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?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Night of Blood

There are a handful of classic Warhammer adventures. Night of Blood is one of my all time favorites. It appeared in Apocrypha Now and WD 87. 

I admit that I don't like to run most prewritten publications. It feels a lot like going down a checklist. I already know how many sessions it will take, what will happen when, who will react how etc. I don't feel that invested. More on that topic later. Anyhow, Night of Blood is a good one. We just finished that small gem last week as part of a larger campaign. 

Classic horror! I love adventures that slowly lure the players in. Never been a fan of ‘here are fifty gold coins. Now, go out and bring me the head of...'. No, like a good movie - 'A Simple Plan, or Twin Peaks', comes to my mind - the players go deeper and deeper, slowly realizing the mess they are in. Fantastic. 

Night of Blood sets the stage with classic Warhammer weather - rain. The players try to find a place for the night, find a small roadhouse and... things are not what they seem. The landlord is somehow preoccupied, the establishment is empty and there is blood. The plot unfolds. A creepy little classic.

Have a look.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Scanning through my old White Dwarfs I found an absolute Oldhammer Roleplay gem (WD 87). Back then WD was still subtitled the ‘Roleplaying games monthly'. 
A designers talk about the fundamental decisions behind the what and how of WFRPG. If you are into Oldhammer Roleplay and only want to read one thing - read this article!

So, what's in there? 

The article starts witch the humble beginnings of WFRPG, and how it eventually became the tome we love and know. A large section focuses on the ideas behind the Old World, it's character, inhabitants, technology, and historical influences. As we know some of the authors had a strong academic/history background - and it shows! Specifically interesting are the decisions and strategies on how to separate WFRPG from the mighty D&D. Next the game developers talk about their take on careers, magic and combat. It is interesting to see their focus on the narrative and speed, not heavy rulesets. More investigation, less hack and slash.

Overall a fantastic read, that makes me appreciate once more all the novelties WFRPG brought to the world of roleplaying games. 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014


There are lots of opinions on the first edition magic system. Broken - is what you hear quite often. The later Realm Of Sorcery didn't get a lot of love either. Magic got a proper revamp in second edition. At last it worked. 

Well... really? 

I already mentioned that Second was a somehow tamed version of First. A proper roleplaying game. Magic became - rule wise - a much easier, more approachable, more scalable and balanced system. 

Honestly, I like the first edition system. Yes, clunky, unfair and weird. But, isn't that exactly the point of magic in Warhammer? In a wonderful, most likely unplanned way, the rules add to the mystery of magic I'm WFRGP. 

I would say I am pretty on top of First rules. Anyhow, I have to go back every now and then to reread the magic section. Whenever I think I am on top... it slips. How much does it cost to advance? What is the process of learning spells? 

Magic is a horrible, deceiving beast! It doesn’t want to be understood. You can’t claim it. That’s Oldhammer!

Or, I am just getting old.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Aha! Consulting WFB third edition - the bible of the Oldhammer community - sheds more light on the history of the hobgoblins. 

As I already mentioned, I am not a miniature gamer, but third edition WFB is a fantastic book. Even if you are not into lead, try to get a copy. There is so much to look at! The variety and quality of the illustrations is mind boggling. 

I might be wrong, but I think third edition WFB came out one year after WFRPG. If I am correct Third is actually the first time their mongol like background is introduced. Maybe there were earlier sources I am not aware of. If yes, please let me know.

Finally! The great Hobgobla Khan is reigning over the nomadic hobgoblin tribes in the steppe. Hobgoblins become the great wolf-back archers they are feared for. Well, some get enslaved by chaos dwarfs. They definitely lost their yellow brown skin color too.

The oriental looking hobgoblin is actually is a Tony Ackland illustration. Nice!

I love the idea of rocket hobgoblin troops from Cathay. If I recall correctly I had some miniatures back then. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Another race that perfectly embodies that Oldhammer feeling. Hobgoblins. Like the Fimir they didn’t make it far, but at least into Second Edition.

There wasn't a lot if background available. I don’t recall a lot/any encounters in any of the earlier material either. According to First they are relatives of the goblins. Larger and closer to humans though. Actually they were pretty bland at that point. Or, to say it differently - the world was still wide and open

I think they play a part in the later Enemy Within - which I am not allowed to consult at this point, though. My GM would probably kill me.  

In Second Edition they received a major overhaul. Hobgoblins became the Mongol like steppe warriors they are known for - sneaky, backstabbing, wolf riders. Even their green cousins hate them for their sneakiness. Their BS got a hefty bump to reflect their superior ranged warfare. I could be wrong, but I think their skin tone lost the leathery yellow-brown at that point as well. 

Could the image above have been the inspiration for their later background? It has definitely some oriental flavor to it. Is that an Ackland illustration? 

Friday, November 7, 2014


No other monster embodies Oldhammer more than the glorious Fimir. Hobgoblins run close, though. 

Why? Well, they disappeared. Fimir got erased from the background. Gone. No more one eyed lizardmen. They are proper old school. Why? Well they have a rather disturbing way of replicating, which made them a marketing disaster. Plus, due to a mixup they proved to be a WFB points vs value disaster as well. 
There is a fantastic write up of their origins and eventual extinction here

An interesting piece of GW history for sure. Here they are in all their fog covered glory! I love the idea of the varying tails. 

