Thursday, December 20, 2018

[Warhammer 4e] Expanded Spell Lists - Shadows & Beasts

One of the flaws of WFRP magic, and especially the latest edition of WFRP is the lack of more interesting non-combat spells (sometimes called utility spells). These are often some of the most fun parts of being a wizard character - messing with folks minds, creative uses of mending spells, so on. To alleviate some of this, I dipped into the second edition supplement Realms of Sorcery to add some of the better non-combat spells and added them to the two schools of magic most likely to make an appearance soon in my game (I have a Shadows Lore PC and an important Beast Lore NPC). In reviewing those 2e spells, I noticed that a great many of only slightly different, stupid spells from that edition have been replaced with mroe generally useful spells. For example, now Amber Wizards can cast Beast Form and pick whatever animal (terrestial or bird) to become, rather than learnign different spells for wings, land animals, etc. Good job Fourth Edition writers!! Anyway, I've compiled these spells into the summaries below.

Lore of Shadows Spells
Lore of Shadows spells listed WFRP 253. Spells adapted from Realms of Sorcery marked with a *.
2 (+0)
1 target opposed test WP against casting roll, or become befuddled for WB rounds. Roll 1d10: (1-2) may only Move or Act each round, (3-4) wander in random direction, (5-6) Attack nearest creature, be friend or foe, (7-8) Do nothing, count as Stunned, (9-0) Curl into ball, helpless
Choking Shadows
6 (-10)
1 target: +1 Fatigued Condition, cannot talk, and are subject to rules for Suffocation (WFRP 181)
Cloak Activity*
3 (+0)
Appear to others as doing one thing, when actually do another (only activity cloaked, not location). Only Second Sight (-10 Perception test) can detect falsehood. Lasts WB minutes.
10 (-30)
As Bewilder, but affects all within WB yards of point chosen by caster. Lasts WB rounds.
10 (-30)
Assume any other humanoid likeness. Only Second Sight (-10 Perception test) can detect falsehood. Lasts IB minutes.
8 (-20)
IB yards area made illusory image (Channeling test action to move around). Only Second Sight (-10 Perception test) to notice not real.
6 (-10)
All memory of caster disappears for WP minutes, then target +20 Int test to remember or forgets forever.
Mystifying Miasma
6 (-10)
All in WB yards area Blinded, Deafened , and Fatigued, and if they move, Perception test or fall Prone. At end or if dispelled, +40 Iniative test or Stunned.
Pall of Darkness*
4 (+0)
Create swirling impenetrable darkness WBx2 yards in diameter. Nothing seen through it or in it, all Blinded. If move within, test Perception or fall Prone. Lasts WB rounds.
6 (-10)
Summon shadowy Steed, lasts till next sunrise.
8 (-20)
Disappear in shadow, reappear Willpower yards away. If had been engaged with an enemy, they become Surprised.
Shroud of Invisibility
8 (-20)
1 touched target becomes invisible, only noticed by Second Sight (Perception test). Lasts WB rounds. Spell ends if Invisible person attacks.

