TTRPG images for WFRP and others

I’ve played in games with various themes, and some of these images are seeking to reflect those themes and tones; and others are just here to be shared.

More AI images with a ttrpg flair for WFRP

A few more images generated by midjourney – thematically about warfare and battle scenes, which it does far better than multi-person hero shots.

Warhammer Fantasy Artwork using Midjourney AI

Starting with some skaven,

then onto some some mountain scenery,

and some random,

Need a bigger boat…quick review of Sea of Claws by C7 for WFRP

In short – Sea of Claws is a great book. Well worth the pdf.

Our group was running a pirate & oceanic style game for many sessions and while its all doable with a little imagination and hand waving, this book gives solid anchors (ahem) for GMs and lots of reading material for both players and GMs.

Beasties, lore, ship combat and construction rules, weather, new careers. Plenty of information on the gods appropriate to the seas which makes all the difference in niche details … and lastly you don’t want to meet that creature on the cover; deadly fun.

What does an AI think Bright Wizards look like? MidJourney for rpgs

midjourney bright wizard

Portrait of a WFRP Bright Wizard, as generated by the MidJourney AI

By now the AI image generation tool MidJourney is probably old news (relative to its beta), but its darn interesting news. The tool facilitates textual prompts to create images. I’ve recently used it to create a character portrait, and seen some far more amazing art created for gaming purposes. Its an all new rabbit hole to investigate, and one that I think will develop into a staggeringly good tool.

I can see this as a service that could be commercialised well, provide a depth to users, and demonstrate how AI can be productive and effective to a wide audience. And now some more nightmare fuel…

Discussing Chain Attack again, and rewriting it as Chain Strike

Recently I compared Chain Attack and Bolt in a prior blog post; surmising Bolt was basically in all ways superior. I should have made it clear that Blast was part of that comparison – have a read if you like.

However in the last few weeks the Winds of Magic WFRP book was released with new Overcasting and Magic Missile rules which significantly nurfed the extending of spells and the damage output of spells (yeah yeah, boo hiss) among other changes.

I’ve yet to see any justification or explanation for the nurf, and feel it changes magic for the worse. Perhaps that’s a post for another time. Grumble.

So do the changes make Chain Attack any better? A little, but not really. Here is why…

Chain Attack still is random in who is strikes, and the spell still makes it far easier to strike at multiple opponents. The nurf to Overcasting actually makes Chain Attack superficially better multi-target spell than Bolt at low career levels, or when casting without Channeling despite the higher CN. That is a fair change – better because it allows slightly more reliable multi-target damage output. It does nothing to make it compete with Blast, which is still the go-to low CN damage spell.

Aside – Winds of Magic nurf of multi-target damage from Overcasting really comes to the front as a key factor for the reduction in damage output, as does how powerful the Wizard is. More on that later.

However when you then consider that Chain Attack in RAW also boosts the strikes onto additional target once the first target is reduced to zero wounds, and the nurf to Overcasting means that is this spell is also far less likely to cause enough damage to do that; because spells will generally do less damage overall – so Chain Attack becomes weaker overall. Sure you can strike a few people, but you’re less likely to strike many, and you will do less damage. … So the Overcasting changes means less chain attacks from the spell called Chain Attack, and the spell is randomly targeted and costs more than Blast to cast. It might strike more people, but the caster can’t control that. Just use Blast.

Bolt will do less damage overall now, but retains the ability to pick targets at will, not at random. As a Wizard the ability to pick targets accurately is important, so Chain Attack doesn’t compete.

So while the spell teases the potential to strike a few opponents concurrently, now it actually will do so less often. Which means Blast and/or Bolt are still better; subject to how much precision the Wizard needs. Again, boo hiss!

E.g. if the Wizard needs precise damage due to a wild melee, use Bolt. If AoE is needed use Blast. Chain Attack is a middle point that is slightly better than Bolt, but uncontrollable.

OK, but how could the spell be made better? Well with a new version that grants the potential for more damage output. Why else are you even considering this spell.

Chain Strike

CN: 6, Range: WP Yards, Target: Special, Duration: Instant, Arcane

You strike out with a cascade of rupturing magic into your target, inflicting +4 damage as a magic missile to a selected target. For each +2 SL achieved in casting the spell may also chain to a new randomly selected target.

