Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No Plan Ever Survives First Contact with the PC's...

We just wrapped up the first session of playing through An Eye for an Eye and all I can say is wow, this system is something truly special. Firstly for anyone who has been concerned that combat has been dumbed down and is less deadly than it has been in the past, let me tell you that is so far from the truth. Combat is fast, dirty, narrative, and most of all far deadlier than any of the previous versions of WHFRP. The second thing that I immediately noticed is that the components are really fantastic to work with and by the end of our session all of my players had really begun to get comfortable with the basics of the system. The core mechanic works incredibly well (fortune and misfortune dice make the work of a GM a delight in modifying things, and best of all I found that narrating the reasons behind these additions really added a lot to an action, and because of that my players were very receptive of the modifiers and felt that  actions were being adjudicated fairly.

However as the title implies there were a few unexpected twists and roadblocks I hit as a GM tonight, that luckily can be cleared up before our next session Saturday. First off I read the rules thoroughly two times cover to cover and taking notes as I went, and another time skimming the sections I thought I needed to go over again. This was nowhere near enough study time before running the session. My player's claim I did very well however the amount of times "ummm let me check that" or "we'll do this for now and I’ll get back to you"' came out of my mouth was far more than I had anticipated. These were mostly combat questions, and fatigue and stress questions that simply slipped from my mind when I was pushing to get the adventure prepped and ready, although there were some simple questions that, under pressure had simply oozed out my ears when the game began. Encounters 0-2 filled an entire session and the theoretically simple combat in encounter 2 can get all kinds of messy fast when PC's get a hold of it. I will post a narrative play by play of the action so far in another post but sufficed to say, when an axel snaps on an overladen wagon being pushed to a gallop a few hundred yards from the Gatehouse (well out of the crossbow range of the guards) the encounter gets interesting.

The entire session was approximately 3 hours in length and took us up to the Act 3: The Retreat in Encounter 2: The Attack. At the end of the beastmen ambush (which lasted 3 turns and since it was our first time out with combat, took an hour to resolve) 1 Gor was killed and 4 Ungor henchmen were murdered to a man, Valdrid was wounded 6 times with 2 critical wounds ( aggravated wound, and minor trauma), Odwin was wounded 2 times with 1 critical (ringing blow), while Burgrin was struck a number of times to no effect (parry and a toughness 5 + being a troll-slayer helped here), and Adel managed to get hit and run (using nimble strike on wounded ungor) down fast. Before the beastmen's moral wavered and they fled the second Gor had taken an accurate shot for a total of 7 wounds as well. Now what is so shocking to me is that all this was dealt out in 3 turns.

What the players had to say so far is that the game system for them was very intuitive and they all seemed to find the components were useful and really liked how the core mechanic facilitated roleplaying. They all seemed to have had a great time and decided themselves it was necessary to play again this Saturday to get through the adventure... now I just have to figure out how this will work with 2 critically wounded pc's and Lord Aschaffenberg's possessions strewn across the road a few hundred yards from the gatehouse.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Heretics and a Night of Hectic Preperation!

You ever have those weeks when for days you had plenty of time on your hands, and plan to take your time on a project (since you have it and all), then suddenly life catches up and the time you thought you had suddenly meets a rather unpleasant and unexpected end? Well that has been my last few days and now I find that I have an entire act and a half of the Eye for an Eye scenario to prepare in less than 3 hours!

So the point of this post is to go through how I  prepared for this scenario that I didn’t write myself and why they feel like they are twice as hard to run at the best of times. So let us begin at the beginning as it were.

As I said in an earlier post I am going to be running the 3rd edition of WHFRP for the first time on Wednesday night with a group of players with little to no experience with the Old World as a setting and absolutely no experience with the game mechanics. So for this first go out my task has been two fold; learn the rules solidly, and by that I mean making sure I can teach 4 other players accurately, as well as learn the adventure An Eye for an Eye from the Tome of Adventure. After finding players and setting a date, I immediately went about a frantic reading of the Rulebook and Tome of Adventure cover to cover thoroughly. I spent a few hours rolling dice and working on quickly reading the results and what the dice mean, e.g. an action that succeeds mainly on characteristic dice means that a PC's characteristics made the difference, or success on an expertise die would point to skill and training. From there I have spent some time trying to get passable at narrating the action using evocative language (Valdrid's sword slices the goblin just won’t do for a game whose mechanic has such huge potential, more like as the goblin attempts to lash out with another sloppy blow, Valdrid skillfully parries and in one fluid motion his sword slides through leather and sinew leaving a terrible gash across the creatures throat. The idea of really being able to determine exactly how an action occurred and the factors accounting for success or failure is really the crowning achievement of WHFRP 3rd Edition in my opinion at least and I want to be darn sure I am able to show that to my players tomorrow.