Lore of Beasts
Spells listed WFRP 246. Spells from Realm of Sorcery marked with a *.
Amber Spear
8 (-20)
D+12 (+WB+SLs), ignore leather/fur armor; inflicts Bleeding; spear continues through targets (WP yards range), -1 D each time.
Amber Talons
6 (-10)
Grow claws, Melee (Brawl) attacks magical, D=WB and inflict Bleeding.
Beast Form
5 (+0)
Transform into wild Beast (WFRP 314), lose spellcasting ability.
Beast Made Well*
3 (+0)
Heal a beast WB+SL=W, and remove 1 critical wound or condition per SL.
Beast Master
10 (-30)
Creature with Bestial trait become loyal servant who will fight to death and follow your simply instructions. Lasts WB days.
Beast Tongue
3 (+0)
Can speak with animals and birds, +20 all Charm Animal and Animal Training tests. Lasts WP minutes, and can only speak beast tongue.
Cruelty to Animals*
0 (+20)
Anyone who harms an animal (beasts, not monsters) within sight cursed with -10 to characteristic tests of your choice. Lasts until next Full Moon.
Flock of Doom
8 (-20)
Call down crows or local birds, which assail foes within WB yard area. Within, all Blinded and +7 D each round (plus WB+SLs), lasts WB rounds. Control flock with +20 Charm Animal tests.
Hunter’s Hide
6 (-10)
+20 T, cause Fear, gain Dark Vision, Acute Smell (+20 Perception), lasts WB rounds.
4 (+0)
Touch target. All leather worn or carrying (armor, straps, bags, scabbards) turn to dust immediately.
Repugnant Transformation
7 (-10)
Opposed WP test to casting roll for 1 target. If lost, becomes furred, loses speech, and behaves as a base beast. Roll 1d10 to see what does next round:
1 Subject finds something interesting in his nostril and spends a round digging.
2 Subject defecates noisily, weeping for the force of the burst.
3 Subject screams for no reason and runs in a random direction, possibly into an obstacle.
4 Subject cackles wildly and attacks the closest living thing.
5 Subject looses a lowing noise and tries to embrace the nearest object.
6 Subject curls into a ball, giggling madly.
7 Subject dances a jig while waving his weapon (or hands about) over his head.
8 Subject acts normally for this round.
9 Subject stands mute.
10 Subject brays like a mule, forcing all allies within 8 yards (4 squares) to make Fear tests.
Wyssan’s Wildform
8 (-20)
Become Arboreal (+AB to SLs for Climb and Stealth), +2 Armor, Belligerent (), +10 S & T,  free attack Bite D+SB+1, Fear, Frenzy (+1 Dam, 1 free attack). Cannot use Language or Lore skills.
Winter’s Long Slumber
7 (-20)
Willing target hibernates, lasting this season and 1 season more. Need not eat, drink, any diseases poisons are interrupted. Only caster may wake (or dispelled, -40 difficulty).

Friday, November 23, 2018

[Warhammer Sessions] Recap by one of my players...

In addition to the video, below, here's a recap of where we're at in the last Warhammer session by the player of Jarlyle.

 We finished the fight that those knights started with us (the one we didn't get to finish last time). Boneshard tackled and captured one of the knights.

We took the knight to Ermengard's men and sided with him when we jumped into the fray to try to dig out a surrounded Chrodigar. Regis was left to watch the knight.

Boneshard killed a few people, but got too wounded to dig out Chrodigar. In the end though, while Chrodigar presumably took heavy losses, Agrivane still lost the battle to Ermengard. He retreated to a nearby stronghold, and is now, also presumably, besieged.

At the end of the battle, we learned that Chilfroy, Chrodigar's son, had been kidnapped by Agrivane and taken back to the stronghold.

Oh, I left out that Jarlyle tried to walk away from the campain on the that Chilfroy had been captured.
We're just stuck solving these nobles' problems recursively.
I suggested that we could simply live more peaceful lives.
Nick suggested that there would just have to be a lot of random encounters, and I expressed dismay at his line of thinking.

[Warhammer4Friends] Session Videos

I recorded our last couple of Warhammer sessions on hangouts and posted to youtube. I'll warn you there's an interlude in one for dealing with my crying baby. I may figure out how to record these as podcasts, but that project's not heavy off the ground.

The Duke's Tale recording

Return from Bordeleaux recording

Battles for Ermengard recording

[Warhammer] Magic Casting - House Rules

The spell casting rules requiire multiple success levels for most spells beyond petty cantrips, but my group and I have noticed that this is super lame in play. The wizard has the same chance as anyone to succeed, like 45-50 being well trained, and then most of the spells are not more powerful than a single attack. This has let to dissatisfaction from the wizard player, which I am sympathetic to. So, tinkering with it a bit, I'm going to try the following house rules.

Casting Rules

Spells no longer require casting levels. Instead, some more powerful spells are more difficult. Additional Success Levels (SLs) have the effects listed in the spell descriptions as normal.