Additionally if the spell inflicts more than 2 wounds to the first target, the caster may also opt to strike an additional target, with the damage of each strike reducing by 2 each time a new target is struck. Each additional target must be within WPB yards of the last target struck, however each potential target may only be truck once. Thus it is possible to chain strike through many attackers if they are arranged optimally.

Firstly this change allows for a line of targets to be struck in sequence, providing a true “chain” attack. I see this as a major positive, with the RAW version requiring all targets within WPB of the first, which just does not happen often enough.

I deliberately added the specific randomness in the additional targets, excluding a repeat hit on a prior target to limit one casting ping-pong’ing between two foes standing next to each other. This change makes Chain Strike mostly the same when there are a lot of targets around. It also means that the spell is exceedingly risky to use on foes where your allies are present.

Secondly this new version retains the idea of the spell chaining to new targets, but allows this to happen if each target in the chain takes more than a trivial amount of damage, not what it inflicts, but what the target actually takes. This is important, because the spell should keep striking until it has used all it’s energy.

Thirdly this makes the spell inflict more damage than Bolt, but asks the Wizard to accept they cannot control where it randomly strikes and pay more (CN6 vs CN4) to cast it.

A Wizard who channels is likely to inflict 8+ damage with this spell (4 + WPB as a magic missile), and could perhaps “chain” into many opponents if they channel and/or if they roll well.

Last consideration is the damage output – it is moderate and in line with Amber Spear (beast spell) in terms of how multiple targets are handled. This version scales down to zero damage faster than the Amber Spear, and the spear is a higher CN.

Lets look at scenarios – the spell won’t regularly inflict more than approx 8-11 damage due to the new Winds of Magic Overcasting rules. That constrains huge bursts. It will however be likely to chain to at least one additional target, and slowly reduce its damage as it chains through many.

e.g. A Journeyman Wizard rolls well, achieving 4 SL on their Language Magick test after adjusting for CN:6. This spell then inflicts approx +9 damage, will chain to at least 3 targets, and might hurt up to 1-3 more those struck have poor Toughness and Armour.

So three targets take 9, and 1-3 more might take some additional damage. Useful, but not overly powerful when compared to using Blast on the same group. Blast might inflict the same 9 damage, and on a large group will hit far more targets.

e.g. The same Journeyman rolls poorly next time, just barely casting the spell with no additional SLs. They inflict the same base damage, and will still get the benefit of chaining to a few more targets, although far less than if they had rolled better, or channeled first. In this way the spell is still useful as a “chain themed spell”.

e.g. A Wizard Lord rolls well with channeling, and achieving 10 SL on their L:M test. This spell will chain to at least 6 targets, and will inflict a lot of additional random damage if enough targets are available.

A flaw and drawback in this redesign is the complexity of tracking how the spell jumps and the altering damage. I’ve seen and heard that magic makes games too unpredictable and harder to track – frankly that’s a valid view, that I don’t support at all.

Perhaps a tweak is needed to the original spell rather than a re-write, instead keeping how the original version arcs to new random targets for each 2 SL, and saying that is all the spell does, and also increase the damage to +6+SL? If so, don’t bother with the mechanics of additional strikes if the target drops to 0.

That way the spell damage output is boosted slightly, it’s perhaps more competitive with Bolt & Blast for output, and the spell os resolved quickly.

Hope all your rolls are critical successes.

Malnourished, a WFRP Condition

The core conditions cover all the combative outcomes we could see but others might come up in play that could be applied as game mechanics. This idea came up during our regular weekly game when the characters were imprisoned for months.

Malnourished – whilst still kept alive, you have received far less food and water than your body needs over a prolonged period, which makes both your mind and body cease functioning correctly. This inflicts:

  • -10 penalty on all stats per month, to a max of -30.
  • -1 SL on all tests per 2 months on any successful checks, to a max of -3 SL.

In effect a character eventually has cumulative -30% and -3 SL on anything challenging they try to do. They might be useful to break rocks or some-such, but totally unable to perform at their normal levels, and quite easy to subjugate – which is kind of the point in harsh prisons of the setting. The penalties would also explain why so many characters would die early in prisons.

Review – WFRP Winds of Magic

Solid book; expensive as pdf (and @ Euro 44 + delivery to Australia I wasn’t ever going to buy the physical copy, forget the collectors edition), but has good options for Imperial Wizards. Some material is rather niche (meaning would be rarely used in play) however providing this as options is a good, … no darn great thing.

