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Author Topic: [WFRP 1st Edn] CSI Altdorf  (Read 5188 times)
Gregor Hutton
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« on: September 29, 2010, 01:56:36 PM »

So I sat down with 6 players to create characters for a WFRP campaign at GEAS (the University of Edinburgh role-playing society) in Edinburgh on Sunday.

We basically rolled up characters as you would in rules BUT we had a few things in there to allow the players more control.

1. They could swap rolls between stats if this was needed to do it to get a certain career, but you couldn't re-roll any rolls at all.
2. They could pick a starting career and then look at what they needed for that career, so someone wanting a Bounty Hunter would need to be a Ranger. On seeing that they had a BS of 27 they could swap that 27 with the 31 they had in WP to have a valid Ranger and Bounty Hunter.

Apart from that they had to roll stuff up as in the rule-book and the Character Pack that I had for it. All things like height, starting skills and so on were rolled for on charts. I didn't allow anyone to pick Very Strong or Ambidextrous. If you got them it was down to the dice. And as we also used the "distinguishing characteristics" in the Character Pack, it meant that we have two bald characters, which has fitted into the story very nicely!

At the end of it all we constructed a Relationship map for all the characters and we built in some NPCs before play began. This isn't in the rule-book but it's a must for having a game built around these characters rather than any plot I want to impose (and I don't want to impose one, and in fact I simply don't have one to impose). 

Anyway, we have 6 characters and WFRP has great colour:

Dirk Averheim, a male, human Bounty Hunter (Ranger). He's 18 and 5'5" in height.
M:4 WS:26 BS:30 S:4 T:2 W:7 I:30 A:1 Dex:31 Ld:27 Int:33 Cl:38 WP:32 Fel:34
Dirk has the skills: Follow Trail, Silent Move Rural, Silent Move Urban, Specialist Weapon: Lasso, SW: Net, Strike Mighty Blow, Marksmanship, Astronomy, Ride, Night Vision (3 yds), Lightning Reflexes
He has a slate and chalk, and a set of Brass Knuckles, which is about all he could afford as he started with 5 GPs (on his 3d6 roll).
Religion: Sigmar Heldenhammer (right wing, anti-Goblin state religion)
Alignment: Neutral

Kurt Autler, a male, human Initiate (Academic). He's 15 and 5'7" in height.
M:5 WS:34 BS:26 S:2 T:3 W:7 I:34 A:1 Dex:27 Ld:28 Int:33 Cl:33 WP:34 Fel:32
Kurt has the skills: Lightning Reflexes, Dance, Supernumerate, Astronomy, Read/Write, Scroll Lore, Secret Language - Classic, Theology
He has a set of playing cards and fancies himself as a gamblerů
He started with a decent amount of Gold but has ended the first session with only 2 GPs left (he got raffled for 4 GPs in-game gambling and then 1 GP when brow-beaten by the City Watch breaking up the gambling den)
Religion: Ranald the God of Thieves and Tricksters
Alignment: Neutral

Johan(nes) Brandysnap, a male, halfling Agitator (Rogue). He's 36 and 3'5" in height.
M:4 WS:27 BS:32 S:2 T:3 W:4 I:49 A:1 Dex:44 Ld:25 Int:29 Cl:22 WP:41 Fel:43
Johan has the skills: Night Vision (20 yds), Cook, SW: Sling, Blather, Public Speaking, Read/Write.
He has a decent hat, some posters/leaflets and graffiti equipment (whitewash, brush, bucket)
Religion: Shallya (a bleeding heart liberalů)
Alignment: Neutral

Werner Averheim, a male, human, Entertainer - Troubadour (Rogue). He's 23 and 5'5" in height.
M:3 WS:27 BS:26 S:3 T:2 W:5 I:35 A:1 Dex:29 Ld:32 Int:35 Cl:35 WP:30 Fel:37
Werner has the skills: Musicianship: String (Lute), Sing, Bribery, Lightning Reflexes, Dance
He has a cloak, a decent wide-brimmed hat and a Lute.
Religion: Ranald the God of Thieves and Tricksters
Alignment: Neutral

