More thoughts about WFRP 4th

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.

An aside about the DnD edition rants and wars

Aside

The ruleset has always been trivial when compared to the influence the playstyle the team brings to the table has on gameplay. A bunch of tabletop war-gamers could railroad 1st ed just as well as a bunch of roleplayers could chatter happily in 4th ed.

I made this comment on an article over at GeekoSystem about getting into the dnd playtest. Its not that I don’t respect the debate, or even that the ruleset affects the players – I just feel that getting hung up on the mechanic resolutions is a detractor to why I roleplay. I ply rpgs for entertainment, and that entertainment is based around acting in character; the mechanics are secondary. Continue reading

Another trpbtntwas Perspective

The guff-guff TRPBTNTWAs means “Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About” as coined on the Monsters and Manuals blog, and later at Jeff’s Game blog. It is a list of topics to make comment on, and I like a quick rant – so here goes:

  1. Book binding. I’d prefer my source material to be smaller if it is modules or inserts, but otherwise like a good solid hardcover book for almost everything. I paid a long while ago to get a copy Ars Magica hard cover bound, and I’m sure it still looks darn good on the shelf.
  2. “Doing a voice”. How many people “do voices”? Players and GMs should do voices when they can, and it has to suit the troupe. I like it, but also can understand why it cam make people look silly. Talking in the third person is my pet hate for “characterisation”.
  3. Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions? As needed, hopefully not at all. We play every fornight at the moment and it takes too long to get rolling sometimes as it is without formal breaks.
  4. Description. Exactly how florid are your descriptions? Mine? Poor, very direct, and focused on the scenario. I must do better at this.
  5. Where do you strike the balance between “doing what your character would do” and “acting like a dickhead”? I think the balance is to use the reasonable person test. Would a reasonable person accept that as a valid action? If your actions are making somebody uncomfortable, you should tone it back. If you are being rude, then do it only a few times, or find another way.
  6. PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go? Strictly speaking anything goes, but I’d be disappointed if the characters were generated so this could happen frequently. I guess that means I don’t like it.
  7. How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player? It is like theater sports, like acting. We play make-believe.
  8. Alchohol at the table? Sure, no problem. Drunk? Hopefully not.
  9. What’s acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are there some limits? They miss out on XP and progression, they miss the game too which is really missing out on the fun. Overall they should not be penalised greatly at all, and hopefully the other players are not penalised for them missing either.