zaterdag 8 juni 2013


The first edition warhammer rules provide us with but 2 classes, Fighter and Wizard, and in many ways the Warhammer fantasy battle system has always been about those two classes and its variants.
In fact, the skill system of Firsthammer provides some additional flavours to both classes, as certain skills would make your character also a ranger (trapper, tracker, woodsman), bard (Actor, Minstral) or rogue (pickpocket, conman, transvestite).
The few related publications of WD and a few miniature boxed sets also provide us with the idea that a Wizard may be role-played as priest (Thistlewood Scenario, WD45) and Fighters as Thieves (Thistlewood, Dorian Redhorn & the Lizard King -lizardmen boxed set, Watch Out There's a Thief about -WD51). But aside from the “ Watch Out There's a Thief about” article, both the cleric class and thief class can be viewed as a role-played variant of the wizard and fighter class respectively.
In many ways, this is fine. It requires some creativity of the players and GM, but one can easily figure out that an Avarice aligned Fighter or Wizard with the Pickpocket and/or Conman skill(s) can be role-played as Rogue more than Fighter or Wizard, or a player may decide his Good Aligned Wizard is actually a priest of some religion, rather than a student of the arcane... But how would the Firsthammer skills come in to play for Clerics? Well, a wizard with the sailor skill might be a priest to a Sea God, a wizard with the Trader skill might have turned his back on his previous profession of greed to tend to the needs of the soul. Smart players and GM's can work something out.
In the 2nd edition scenario pack Bloodbath at Orc's Drift, we are presented with another kind of thief-type character, the Half-Orc spy and also a (drunken) Druid.
Let's take a deeper look at how these other classes are handled in Oldhammer scenario's and articles.

WD 45: Thistlewood, Meet the Oldhammer Cleric and Warhammer's first Thief
Thistlewood is the first White Dwarf published scenario for Warhammer, and provides us with the First Cleric: Bishop Milendon, and the first Thief: Foro Malas (NPC).
Bishop Milendon is what one might call a 'themed character', a Mastery 4 wizard whose spells are chosen based on what the scenario designer found fitting for a cleric. Such as they are: Cure Light injury, Blessing, gift of tongues, flight, aura of mighty resistance, Telepathy, aura of steadfastness, hold door, mystic mists, aura of invisibility, banish undead, invisibility, inspiration and wall shaker. He has some religiously themed trappings in the form of a silver crucifix and the Mace of the White Lord (magic weapon, +2 to hit and kill) and has a heroic characteristics profile. A bad-ass character this, though he lacks armour (may be remedied by spells). Also, he is unaffected by Fear and Terror.
The Cleric as “themed wizard” has remained a staple for WFB scenario writers throughout editions to handle priests, and there are a few WD and Citadel Journal scenario's were Priests are featured as wizards using particular spells or lores. For example, the priest of Taal in the 5th/6th edition versions of the Maisontaal Abbey scenario is treated as Level 2 or 3 wizard with the Amber/Beast lore of magic. I think this is also influenced by 1st edition WFRP, where most priests use, with some restrictions, the basic magic types, rather than having special priest spells although Druids get their own lore of Druidic magic.
So, being a Cleric in Firsthammer is an option for players, but mainly as character background and theme than a mechanical decision like in D&D.

Bishop Milendon is pursuing a thief named Foro Malas, who is in fact, a Fighter with Move 5 (rather than 4 as normal for humans), WS, BS and I of 8, 2 wounds and 1 attack. His equipment is a light crossbow and a curved dagger, nothing else. Also, no mention is made of any thieving skills, only that he managed to make off with a relic of the Bishop's temple.
In any case, one must house-rule firsthammer thievery anyway, so why not base it around initiative tests to accomplish certain tasks, or just have player ingenuity decide things with ad hoc GM rulings when special situations pop up?

Lizardmen Boxed set: Dorian Redhorn
Dorian Redhorn is another “themed” character, nothing in his characteristics clearly mark him out as thief (he's just a basic hero more or less), but his choice of magic items in the scenario he stars in have definitely a roguish, thieving-based theme.

