Monday, August 15, 2005

A Rash of Enthusiasm...

This is the heading under which I will sing the praises of all that excites, delights and entertains me most about my favourite games. Without further ado then, RD/KA! presents a first regular feature, 'A Rash of Enthusiasm...'

... for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP2)

I've been having a good time running this after buying it a couple of months ago. The well-designed shiny hardbacks have grabbed the completist in me, and I'm gleefully gloating over the horrors in store for my hapless players. The Warhammer Old World is without a shadow of a doubt my lifetime hall-of-fame fantasy rpg setting, my 'desert-island' fantasy rpg of choice.

There are various reasons to maintain that GW's hi-octane take on all that Tolkeinesque stuff is simply the richest fantasy adventure-gaming setting ever created, but I must here confess that I really wasn't into all that 'Chaos, death and spikey bits' when Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB) first hit the gaming shelves. It took WFRP and then Warhammer 40K (40K) to give me a taste for the lush gothic of the Warhammer vision. There ensued the 90's slump that laid waste to the rpg industry, leaving WFRP (the true heart of the Old World naturally enough) on life-support as a licence in which GW long displayed no particular interest, and in the hands of dedicated fans clinging to the dark underbelly of the hobby like veritable encrusted barnacles.

So I've been waiting a long time to get a proper WFRP campaign going. This is my first regular roleplaying in several years. And with WFRP2, the GM's and Character packs, and Plundered Vaults, I got my first session going in 5 days flat. From a standing start. Which speaks volumes for the essential coherence of the revised rules, not to mention introductory scenarios that should give players new to roleplaying- let alone to WFRP- a satisfying introduction to this grim world of perilous adventure. Full marks from this satisfied customer.

To single out one and only one 2nd ed. revision that I most like I would have to choose the magic system. I really like all the systemic revisions of this new edition, but this is the one that has delighted me most in play, and which intrigues me most as a GM.

When mortal combat finally broke out in session 2, I was amazed when Alane (female elf apprentice wizard, party's sole magic-user) just got into the thick of things (the goblin encampment in 'Pretty Things') and started firing off spells. Amazed, and delighted: because that meant that with just the spell list he was given at character creation the previous session Alane's player (a WFRP novice mark you) had taken charge of magic. This was a unique moment in my GM'ing career: to see magic-use erupt appropriately from nowhere in the face of peril, truly epic stuff!

Novice WFRP PC's being what they are, Alane's magic missiles proved interesting, but the decision in this first taste of the dread of combat still went to prowess at arms. All the same, the idea of magic as a force to be reckoned with, instead of as a measurable resource to be rationed out by the system- well that was seen in all its glory. This magic system is just so good that even if every single other rules revision was just plain crap, then WFRP2 would still rock the realms of magic in rpgs. And we all know that WFRP2 is much, much better than that already. ;)

Prologue: Getting to Middenheim
- Blogging my WFRP campaign: introducing the party.
- My little Old World: at the gates of Middenheim.
- My little Old World: mission accomplished?
- My little Old World: clearing the cludge: the GM gloats.
- Index:- My little Old World: Ashes of Middenheim

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