  • CN0: +20 Average.
  • CN1 to CN4: +0 Challenging
  • CN5 to CN7: -10 Difficult
  • CN8 to CN9: -20 Hard
  • CN10+: -30 Very Hard
Channeling: channeling successes add magical Advantage to any subsequent channeling or casting attempts, each SL adding +1 Advantage. This Advantage is only lost if the channeling or casting test is interrupted or there is a critical failure, as normal. Thus, 4 SLs on a channeling test will add +40 to the subsequent casting roll, or can be banked/saved while the caster attempts another channeling test the next round. So, if a caster gains 2 channelling successes one round, none the second, and 1 a third round, when she rolls her casting roll the next round, she has +30. Critical successes and Fumbles occur as normal while channelling.

Friday, October 26, 2018

[Warhammer 4 Sessions] The Bonebuddies at the Ducal Tournament

Dramatis Personae
Boneshard, Noscan Berserker (custom class)
Regis de Pubiens, Bretonnian Spy
Jarlyle the Bard, Empire Entertainer/Wizard

This session, the intrigues continued at a large tournament held by the Duke to seek a peace accord between Lords Ermengard and Agravaine. The session started with the guys spending some XP, and arguing with me about how much gold they had acquired so far, and then Jarlyle haggled with Lord Chrodegar for some more gold for Boneshard training his son. Expecting nothing less from money-grubbing, dishonorable knaves, Lord Chrodegar paid the additional money, asking that Jarlyle also provide his entertainments and songs in exchange.

Hilariously (to us), I asked if the players wanted to call their troupe something in particular. Jarlyle and the bozos or whatever. Boneshard’s player suggested the Bonebuddies, which is probably going to stick over

Boneshard and Regis recovered from their torn muscle wounds (26/27 days), and Boneshard trained Chilfroy in the art of sword and shield in the castle training yard. Lord Chrodegar sent some men to recover Greenhill, now that the leader was gone. They returned, having rescued a captured knight errant named Sir Simon. Simon told Chrodegar that his peasant captors spoke of how Esmeralda had gotten away. The adventurers quickly apologized for not telling Lord Chrodegar, but noted they had been truthful: they killed the fuck out of Jacques.

A herald arrived from the capital, Castle Aquitaine itself, to announce the Duke was holding a Ducal Tournament, with all the entertainments and intrigues that provides. Their old patron, Lady Griselda, would surely be there.

The adventurers headed to the tournament with Lord Chrodegar, and entered three contests. Regis, in his persona of a visiting Estalian Nobleman was invited to gamble with a select set of nobles. He won considerable sums, beating Sir Gauthier (heraldry: golden fleur de lis on white). Gauthier attempted to cheat Regis of the winnings, but Regis convinced assembled Bretonnians of his honor and Gauthier was undone. Regis won a suit of fine platemail, a golden ring, and 125 gold. Later that night, he was robbed by a catburgler of a pouch of gold. Suspecting Gauthier’s involvement, Regis found the robber in a wine tent and convinced him to steal the money back from Gauthier. The robber was found hanged the next morning, so no luck. Regis, or at least his Estalian persona, has made an enemy in Gauthier.

After spending a few nights paying for the best prostitutes available to a Norscan. Using the platemail Regis had won in gambling as his entrance fee, Boneshard was able to enter the melee duel tournament, and unexpectedly triumphed. He defeated Ermengard’s champion, Sir Lothaire, through some high rolls. This carried a purse of 10 GC, and great acclaim.

Boneshard fights Sir Lothaire
Finally, Jarlyle crushed the Bardic contest, winning a golden cherub and, again, much acclaim.
In broader news at the tournament, the Duke (of course) was unable to negotiate a peace between Ermengard and Agravaine. Additionally, the adventurers saw Lady Griselda at the ducal tent announce that her lands are beset by beastmen, and she called upon knights to undertake a Quest for the Lady to slay the intruders and end the menance. The greatest hero of Aquitaine, after the Duke himself, Sir Roland of the Braid swore in the Lady’s name to quest against the foul beastmen, and a few other youths took up the call. But most knights, including Chrodegar, continued to take sides in the war between Ermengard and Agravaine.

In the closing days, after the Great Joust, Lady Griselda came to the adventurers, requesting that now that they are in Chrodegar’s good graces to kill Chilfroy for her. Boneshard attempted to bone her, and she resisted his advances, but implied she would sleep with him if he slays Chilfroy for her. The session ended with the adventurers considering this offer.

