Friday, February 6, 2015

Not dead!

Hi all,

thanks for your enthusiastic mails and comments. Nope, I am not dead - just hibernating. More stuff is in the pipeline.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Balance and Fairness

Oldhammer WFRPG is not about fairness and balance. It is about the narrative. Do you really think the Old World is a forgiving place? I don't think so. It's part of the Oldhammer fun! 

I listen to a lot of RPG podcasts. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on balance and rules nowadays. Even more sadly most if it revolves around combat. Not sure why we got there. This weird obsession puts RPGs in the same corner as min-max ego shooters. The game is as good as the weapon bonuses you get. My personal nightmare. 

It's all about the oomph!

Why the emphasis on fairness? Are you playing against the GM, or with the GM? 

WFRPG first edition has the reputation of being unbalanced. Remember ‘Naked Dwarf'? Superhuman players. Toughness five, plus shield, amour and dodge blow. A tough kill. A fortress! Not balanced.

Though guys!

Anyhow, I don't think a good game is based on how close a GM can get his players to zero wounds. There is so much more to WFRPG! Insanity, horror and failure can be much worse than going below zero. Oldhammer is not a dungeon bash, that needs to be balanced and fair. You are not teaming up against the GM.

If the game becomes too balanced you are taking away from the excitement. There are and always will be things you can’t and shouldn’t fight. Combat is and should be dangerous. You might die. There are other options then fighting. It is up to the players and the GM to embrace and use it. Not every death has to be meaningful.

And the naked dwarf? He will loose his fate points... one way or another. One day. Eventually. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Top 5 Oldhammer Scenarios - Rank 4

The Oldenhaller Contract

Onwards with the top five Oldhammer scenarios! Rank four is probably THE Warhammer scenario. Probably most of us have fond memories of this one. I do. I fondly remember sitting around a tiny table with now long lost friends. We somehow knew this would be different. Playing Warhammer felt like summoning a demon. A thick tome, with an aura of evil and madness. The tone was dark, the illustrations pure madness. We were blown away. We were in it together. We lowered the light and summoned a demon.

The scenario is as Warhammer as it gets. Players who are new to the Old World will be in for a (nasty) surprise. This is not your typical fantasy setting - this is Warhammer. Keep in mind back then the world of roleplaying was dominated by D&D. Instead of fighting alongside a dwarf, elf, barbarian and wizard within random generated dungeons - without any goal beside looting - , the players get thrown into a net of murder, intrigue and chaos. 

A job offer

The plot is straightforward. The first half of the adventure is a city run. After getting robbed and beaten up - what a nice start - the players are hired by Albrecht Oldenhaller to retrieve a valuable artifact from the Schatzenheimer gang, inhabiting a tunnel complex known as ‘the asylum’. As expected things are not as straightforward as they seem. There are not one but three rivaling gangs in the asylum. There is murder, blood and footprints. Oh, and the artifact is being used in a chaos ritual. 

The second half is probably the closest you will get to a Warhammer equivalent of a dungeon crawl. The players delve deeper and deeper into the complex. On their journey they encounter the various gangs and gather clues of where to find the artifact. Eventually they start to realize that things are less harmless and straight forward as they might have sounded. 

Welcome to the Asylum

The scenario was written as an introduction to WFRPG for new GMs and players. It actually reads more like a choose your own adventure book. It covers and recaps most of the basic rules - how to resolve combat, fire a ranged weapon, how to break down a door etc. Great if you are new to WFRGP. A more experienced GM will probably skip most of that. 

Fluff wise the scenario has everything you might want from an Oldhammer game. Robbed and beaten up players, a rooftop chase, exploring sewers, an Indy Jones mine cart scene, rats, mutants and chaos! Mood and setting are perfect! Down to earth Warhammer. 

The iconic cart chase

The flow of the scenario is straight forward and railroaded. Again, keep in mind it was written for new GMs and does an excellent job at that. An experienced group will probably frown here and there. 

To be honest, the scenario feels a bit dated by now. Well, to be fair -  it actually is OLD and was written before the mighty GW canon was established and our brains rewired. Mister Oldhenammer seems a bit to open about the heritage of the artifact - Nurgle. Running the scenario today, I would play down the Nurgle part a lot and make Albrecht Oldhenhammer much more secretive. I am not a big fan of chaos and mutants popping up left and right. Make chaos count, not an everyday commodity. Oh, did I mention that the players might face a Beast of Nurgle in the end… and catch Nurgle’s rot? Well, good luck with that one.    

Oldschool Nurgle 
Overall, the scenario is the perfect introduction to WFPG. It has collected a bit of dust here and there, but nothing that can't be fixed. Gritty and dark! 

What do you think? Fond memories as well?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Top 5 Oldhammer Scenarios - Rank 5

Scenarios are the life blood of gaming sessions. What are the best oldhammer scenarios out there? 
Everybody will have a different opinion about this - what makes a good oldhammer scenario?

For me, the most important element is the mood and the setting. I like my scenarios dark, gritty and twisted. Also important is the element of horror. Creepy, frightening and with a sloooow build up. Not necessarily supernatural horror. I personally prefer the mundane, man made horror. The dark spots of society, lunatics, insanity and pure injustice. Speaking of the supernatural - low to no magic. The problem with magic is that all odds are off. With magic everything is possible and it becomes hard to reason and to apply logic. I don’t mind a brutal hack and slash, but generally I prefer investigative plots. If combat, then fast, brutal, threatening and hurting. Another oldhammer staple we shouldn’t forget is a good dose of black humor and lots of puns. Also, a cornerstone is the underdog theme. No glorious dragon riding elves. No, rat catcher, tomb robber, beggar and thieves wading through sewers and worth. Your death could be meaningless and early.