For an ugly monster they get a lot of sympathy out there. Lacking major GW support - probably a good thing at this point - hundreds of Fimir scholars helped them survive and thrive. They had some more recent guest appearances here and there. 

I never had the chance to put a proper Fimir into one of our games. One will have a guest appearance as a disected specimen soon, though.  

What do you think of the Fimir? 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Character Sheet

I have so manny fond memories of my old character sheets. We always used the original one whenever playing first edition. There are others out there, but this is where it all began. Dark, bold headers and hand drawn scribbly lines. 

Glorious times ahead

The sheets looked terrible after a couple of sessions. Chips and spilled beers left their mark. At one point they became barely readable - a good sign.

I always wondered why wasn’t a dedicated wound tracker. 

Which one was your favorite?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I am not a big fan of using miniatures in WFRPG. It takes away from the narrative. I rather scribble something abstract on a worn piece of paper... in blood. 

Anyhow, pushing old school lead across the old GW dungeon tiles definitely has something to it. I love the way they are drawn. The imperfections, small details and nice color choices. Take a look. Aren't they full of old school flavor?

I would use them sparingly, though. Maybe the highlight of a session. Slowly build up to it. Have your players discuss their positions. tactics, cover, line of sight etc. Keep in mind that the drawings most likely take away from their imagination. Remind them that there is stuff they could use… barrels, stones, broken tables etc. 

The question is how much you want to bend the session in the direction of a tactical game versus narrative? So, what additional rules are out there to enhance the tactical experience? Definitely in the light of sight is Warhammer Fantasy Battles. It seems suited to handle larger scale battles. Not sure if it supports person on person conflicts. I never tried it.

I probably should start investigating. 

Thoughts? Do you have any experience using WFB rules within WFRPG?

Monday, November 3, 2014


A cornerstone of WFRPG! The sewers. What other location embodies the spirit of WFRPG better than the toxic, claustrophobic, and deadly underground slowly pushing bodily fluids and body parts beneath the dwellings of mankind. What other RPG lets your hero wade through... shit? 
I love sewers. The trick is to make them truly count. Don't let them become a boring routine. The sewers are a horrible place. Make your heroes suffer!

Don't go for skaven. You players are just waiting for them. Or, give them a spin. So, what aces can we pull? 

A friendly, somehow embarrassed body parts snatcher. Preferably the cook of one of the recently visited inns. Yes, now that you mention it - the stew was somehow chewy. Well, veal is just too expensive. 

A friend, better lover. Embarrassed of her altered body. A quiet space, sharp knife and strong booze is sometimes all you need to get rid of your extra body parts. Hm, combine with above and you are golden. 

Mixup. Oh, good you are here. The others are waiting. The glorious revolution of the working class needs your support. Did you bring the pamphlets from Otto Kleinlichs printshop? Good. 

Warhammer City

Warhammer City has some nice ideas on how to deal with going underground. Take a look.

There is definitely more to come in a later post. What do you think? 


If there is any book that perfectly captures the feel of oldhammer WFRPG it is Yack Jeovil’s Drachenfels.

Constant Drachenfels

The first 20 pages are some of the most gritty, oldhammer stuff I have ever read. It is brilliant. Full of tragedy, blood and bad puns. Oswald - hero of the empire, Genevieve - yes, the vampire vamp and a troupe of tragic personas venture out to set an end to Drachenfels reign. They make it. 
25 years later the survivors are reunited to witness Detlef’s Siercks theater spectacle of their adventures. This is where the book is at it’s olhammer height. They are't shiny heroes. No, in best Warhammer tradition they are down in the gutter. Drunk, dying of cancer and insane. This to me, is one of the cornerstones of WFRPG. You start in the gutter, you barely make it. Tragedy. 
Puns, wonderful puns. I am not sure but, I think Drachenfels is the first time Detlef Sierck - greatest playwright in the empire - enters the stage. His struggles with ‘theater folk’ are wonderful to read. It is so mundane. 

Drachenfels is one, of not the best written books from the golden GW age. I read most (all) of them. They are ok at best. Drachenfels stands out like a dark, glooming castle over the Reikwald. 

Oh, behold the ending!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Oldhammer Warhammer Roleplay

So, you might wonder why oldhammer? Believe me, I actually wasn’t aware that there is such a thing as oldhammer, until I discovered Orlyggs fantastic blog. Apparently there is a whole scene out there focusing on the golden days of miniatures, battles and games. I won’t go into to much detail of what makes oldhammer, oldhammer. Others have done a pretty good job of that already. Go take a read Orlygg has done a fantastic job delving deep into the GW archives. I owe him, as he has been the inspiration for this blog. Anyhow, I couldn’t find any blog dedicated to oldhammer roleplay. Here it is.

For me there was only ever one true version of Warhammer roleplay (WFRG). Without knowing it, I probably always belonged into the oldhammer community. For me WFRPG was and will always be first edition. The golden days of Games Workshop. There was so much creativity, darkness and excellence. Pure genius. Much was still in development, not yet overshadowed by the tamed GW canon.

The heavy tome of WFRPG was pure anti establishment. It felt like an underground death metal band to me. Insane black and white drawings, the genius cover, heretic writings, and a voice straight from the grave! Oldhammer WFRPG Is the celebration of the anti-hero!

This blog is my humble attempt to delve into the all the dark corners that make and made WFRPG so special.

Thanks for joining!