[Note: I’d like to update this post with a relationship map with some heraldry, maybe I’ll get to that, maybe I won’t.]

100 XP each, 115 XP for Boneshard
A butt ton of gold: +129 GC to Regis, +10 GC to Boneshard, a golden cherub to Jarlyle, plus a fine suit of platemail.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

[WFRP4 Session Summary] Greenhill

Dramatis Personae
Boneshard, Norscan Berserker
Regis de Pubiens, Bretonnian Spy
Jarlyle, Empire Bard (Entertainer/Wizard careers)

Lady Griselda rewards the group with many gold crowns for recovering Greemly’s illicit spellbook. Next, Lady Griselda tasks them with discovering her rival Lord Chrodegar de Morhier’s true loyalties in the war between the great Lords Agravaine and Ermengard. They negotiate a pre-payment for this quest, and the party travels to Castle Morhier. On the way, they are attacked by beastmen who were feasting on a traveler and his horse. After dispatching them, they find a the dead man was a messenger with a letter from Lord Agravaine addressed to Lord Chrodegar offering him honors for joining Agravaine’s side in the war. There, they are allowed into court as a troupe of entertainers and proceed to see that Chrodegar’s guest is an envoy from Lord Ermengard, asking Chrodegar to join Ermengard’s side. In exchange, Ermengard will grant Chrodegar’s callow son, Chilfroy, a prestigious leadership position in his army. Jarlyle impressed the nobles with his entertainments and the group revealed that it offered important services, including perhaps Boneshard training Chilfroy in the matters of arms.

Chrodegar is basically this guy.
Intrigued, Chrodegar said he had a more pressing problem in the form of a rebellious fief. If the adventurers would take care of the problem by “cutting off the head of the snake,” the rebels’ leader, he would trust them to tutor his heir in combat. He had sent several knights errant to deal with the reported rebellion, but none had returned. Perhaps the adventurers could fit in better as peasant folk themselves. He also mentioned his reluctance to send men on campaign for Ermengard or Agravaine while he had a dragon near his lands, though the dragon’s desolation was an old problem. Jarlyle agreed to perform the task, and they set out towards Greenhill.

The group reached a bend in the trail where they could see the village and keep ahead, when they heard the sounds of ambushers. A group of ten bowmen presented themselves, led by a Jacques, who announced they should, “forfeit their money for the cause of freedom,” including their horses and goods. Before Jacques could go on, Boneshard charged him. Jacques got off an arrow before the northman’s sword cleaved in his skull and through the arm of the next man standing by. Jarlyle and Regis show arrows back with several kills to their name, but one highwayman managed to escape back to the village. The group waited a few hours, then presented themselves as merry band of troubadours in the village. The village was starved for song, and accepted the group’s explanation that they believed they were defending themselves from robbery and so would be allowed in the village as long as they spoke with Esmeralda.

Esmeralda was an attractive Tilean (*cough* Italian) mercenary who had aided Jacques in killing the evil Lord Roger (and his entire family), who frightfully oppressed the peasants of Greenhill, including raping Jacques’s sister, who fled on pilgrimage. Jacques took vengeance, and Esmeralda agreed to help and had installed herself in Lord Roger’s shell keep.

Esmeralda welcomed the adventurers and accepted their apologies for what occurred with Jacques. She asked Jarlyle to entertain all and simple bonfire peasant revelry in the keep’s inner courtyard. Boneshard had acquired two kegs of ale in Castle Morhier and let the peasants take full draughts. In the course of plying Esmeralda with drink, and suggesting that their own motives may have been less than pure, Regis inquired on Esmeralda’s future plans, given that knights would surely come at some point and kill her. Esmeralda confessed she would not be using the gold from Lord Roger to hire mercenaries as she had promised Jacques and the peasants, and in fact wanted to flee with the money when she could make a clean breakaway. [There were some very successful Charm and Consume Alcohol rolls made by the players.] Regis and Boneshard convinced her to go ahead and leave tonight with them, and she went into the keep to get the chest of silver.