Does that sound about right? So, we got: darkness, horror, investigation, low magic, deadly combat, no-heroes and black humor. Again, this is my personal list. What do you think?

All right, on with it. To beginn with, I only picked from official first edition scenarios - no campaigns - that I either GMed or played. Let’s start at the bottom. 

Rank 5 - With a little help of my friends

A fun, investigative heist game. The players get contacted by a gnome investigator - Alphonse Hercules de Gascoigne to help rescue a kidnapped child. 

The two greatest things about the scenario are for sure Alphonse with his outrageous Belgian accent and the heist theme. Alphonse is a fantastic character and obviously inspired by a famous Belgian detective. You can have lot’s of fun with that. He gets my oldhammer vote! 

The heist is as good as you make it. Impatient players might just storm the kidnappers house, but that misses the mark. Intense planning, sneaking and a rescue mission in best ‘Oceans Eleven’ tradition will guarantee a couple of intense and fun nights. 

On the downside, the adventure setting is a bit generic. It could be any city in any roleplaying world. One or two warhammer details would have been nice. To be fair, the kidnappers are Estalian, which is quite warhammer for sure.

The fun of the scenario depends heavily on what the players come up with. There is barely any railroading - which is great, but probably tough for first time GMs. Alphonse can be used to help stuck players without much hand waving. A neat trick. 

Overall, a great little scenario. To be found in WD 104/Warhammer Companion. Run it - liked it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Oldschool Orcs

What makes a proper oldschool orc? Or, what happened to our green friends along the way? I have been thinking about this question for some time now.

What changed?

Let's look at old lead. Back in the days orcs were closer to human physique, than gorillas. Look up some Kev Adam models and you will know what I mean. Aren’t those wonderful? Let me know if those are not Kev Adam models - lead is not my strength.

I love Ian Miller drawings. Ian has the talent to bring out the worst of any character. The Otto Dix of fantasy. His orcs were thin, nasty and evil creatures. He didn’t draw a lot of them. Looking at the few below gives me the creeps. You wouldn’t make fun of those. Would you? 

Tony Ackland illustrations are always a pleasure to look at. There is something intriguing about them.

Orcs had character. They were misshapen. They looked evil.

I compare the later orcs more to their Paul Bonner versions. They started to look... funny. Don't get me wrong Paul's style is amazing. His illustrations set the tone for Blood Bowl. It is was a perfect match. Anyhow, I personally don't think their comic style fits into a world of danger and despair. I don't think their character makes up for interesting encounters in an RPG - beside mocking and killing them. They became cannon fodder.

Oldschool orcs do! They are nasty. They are ugly, foul and misshapen. They stink. They might keep you alive, licking their lips in anticipation. You will regret meeting them. They are cunning, not 'kunningz'. 

Modern orcs managed to look like a weird mixture of village idiot and superman. Their snouts started hanging downwards - becoming longer and longer. Their heads managed to grow out of their bellies. Somehow they nearly lost their noses, but got compensated with humungous teeth. Looking at their bowed legs I probably would offer them a chair. They are packed with muscles.

They all look the same to me.

Gone are the cunning facial expressions, character and their wonderful ugliness. The once characterful and nasty individuals got replaced by brute, stereotype, ape like goofballs.

I prefer their ancestors. What do you think? Cunning, or 'kunningz'?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lost Files of Lustria

Scanning through my old Dwarfs - issue 107, November 88 to be specific - I found this... anyone, an idea what happened to those plans?


Monday, November 17, 2014


Welcome readers to our next chapter in the series Lost Races Of The Old World. After the fimir and hobgoblins we are taking a look at Gnomes. Being close in population to halflings, gnomes got introduced as a playable race in Apocrypha Now... basically that was it. No more gnomes.

There was one more encounter with the not-quite-like-dwarves race in With a little help from my friends in WD 104 and the Warhammer Companion. Meet Alphonse 'Ercule de Gascoigne gnome investigator (apparently named after a GW employe) with perfect French accent. A brilliant NPC that captured the essence of gnomes in a far better way than the slightly meager two sides we got from Apocrypha. Apparently Gascoigne became a halfling in a later incarnation of the adventure

Gnomes disappeared quite quickly from the fluff. They were never a strong, distinct race and probably a remnant of the D&D canon. Not sure if they played a role in WFB at all. 

There is enough fluff to draw a rounded picture. Gnomes are sharp-tongued, sarcastic and great practical jokers. Add their antipathy for other races and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. They stick to themselves, love fishing, mechanics and get lost in their utterly complicated customs and traditions. Metro-gnome!

I like them. I never used them so far, though. If ever, I would probably focus on their dark side. Have the players get entangles in their web of customs and rituals. The encounter will most likely end bloody due to their insulting and eventually deadly humor.

Their fluff fits perfectly and allows for enough puns to keep you happy for a long time. Like elves I would be cautious to allow them in a player party, though. 

Do you have any experience with our big nosed friends?