Varsovian
 member, 1374 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 20:50
What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Guys, a question: what can you tell me about Warhammer Fantasy RP 2E?

I'm asking, as there's this new Humble Bundle on - and you can get a ton of WFRP 2E books for an amazing price. The question is, is it a good game? How old is it, anyway? Does it offer anything than, say, Pathfinder (with the Golarion setting or not)?
GreyGriffin
 member, 154 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 21:12
What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
WFRP 2e is an extremely deadly game that takes place in the incredibly unique world of Warhammer Fantasy.  Not the Age of Sigmar abomination, but the proper, semi-renaissance world of dark fantasy.

It's a ton of fun, if you can get over its lethality and its oppressive atmosphere.  The game is very deadly, but it lets you know that up-front.  Most PCs start out in occupations like Rat-catcher and Servant, and have no business trying to go toe-to-toe with Ungors until they get some experience and earn their mettle, and probably buy some armor.

While WFRP has its roots in the 80s, the 2nd edition is by the eminent minds at Green Ronin, who brought us True20, Blue Rose, and, of course, Mutants and Masterminds.  Green Ronin's work was considered so definitive that when FFG got the license, their team refused to start work on the all-new edition until FFG agreed publish the nearly-complete Career Compendium for the version of the game they were supplanting.

I'm sure my nostalgia goggles are firmly on, but I had a lot of fun with this game at my table.  Even with its weaknesses as a game, if you're into the Warhammer world to begin with, or are coming into it from the new Total War games, or just want to see the setting presented at its absolute peak, I can't recommend it enough.

As a game, it offers a really unique advancement scheme (advancing through different careers) that have a real sense of progression, without ever really undermining the scale of the world by letting mechanics get out of control.  You can eventually rise from charcoal-burner to High Priest of Sigmar, or from bartender to Assassin, and your abilities really do progress, but you're never really out of danger.  Unlike Pathfinder, a pack of goblins is always a problem, even if they're less of a problem than they were when you had nothing but a Hand Weapon and your courage.

This message was last edited by the user at 21:15, Wed 13 Sept.

Varsovian
 member, 1375 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 21:42
What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Interesting! What else can you tell me about this game? Please help me make an informed decision :)

I'm not entirely alien to this setting - WFRP 1E was the first RPG ever published in my country, so it was wildly popular back then. I haven't played it, but I know of some elements of the game.

I know it's supposed to be grim, gritty, with a dark and realistic take on a medieval fantasy setting. I know of Chaos, mutants etc. I know there are firearms in the game. I know you play a character through quite interesting professions. What else?
GreyGriffin
 member, 155 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 23:27
What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
The system is a percentile system, with stats that translate from the tabletop game (and a few more).  A strength of 30-39 in the game translates to Str 3 in tabletop, while 40-49 is Strength 4, etcetera.

Skills and talents are based on your career.  You spend XP to advance your stats and skills, but are capped on how much you can raise them by your Career.  If you want to raise them higher, you need to go to a new career with a higher cap.

Combat is, as I've said, very deadly.  Your defensive resources are sparse, so getting outnumbered is a great way to lose a kidney.  You can only make a few mistakes before you start rolling on a critical hit table that runs from "this is very bad" to "hope you didn't need that leg."  In the core system, hit location only matters for crits, but the system has location-based damage and armor baked in, so it's easy to play fast and loose, or to bite your nails about the visibility penalty for wearing that sweet helmet, depending on how gritty your group likes to get.

As you advance in power, and get better equipped, combat between equals can stalemate, but ganging up on someone is a surefire way to get some hits through, no matter how badass they are.

Magic is pretty dangerous, both to the wielder and whatever poor schmuck is getting a spell cast at him.  A little adjudication is needed with the Chaos tables in order to keep things from being too samey (they lack variety, IMO).  Spells are nice and meaty in power, but each school is pretty limited in scope, so even the Archest of Archwizards will need help with some tasks.

