WFRP: Embrace change, or seek solace in familiarity?

Now that WFRPv3 has been going for well over a year, I have come to the time and place to figure out how to take this edition into account when writing for The Altdorf Correspondent. Embrace the new edition whole-heartedly or put on the grognard cape and grouse about the good old times?
Traditionally, I embrace change. I try new things, I look at them to see the old things in a different light. I look to the new to help me avoid a sense of “I’ve been doing this same thing for 30 years now” and to keep things fresh. I also have had the ambition of supporting the current edition of all the games I write for, be it D&D, WFRP, Kult, Cyberpunk or any other game I feel strongly about.
But I’m not as young as I used to be. I’ve played so many games, tried so many rules, seen so many plots, that I’ve grown confused. Rules have never been my forte, and with WFRPv3, I’ve hit a brick wall. The rules are clearly written, the components are beautiful, everything is top notch. But I can’t connect to the rules. When reading them, I don’t see stories in my head. I see rules, cards, components. I lose track of what WFRP is to me.
And as you can imagine, that is not where I want to be when sitting down to write about Altdorf and WFRP!
It’s not that I think the rules are horrible, it’s not that I think FFG are insulting WFRP gamers all over the world, it’s not the prices or the boxes or the bits. It’s simply the fact that this is very different from what I am used to, and that is enough to throw me.
So what to do? There are two basic aspects I need to consider; rules and setting. And here’s the lowdown …
For rules, I’m staying with WFRPv2. As I look more into WFRPv3, I might start to dual-stat things,if I feel I can get comfortable with the rules. But for the foreseeable future, WFRPv2 is my edition of choice for rules. I will bring in things I like from WFRPv3, and mine WFRPv1 as well. And fan material of course.
As for the setting, it’s more difficult. Or maybe more simple … I don’t really know for sure. I will go with WFRPv3 and mix in elements from WFRPv1, WFRPv2 and Warpstone. It seems to me that WFRPv1 and WFRPv3 are closer to each other in tone and atmosphere than they are with WFRPv2. And Warpstone is superb, and has a lot of the grittiness that I enjoy in the setting material published. So I’ll roll back to before the Storm of Chaos, and go from there.
This is not a big change for me. As many have noticed I am fairly loose with canon anyways, and the things I don’t like are simply toned down (the Emperor riding a griffon, for example). It’s easy to just discard a piece of setting I don’t agree with, and so the WFRP world I present is a curious mix of canon and heresy. Which is what I’m aiming for; my own take on the Old World, my own interpretation informed by my own tastes and sensibilities.
This is influenced greatly by the writings of others, primarily the official WFRP lines, but to an almost greater extent the writings found in Warpstone and historical records.
So there you have it. I will continue much as I have done so far, which will delight quite a few of my readers, I suspect. But there will still be a place for WFRPv3, mostly in commentaries on the products, and reviews. I want to embrace WFRP as a whole, not get bogged down with fruitless internal debates on the merits of one edition over the other.
Hope you’ll stay on and thanks for readin!

FAL Commentary: Moving out of the comfort zone

Over the last year or so, we’ve been running a lot of Dungeons & Dragons 4. A lot. This means even Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has taken a back seat to the behemoth the is D&D4, and the most startling thing to me is that I am the DM.

Why is this so startling? My perspective is one based on conflicting experiences.

My favourite RPGs are Call of Cthulhu (any edition) and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (v1 and v2, we haven’t tried v3). It’s all great fun.

I primarily run these games for my group, and have a somewhat similar style when doing so. Lots of social interaction, investigation, few combats, abstract battles not using minis, event based plot progression and so on.

The kind of adventures where my group chose not to play D&D. That’s what I do best. I ran Tomb of Horrors, and it sucked. I ran Iron Kingdoms, and it turned into WFRP.

But the allure of D&D is always there. I’ve played D&D since 1984, and have fond memories of the Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set opening up outdoor adventuring and exploration on a scale I hadn’t seen before. So I was a player in D&D BECM up to level 26, then in Dragonlance and Ravenloft and other classic stuff. Good stuff and bad stuff.

When D&D4 was released, we decided we wanted to try it. One DM bravely took Keep on the Shadowfell and ran us through it. The resulting experience nearly tore our group apart. We couldn’t agree on how to play the game, I hated it, and the tactical parts of it were uninteresting to me. Counting squares … argh! So I said that I would never play D&D4 again. And some said they’d never play any previous edition again, because they loved the elements I hated in D&D4. So no D&D for us.

It was a strange experience. So we went on to Dark Heresy, with another GM. Then there was a shakeup due to working schedules, and we lost our  GM. So what to do …

I stepped up and ran a WFRP arc that was nigh on perfectly executed both by me and the players. It was loads of fun, and it had everything I love about playing roleplaying games. But it took its toll on me, and when we wrapped up the seven sessions, I was a bit burned out on deep and complex plots. And I wanted to try something different, move out of my comfort zone, to see if I could learn something that made my WFRP games a lot better. Things can always be approved, is my belief.

So I bought Dungeon Delve. We created new PCs. I concocted a flimsy campaign premise, and then we dived into it. Very much focused on tactical combat and character advancement. I was planning on running a few of the delves while we were deciding on what to do next.

Sitting on the DM side of the screen totally changed my opinion of the game. I loved it. And the players loved it. We had had our internal flame war on play styles, expectations and pros and cons and all that, and we emerged with a greater understanding of what we wanted from the game.

The delves segued into Scales of War, and then into Revenge of the Giants. Even though I’m still having trouble adapting my style to that which fits D&D4 best, the players are psyched, and we are chugging along. Before, we would change games every 7 or 8 sessions (we play once a week), but now we soldier on. D&D4 scratches a lot of itches that my players like to have scratched, while still being fun for me to run.

It doesn’t play like CoC or WFRP. And for me it shouldn’t. I just need to learn or even relearn how to make the game more D&D:ish, and drop some conceits I’ve adopted from running other games. To make the experience more like what my group thinks of as D&D. It’s all possible within the rules, I just have to work a bit harder to bring it to the surface, since I’m entrenched in my primary style of game mastering.

So the short of it. I understand and respect the opinions of those who feel D&D4 is not a game for them. I’ve been there myself, and I hated the game. At the same time I think I understand the opinions of those who feel D&D4 is their kind of game. That’s where I am now. At the same time, if someone said “show me your best game running skills” I wouldn’t pick D&D4, instead opting for WFRP.

Strange that, to find conflicting views on the game, all wrapped up in one single gamer.


WFRP: Requests for translation

I have over the years received quite a few requests for translation of the iAltdorf map into other languages. French is the most requested language, and I have been in contact with some chaps who had a plan to do the translation, but I lost their e-mails.

So I’m posting this to make a general call out to anyone who wants to translate the iAltdorf map into their own native language. Drop me an e-mail, and I’ll send you the files.

What you need is basically Illustrator CS3 or later, or a vector based illustration tool that is compatible with the Illustrator CS3 file format. And a freaking lot of time on your hands …

Don’t underestimate the endeavour, it’s a lot of tedious work. Using Find and Replace will get you a long way, but then you will have to manually adjust every single name plaque in there. And there’s a lot of them, maybe as many as a thousand … since all locations are repeated twice.

If you want to give it a shot, you’re welcome. Drop me an e-mail, and I’ll make the files available to you.