But then the group heard a cry from the old village Seeress, who pointed her gnarled finger and screamed that the village was being betrayed by the adventurers. (For some reason, the players never killed or silenced this woman despite her obvious creepy witch appearance I introduced when they first came to the village.) Mayhem ensued as peasants went to grab their bows, believing their wisewoman over the strangers who killed Jacques. As Boneshard frenzied and began butchering right and left, there was some hefty debate between the players over whether to shut the barbican gate (“I’m not trapped in here with you, you’re trapped in here with me!”) or try to keep it open. Two peasant archers manned the barbican and began lowering the gate. In the melee with at least 15 peasants turned rebels, Regis and Boneshard both suffered critical injuries (funnily, both rolled torn muscles) and were rendered unconscious. Esmeralda reemerged, shot a rebel, and with Jarlyle’s help was able to kill the gate guards and help everyone to safety. Jarlyle collected the money and the group travelled back to Castle Morhier to report the rebel leader dead.

120 XP or so per player
A bunch of gold, calculated later to the group having like 85 gc for Regis/Boneshard and 50 more for Jarlyle

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

[Warhammer 4] The Adventures so Far, part I

What follows is a brief recap of the adventures my Wednesday online group has had so far, both to regale you fine readers and to keep track of plot threads and important developments. I always forget what interesting items I’ve handed out, so hopefully this will be useful for that as well. I’ve never had a proper campaign log so far, so this will be a first. This campaign is set in my version of Warhammer’s Bretonnia, a land of cruel noble oppression of downtrodden and palsied peasantry and magical chivalry. I set it here because I like proper feudalism better than the full-on early modern feel of the Empire, with its relative “equality,” and it scratches the Game of Thrones itch. I’ll probably post more later about my setting information.

Boneshard looks something like this.
Dramatis Personae
Boneshard, Norscan Berserker (custom Marauder career)
Regis de Pubiens, Bretonnian Spy
Jarlyle, Empire Bard (Entertainer, Wizard careers)
Heloise, Dwarf Warrior and brewer of fine dragonspiss ale

First Adventure: Castle Greemly
[System note: For the first adventures, I used a homebrew version of Lamentation of the Flame Princess rpg, which is basically “Basic” 1980s-‘90s D&D. It had a lot of Warhammer elements, uses levelless spells, but is otherwise very D&D. I started the PCs at level 3. One important rule is Deathblows for Fighters, which is a free attack on an adjacent enemy after you kill one. This is also in Warhammer, but for all characters! Yay!]

Regis had a prior contact with Lady Griselda Sangraine, a noble enchantress and head of her family. Regis had obtained a small magickal stone for Lady Griselda, and his success and discretion led Lady Griselda to entrust him with another sensitive task. [I ran a modified Oldenhaller Contract adventure, google it.] She believed one of her vassals, Lord Greemly, was cavorting with dangerous and fell magicks, due to rumors she had heard of strange sights and beastmen on his estates and his absence from court. She tasked Regis with visiting Greemly and taking his spellbook. Regis found Jarlyle the Bard and Boneshard in port city tavern and recruited them to join the adventure. A dwarf named Jarlyle joined soon thereafter.

Traveling to Greemly’s lands in the Forest of Chalons, the adventurers came across a recently fought battlefield. They heard approaching riders, and were confronted near the field with a knight and his hobilar outriders, who demanded their goods after learning they were not fellow vassals of the great Lord Enguerrand. The riders charged in, Boneshard was wounded by the knight’s lance, but soon hacked off his leg and the group defeated the other riders.

Next the group approached Castle Greemly through the forest, and was ambushed by beastmen, mostly goatmen (ungors). After butchering the attackers, Boneshard to his delight learned that the goatmen dicks contain bones and made a gory necklace. He would gather over 20 such dickbones for his necklace over the course of the adventure.

Arriving at the castle village, the group drank ale and Jarlyle played songs. They learned Lord Greemly was a kind lord who let them hunt in his forest and generally supported rather than oppressed them.

