (I hate the grimdark tag to be honest – to me it just seems an excuse for violence and misogyny, but really should be about realism and the darker side of human nature, but that’s for another day).

Apparently one of the requests from Games Workshop management for their new RPG game when it first published was to make it more like Call of Cthulhu – the RPG set in Lovecraft’s world of dark horror and ancient evils that lay hidden. WFRP’s Enemy Within campaign certainly took on that atmosphere, with chaos cultists hidden within normal human society, ready to conjure daemons into being – much like the dark forces lurking in Lovecraft’s fiction.

I’ve only started reading Lovecraft recently having got hold of a collection of his work. It’s hard going, but also mesmerising in a way, and also very influential on other horror writers who followed.

Death on the Reik is the second main adventure in the Enemy Within campaign – in it the party follow a trial leading them to Castle Wittgenstein overlooking the river Reik. I have listed all the published adventures for WFRP 1st edition on my site – in the future I’m aiming to flesh out a few more details on each – publication history synopsis etc.

The Shadow over Innsmouth involves a traveller interested in the history of New England who makes the journey to the coastal town of Innsmouth, a place that has fallen into decline and has a bad reputation.

So what about Death on the Reik and The Shadow over Innsmouth? You’d expect with that name the influence might be more for the first main adventure in the campaign – Shadows over Bogenhafen? But actually I think there is some conscious or perhaps subconscious borrowing by the authors of Death on the Reik (Graeme Davis, Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher) from The Shadow over Innsmouth. Here’s what I think the similarities are:

  • The town of Wittgendorf and Innsmouth have fallen into decline – no one visits anymore – in fact people avoid each town
  • The inhabitants drink rotgut
  • The inhabitants are mutated in some way – chaos mutations in Wittgendorf, the Innsmouth look in Innsmouth – i.e. turning into frog creatures
  • The rulers of each place (the Marsh family and the Wittgenstein family) are recluses, undergo mutations themselves and have brought the decline of their towns upon themselves
  • In the past one of the rulers ancestors brought something back – this has resulted in the mutations – warpstone and something unexplained in Innsmouth (as far as I can tell)
  • Both towns are by the water (bit tenuous!)
  • It’s possible to travel to both places – but visitors are made to feel unwelcome. I.e. these aren’t places that are forbidden, but they are shunned by most outsiders.

There are also plenty of differences of course – but I do think the atmosphere and theme are quite alike – have a read of The Shadow over Innsmouth and see what you think – it was my favourite of the Lovecraft stories I read recently. And if you don’t know WFRP and Death on the Reik – get to it immediately – check out the PDFs on DrivethruRPG, get some friends together and start playing – you won’t be disappointed.

Lost Mine of Phandelver – a Critique 

First a disclaimer –this isn’t a detailed review of the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure module that comes with the new D&D 5th Edition Starter Box set, but rather a bit of a critique of it based on my own expectations for new Dungeons & Dragons 

What I’m saying is that I won’t offer a detailed analysis of the adventure or go into a lot of the details of what it’s about – so you if you want that have a look elsewhere – but rather I’m going to offer some views on why the adventure, although well produced, doesn’t work as I wanted it to – and how I think it could do more.  

So a bit of a moan really! Here’s the problems I had with it: 

  • It’s still pretty much a Dungeon bash. Although there’s some links between the different locations – finding Gundrun and looking for his brothers, once there the PCs just move from room to room and fight whatever they come across. There’s no sense of something actually happening.
  • The plot is a bit weak – sure help out Gundrun and there’s someone who wants to do bad things. But actually what has the Black Spider got planned? What will he do if the PCs can’t defeat him? We don’t really know. If they knew he was going to destroy Phandalin or Neverwinter, then I think that would add to the sense of drama – and the motivation to do something about him. As it is, the plot revolves around helping some dwarves get stuff – just facilitating greed at the end of the day! The lack of plot driving and adventure has always been a problem with D&D from what I can see, and this adventure really enforces that feeling for me – Warhammer Fantasy Role Play has always done a much better job of making players feel like they’re part of an actual story – and encourage roleplaying. 

 

Lost mine of phandelver

Here’s what I Iiked about it: 

  • Great production values and art – lovely maps 
  • Good tips for new DMs and how to help players get started 
  • The pre-generated Player Characters are well balanced and have some good motivations that link to the locations in the adventure – but I think more could have been made of that in the actual adventure itself – as the DM might forget about the links and could be reminded by some help text in the adventure.  
  • The encounters, monsters and fights are fun for starting adventures – some classic monsters are included, which allows new players to enjoy D&D as it should be.

I hope this critique doesn’t put people off actually getting the D&D Starter set though – it’s a great set, has a wonderful summary of the rules. I just wish I’d taken the time to add a bit more to the adventure to make it more plot driven and exciting!