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Warhammer Fantasy Ropleplay Review

Tags : pen & paper rpg old world warhammer

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Hello everyone !!

10 days ago WFRPG 4th edition pdf was released in his final form by cubicle7. I was waiting it for a long time and i immediately bought it to find how they improved the venerable D100 system.

In all pen and paper RPG i had the chance to play over the years, WFRPG hold a special place in my heart. It was my first session of pen and paper rpg (28 years ago I think). I don't remember all the details but I was a troll-slayers with a big AXE !!

Before going into the details of the review i'd like to talk about what were the good and bad points of the WFRPG and what Cubicle7 promised us to fix !

WFRPG 1st and 2nd editions

Old versions of this game had 3 mains problems : D100 is binary or math intensive, combat stalemate , Characters balance.

1) D100.

Rolling D100 is linked to WFRPG and cubicle7 had promised to keep it. The benefit of this roll system are : simple and fast ! Rolling a D100 and checking success or failure is instant. The boon of the D100 system is also his flaw, it's a binary solution, Success or fail. If you want to have a graduation of success or failure, subtractions are involved, and it's a problem because spending the night doing two digits subtraction is boring and tiring. When I was running Dark Heresy, and Deathwatch the amount of math involved was heavy and straining.

2) Stalemate.

Another problem of the old editions was Stalemate. In WFRPG players often have 40 to 50 in combat skills resulting in lonnnnng series of missed or non effective blows. Cubicle7 promised to change this !

Ho god i remember this fight where me and a guard kept missing each other for rounds ^^

3) careers.

Career is more of a subjective impression, i love them but when during a campaign you need thousand of exp to get an extra +10 by changing class 5 times it get really old really fast.

Sure it bring a lot of diversity but the binary nature of the D100 system make it extremely punitive. If you don't get an early +20 ws/bs or those juicy +30/40 end game you loose a lot of fun in combat ^^.

Cubicle7 kept the careers but added Class group, and Career Rank and changed how exp is spent solving a lot of issues.

So in the end we needed : Non binary result with D100 but with simple math, a way of preventing long series of miss and more balance/fun on the careers.

The book

I have the digital version of the book so I can't comment on the print quality.

The pdf is 345 page long. It's a Rulebook and the focus is on the rules. there are less than 30 pages on the Reikland and a few fluff pages on gods and magic in their respective section. Also there is no introduction adventure at the end :(.

The lack of fluff is not really a problem as there are a lot of source already out and the fluff provided in the book is enough to start new players on WFRPG !

The Missing mission on the digital book is a bigger issue as it's always easier to grab the book/pdf and run the introductory adventure.

Other than this it's a very nice laid document with a lot of good arts !

The Review is going to be split in 2, the first part will be the technical review of the Rules change and one shorter about the my personal feeling after running a 2 sessions, adventures (Night of blood !)

WFRPG the rules Review

There is 3 importants evolution that I want to comment : Success Level, Advantage and Character balance.

Success Level

The 4th of WFRPG by cubicle still allow simple binary result but you can also do Dramatic skill test and Opposed Dramatic skill test for more fun interaction !

Dramatic skill test :

Simply knowing if you pass or fail is not always enough; sometimes, it is useful to know how well you succeed or how badly you fail a Test. This is especially the case when pitching your Skills against another (see Opposed Tests), which is often the case for magic and combat

Another reason for choosing a Dramatic Test is when the progress of the adventure could depend on the Test. Dramatic Tests provide outcomes rather than straight success or failure, which means that even if the test is ‘failed’ the adventure continues, albeit in a more challenging way than if you had achieved a success

Success Levels (shortened to SL) are used to describe the effectiveness of a Test. To determine the SL of a Test, subtract the 10s number of the rolled dice from the 10s number of the Skill being tested, including any modifiers . The higher the SL, the better the outcome; the lower it is, the worse things have gone.

So When rolling a D100, compare your roll vs your skill, you count Success Level (SL) by doing this math : First digit of your Skill score + modifier – First digit of your roll.

Example: Bob is careering across muddy fields atop his stallion, desperately fleeing the lands of a disgruntled noble when a wall blocks his passage. He decides to push his mount to jump, and the GM calls for a Dramatic Ride (Horse) test. Bob rolls 29 against his Ride (Horse) skill of 41. The 10s number of the Skill being tested is 4, and the 10s number rolled was 2, so the test succeeds with +2 SL (4–2=2) and he clears the wall with space to spare.

Even if we have a bit of math now it's really easy and 99% of time single digit subtractions.

Opposed test

The second sort of dice roll is opposed test, it's like a Dramatic skill test but you roll against someone. All close combat test are opposed test where you compare your success level with the Success level of the defender.

Example : Attacker have 4 success level vs 2 Success level for the defender, the attacker win by 2.