The group then headed to the castle, found the main barricade torn aside, went through a door covered in a giant chaos star around a chaotic ram’s head, found a magical talking amulet named Theodoric that they rejected, and proceeded to fight several groups of beastmen. They slew a shaman and touched a statue that proceeded to scream their presence. All in all, many goatmen dicks were collected and alarms set off. Eventually, they found Lord Greemly himself who was cut down before he could parley but after he attempted to defend himself with a chocking deadly miasmic cloud (cloudkill). Sadly for him, none of the PCs were felled by his spell and he was butchered and his spellbook taken. A giant plague demon he had summoned soon fell upon the characters, and it was dispatched as well with the dwarf suffering a few maggot-ridden wounds.

The group slept in Greemly’s chambers to recover, and then started to explore more deeply, but after nearly being killed by a minotaur, decided to leave. They were tracked down in the woods outside the castle by more goatmen, killed them but were wounded and low on supplies. Jarlyle went back to the village for more arrows, sneaking in, and saw the beastmen had run amok from the castle and butchered, ate the villagers. Two minotaurs were sleeping off their feast.

The group hightailed it back to Sangraine Castle, seat of Lady Griselda, and delivered the news.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Two Lands (Amonkhet) Setting

Next time I run D&D 5e, will do it in an Egyptian setting. The high-magic and almost superheroes level of power of even middle level (5+) characters makes me reluctant to run a more realistic, low-magic, gritty setting, which is my general preference. I have Warhammer and house ruled B/X for that. So some ideas on rules, adventures, and other setting elements:

·         Named Two Lands as reference to the Desert v. River Valley, Duat (afterlife) v. Life, Ma’at Justice v. Chaos/Disorder.

·         Races from Amonkhet, a pdf put out by Wizards. My preference is humans and the Amonkhet races (Aven: birdfolk, Minotaurs, Naga: serpentfolk, Khenra: jackalfolk) only, plus Tabaxi for Cat-folk, which is pretty theme-appropriate. Naga, snakemen, considered evil, but could have a Drizzt type rebel/good situation (snakes do kill disease bearing rats). But if we can’t get away from elves and dwarves, then elves are from an Atlantis-like culture in the north, and dwarves/halflings are like earth-spirits who watch over children (I’d really love to ban the martial dwarves of standard D&D). To make humans appealing, only humans (and elves?) can be the arcane casting classes of wizards, sorcerers, etc. The other races are the ‘Favored of the Gods’ in other ways and are granted their race abilities but cannot command arcane magic.

·         Potentially banned classes: Warlocks. I just don’t like them, and I don’t know who their patrons would be.

·         Desert rules that penalize with exhaustion for wearing heavy armor or carrying a lot of gear without a (easily eaten and scared) donkey. I’m thinking something like a CON save every few hours for medium and heavy armor, heavy armor at disadvantage. Likewise, water is a big issue out in the desert. So heavy use of exhaustion rules. I’ll probably warn players there won’t be a bunch of forest stuff.

·         Gods and society: the major Egyptian deities, as in the core rules, especially the Ennead (the nine major gods like Horus, Osiris, Isis, etc.). The names will be close to standard (greek) with some updates: Herekh for Horus, Sutekh for Set. Each settlement or city will have its own patron deity and cult, some highlights are the City of the Hawk (Nekhen) and the City of Bast (cat-goddess). Herekh or Horus, the cult of Pharaoh-King, will be the default starting deity for the default starting City of Nekhen. There will be rival kingdoms centered around the capitals, so the Pharaoh of Nekhen may fight the Pharaoh of the Delta or whatever.

·         Enemies: Yuan-ti serpent cultists of the evil, destruction god Apophis, the world-eating serpant of chaos who wishes to transform reality back to the chaotic nothing-ness of the Waters of Nun. Apophis offers powers of pleasure and destruction to cultists, so there are some serpent cults. Liche-Kings, powerful undead liche-sorcerers in the Necropolis of the Desert. Gnolls in the desert, worshippers of the god of storms and beasts, Sutekh (Seth). Other enemies could be barbarian skull-stackers based on the Hyksos, Assyrians, and sea peoples, maybe reskinned as orcs or something. Amonkhet has some good stuff too. Giant Crocodiles, desert dragons.