More characters to follow and what we got up to in the first session. The colour of the Warhammer World is fantastic and I think the careers really give great characters to start off the game with. (And the career progression in game is something I'm hoping will reinforce the colour along the way.)
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 02:56:02 PM »

Calandiril, a male, elven, Bounty Hunter (Ranger). He's 57 and 6'3" in height.
M:3 WS:32 BS:30 S:4 T:3 W:5 I:59 A:1 Dex:36 Ld:47 Int:53 Cl:54 WP:39 Fel:49
Cal has the skills: Night Vision (30 ids), Excellent Vision, Musician (Stringed), Luck, Silent Move: Rural, Silent Move: Urban, Acute Hearing, Marksmanship, Follow Trail, Shadowing, Strike Mighty Blow, SW: Lasso, SW: Net
He has just some basic gear and is saving his money.
Religion: Taal
Alignment: Good

A yet to be named female, human, Alchemists' Apprentice (Academic) as the player had to leave the session quite early.
M:4 WS:34 BS:38 S:5 T:4 W:7 I:28 A:1 Dex:32 Ld:38 Int:30 Cl:39 WP:32 Fel:31
She'll have some starting skills plus her career ones: Brewing, Evaluate, Read/Write, 50% chance of Chemistry.
That's as far as we got with this one.

-----

Relationship Map

Between PCs
Cal <=WORK TOGETHER=> Dirk <=BROTHERS=> Werner <=DRINKING BUDDIES=> Kurt
Kurt <=KNOW AT AN INN=> Johan <=KNOW AT AN INN=> Werner
Cal <=PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP=> Alchemists' Apprentice <=PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP=> Dirk

With NPCs
Terfan (Cal's brother) =HATRED=> <=ENVY= Cal
Watch Chief Viktor Rot =BUSTS HIS BALLS=> <=CHIEF CLIENT= Dirk
Amelie (Elector's grotesque "goat-faced" daughter) =IN LUST WITH=> <=CASUAL DISDAIN= Werner
Cleric Alfred =UNWORTHY=> <=RESPECT= Kurt
Wolfgang (Cultist) =TAKING ADVANTAGE OF=> <=SYMPATHETIC TO HIS CAUSE= Johan

As Sandy (the player of Dirk) said: This is like CSI Altdorf! Awesome.

The basic conceit is that Dirk and Cal are Bounty Hunters in Altdorf. Dirk and Werner share lodgings where the older brother (Werner) looks out for the other, while Dirk thinks his artistic brother is a layabout with a lute. The other side of the group all hand about the cult of Ranald and the inn that they stay at.

The NPCs I focused on using in the first session were Wolfgang and the Watch Chief Viktor.

I figure Alfred and Amelia will appear next if either Kurt or Werner do things that allow them to come in.

I'm keeping Terfan for when they're in the forests outside Altdorf.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2010, 10:24:17 AM »

No rat-catcher? Sacrilege!

More substantive comments to follow, I hope.

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2010, 10:49:04 AM »

Yes, I was hoping for a Rat Catcher or a Bawd (which I think was bowdlerized from the 2nd Edn).

We created the relationship map by me writing down everyone's character names in circles and then drawing arrows between them. What do you think of X was what I would ask. For NPCs I made the decision on how the NPC felt about them (though Sandy specifically asked for the Chief of Police, errr... the Watch, to "bust his balls").

We created strong relationships between the PCs as I explained that there needs to be a foundation for these characters to interact. We're not going dungeoneering or setting up a "party" of patsies to follow my story. Instead, we're creating a group of inter-connected PCs in a "grim world of perilous adventure".

The background of the world is pretty strong in Warhammer. While I was tempted by Nuln, I'm already playing in a Conspiracy of Shadows game set there run by my friend Steve. I was also tempted by Middenheim but it might just be too much of a common enemy in the Skaven. Marienburg was mentioned by one of the players, and I have read and own the source book. But... I'd be happier running Marienburg if I'd been to Hamburg (I've only been to Amsterdam and I'd like my Marienburg/game to be more ... Germanic).

