zaterdag 29 december 2012

An introduction to OldhammerasRPG

My proper tabletop gaming life started out when I was 11 or 12 years old with Warhammer 40k 2nd edition. A friend I knew from Judo training had bought the game and I played it a couple of times at his house. I was intrigued by these “game rules” for “toy soldiers”, as I was an avid collector of 1/72 historical miniatures (mostly pre-20th century). My previous “wargames” with the little toy soldiers and legoes (knights and pirates) were either a variant of H.G. Wells' “little wars” (which I did not know existed at the time) using the cannon from lego pirates or shouting matches about which figures could and could not be killed. The dice mechanics of WH40k piqued my imagination, and soon celts and romans were at war using a simple homebrew system I cooked up from what I could remember of the 40k rules. My brother and a friend joined these games, but it still was not perfect, as “my game” was quite bare-bones, and not written down, so rules disputes took the place of “he's dead-no he is not”.

Then I went to High School, which happened to be near the store that sold Games Workshop products and magic the gathering. Here I picked up the “introductory booklets” of the game, and eventually started a Warhammer Fantasy army (Empire) and played the game for most of my high school years, which spanned 5th and 6th edition. Fun times. I especially liked campaigns and also dabbled in Mordheim, using the pre-publication article series of White Dwarf.

In my senior high school year I joined another friends Warhammer Quest campaign. This group played it very much as a proper roleplaying game, and it was my first real experience with fantasy roleplaying games since a children's magazine game about a brave ladybug-knight and “the treasure and key” MB game. I loved it. Later we played a multi-GM WFRP campaign which ran about 5 years or so, until some of the guys wanted to do something different- Science Fiction rather than fantasy- and we switched to Cyberpunk 203x (3d edition... despite my efforts to have everyone choose 2020 instead). This game was way crunchy and quite rules heavy and we never really got into it. It took about 3 sessions of stammering GM's grasping for rules and flicking through the rulebook and grumbling inpatient players to call quits on Roleplaying altogether. Bugger.

Still, a small number of people of this group still had interest in gaming table top adventures, and one of my mates joined a Belgian D&D group he knew from an internet forum and on occasion we have “forum meets” at his house were my mate and I run WFRP or the Belgians bring out D&D.

But this blog will not be about those games, classic and cool as they are. Rather, I want this blog to be about using the original edition(s) of my first rules system, Warhammer Fantasy, as a roleplaying game, tracking my course to collect, streamline and codify what can be construed as Oldhammer Volume 3: characters.

Why? You may ask...
well, because I still like the basic warhammer system, especially the combat rules, and have been inspired by the OSR movement of bothe D&D and Warhammer/WH40k:RT. What strikes me about Oldhammer though is that it's only about the Battle rules, and I find a void when it comes to using the rules as originally envisioned: a Roleplaying game which can be used for mass-combat.

I thought some WH40k:RT blogs might have some RPG campaigns using the 1st edition rules... not so, and no one seems to play the original warhammer rules (1st edition: warhammer the mass combat fantasy roleplaying game)... this void I'd like to fill, and I have good hopes I can have some gaming done with the 1st edition rules. I have always been more of a “story” gamer in Warhammer than a competitive player, and the RPG's I played fed onto that. Still, I like the WFB combat system and I am intrigued in it's use as RPG. Especially as RPG that can scale-up to mass-combat without additional rules or extra maths to be performed.
Using the Warhammer Combat system as written, rather than turning it into Mordheim/Necromunda will also mean that RPG-scale skirmishes (up to 10 models per side) can be handled in a short period of time compared to other RPG's which track hit-points, or Mordheim/Necromunda who use a simplified injury system.

Over the course of the next few blogs, I will dissect Warhammer Fantasy Battle as roleplaying system, mainly concerning character generation, character abilities and experience. The end result should create a simple yet elegant expansion for Oldhammer fanatics to use the Oldhammer rules as RPG and to take a simple fighter, wizard or thief to become the general of a Warhammer Army.

A few parameters for this expansion I have already decided on after some experimentation and draft versions of the envisioned “system”:
  1. I will use the Oldhammer stat-line as presented in 2nd and 3d edition WFB (and WH40K:RT) as is. This means all characteristic values and using the same scale as the battle game.
  2. A character's characteristics profile should be the main source of what a character can or cannot do. Skills and Special abilities will be limited Wizards will of course use spells, thieves can do some tricks and fighters might get a selection of optional special rules such as frenzy or specialist weapon use, but aside from that, anything can be attempted by any character, the chance of success based on a character's style, description or background.
  3. I want random characteristics generation. For me, that is important in an RPG. I have already tried a few variants, but have as yet only come up with a good system to generate Personal Characteristics (LD, INT, CL and WP)
  4. The number of character classes should be limited, maybe even to the original two (fighter and wizard) of WTMCFRPG, as characteristic scores guide characters into a certain style of play.
  5. Character advancement will for the majority be Characteristics advancement, though wizards will of course be able to learn spells and advance in Mastery level. I am of a mind to connect Thieves' skills to Initiative and Coolness, rather than it being some kind of spell.
  6. Playable races will at first be Humans, Dwarves, Elves and Halflings.
  7. The 1st edition Injury Table will be used as presented, with some minor adjustments at most.
  8. 1st edition advanced rules will be featured.

So, there you have it. For the next few posts, I will take you through the bits that interest me in 1st ed. WFB (WTMCFRPG) as RPG system.

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