WD51: Watch out, there's a Thief about, WFRP design notes
This article in WD 51 gives a set of tables and skills to generate Thieves in Warhammer games, pre-WFRP, and is in fact, presented as a sneak peek of the 'forthcoming WFRP rules'. The rules are said to have been play-tested, but I can't imagine them to be “balanced” for a role playing campaign as presented in Volume 3 of the white box. The reason I think so is because of the random characteristic bonuses granted to (starting) thieves of various kinds. Using these rules, it is entirely possible to start your thief character with Weapon Skill or Bow Skill 10!
The presented Thieves' Skills are well conceived though, and most of them were kept with little modification for the 1st edition of WFRP, so if you're interested in the history of that system, WD51 is well worth checking out.
For 1sthammer role-play, the article is a mixed bag, the rules for generating thieves are not based on the character generation rules of 1st edition and unbalanced when combined with the volume 3 system. However, the article does finally give detailed rules for the Pickpocket skill and offers some rules for actions that could come up in an adventure but are not covered in 1st ed. Vol.3 and some new weapons. It's value to me thus lies in the rules provided for bluffing, blathering, grapnels, pistols, throwing knives, bombs, lock-picking, jumping, spotting (traps) and picking pockets.

Bloodbath at Orc's Drift: Lock-picking, sneak-attacking half orc spies ...and also: Druids
This scenario pack was written for 2nd edition, but I include it here because it presents two interesting character classes not found elsewhere in WFB material: the Spy and the Druid.

The spy is a Half-orc with some characteristic advances, among others a +6 to initiative (Initiative 9)! Also he can pick the lock of his prison on a 3+ (d6) and back-stab an enemy on a 3+ (d6) as well. The back-stab allows the spy to strike a blow against an enemy he attacks in the rear without the enemy being able to strike back at the spy for that turn. Elegant way to handle that rule in a Warhammer battle if you ask me.
These special rules could be used in a rules-light RPG variant of WFB. I'd probably make it a variant on Wizard Levels: the spy starts with one level each in lock-pick and back-stab, succeeding in such actions when he rolls a 6 on a d6. Advancing the skills would give a +1 to the roll, up to a maximum ability of 3+ on a d6 (level 4). lock picking tools would give a +1 bonus to lock-picking, while lock quality should also modify the required score, though a 1 should always count as failed attempt.
As pickpocket is already a skill available to all characters, and 1st edition characteristic advancement is generally uniform (though with wizards needing more XP to advance fighting stats), one only has to decide at which experience levels these two skills can be advanced. Alternatively, one might make an alternative advancement table for thieves that sets them apart from fighters. Maybe by offering advances to wounds and attacks at later levels than the fighter.

Bloodbath also gives us rules for a Druid, Snart, again a modified wizard, who may have some newly designed spells one would later find among the druid spells in WFRP. He is restricted in his magic and his spell allocation rules differ from the standard rules, giving him access to battle magic spells up to level 2 and elementalist spells up to level 4, though he may only have one spell of each lore per level available (so max. 6 spells in total). He may exchange elementalist spells for the special druid spells.
Snart is, as far as I know, the only Priest-type character in pre-6th edition WFB to have actual special rules based on his profession, and it poses interesting idea's for having a Priest class in 2nd/3d editon WFB role-playing scenario's.

Edition 3+ Specialist troops
In 3d edition, Warhammer had moved into wargaming territory by and large, relegating roleplaying adventures to its sister game WFRP. This edition did feature various specialist troop-types such as berserkers and foresters, but also assassins. Many specialist troops could be regarded as ranger variants (animal handlers, foresters, skirmishers, missile elites) or fighters (Berserkers, Flagellants, shock elites). The assassin rules basically give a character figure the ability to 'Hide in crowds' (i.e. a warhammer regiment) and perform a sneak attack. That's all there is to it. Would I try to RPG with the 3d edition rules, this would need some work, or should be substituted for the rules of Bloodbath's Half-orc Spy. Third edition does in some ways provide a class and level system with the elite-troops and hero levels rules, though does not provide campaign-play advice, though one might look to the later Realms of Chaos supplements for inspiration on XP rewards (favour points in RoC) and experience thresholds for advances. WH40K:RT is another source for a simple XP system. A player character could start as a +1 Shock Elite (fighter level 1) and progress through the Shock Elite upgrades to 5 hero and beyond with 25 hero as the final level.

So, thieves and clerics in WFB scenario's are more or less, characters with a particular background or theme, in rare cases provided with special rules (Bloodbath at Orc's Drift), defined rules for these character-types eventually appearing in WFRP, which, despite it's obvious links to the wargame, is quite a different rules system. What would you prefer in an Oldhammer role-play variant as I envision it? Background flavour and player preferences or actual (house) rules?
The WD51 rules for Thieves are in my eyes, unbalanced if combined with the roleplaying rules of 1st. ed. Vol.3, though gives some good idea's on skill use and handling RPG actions such as jumping gaps and looking for traps.

8 opmerkingen:

  1. I prefer the idea of a skills based rather than class based system. So I'd go for the skill selection / spell selection to define character types, and have some characters that are a mix - magicians with thief skills etc. Also fighter skills - dodge, disarm, critical hit etc.

