Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ill Met in Dietershafen

Tonight was the first real session of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. (2nd edition)
It was pretty laid back and mostly improvisational. I introduced a few plot hooks and threw in a few encounters meant to teach the basics of rolling Characteristics and Skills, plus a low impact barehanded fight to demonstrate combat.

Our heroes ended up in a bragging/storytelling contest, followed by a seedy pub crawl filled with gambling and backroom brawling. The session ended with almost everyone rolling on the Stinking Drunk table. Gotta love those super-heroic Warhammer types, eh?

I think I have a pretty interesting mix of characters, and I think this group plays well together. Our next session isn't for a couple of weeks, and I can't wait.

The campaign is semi-sandbox; I've sprinkled the town with rumors and I have a few potential hooks that can lead them far out of the present setting, as well as a a couple of self-contained scenarios to explore or ignore at their leisure.

It feels good to be running again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two Things About Which I am Greatly Excited

1. Adventures Dark & Deep: A Curious Tome of Forgotten Lore
I dig on AD&D (err....) I like the "lost Gygaxian" classes, I like the rules additions, I like parts of the skill system (not a fan of skills costing boatloads of xp, but I think I can come up with an alternative) I am exceedingly glad that the Greyhawk Grognard is going to be publishing a modular book of just the new stuff. Tentatively set to release this summer, I'ma snap me up a copy  as soon as it is available.

2. Deadlands:  Hell on Earth Reloaded. Okay, so I've been waiting for this since 2004. (When Savage Worlds first debuted, the demo adventure was set in the Hell on Earth world....and we've had not a crumb from them since then) According to Pinnacle dudes on the Pinnacle forums, the book should be out this year. Normally I scoff at "this year, we promise!" calls from books that are many years overdue, but I've got a good feeling about this one and I am remaining uncharacteristically optimistic. With any luck, I might be playing Hell on Earth with the Sunday crew before Christmas this year.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Alas, poor Osric, I knew him....

I neglected to mention that I did not attend my usual Sunday game this week. (Massive piles of grading, and with senior grades being due tomorrow, I had to get my rear in gear.) I found out that one of the players lost a character, a longtime character in this particular campaign. As one of the people in the party who can use healing spells, I feel a little bit responsible for his death. I have also noticed that bad mojo seems to go down in games when I am not around.

On the other hand, Mindy's multiclass character hit 5th level in her mage class, which means she can now cast fireball. Given the number of trolls and frost giants present in this setting, that spell will be a most welcome addition to the party's arsenal.

Looking forward to Deadlands this weekend, and my first "real" session of WFRP2 next week.

(Oh, plus that whole summer vacation thing...)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Various Visions of the Old World

Right, so....

This weekend I created a character for the MMO based on Warhammer, thus forfeiting what was left of my black little soul.

...or not. I can tell that this relationship is going to be a short fling, though not without its benefits. The visuals in the game have refreshed my mind about what the Warhammer world is supposed to look like. I really like the starting village in particular, and the game has actually given me an idea for where to start my campaign, and some things I want to do with it as well.

However, the game does have a very sharp disconnect between how I view the Old World and how Games Workshop views the Old World. My formative experience with Warhammer was HeroQuest, follwed several years later by the first edition of the roleplaying game. To me, the Warhammer world is a place where Chaos lurks out of sight. It hides in dungeons and behind the faces of your neighbors. You find a strange symbol carved in a barn in some small village and you know you need to GTFO. Chaos is subtle, corrosive, and hidden. Of course, the only part of the Warhammer franchise that seems embrace this version of the Old World is the first edition of the roleplaying game.

Ah, and then we have the Warhammer where Chaos is a screaming horde of guys with black-and-white mohawks and armor with spikes and skulls. Chaos is is your face and burning down your village. I imagine some dude yelling "SURGE" like in those old soda commercials, and maybe some wailing 80's metal guitar.
In addition to the minis game and the MMO using this as the default feel of the world, I should also note that the 2nd edition of the roleplaying game operates under this assumption as well. 

Perhaps I can have it both ways. This is a pre-industrial society with a low literacy rate. News travels slowly, and if the agents of Chaos really are everywhere, news can be easily distorted with hearsay and disinformation. Hell, the Empire's Witch Hunters are just as likely to quell rumors of Chaos activity to avoid inciting a panic and to maintain the illusion that the Church has everything under control.

Meanwhile, villages in Nordland burn as ships from Chaos-tained Norsca deposit mutated raiders on her shores.