In general, in my opinion, the game is best played in the vein of a couple desperate peasants ambushing a necromancer who is oppressing them, or a few brave adventurers trying to stake their claim in the wild Border Princes.  The characters will struggle to be setting-defining, but the world is written with enough granularity that even being local heroes is worth toasting a few weeks of sessions.  High Adventure is a privilege you earn after going through some hard knocks.
Varsovian
 member, 1376 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 05:04
What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Some questions:

1. What kind of monsters are there? Just mutants, zombies and vampires - or are there more epic creatures, like dragons?

2. Can you play female characters?

3. Is there any WH40K-style silliness in this game? WH40K has Cockney-speaking orcs, cheerful Nurgle demons etc...

4. Is anyone playing this game at all these days? Here on RPOL, for example? Or is it too old?
bigbadron
 moderator, 15434 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 06:07
What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Is anybody playing?  Yes, and the Main Menu search will even provide a list of games.
GreyGriffin
 member, 157 posts
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 Game System Polyglot
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 16:12
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Varsovian:
Some questions:

1. What kind of monsters are there? Just mutants, zombies and vampires - or are there more epic creatures, like dragons?

The monsters are a bit narrower than your typical D&D setting, but there's a fair amount of variety.  The huge, epic monsters are generally sparse, although Dragons and Giants (and Dragon-Ogres) are statted mostly to demonstrate what an insane proposition it is to fight them.  Generally, trolls are quite well-equipped enough to cave your head in.

quote:
2. Can you play female characters?

Yeah, absolutely.  While there are certain shades of medieval misogyny, magic and grimdarkness are viewed as sort of equalizers.  If you're tough enough to survive, you're tough enough to respect.
quote:
3. Is there any WH40K-style silliness in this game? WH40K has Cockney-speaking orcs, cheerful Nurgle demons etc...

Sure, but it's actually more optional.  Most of the "adversarial" races (Orcs, Goblins, Skaven, Daemons) are actually nuanced enough that you can easily turn the thematic dial from comical villains to sinister threats and back, sometimes within the same game session.

quote:
4. Is anyone playing this game at all these days? Here on RPOL, for example? Or is it too old?

I've seen a few games go up in the past few months, but it seems to have a high proportion of fail-to-launch.  I hope the Humble Bundle inspires a bunch of new ones.

This message was last edited by the user at 16:18, Thu 14 Sept.

Varsovian
 member, 1377 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 16:47
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
GreyGriffin:
The monsters are a bit narrower than your typical D&D setting, but there's a fair amount of variety.  The huge, epic monsters are generally sparse, although Dragons and Giants (and Dragon-Ogres) are statted mostly to demonstrate what an insane proposition it is to fight them.  Generally, trolls are quite well-equipped enough to cave your head in.


I can imagine fighting dragons might be an insane thing to do :) But do they exist in the game setting at all? I'm trying to gauge the mood here.

Overall, is this setting pure realistic grim fantasy, or is there some awe-inspiring stuff? Something that would be a good food for imagination?

quote:
Yeah, absolutely.  While there are certain shades of medieval misogyny, magic and grimdarkness are viewed as sort of equalizers.  If you're tough enough to survive, you're tough enough to respect.


I peeked into the preview of the career book and from what I managed to see, all the professions seem to be written for males... That's why I'm a bit worried. Also, my experience with WH40K is that it's a bit sexist, unfortunately.

A system question: does it use random character generation? I really don't like it...
engine
 member, 435 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 17:35
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Understood about the deadly combat. Does the game assume that players will avoid direct combat (by sneaking, bluffing, running, talking, extreme cleverness, etc.) or that characters will be easy-come, easy-go? If the latter, does the game offer advice for how to bring in new characters quickly and smoothly, so that players aren't left out? If the former, does the game make adjudicating those alternatives as easy as (or easier than) adjudicating combat?
GreyGriffin
 member, 158 posts
 Portal Expat
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Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 17:41
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
None of the classes are really written to exclude women.  A lot of the artwork is of men and the male pronoun is used by default.  The biggest setting boundaries you run into are the assumptions about a patriarchal eurpoean-style nobility, and the various ultra-macho Knightly orders, but both of those are easily ignored or even subverted given the context of the game.

There is plenty of stuff that is wondrous in the Warhammer Fantasy world, although that is often "wondrous and terrible."  The PCs are generally the salt of the earth, men and women from humble beginnings, but nothing prevents them from sailing to Ulthuan and roaming the caverns beneath the Dragonspine mountains in Caledor, to pry the scales from sleeping Star Dragons.  Aside from dragons.  And offended Caledoreans.

The default setting of the Empire is a pretty ramshackle place, inspired pretty directly by the central europe of the early Renaissance.  But it is shot through with the ancient shrapnel of the War of the Beard, when elves colonized the Old World and were repulsed by the ancient Dwarves.

Outside of the Colleges of Magic in Altdorf, its "wondrousness" is pretty low key.  But just because it's realistic and grim doesn't mean that it's not awe-inspiring.  Does an abandoned dwarven Karak, an entire mountain turned to a city, inspire awe, even if it's infested with goblins?

