Following up my post on initial WFRP 4e thoughts – I’ve been playing for a few months now and also starting to get into the online communities. I’ve decided that while I think my first thought and feedback was right – I’m loving the tabletop game I’m playing in because of the player/character personalities. That’s good praise for the team I’m playing with, and despite some of the mechanics of WFRP which are designed to be punitive over time. These observations are primarily about the mechanics of character progression.
Your character is (eventually) dead. The fate points and general avoidance of issues will carry a character through a number of scenarios, however I feel like eventually the deadliness of the game setting will catch-up to them all. That is a major thematic point in the setting, but it is also a feature which causes players like myself to not really get inside their character’s heads, because you are only a few bad rolls or unavoidable shit-shows away from wanting to re-roll.
You will die, so how will it happen? (see the doomed trait)
Go wide then deep. As the RAW restricts skills and talents in careers, my suss is to pick-up as many broadening skills and talents as you can, before going deep. This is because having a skill (especially a rare skill like some lore or language skills) is very handy. Characters should prioritise getting at least one advance in every skill they can. Then all the talents you need, then raise your stats, then specialise into areas that are suited to your character vision, and lastly tangential talents.
e.g. A single advance in Heal grants a major addition to the skills the character offers the party. Likewise languages, lores, and many other skills which cannot be used untrained.
The reason to get skills before talents is due to the cost difference; as a skill may only cost 10 xp however each talent costs 100 xp. You will get a broader start from 10 xp spent in 10 ways than one talent.
I feel the way I advanced in the early stages of my current character’s development didn’t work well, because I took to raising a few skills which wee used regularly (often combat related) and now think some of the talents and other skills might have been better in the long run.
You cannot have everything. As a counter to the point above, I am finding that it is unlikely that any one character will be able to survive long enough to really fill out every aspect of a career pathway. Thus wide skills are handy, but it pays to pick themes.
The mechanical interaction of stats with skills supports this. A melee combat character will probably only have 1-2 combat skills they are really useful with. The rest might be good for emergencies, but deep is better. More importantly being thematic is really important. The game does not support a character concept that has deep knowledge in each weapon types, and also useful talents and skills. That means that NPCs and PCs should be designed to go deep in a few areas.
Read the lore. I can’t stress enough how much lore and material is around for WFRP. It is actually daunting to consider that some players have been reading this material for 25 years and have that body of knowledge to work form. As such, I’ve found a little reading does provide hooks into the published scenarios.
For example a character’s family in the Drachenfels novel is the same (or is almost the same) as an NPC in one of the 4th edition published adventures. That’s darn good.