    Are you considering using the Carrer system from WFRP.1st? I have read in various interviews that Hal was creating new carrers for WFRP.1st through-out its development, including things like street-artist, would like to see that kind of thing. And I have toyed with a carrers system based on WFB Elite units for wood elves (so, fighter -> animal handler -> shapechanger, for example), but it didn't feel very 1st Edition, because it was too simple - there aren't enough weird jobs like "agitator" in the armylists,so throwing in more of those might help.

  2. I've been thinking about how skills could work in a WH-based RPG. Typically, GW has used the discrete skills where each skill lets you do something or gives you a bonus and once you have it, it doesn't improve. Looks like 1e did it this way as did WFRPG and newer games like Necro and Mordhiem. However, the Judge Dredd RPG (which predates WFRPG) actually has percentage skills and when those skills get raised, you gain a Special Ability featuring that skill. So, for example, when you Drive Skill increased you might learn how to do a spin turn or leap off your Lawmaster. In one sense this worked similar to Necromunda where you have a list of skill grouped by type but with the added factor that they were based on a skill that improved.

    When I wrote my Imperial Justice RPG, which was just the Judge Dredd game based in the 40k univers, I converted Dredd's percentile skills to d6 skills that worked the same way that BS works. A skill value of 1 succeeded on a 6+, a 2 on a 5+, etc.

    I don't particularly care for the advancement tables in 1e as it's too deterministic and it doesn't seem that there are enough advancements. I prefer a random table similar to Necromunda where the player can also learn new skills. With this method you could have different advancement tables based on with whom the character was training. So, for example, if the PC was training with the Fighter's Guild, he'd roll on the fighter table, the with Thieve's Guild he'd roll on the thief table. You could create combination tables so the Assassin's Guild might be a mix of fighter and thief whereas the Cult of Sigmar would be a combination of wizard and fighter. This could replace the career system (sorry Zhu) with the added advantages of having the careers directly match the PCs behavior and, because each career is just a random chart, you don't need to create them all before the game begins. You can add careers organically as the game progresses and the PCs encounter new groups.

  3. Good points mate. I'm a bit divided on skill-based or class-based. I like the simplicity of class-based systems, but it's also restrictive and my only experience with it is one game of D&D4E and some warhammer quest (more on that when I adress Hedgehobbit's commentary). The RPG I played most was WFRP 1st though, and the skill and career system was quite elegant, though I don't think I'll use it for my WHFB1sted RPG Hack. The main reason being that I feel that once a character begins adventuring, what reason is there to get a certain "Job" other than the skills and advance scheme? I do like that a character has a vocation at the start of his adventuring career, and that these streamline character progression, but in WFB1st, that is covered by the skill-system. Once a character goes on adventures, I'd like advancement to be very much by player option without too many limiting mechanics. More-over, a lot of the careers in WFRP are not really adventurous, only interesting starting points (the majority of "Academic" careers). The randomness of it is fun but WFB1st ed. Random Race and Social Standing mechanics may do a similar thing. Also, a minor gripe I have with skill-based systems is that it also limits character abilities sometimes (depending on GM though) in that not having a specific skill renders a character unable to perform tasks related to that skill, however mundane the skill may be.
    Interestingly enough, the WFB1st ed. skill-system is very loose, and up to the GM to cook-up mechanics-wise. WD51's thief article is very much worth a look in that regard.
    I do like the idea of including the WFB3 special abilities or hacking WFB3 as RPG with those in mind, and I'm really looking for rules-light here. In that regard I'm juggling the idea that race=class would suit WFBRPG better than profession-class or career/skill-set systems. Within that WFB race=class system, some special abilities would be in-born or mystically obtained (shapeshifting, magic ability) and others learnable/trainable. most abilities being available to all races, while a few are limited to certain races (i.e. no Sapper-elves, elves having higher probability of knowing magic or being shape-shifters than others etc.) In that aspect there is but one career: adventurer, and any specialised jobs would be by player-option. If someone wants to be an agitator, he should go ahead, buff his Ld-stat, (have his character)take classes in public speaking etc. ;). I've also toyed with the idea of having some archetypes/skill-sets ("Military", "Arcane/Science", "Guild" and "Cult") but abandonned that train of thought. Might be nice as theme-guides though.
    In my firsthammer hack I think I'll have to see how it goes when I play (maybe this week) and either have the Citadel Compendium ideas (statx8 as % + bonus for skills) in play, or a variation of the warhammer system (roll below on 1d6/2d6).