And yes, the game uses random character generation, even advising you to roll up your starting career.  In general, I agree with you about random character generation, and was pretty resistant to it.  But Warhammer Fantasy roleplay, in my experience, anyways, is mostly about coping.  It's about dealing with what you have at your disposal and trying to survive and thrive in a harsh environment.  Furthermore, you can swap to any basic career at any time for a small investment of experience and a handful of trappings.  A new life path is only a few advances away.

While I totally understand wanting to pitch random attribute generation, or at least soften its impact, for a default game, I really recommend trying random careers, unless you have a specific theme game in mind.  Playing a pack of refugees fleeing from the Storm of Chaos is surprisingly interesting when you're actually a ramshackle crew of donkey-farmers and lumberjacks and not professional soldiers.  Maybe let people pick careers if you actually want everyone to be professional soldiers.

YMMV if you really want to play a wizard of some stripe, though.  Access to magic is rare and limited.  But again, you can freely swap to new basic classes with the right resources.
engine
 member, 436 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 17:48
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
GreyGriffin:
Playing a pack of refugees fleeing from the Storm of Chaos is surprisingly interesting when you're actually a ramshackle crew of donkey-farmers and lumberjacks and not professional soldiers.

What would such a game consist of, in your experience? Fleeing can be interesting, if there's more to it than just running. A fighting retreat, say, to buy time for the NPC refugees to escape could be great, even if every PC dies trying. Or, taking on a threat that the PCs can actually hope to handle, because it's in the way of the escape. Is it that kind of thing?
GreyGriffin
 member, 159 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 18:22
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
It depends on how the GM frames it and the players play it.  A cunning group can sneak past a pack of ogres, or they can ambush a small group of beastmen, or handle their weight in goblins.  Engaging in combat is a high risk, but you can manage if you're equipped, prepared, and not fighting something too big for your britches.

The combat system is also symmetrical - it's really dangerous for whoever you're lunging at with a pitchfork.  Monsters don't get special rules, they just typically have stats and abilities that allow them to hold their own.  (Or melt you with fire from the wing and have scales equivalent to plate armor, as the case may be.)

Most of the material points towards intrigue and horror themes (underground cults and unspeakable horrors that stalk the woods after dark), with combat usually being a last resort or a sort of climactic conflict.  There are a LOT of skills and talents that have to do with crafting, lore, navigation, stealth, and social interaction, giving you plenty of material to work with.

Edit: While these skills exist, the framework to use them is as simple as it is in most other fantasy adventure games.  WFRP lacks narrative failure and fail-forward mechanics or nuanced systems for the use of noncombat skills, besides pass/fail, and degrees of success.  Implementation of these skills is a matter for the GM to figure out, sadly.  But they are there in their multitudes.

Characters do eventually gain more competence, so the risks of combat become less, allowing them to "go on the offensive" as it were against the forces of darkness.  This arc of "zero to hero" is really effectively portrayed, with characters becoming much more capable against things that threatened them in the past, without losing that edge of danger.

This message was last edited by the user at 18:28, Thu 14 Sept.

orynnfireheart
 member, 103 posts
 Evil will always triumph
 Because good is dumb
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 18:25
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
It is a cold and dark place. Proceed no further on pain of death!
Varsovian
 member, 1378 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 19:02
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
GreyGriffin:
There is plenty of stuff that is wondrous in the Warhammer Fantasy world, although that is often "wondrous and terrible."  The PCs are generally the salt of the earth, men and women from humble beginnings, but nothing prevents them from sailing to Ulthuan and roaming the caverns beneath the Dragonspine mountains in Caledor, to pry the scales from sleeping Star Dragons.  Aside from dragons.  And offended Caledoreans.


This sounds pretty cool :) See, I have nothing against grit and darkness, but I feel that a fantasy world should somehow be interesting and have something inspiring to see and experience. Interesting people, interesting places, interesting phenomena... Not just villages with pigs, towns with smelly sewers and general feeling of oppression and hopelessness...

BTW. What would you call the general mood of the game? My experience with WH40K was that everything and everyone in that universe was corrupted and hopeless (and testosterone-infused). Is WFRP a bit more bright, maybe..?

quote:
And yes, the game uses random character generation, even advising you to roll up your starting career.  In general, I agree with you about random character generation, and was pretty resistant to it.  But Warhammer Fantasy roleplay, in my experience, anyways, is mostly about coping.  It's about dealing with what you have at your disposal and trying to survive and thrive in a harsh environment.  Furthermore, you can swap to any basic career at any time for a small investment of experience and a handful of trappings.  A new life path is only a few advances away.