I should also mention that the MMO differs significantly from the RPG in terms of starting badassitude. A beginning Warhammer FRP character might be a Mercenary or a Shieldbreaker, sure, but he's just as likely to start off as a Fisherman or an Artisan's Apprentice or something even less glorious. A player needs to get a significant amount of experience under their belt before they can think about moving careers into something like Witch Hunter or Knight or whatnot. I'm guessing, however, that not a lot of typical MMO players would really enjoy starting the game as a Servant or a Rat Catcher. The beginning character classes allow for you to be a Knight of the Blazing Sun or a Warrior Priest of Sigmar or a Dwarven Engineer right out of the gate.

I've heard that the 3rd edition dials back the "Chaos all up in your grill" aspect of the Old World a little, but I really have no desire to find out. I have a pretty healthy library of 2nd ed stuff and no real desire to convert.

So.... my brief dabble in the dirty world of MMOs was helpful. Even as I finish this post, I can already feel my interest in WHO bottoming out. I'd like to log in and look around the world for a few more visual queues, but the fetch quests and guilds and pvp stuff is all for the birds, man.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mount Up!

Tonight we rolled characters and talked about the system and campaign.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd edition, with some some 1st edition stuff thrown back in and the flavor aimed more at 1st ed and Talisman: subtle Chaos, more Enemy Within than Storm of Chaos.

Our party: a Dwarf Troll Slayer, Dwarf Soldier, Human Initiate of Ranald, and Halfling Rapscallion.

Our first real session kicks off in two weeks. I am very excited.

More later.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Brush With Grimdarkness

Today I played a session of Rogue Trader with a colleague's husband's group.
(Tangential note- there are apparently now five standalone rpgs set in the 40K universe; last time I checked there were only three)

I have to say that I don't dig the career system in Rogue Trader. It feels a lot more limited than the one in WFRP. I also can't help but find the setting of the 40K universe to be comical. The universe is soooofuckinggrim that it seems almost like self-parody. I particularly like the little cybernetic skull you can get to do menial tasks for you. 

I ended up making an Astropath, a psychic who is soul-bound to the God-Emperor and who is rendered blind by a crazy ass ritual that is both grim and dark. Unfortunately, the starting powers he got from said ritual made me feel about as useful as a 1st level mage who didn't roll sleep for his starting spell. For being blinded and soul-bound, I was hoping that I'd at least get the ability to melt someone's face or something. I actually used my laspistol more than anything else in the game session. (Luckily, being rendered blind by aforementioned ritual doesn't seem to carry any actual penalties, in ranged combat or otherwise.)

Will I play again? Unsure... the group was okay, but I'm not sold on Rogue Trader. I found that I kept thinking about how they could have made it more like WFRP. In fact, I don't get why (well, aside from being able to make five $60 core books) they didn't just do one 40K game and have numerous career paths, instead of many separate games focusing on only a limited range of character options. I mean, is having an Imperium Inquisitor and a Rogue Trader adventuring together all that much harder than having a Noble, a Rat Catcher, and an Agitator running around together?

Anyway, the next session isn't for a couple of weeks. I'll probably give it another shot.

Tomorrow is another session of Allias' Deadlands Reloaded game. We're supposed to have two new players at the game. I'm not even sure the previous new guy will be back. All this player turnover is making me feel dizzy.

My new campaign starts in less then 72 hours. I can't wait to be running again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dusting Off the Screen

I have set a start date of May 8th for my Warhammer 2nd edition game. The first night will just be character creation, plus a pre-gen scenario called "The Pig, the Witch, and Her Lover" which I got on Free RPG day back in 2008 or 2009. I'm running it to get everyone acquainted (or reacquainted in some cases) with the rules, and to allow a no-risk-to-your-character introduction to how Warhammer rolls. The next session, May 22nd, will be the first actual session with the characters they created.

As the game draws nearer, I'm still tempted by the idea of running the campaign not in the Old World, but in the world of the Talisman boardgame. I want something that feels a bit more like the baroque, higher-fantasy artwork and feel of Warhammer FRP 1st edition.I suppose I could always just flavor the Old World accordingly.

I am incredibly anxious to get back in the GM's seat. My last real campaigns were last summer, and since then I have only run a handful of B/X one-shots and my short lived Savage Worlds steampunk game.

In the meantime, I'm learning Chill (not a lot to learn, actually) to potentially run on the "off" Tuesdays.