The GROGNARD Files

Table-top RPGs from back in the day and today.

We never played WARHAMMER Fantasy RolePlay back in the 80s, so we’ve been making up lost time over the past few weeks to catch up on what we missed.

The WARHAMMER Grogpods have been produced with the help of The Smart Party podcast. Baz joined us as a locum judge in Part One to dissect 1st edition rules: we managed to play using the rules with Asako Soh (from twitter).

The co-host of The Smart Party, Gaz, has been touring the autumn cons (including GROGMEET) with his WFRP 4e adventures. We played “Here comes the Prince!” set in an Empire backwater of his own design.

Here’s the play report from those sessions. Five highlights and a fumble.

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1 The Enemy Within – Asako Soh revived ‘Mistaken Identity’ for last year’s GROGMEET and this year’s virtual GROGMEET. From the start of the session when we answered the call of a proclamation, it felt like we were in the throes of a classic.

It starts off simply enough with a straight forward across country journey, but an encounter with vile chaos sends the adventure spiralling into warped direction.

The adventure is cunning as lures the players into a tempting get-rich-quick scheme that quickly becomes complicated.

Phil The Dice Mechanic made the observation that the skills are very  well considered in the 1st’ed as they quickly establish the character and their place in the world. He also observed that the critical tables are very lurid and colourful but at the top end of the tables, the descriptions are likely to reoccur. Never mind ‘hit left leg’ we had many ‘shattered pelvis’ results.

I thoroughly enjoyed the session, as it was full of sardonic humour as well as the gross-out pestilence. The scenario is smart too, probably a little rail-roady for modern tastes, but it never felt like that in Asako Soh’s hands.

2. Game for a laugh?

“I know that it’s a darkly comic game, are we playing it that way?” asked Matt.

“No, we’re playing it straight as games played for laughs are annoying,” said Gaz, carefully framing the scenario, “if comedy emerges then we’ll go for it, but otherwise it will seem forced.”

We solemnly nodded, before Gaz went into a description of our Lipsensnout Sausages and mash served by a man with sausage-like thumbs – we’d had wurst.

3. Get thee to MittleburgScreenshot 2018-12-17 at 23.53.36.png

The marriage of Ines von Horgen to merchant’s son Frederich Friccen is rumoured to have been brokered to inject cash into the ailing fortunes of Baron von Horgen’s house, while elevating the common, yet wealthy, Friccen household to minor nobility. Scandal enough, but a week before the impending nuptials, Frederich has ridden off to Mittleberg for seven days of Volksfest revelry and a Junggesellenabschied to remember (or forget).

Our small band of ‘resourceful and discreet’ souls were sent to recover Frederich and treat him to ‘hair of the dog’ to get him back to fulfil his duty.

Mittleburg was packed to the jowls with grotesque NPCs who were brought to life with great gusto creating some memorable encounters.

Encounters such as Cunz Gunther, the sausage chef at The Boar and Truffle, or Juergen Schmidt who was abducted from a palanquin by our group, and forced to pay debts to the brothel in a wonderfully ‘Richard Lester’ Three Musketeer moment.

The setting in both editions is really rich.

4. Pre-Generation of the next generation

The character sheets were a little more complex than the 1st edition, but no less colourful.

Blythy was Magdelena von Horgen, an impatient, duellist of lesser nobility, who was easily distracted by her desire to seek out and confront her rival Marx Tuschman. She was guarded by her man-at-arms, who had seen better days, Hans Maiger (played by Mat Hart from Steamforge games).

Helping us to find out way around the city was Grete Vesars, a well connected racketeer (played by Dan, one of the original Smart Party).

I played Elspeth Voltz, a taciturn, single-minded Thief Taker who was more used to tracking down less salubrious characters. She is the impatient side-kick to the more deliberate Barold Loffen, an investigator, a literate and learned locator of missing persons (played by Baz).

5. Something wicked, this way comes …

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Before long, we realised that there was something more pernicious at work. Rather than a stag-do that had got out of hand, the infiltration of chaos, symbolised by a dance-of-veils featuring a costumed sex-worker with a lobster hand and an exposed breast.

The final confrontation was satisfyingly horrific. The mechanics work differently than the first edition as it employees ‘degrees of success’ where oppositional tests are compared on a scale of 1 – 10 depending on the ‘tens’ rolled on percentage dice. There’s no example of combat in the rulebook, which means some of the finer points of ‘advantage’ are difficult to work out in play.

The comparison of scales of success means that if you fail less than your opponent, it is still possible to succeed: a rule that proved to be decisive in the final confrontation.

6. Corrupted files

We attempted to record the sessions for use as podcasts. When it came to playing the tapes, the file was ‘corrupted’, which was fitting, but frustrating. No one will hear of Mat Hart’s character dressed for a masked ball wearing a costume that made him look like he was riding a griffin, a la Bernie Clifton.

You won’t hear Phil The Dice Mechanic recreating Benny from Crossroads playing Werner, “SPEAK UP. YOU’RE VERY SHUSSHY.”

Fortunately, Gaz blessed the third attempt by Tzeentch, and it will appear in Episode 25 of the GROGPOD and followed up in a Smart Party bonus episode.

 

3 thoughts on “1D6 wielding the WARHAMMER

  1. This sounds like a blast. I think this game really needs an experienced hand (or lobster claw) at the tiller. I may have to take that big book off the RPG shelf and have a peek at it this Christmas holidays. Thanks, Dirk!

  2. MATT BROUGHTON says:

    I never played WFRP back in the day. I seem to remember my best mate Dave buying first edition when it came out. I think we mocked it slightly, as we associated it too closely with the Warhammer miniatures rules. We were all seasoned Call of Cthulhu and MERP players by then (as seasoned as you can be at just 14 years old!). I later realized we’d missed out on a classic, as we met folks later who’d rave about The Enemy Within campaign. So I suppose the joke was on us. I picked up 4th Edition last week, and can’t wait to give it a try with our group!

  3. Rog says:

    At last the Starter Edition is out, with a full example of combat at last!
    We’d finally groped toward a what we thought was correct version of combat, finally realising it was the range of success between the two combatants that was the Success Level, but now realised we’d been doing Advantage wrong, spending it each time it was used, whereas it’s supposed to build up even if used to adjust rolls, until you lose it from being hit or an opponent using a sneaky talent.
    That combat example would have been really handy in the 4th ed WFRP rulebook Cubicle 7!
    That said, it’s a really enjoyable system, the Corruption mechanic for instance is great, essentially like radiation in Gamma World.

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