Creating NPCs was pretty easy too. I asked the Elf to name a sibling, parent or close friend. He said Brother and came up with the name. He is envious of him, while I declared that his brother hates him (and I hope in a complicated way). Looking at the Elf's stats you can see he is pretty awesome compared to a human, but he is really quite crap for an Elf. So Cal is a big shot in the human world but is envious of his brother's position and competence in the elven world. He's also envious of Dirk's competence, for a human he is bloody good with a bow.

Anyway, we got through five "scenes" of play. I started them off in ones or twos.

Wolfgang had Johan up a ladder pasting up anti-noble posters. Some nice colour and the resourceful hobbit made sure they avoided the Watch.

Kurt went gambling and lost his money despite his best attempts to win. My gamblers were pretty shit, but Dave just rolled much, much worse than me. On the way back to the Inn he tried to steal the purse of a drunk noble. He failed that too. Was head-butted and then pissed on. Kurt fled from the noble rather than exact revenge, fearful of their difference in social standing.

Werner was truly awful at busking and he completely failed to see any increase in watch activity. As a player he knows there has been, but we all enjoyed Werner the character being blissfully unaware. Here a horse and cart went past with bald hobbits caged in the back. (It's worth noting that Dirk isn't overly tall at 5'5" and might be picked on by the watch at some point...)

Cal and Dirk went to see the City Watch Chief. I played up the abnormal height of Cal here. He has to stoop in human buildings most of the time. The shorter Dirk spotted some papers related to occult/Chaos that the Chief shuffled off into a drawer (Dirk has memorized which drawer) as they just walked into his office. The Chief wants them to find <Johan> and a few others. There's decent gold in it, supposedly as they are anarchists trying to kill the Elector. Dirk and Cal both kept their Cool and didn't let on to the watchful gaze of the Chief that they recognized the painting of Johan. Anyway, they set off for the inn after this to see Johan.

Dirk and Cal burst into the Inn and roughed up Johan in the kitchen. We got some combat done here and a particularly stiff blow from Dirk deadened Johan's arm as Cal lassoed him. It was a nice intro for anyone unfamiliar with combat (and how deadly that Crit chart can be). If Dirk had used a sword rather than a knuckle duster he'd have taken Johan's arm off!

So, I've been introducing provocative NPCs and throwing out some ideas. Where we go from here we will all find out on Sunday.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2010, 10:56:08 AM »

Oh, and we have some nice directions that the players want to take their characters in.

Kurt wants to be a Cleric of Ranald, so I expect him to work towards that.
Cal wants to be an Assassin, which is one of the career exits for Bounty Hunter.
Werner is aiming at Minstrel as his next career path.
Dirk is pretty happy just being a bounty hunter, but I can't rule out him finding his way to Witch Hunter at some point. Or even City Watch Chief...
Johan is an agitator, I think he might move towards repalcing Wolfgang (in which case I can allow that NPC to go).

And I definitely want to involve race and religion in the game. We've all got religions there and there was some good table chatter about the perceived "superiority" of Elves in the game, and the animosity that might bring. I'm thinking that Cal's brother might bring that into play whenever he appears!
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Mathew E. Reuther
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I came, I saw, I ordered the burrito . . .


« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2010, 01:11:59 AM »

With the mega price tag on the box and the custom resolution mechanics they have in place including dice and cards I'm interested to hear how it plays mechanically . . .

Just played Descent (which also uses some of the same type of conventions) and found the mechanics very interesting. Would love to know how that translates into play in a more traditional RPG sense.
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Currently:
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Abkajud
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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2010, 11:10:15 AM »

Hey Matthew,
Just so you know, this is 1st edition WFRP, not the board-gamey 3rd edition. Buying this version only entails a book; yes, dice and things are necessary, but we're not looking at some kind of "package deal".

@Gregor: aw! I'm happy for you that you have some folks around to play this with! I loved leafing through my old WFRP... maybe it was 2nd edition?
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Mask of the Emperor rules, admittedly a work in progress - http://abbysgamerbasement.blogspot.com/
Mathew E. Reuther
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I came, I saw, I ordered the burrito . . .


« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2010, 12:53:52 PM »

I noticed that after I wrote it but without editing capabilities I figured I'd just wait until called on it to apologize. :)
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Currently:
Knee deep in the Change System's guts . . .
Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2010, 04:40:09 AM »

No problem! Dave, the player of Kurt has the Third Edition and we're keen to give it a try at some point. Dave has talked of trying to build our characters in Third Edition (direct conversion of skills and abilities isn't easy he says) so we can try an adventure and compare it with First Edition.

But this is First Edition. I have the original hardback and a Hogshead softback for the players to use too. Dave also brought along his softback, and the Warhammer World familiarity is quite high around the table (even the new role-player on the table is a former Warhammer Fantasy Battle gamer).

Anyway, we've had another two sessions and the group are finding their characters' voices. I'm also getting to see what they want. I'm forming the opinion that, while they like their characters and like playing them, they also have an expectation of an "enemy" to face (and in some respects to be in the same place a lot of the time). So, while they have been doing many "personal" things in Altdorf at the moment, I think I need to give them a bigger "group-wide" bang.

I have some ideas where to go with that, given the personal stories that have happened over the first three sessions (Dirk has at last shown some affection for his brother Werner, when he thought he'd been murdered by some nobles), and the "enemy" elements that have been brought in (they've pissed off some cultists, the City Watch, two Noble houses and have given a warp-stone infested evil grimoire to the Thieve's Guild).

We've also had some issues with two players come up. Basically seeing actions in game as signalling PVP. It's not surprising given the personalities of the players involved, but disappointing in that they're old enough to know better. One of the players wasn't there this week and so we didn't have any fun derailing because of it.

The system has been interesting to use too. I think there's been a lot of lifting required. But more on that when I write up the last two sessions.
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Nick Caldwell
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« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2010, 05:53:35 AM »

I have nothing but fond memories of WFRP so I'm looking forward to seeing more on this. 

Gregor, how does the "CSI" part of "CSI Altdorf" part play in?   Forensics in a magical world sounds like a great hook!  Is it that aspect of the game that'sdriving the group toward wanting a Big Bad to be revealed (the "group Bang" that you refer to)? 
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2010, 08:17:05 AM »

Jen is playing an Alchemist's Assistant and Dirk & Cal (the Bounty Hunters) get her to analyse clues they find while trailing criminals.

This week Dirk took the "cremated remains" of his brother Werner to Astrid (Jen's character now has a name!) to find out (a) if it is Werner and (b) if there were any clues to how he died and who killed him. Astrid has the Chemistry skill and access to a lab at the Alchemist's shop, which is the CSI part. As it turned out, though, she was able to tell Dirk that Werner wasn't dead quite easily. He'd faked his own death and had been hiding out in Astrid's attic apartment.

Astrid has also analysed the death threat Dirk got in Week 2, she's sure it was on some sort of magical parchment. Which is half right, it's parchment that's been in close proximity to warpstone. This has caused Dirk to buy a magical protection off Astrid (a pickled newt on a necklace, which while interesting isn't actually any help). The charred remains of that letter also match up with the material at the bottom of the bucket in (the cultist) Wolfgang's room.

Astrid has also (fortunately or unfortunately) mis-prepared a load of gunpowder for a bunch of cultists/anarchists. No good will come of this!

The characters have done a good job in identifying friends and foes, themselves. Their relationship with the City Watch is quite complicated too: Dirk & Cal are basically hated by middle ranked Watchmen, but get on pretty well with the ordinary Watch. They also get on well with the demanding head of the Watch Viktor Roet, though they each make the other's life a misery at times!

I think Wolfgang and his cultists are going to be at odds with the (generally) law-abiding PCs, and at least one of the Noble houses (Middenheim) is going to want them dead after Werner's interference in an arranged noble marriage.

They do have some support though: the Thieves Guild and low-level watchfolk will look out for them, and Bruno at the palace has hooked his success on Werner's potential career as a Minstrel or minor noble.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2010, 09:59:06 AM »

And I'm another week behind in catching up with this.