  4. @Hedgehobbit: Thank you for the comment. Your Judge Dredd hack sounds very interesting and it reminds me a bit of Warhammer Quest which was completely d6 based with random skill-tables like Necromunda/Mordheim (which are in fact the games that inspired me in the first place to go down this road of RPGhammer). In fact, the randomized character advancement you describe is very similar to Warhammer Quest, where your character could train at an appropriate building to go "level-up" for a certain amount of gold/level in a very D&D-esque way (automatic stat increases) and at certain levels you could roll for a skill (usually a 2d6 roll, for some classes d6 or d66). The thing I don't like about random skill tables is that it takes away some player-input in the development of the character. Especially in warhammer quest character development is out of the hands of the player and up to the dice. The system in WFB1st and WFRP1st gives more agency to the player to develop his character according to playing-style, party-role and other preferences. It is a nice idea for fast-play rules, or a mini-campaign. I'm a big fan of random skills at character creation though, and off course mutation tables and so.
    I do like your approach to training locations though, and it connects to my ideas on expanding the WFB1st advancement system with extra options, as a few stats are left out of the table and skills are also not listed as advancement options. These could, for a fee be learned at monasteries, training grounds, universities and trade guilds. Or alternatively, may be picked up between adventures if a character gets a job related to the skill or ability. Also if there are skills, they must mean something and exclude the more mundane everyman skills appropriate for the setting. My skill-list will deliberately be a lot smaller than WFRP or Cyberpunk, assuming characters can do a lot of stuff already but need training/teaching/experience for specialised jobs (arts and crafts, hunting etc), fighting styles and knowledge (engineering, arcane stuff etc.).

    This really gets me thinking afresh. Thanks for your input and thoughts! :)

  5. The advantage of random chart advancement is that you don't have to worry so much about balancing advancements among each other. How Toughness is better than BS forex. You could do something similar to old Runequest where each skill has a separate cost for gaining it instead of just 100 XP per choice. That would mitigate it somewhat. Things like Strength and Toughness could have a cost that increases as it goes up.

    Each organization or trainer could have his own list of what he trains and what it costs in XP.

    Are you thinking one PC per player?

  6. Good point there Hedgehobbit. Indeed, some characteristics are more valuable than others, strength, toughness, wounds and attacks being some of those that a) should not be "allowed" to advance beyond a certain level, S&T max out at D/4 (or 5 in later editions) for man-sized creatures while few humanoids would have more than 3-4 wounds or attacks and b) give important mechanical advantage if increased even by a single point.

    On the other hand, if I limit house-ruling to stuff like the skills and non-combat actions and stick to the rules as presented In WFB1st ed. vol.3, it will take a while before a character can advance wounds and attacks while strength and toughness are not on the advancement charts anyway. I might give some options to advance those stats by training, which will cost money and time or require a certain regimen/habit of the character to maintain (A special diet and training regimen like WFRP's strongman).
    I did think about an alternative advancement system based on that of WH40k:RT (1st ed 40k) and Advanced Hero Quest. In AHQ advancing a stat once or twice costs 100 Gold (iirc) but the 3d advance costs 200Gold, the 4th 400 Gold and so on and there are some set limits to certain stats (in 40k dependant on Race).
    If anything, I don't want too house-rule too much. As I'm still thorn between using 2nd/3d edition or 1st edition, the extent of house-ruling will depend on which I will choose. If I use 2nd/3d I'll have to devise a new XP system (as uncomplicated as possible), if it's 1st edition, I'll probably go with the rules already there at first and see what is lacking or needs improvement.

  7. I know you want to stick with it but I don't see much promise with the 1e advancement table. It seems to limiting and doesn't have any sort of skills. You'd have to add separate skill advancement rules at which point you might as well just make up an all new one anyway. I also think more people would be interested in a 3e version as it that lets you use more of the modern material in the game (no weird toughness scale for instance). Just my opinion.

    Where are the rogue trader advancement rules? I searched through the book yesterday but couldn't find any.

  8. Agreed. Indeed, while I am quite sure that I'll at least want to try first edition once or twice, I'm very much drawn to an RPG variant of 2nd/3d edition simply because, yeah weird toughness grades and things like that. In addition, it's not compatible with most other cool stuff of Oldhammer (Realms of Chaos is one thing I want to use as GM resource, so, the less I have to fiddle with such things, the better).
    However, I just posted a new skill list for 1st edition, and as for learning new ones, that would just require a teacher, time and money, XP being only of use for characteristic advances etc.

    The rogue trader advancement rules are AFAIK either listed with the rules for (randomly) generating personalities or in the Game Masters section under campaign rules/tips. basically it's "take 1 characteristic advance if the character survives a scenario". Characteristic advancement in RT is limited to the equivalent of a Major Hero profile of the character's race, though the personal characteristics (LD, INT, CL, WP) may be advanced 3-times each to a maximum of 10 iirc.