I get your point, but still - I always come up with a concept before playing... I've had some experience with random characters in Call of Cthulhu and I have never liked it. Is there any suggestion in the game for an alternative method of character creation?

quote:
Most of the material points towards intrigue and horror themes (underground cults and unspeakable horrors that stalk the woods after dark), with combat usually being a last resort or a sort of climactic conflict.  There are a LOT of skills and talents that have to do with crafting, lore, navigation, stealth, and social interaction, giving you plenty of material to work with.


That sounds good! I like intrigue and horror :)

quote:
Edit: While these skills exist, the framework to use them is as simple as it is in most other fantasy adventure games.  WFRP lacks narrative failure and fail-forward mechanics or nuanced systems for the use of noncombat skills, besides pass/fail, and degrees of success.  Implementation of these skills is a matter for the GM to figure out, sadly.  But they are there in their multitudes.


Heh. I really don't know what a fail-forward mechanic is, so I guess I won't be missing it ;)
GreyGriffin
 member, 160 posts
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Fri 15 Sep 2017
at 05:55
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Varsovian:
This sounds pretty cool :) See, I have nothing against grit and darkness, but I feel that a fantasy world should somehow be interesting and have something inspiring to see and experience. Interesting people, interesting places, interesting phenomena... Not just villages with pigs, towns with smelly sewers and general feeling of oppression and hopelessness...

BTW. What would you call the general mood of the game? My experience with WH40K was that everything and everyone in that universe was corrupted and hopeless (and testosterone-infused). Is WFRP a bit more bright, maybe..?


The outside world is dangerous.  Normal people cluster around their pigs and sewers, but the dense woods are ever encroaching, swelling with Beastmen.  And, if the rumors and the crazed are to be believed, men like rats lurk in the sewers.  There's adventure to be had, and wonderous places and things to behold, but they often don't want you to be there.

I wouldn't say WFRP is more bright, per se, but it's definitely more nuanced. Take, for instance, the case of the Emperor.

In Warhammer Fantasy, Sigmar was the First Emperor, a warrior-king who united the tribes of man.  But he also drove those tribes who wouldn't join him into the inhospitable north, where the seeds of resentment and the need for survival drove them into the arms of the Chaos Gods.

Sigmar is also venerated as a god, but his divine status is in question.  The Cult of Ulric claims, since Sigmar was a worshiper of Ulric, that Ulric is the chief god of the Empire.  Instead of, as it would be in 40k, them dividing into two eternally warring factions, the power of each cult waxes and wanes with the favor of the living Emperor.  (The "current" Emperor, Karl Franz, is a devoted Sigmarite.)  The Cult of Sigmar also has had its fire and brimstone Inquisitions, but they are viewed with some suspicion and disfavor by both the political elite and the common folk.

So Sigmar can be a great inspirational figure, a symbol of the unity and power of Man, but he can also be a symbol of oppression and a tool of politics.  His priests can turn their skill at arms and rhetoric towards the preservation of mankind's community, or they can be witch-hunters who will flay a peasant for some perceived heresy.  He's not the hamhanded, omnipresent symbol of a lurching cadaver of empire that will collapse without him, but rather like another deity in a polytheistic world, albeit an important one, whose interpretation by mortal men is flawed.  If, indeed, he is a god at all.

quote:
I get your point, but still - I always come up with a concept before playing... I've had some experience with random characters in Call of Cthulhu and I have never liked it. Is there any suggestion in the game for an alternative method of character creation?


You can absolutely just pick careers, and the character generation system can definitely work its way to some kind of point-buy...

But I would really, really recommend at least trying to roll up a character.  I'm normally right there with you, I like to have narrative control over my characters.  But Warhammer offers an interesting opportunity to kind of... rewind the typical character concept.

In D&D, for instance, a Level 1 Fighter starts as a fairly competent warrior.  Most of the starting Warhammer careers are a step back from that.  You are a servant, or a farmer, or a charcoal-burner...  maybe you aspire to be a warrior, but you get to live through and play through those transformative level 0 moments.