The good news is that we had everyone at the game this week and there were no problems. It was fun. The players who were rubbing each other up the wrong way aren't doing so anymore. It was a social solution rather than anything "game" or "design" wise -- i.e. they voiced their points in the last few weeks to each other and just buckled up when playing the game.

We summarised the last few weeks at the start of the session to get everyone back up to speed, and that did well at getting us all "back in the fiction" and on the same page. It was led by me but others chipped in and explained stuff.

This week I killed off the NPC Alchemist who Jenn's character Astrid works for. I wondered if she would choose Alchemist as her next career, but she has decided to take a break from Alchemy and be a Charlatan at the end of the session.

Of course, it was Skaven who killed the Alchemist after they (mostly off screen, with an occasional flash to them doing stuff under the city) got their not fully effective gunpowder that Astrid poorly made a few sessions ago. They also used it to blow Wolfgang out of the Thieves' Guild and get their Eldritch Tome back. The City Watch Chief now has the Bounty Hunters on a retainer to investigate the sewers.

And the Bounty Hunters have switched careers to Assassins too. They've got the gear and are keeping "Bounty Hunting" as a cover story. They are looking to more lucrative (and dangerous) work. They'll have their work cut out, as they got badly beaten up while seeing off a bunch of Outlaws at the end of the session. They won, but it was a hefty price (and Dirk's Wounds are at 0 at the moment.)

The Outlaw attack was as a result of Werner's continued busking and his meddling with the nobles. He's also got an Outlaw girlfriend these days, Karoline, who wishes to be a Highwayman. (They met when her boss kidnapped Werner.)

So the "party" has quite identifiable characters within it now (we all sort of know what each character will do in a situation) and the "opposition" to them all is lining up nicely too (the Middenheim noble house, the Skaven/Warpstone cultists, some of the City Watch).
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2010, 10:58:58 AM »

Real brief update (sorry have to run).

After a week off while I was in Dublin (more on that later) we were back yesterday. At the last minute the venue changed owing to the university being awkward. Anyway, it meant Cal missed the game. D'oh.

Highlights this week were the party facing up to a swarm of rats and 5 Skaven in a sewer at the end of the session. They polished off the Skaven pretty handily and Dirk caught one, alive, in a net. An etxra 100 XP to everyone.

Oh, and earlier on his brother Werner was a willing accomplice to a theft at an expensive gun shop -- so Werner the minstrel and his prospective-Highway girlfriend both now have duelling pistols.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2010, 05:18:19 PM »

Hey Gregor,

What are your thoughts on the combat system? Particularly if you put aside all nostalgia and associations based on long-ago reading and play of the game. Given a cold, hard, analytical view from today, what does it do and how well does it work?

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2010, 09:00:31 AM »

Damn, where did the last ten days go.

Just to say that I have a (growing) text file on my desktop going through Combat in WFRP and I'll get around to putting it up soon.

Short version (as I was relating to Joe Prince this week over a cup of tea) is: the combat system is really a problem. No opposed rolls. Too wide a range of damage coming from the D6 damage roll. Crits tip quickly into Death. Big whiff factor for even competent combatants. That's partially "fixed" by increasing the number of attacks, but that brings in its own problems. Difficult for the GM to have a balanced or nuanced threat. It's a crap shoot unless you overload the enemies to ensure a clear advantage. Fate points feel great except that you only seem to use them when the GM accidentally smashes your brains in.

We had some more fights this week (on purpose) and our first Fate Points got used. I cranked up the opposition and kept pouring it on. The Alchemist/Charlatan and the Elf Bounty Hunter/Assassin both got chopped up and had to use Fate Points. The former from a Demagogue with an axe and the latter from 3 Skaven in a hole.

The Initiate/Burglar and Agitator/Demagogue fled the scene, while the Human Bounty Hunter/Assassin got lucky with his rolls and beat a hasty retreat leaving the Elf to his fate.

The saving grace is the colour of the world and the careers/advance scheme. They keep the goodwill up.
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