  • Plenty of lore: Fantastic! Exactly as expected, the setting material is through-out the book, and well written.
  • Small amount of typos. Ok.
  • Robes and Staves should have to be attuned to the character, so that another caster can’t just steal a staff and use it straight away. Attuning an item might just be a matter of time or an extended Channeling test vs 10 SL (or whatever) over three solstices. Something that makes the item bonded to the character who owns it.
  • Staves always extended the Range: Touch in my head-cannon – I feel C7 got that aspect spot on. Now make that rule for all Wizard weapons.
  • The rules for Staves should be allowed for any weapon the Wizard can use. I understand that staves are “very wizardly”, but swords and such are too – and this is Warhammer! Yes, a Bright Wizard might se a sword, or might choose to kill swathes of people with a Halberd, Spear, or Pike too. A Beast or Lightning Wizard using a Spear feels authentic in the WFRP setting, why no love for the other weapons the character can use. This would be a small addition to encourage diversity and unique characters.
  • The nurf to Overcasting is way too harsh. I get it – everyone who wasn’t playing a Wizard said Wizards were overpowered, but its too far. Melee & range weapons don’t have this additional SL limit, so why have it for magic?

Lastly my biggest peeve about this book: Not enough spells! I’ll explain…

I dislike how few petty spells (meaning there are none) and normal Arcane spells it has (only a few, once you remove the specialist spells for constructs). Yes, there are plenty of new spells for each Lore – that’s expected. The prior editions of the Warhammer Magic books had new spells, why not this one – see Realms of Sorcery, p.172 for Petty spells, then into all sorts of spells within the setting which could have been included.

More spells would have very little impact on page count, and certainly would be an inclusion that every Wizard could opt to use. It is a failing.

Being critical of C7 has proven to be a minor heresy online; so I have to acknowledge that many folk are excited and pleased with The Winds of Magic. Overall I am too – I just see a few things as missed opportunities.

Twist the Living Tree, a point of view on Muto vs Rego

A FB discussion started recently about the spell in the Ars core rule book “Twist the Living Tree”, (ReHe25), p.139; asking the question of the spell being Muto rather than Rego. The questioner is no stranger to Ars Magica and has been in and around the community for ages – and is often dead right, so I gave it some thought too.

The spell allows a tree to be bent into unusual positions, to fit the caster’s intent. Fair. Even to the point of directly the leaves to form a canopy, shape a wall, or even a cage.

The discussion saw most people supporting the spell as Rego, and firstly I did as well because the spell’s effect broadly matches the Rego base effect 4 – “control a plant, moving as you direct but will remain rooted”.

The first problem I have with this spell being ReHe only is the end shapes prescribed in the spell description go far beyond how a tree could reasonably bend. Its one thing to bend a branch to strike somebody, to turn leaves to river the rain, but it’s a whole other spell yo cause branches to shift in ways which would normally break them.

My argument is the spell bends the tree, but it needs Muto to allow the tree to survive the bending process without damage. The word “unusual” is important in the spell description. Unusual might be a sharp curve or branches in parallel lines; not unnatural forms. And functional cages and walls are unnatural shapes for any tree.

Without Muto the tree branches would break as the shift to form a complex shape like a cage. The FB discussion showed pictures of plants grown into complex shapes over their lifetime as a counterpoint. That’s nice but invalid, because the spell is not shaping the tree as it grows, it is bending and twisting a tree over ten minutes.

Consider the creepy comparison and differences if the spell were Rego Corpus; and sought to twist a person into a particular shape. A spell could force a person’s physical limbs into any position however unusual, but could not forcibly bend them into complex shapes without hurting the person, or even breaking bones. To shape a person into a wall, cage, or even perfect circle would be possible, but not without a Muto requisite.

A counter to this MuCo argument is that ReCo and ReHe are not the same, and it is the baseline effect which grants this extra flexibility. Sure. That feels like a hand wave though when all other Rego forms do not have such flexibility for unnatural shapes built in.

So how to fix it?

a) Ignore it, I’m incorrect. 🙂

b) Change the spell description text of TtLT to be “depending on your needs, you can make any unusual shape a tree could bend to, although complex unnatural shapes may break or damage the tree”.

c) Add an optional Muto requisite when unnatural shapes are desired.

I like option C the most. The spell stays largely as intended, only needs the Muto when something strange is required, and keeps the spell as a Herbam spell with a lot of utility.

Happy gaming.