It's very interesting in combat because even if both fail there is a winner with more SL than the other (even if negative). So there is no stalemate with this rule and because everything escalate very quickly with the “Advantage“ mechanism there is no everlasting fight where everyone miss ^^

Advantage

Advantage represents your momentum in combat, and is gained when you outwit, defeat, or otherwise dominate your opponents.It is recorded with tokens — be these coins, cards, chits, counters,or specially designed Advantage tokens — or by a tally sheet on scrap paper.

Advantage is secured each time you win an Opposed Test in combat, you assess the battlefield using your Skills, or when your spirits are lifted. The following provides some examples of this, but is far from exhaustive, and the GM is encouraged to hand out Advantage tokens as suits the circumstances.

Each Advantage you secure adds +10 to any appropriate combat Test or Psychology Test (see Psychology on page 190). Thus, if
you have 5 Advantage tokens, you have an impressive +50 bonus to hit, defend, and resist the influence of others.

The great effect of this rule is, even if two low WS fighter are in combat something always happen. You gain advantage or hit or get hit it's very dramatic.

Note : This rule is hard to appreciate without playing, but I can assure you that combat in WFRPG never felt so much dynamic and interesting, no down time, nothing really complicated or tiring. Each attack is solved with 1 roll. During the first fight, the elven cavalryman got up to 11 advantages token (+110% bonus to all roll) cleaving the opposition.

Note 2 : If you take dmg or loose an opposed test your advantage are back to 0 !

Character balance

Character always concerned me in WFRPG because of binary aspect of D100. As a GM i don't like when one of the player have all his/her action depending on a 43% chance.

Character creation

I want to write a little about the process because during our test play we decided to follow Character creation rules to the letter and see what happen. I already played and run a lot of old WFRPG, game balance was never really attained or even desired^^. So when we discovered that character creation had random element we wanted to try to see what happen,

I'll cut the details but in the end after rolling character we had :

Gaheriet, elven cavalryman (with 65 starting ws)
Wilfrida, human reverwoman (Fisher/poacher)
Bronk, Human servant ^^

both Human had some bonus XP to spend and more fate and resilience point but will that be enough to balance with the super elven ?

Spoiler : after our first fight 3 PC vs 3 mutants and 2 gors we where convinced that the elven warrior was OP by a fair margin ! (Twist : We were wrong),

Fate and resilience

Your Fate represents your destiny, and is directly tied to your
Fortune, a measure of your luck. Your Resilience is your inner
strength, which is directly related to your Resolve, defining your
grit.

You have 2 main score : Fate and resilience and 2 secondary score that are Fortune and Resolve. Humans get 3 times more points than elf that only get 2 !

-Fate is still the same and work as extra life or get out of death situation.
-Fortune is a re-roll or a +1 success lvl (after roll) or getting initiative. You start each session with fortune = fate.

-Resilience : one time use like fate and allow to : Prevent mutation (lol) or auto win test with +1SL
-Resolve : it's super important, You start each session with Resolve = Resilience. You can use it to : Pass psychologie test, Remove condition, Ignore wound modifier.

Ps : You can regain Resolve during game with good roleplay and decision !

As I said earlier after the first fight we assumed that Elves were still bonker good and no amount of secondary stat would make any difference but we were wrong !! In an easy fight Fortune and Resolve don't matter much but when you are engaged with monsters and daemons or confronted by black magic and weird curse these reroll, initiative free pass and condition removal are incredibly strong !

I can pretty much say that at least human and elves are Balanced (so dwarf should be too)

Career

There is 63 Career with 4 lvl in each.

Here the 3 images of the 3 class they have rolled :



Each Career allow you to :
You can train 3 stats + 3 as you gain level in your career.
You can train any skill on your current or lower Career rank.
You can only train talent from your career rank.
The training cost is based on the number of time you already upgraded, you don't need to jump career to increase your max lvl like. So if your career allow ws upgrade you can spend Exp on it for as much time you want.

Even the lowly servant have some good options and with the new advantage mechanism everyone can shine in battle by setting up good situation to gain advantage. So I would say everyone get to shine !

WFRPG My impressions

Cubicle7 was nice enough to send me a test adventure, “Night of blood”. It's the adaptation of a very old scenario published in the WD.

While the group could be called the Super elf and his 2 lowly servants the adventure was fun and we had a very good time ! In the end everyone was useful and the new mechanism developed in the 4th really helped to balance PC.

1) The Character creation was a bit slow with lots of points to spend on different skills but at the same time it's a fun process.

2) This rules-set is the best ever made for WFRPG, the opposition test, the advantage, the fortune / resolve mechanism, the way magic is handled, the NPC. I loved all of it.

3) Advantage is really a great idea and change combat in a very unique way !

That's it for my WFRPG review ! (next is the Beast Battletome)

/Cheers.
Bob.