I, for instance, rolled up Servant.  And I hated it.  I hated the idea of playing a Servant, but I went along with it.  And I brought that resentment with me to my character, Douglas Dougal, who wanted to be more than a Servant.  (Hired by one of the other PCs, no less, who'd rolled up the rather badass Squire career.)  That burning aspiration inspired me to play one of the most interesting characters of my roleplaying career.

quote:
That sounds good! I like intrigue and horror :)


Good!  I think thinking of Warhammer as an action-slanted horror game set in a really rich fantasy world is a good place to start.

quote:
Heh. I really don't know what a fail-forward mechanic is, so I guess I won't be missing it ;)

You should try it, it's pretty great.
Varsovian
 member, 1379 posts
Fri 15 Sep 2017
at 18:45
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
GreyGriffin:
The outside world is dangerous.  Normal people cluster around their pigs and sewers, but the dense woods are ever encroaching, swelling with Beastmen.  And, if the rumors and the crazed are to be believed, men like rats lurk in the sewers.  There's adventure to be had, and wonderous places and things to behold, but they often don't want you to be there.


Ah, the Skaven :)

Anyway - so, there *are* interesting places to see etc.? It's not just mud and rust and bushes?

Sorry that I'm asking so much about it, but I've lately realized that some wonder is what I need in a fantasy RP. I like the colourful, diverse nations of Golarion (even if they are scary, like Cheliax or Nidal). And I absolutely love Numenera's setting, which is weird, scary, wonderful and absolutely breathtaking at places.

quote:
I wouldn't say WFRP is more bright, per se, but it's definitely more nuanced. Take, for instance, the case of the Emperor. [snip]


Interesting... Good to see it's different than the totalitarian concept of WH40K's Emperor. Even though that concept was interesting, too.

quote:
I, for instance, rolled up Servant.  And I hated it.  I hated the idea of playing a Servant, but I went along with it.  And I brought that resentment with me to my character, Douglas Dougal, who wanted to be more than a Servant.  (Hired by one of the other PCs, no less, who'd rolled up the rather badass Squire career.)  That burning aspiration inspired me to play one of the most interesting characters of my roleplaying career.


I admit, that sounds cool :)
GamerHandle
 member, 958 posts
 Umm.. yep.
 So, there's this door...
Fri 15 Sep 2017
at 23:29
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Oh my goodness - Thank you for telling me about the humble bundle!  I've long wanted those books, and I loved the 1st edition, but, I won't touch anything by FFG.
GreyGriffin
 member, 161 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Sat 16 Sep 2017
at 04:33
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
There is plenty of mud and rust and bushes, but there are also the grand cities of Altdorf and Middenheim, the haunted ruins of Mordheim, and the labyrinthine corridors of Drakenhof castle.

The Imperial capital of Altdorf is interesting.  It's the home of the Colleges of Magic, and has an enchantment on it that prevents it from being mapped, so you have to rely on orienteering and local guides.

Most of the world is recognizably a pile of mud and bogs, though.  The sites of wonder and horror, you usually have to go looking for, and they exist in contrast to a fairly grounded everyday experience for normal people.
Dgorjones
 member, 46 posts
Sat 16 Sep 2017
at 13:42
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
Varsovian:
Heh. I really don't know what a fail-forward mechanic is, so I guess I won't be missing it ;)

A fail forward mechanic is a game mechanic that says something interesting happens to move the story/game along when a PC fails at something.

Compare these approaches:

1. Non-fail forward.  The player rolls to see if the PC detects a secret door and rolls below the target number.  The GM says the PC doesn't find any secret doors.   The GM waits for the players to decide what to do next.

2. Fail forward.  The player rolls to see if the PC detects a secret door and misses the target number.  That triggers the GM to describe something interesting happening as a result of the failure.  For example, the GM says the PC does not find any secret doors, but the PC can hear noises through the wall (caused by a bad guy spotting the party through a peep hole).  Or the GM says the PC does not find a secret door, but a wandering monster approaches while the PC is searching.  Or the GM says the PC doesn't find any secret doors, but the PC does notice a message written on the wall in tiny script.  Or the GM says the PC doesn't find any secret doors and its deity is so frustrated with the PC's incompetence that the PC is rendered mute for an hour.  Or something else.

The idea is the story keeps moving forward even when a PC fails at something.  The specifics vary by system.  Powered by the Apocalypse (PBTA) games usually have something interesting happen whenever a PC rolls.  Other systems may have a straight failure possibility as well as a limited success possibility (e.g., on a mediocre roll the PC finds a secret door, but can't figure out how to open it).
Varsovian
 member, 1380 posts
Wed 20 Sep 2017
at 21:14
Re: What can you tell me about WFRP 2E?
GreyGriffin - thanks for all the information! I decided to pick up that bundle. We'll whether I like the game...