Starting adventure: travel through the desert to old tomb where sage-priest believes there is a ‘disturbance in the force.’ Fight gnolls on the way, mummies and zombies in the tombs, maybe rescue a noble or captured priest. Drop a couple of magic items, some hints about the rise of a liche-king, maybe a corrupt serpent cult in the city.

·         City of Nekhen: Ankhu, High Priest of Osiris, asks sorcerous band of heroes to investigate disturbed tomb of ancient King Djaf. Ankhu saw trinkets from Djaf on the black market and has had dreams of the dead king in anger. He believes tomb raiders disturbed the tomb and have set loose the angry dead king’s spirit loose. The Pharaoh is busy fighting barbarians and his rivals, so Ankhu tasks the heroes with what’s going on, and rescue the mummy of Djaf for reburial in an active pyramid-temple for dead kings.


o   Secretly, the Cult of Apophis has stolen an important artifact, the Scepter of Djaf, from the tomb, in guise of mere tomb robbers. The Cult has prominent nobles in the city loyal to it, who command money and has transformed (empowered) cultist servants. It sent a few cloaked spies to follow the PCs, who bear no marks or clear reason for spying (really just given some coins to ne’er do wells). If the spies return a message to the Cult, it summons an angry, giant crocodile to kill the PCs as they cross the river to the west, the Desert of the Dead. Some modern pyramid-temples dot the west bank.

o   Travel west, 4 days by foot, 2 by horse, chariot, or camel, see CE gnoll and LN (respect the dead) khenra raiders (2 different encounters). There is a caravan near an oasis on the way to the tomb with a khajit trader, two aven royal messengers for tracking the gnoll warbands. This is only few hours travel from the Valley of Djaf. Outside the tomb are ravenous ghouls, and sphinx guarding the valley of djaf. The sphinx will attack the PCs initially, but will relent if they convince it they come in respect for the dead. (The sphinx was hunting when the tomb was raided).

o   Encounters in the tomb (mastaba above underground tomb, serekhs of Djaf): Traps!, angry spirit of the king, appears at intervals, galleries of skeletal warriors, mummy noble warriors as get closer to Djaf’s sarcophagus, pool of resurrected crocodiles (snakes?) to cross, minor guardian demon or two (can turn with true name, spells naming caster’s virtue), giant beetles, dopplegangers (from magical ushabti), a stone golem. Giant Serpent, Naga or Yuan-ti in sarcophagus chamber to prevent PCs from rescuing mummy.

o   If manage to return to Nekhen, one more assassination attempt by trained assassin with venomous dagger with markings of Apophis.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Warhammer is Dead! Long Live Warhammer!

Hoary old Warhammer, one of the best rpgs ever. 

So I’ve decided to resurrect this blog from the dead to chronicle my campaign with my friends, which I run over google hangouts. I’m hoping to record and maybe even post these bad boys, once I can get the tech right. The group are my old friends from high school, who I’ve been gaming with intermittently for the last few years (we did not game together in high school much, funnily enough). Anyway, after initially running this using a B/X Lamentation homebrew ruleset, I decided to convert the game to the new, fourth edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (“WH” or “WFRP” or “Warhammer” from now on). We’ve had two sessions under each ruleset, Basic D&D and WFRP, and I like Warhammer for the game better so far (and I think my players agree). Before I start writing up play reports, here’s some points on the new Warhammer and why I like it (available here: As a note, this is mostly in comparison to D&D and especially second edition WFRP, which I had run for about 3 months before abandoning.

So a quickie Warhammer 4th edition review:

  • ·         The central mechanic of roll under your percentage attribute, with doubles being criticals, is super easy to explain and understand. I like that skills now simply add to an attribute like Weapon Skill or Fellowship without needing to remember halving or whatever.
  • ·         Overall, the game is about as complicated as D&D 5e, which is more complicated than B/X D&D or Lamentations or something, but less complicated that third edition Wizards of the Coast D&D or Pathfinder or other, basically unplayable games. Plus Warhammer has all the gritty, low/dangerous magic, realistic combat, flavor features that D&D doesn’t do well.
  • ·         The new skill list is trimmed down to good, low number of skills. Skills like Healing and Language (whatever) being “Advanced,” i.e. you can’t use without having some points in, makes intuitive sense.
  • ·         I like that you can track how many XP you’ve put into the skill and what the skill bonus is the same way (Weapons Basic +10 is both +10 to your Weapon Skill attribute for checks, like 44 or whatever), and reflects you’ve bought ten skill points.
  • ·         Talents are also streamlined. I’ve become OK with Talents by thinking about them in my mind as the “Special Abilities” for each career – limited in number per level and individually powerful. Because they’re tied to your career (Soldier or Spy or Tinker etc.), there’s not a lot of min/maxing or other bullshit.
  • ·         Combat no longer whiffs. You hit in hand-to-hand even if you fail your Weapon skill check, as long as you failed less badly than your foe, though it will reduce your damage. Also, you built up momentum, called Advantage, adding +10% to future checks with each point, which are accumulated each time you charge or successfully hit someone. It’s a pretty nifty system, though you probably need to cap it (I cap it at +60). You lose all momentum if you miss or get hit yourself.
  • ·         No damage rolls. Just keep looking at your to-hit check. This makes so much sense, and I love the way it plays in combat. The better the hit, the more likely it is to destroy your foe. And Deathblows are back baby, so you can do a free action follow up attack.
  • ·         All the great Warhammer shit, like diseases and poisons and drugs and mutations and fiddly weapon shit. The characters never feel like superheroes, but instead vulnerable, real people (even if they can get super badass), who will die to 12 peasant bowmen.

  • ·         For attributes (Warhammer’s version of ability scores), they split Dexterity and Agility and added Initiative. Three is too much, and while it makes real-world sense to separate manual dexterity from agility, I’m skeptical about needing all these in gameplay. Rather than new attributes, they probably could have split some stuff up between agility and intelligence or whatever. Not that big a deal though.
  • ·         Like past editions of Warhammer, they fucking use key word Talents and Traits and Conditions instead of just explaining what each power fucking does. Like, list in the Career entry what “Marksman” or whatever does, you donkey-heads. Or what “Infected” means on the Beastman monster entry. Or what the Damaging weapon quality is. Why the fuck do game writers do this shit? Reduce my amount of page flipping, don’t increase it! I get that you gain some consistency and that you may want a longer explanation when a rules question pops up, but there’s no reason to not repeat what the effects of these “key terms” are when you mention it on Career entries, Damage charts, and monster entries. It sickens me to think that this will be repeated in adventurers and supplements. Holy fuck, abbreviate people, so I can just run shit at the gaming table. Not that hard.
  • ·         Bleeding into the above complaint, and the next one, information design sucks. The publisher may have been rushing, which is nice that I got this game book (pdf anyway) in my grubby little hands, but they’ll need to publish a revised rulebook in a few years to better organize this game. So much cross referencing, important rules and steps hidden deep inside long paragraphs, no quick sheets or reference charts, just a fucking mess. The art’s spiffy though.
  • ·         There are a lot of fiddly rules to be aware of. The core mechanic is simple, but then there’s Advantage (really should be called Momentum), creature Size rules, the effect of conditions, weapon qualities, etc. Fortunately, all these rules are hand-waivable if you don’t want to bother; easily replaced with GM-determined modifiers (ok, that sounds hard, -20 to your check; well, you’re outnumbered and prone so I’m giving the baddies +40) or whatever. But I think it’s intimidating at first, and the lack of quick sheets, flow charts, etc. really worsens the problem. In play, with some quick sheets or DM screen stuff, which I created, it’s really not a problem and is definitely equivalent to D&D 5e, but it doesn’t seem that way.
  • ·         Like D&D 5e, I would not want to play it with more than 4-5 players. I know from GMing second edition WFRP with like 8+ folks that it’s just too much math and needs too much player attention. D&D B/X is sooo simple that it can swing like 9-10 players, but not Warhammer.

Anyway, for me the decisive factor is that it plays like a Game of Thrones book reads or how I like my fighting and adventures to go. It well supports realistic combat and social interaction/intrigue, and basically can replace all the D&D house rules I was using. It’s been going great so far, as future play reports will attest. I’ll also be posting some quick reference sheets, my custom character sheet, and some other play aids.