Monday, August 29, 2005

My little Old World: clearing the cludge

And so it continues: less GM's crunch for the sake of Andy's 4th wall; more story! Well I worked bloody hard getting this session ready, and harder even keeping it rolling, so I'm a bit reluctant to write a narrative that makes the PC's the sole heroes of the day. The GM's gloats must be heard!

I guess I would have to start with my satisfaction at the way my cast of characters just sprang to life. I've run the party through 'Pretty Things', 'A Rough Night at the Leaping Frog', 'Through the Drakwald'- 6 sessions; and 2 days in the 'Ashes of Middenheim- 2 sessions. The game has become a murder mystery with no comb... no: no real combat [eh! ;)] since they hit the big city. The pace is really hotting up, as witness the way the passage of time has become very much more compressed.

The basic play aids provided by the GM's pack has made this easy: with some photocopying and a bit of paperwork, I have all the NPC's, goonsquads and other assorted riff-raff written up on the NPC and combat record sheets, so that they can be called on at a moment's notice- that's outlaws, greenskins, wolves, and mutants to consider just those found in the GM's pack. The cast of pre-generated NPC's from those past scenarios must run to a couple of dozen at least, and I've barely scratched the surface of those yet.

All of this effort brought us to last-week's cliffhanger, in which a hardened and somewhat ruthless party of adventures better known for the inter-species spectacle they present than for their exploits charged into the chamber of Father Greimold, Priest of Sigmar.

Thrust unexpectedly into the Middenheim Anointment succession by the untimely death of old Morten, Greimold is only the 2nd NPC I've had to create from scratch, and the first was just the inevitable trial run. Doing the whole dice thing, working out his career path, and toting up those advances was time consuming, but it proved well worthwhile- giving me an NPC whose real depth added a whole new dimension to the already rich material hiding behind the deceptively simple plot of the opening of AoM.

One thing I can say with confidence about the new careers system is that it in no way constrains the richness of WFRP. It strikes me that a lot of talk about this ignores the first great merit of the WFRP careers system- that is, the very first thing your first ever game gives that you never forget: how amazingly quickly and easily you got great characters who just leapt up at you demanding to be played; whose sheer diversity moreover focussed everyone's attention perfectly on exploring the Old World, if only to find out why such misbegotten wretches, maniacs, shill merchants, thugs and well-heeled riff-raff, or what have you, would've spent more than 5 minutes in each others' company in the first place!

Just as with every other revision for the new edition, the careers system in WFRP2 does everything 1st ed. did and does it better, faster, and more systematically. Not only has WFRP2 already leapt up the ranks of most successful GW 2nd editions of all time, but the big crunch of the Storm of Chaos is just such a great backdrop against which to play the revival of this classic rpg.

And the support looks a lot better to me than it seems to to quite a lot of other people. The thing about these new releases is that they are not being produced for the sake of the old fans, but to succeed among a whole new generation of roleplayers, who approach this geek we do from across the gulf of the roleplaying wasteland of the 90's. It has to be said that from this point of view, the WFRP line looks very good.

The books are accessible by virtue of good writing; of not being weighty tomes; of having well laid out contents, and enjoy working indexes. They are well-designed playaids too. I mean, after 8 weeks of play, I still have AoM, most of PV and the imminent Spires of Altdorf at my disposal; all the monstrous diversions a rich bestiary can provide; not to mention all the hooks I can dig out from past sessions and the PC's backstories...

And the beauty of this? It's all pregenerated (well, OK, not the PC's relatives, though those could be found pregenerated if you wanted). All those NPC's and goons plus all of the monsters: with a bit of paperwork all there to be used straight out of the books- which look like they can easily just keep on coming; and a new 3-volume megascenario rolling out? This is epic fantasy roleplaying the way WFRP does best. ;)

Prologue: Getting to Middenheim
- A Rash of Enthusiasm...: the colour of Magic!
- Blogging my WFRP campaign: introducing the party.
- My little Old World: at the gates of Middenheim.
- My little Old World: mission accomplished?
- Index:- My little Old World: Ashes of Middenheim

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