Once I got the rules down and any questions or clarity issues I had cleared up (the GM's forum at Fantasy Flight Games was really useful for this), I set about reading through An Eye for an Eye and determining what rules are introduced in the adventure, what rules I needed to explain before the session began, and what rules I didn’t need to introduce at all, such as magick and advancement, in the first session. What I have decided to go over with them before the session is really the core mechanic, the party sheet (I am giving them a choice between 4 different sheets to let them decide the kind of party they feel fits their characters best), fortune points, characteristics, a quick over view of action cards, and basic and advanced skills. Combat, insanity, wounds, etc. are all introduced fairly well in the scenario itself and I will wait until the appropriate times to go into detail on those things.

After figuring out how, when, and what rules I need to explain in the first session I asked each of them to choose a career simply based on the descriptions on the cards (exempting magick-users) and to give me a rough personality of the character they'd like to play. At this point I gave them a very basic overview of what they were looking at but didn’t get into any real mechanical details. After I had the careers they wanted to play and the general personalities I went about penning the back stories posted earlier this week. I wanted to give each character a firm footing in the setting and some strong details for the players to work with, while leaving many details, like appearance, age, mannerisms, etc. for each player to decide themselves. Along with their back stories I sent them each a number of questions to answer (taken from the proverbial 10 questions that has been used by WHFRP GM's since the game was first published in 1986) I wrote out a few things to think about when considering each question but left the decisions for them to make. I've posted the questions I sent to the player running Odwin below as an example

Questions to answer for yourself:
1) How religious are you? Odwin would likely have Sigmar as his patron deity but does he blame the gods for the way things have gone or does he hold to the very common notion among folks of the Empire that the gods are responsible for everything and nothing is left to coincidence?
2) Who do are you loyal to? Burgrin is likely a character that Odwin has grown at least some sense of loyalty towards but in broader terms what concepts is this character loyal to? What makes him put it all on the line?
3) Who/what do you love/hate? Does Odwin hold feelings for Bella, Vigo’s widow perhaps or is the guilt too much for him to even think about her these days? You might hold seeded hatred for the creatures that killed him or perhaps you have grown distrustful of the aristocracy and their motives from you experiences with the roadwardens. Only thing to keep in mind on this one is Odwin’s father’s last words “It’s a rum do this lot of ours, but never give up boy, fight the good ol’ fight for your ol’ da, it’s the men like us who make this world of ours a bit brighter…”

With my player's and their characters fleshed out a bit I went through and did the character creation process for each of them trying to choose talents, skills, action cards, etc. that would fit well with the background of the character and at the same time would be genuinely useful during the game. For example the two reputation talents Adel possesses are Stiff Upper Lip, and Outgoing, while her action cards are mostly social with the exception of possessing Nimble Strike.

Now that everything was in place the next step is to really get this gosh darn adventure under my belt. When tackling a pre written adventure that’s not crap I try my best to give the author the respect due and run it as true to the story written as I can while at the same time making it run as smoothly as an adventure I had cooked up myself... that’s the where things get tricky. Now with an adventure you write yourself you know it pretty well from the get go, its written in a way you really understand since after all you wrote and designed it, but in the case of an adventure like An Eye for an Eye where things get kind of complex due to its non-linear nature as a GM you really need to have this thing down solidly or else you run the risk of making a mess of it at the gaming table. Since its also my first time with the system I needed to know it better twice as well since I will be dealing with remembering rules and seeing things play out for the first time. So I set about reading it carefully cover to cover, once a day. This in theory seems great and should be no problem really... until life strikes and its tonight and I have gotten 3 readings, and that’s being kind, in the last few days. I have the core down but then I remembered that I hadn’t dealt at all with the aspects that aren’t clearly defined by the author.

Normally I will make a single page of notes for each act or set of major encounters, that give me a thought out plan of how I want to describe things, people, etc. and for this adventure where there are so many NPC's to consider (whose descriptions don’t really fall where I want them to in the text) I wanted to have flash cards for each ready and prepped as well as a map of Grunewald Lodge prepped to track where everyone is at a given time (using tracking tokens). As I sit here right now, those things are simply in my head and not done at all... yet. Tonight will be a long late night, I want to get the map and NPC cards written up, put some notes on the rules with relevant encounters, do some last minute touch ups on the gaming space, and maybe sleep and have dinner... anyway wish me luck, and Ill post how things turn out (there's a chance there might even be a video with my player's general reactions to the session.... I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. Anyway got to get this darn session ready!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Table Etiquette and My Thoughts Behind How I Run a Session

As anyone who has ever played any form of roleplaying game knows all too well, distractions, off topic conversation and avoidable interruptions can wreak havoc on a gaming session, to try and combat this as well as to make the most out of the time we have, and to help maintain the integrity of the story being told I have always maintained a few guidelines for my players. I like to clearly define how I run a game to my players, my expectations of them, and what they can expect from me as their GM. I refer to these guidelines with my groups as Table Etiquette. So what I have done here is more or less compiled my Table Etiquette guidelines here as updated for the 3rd edition of WHFRP.

Character actions should be described narratively in the 3rd person perspective e.g. Odwin readies his pistol takes a deep breath, takes aim at the oncoming Gor and pulls the trigger. - In my experience using a homogenous 3rd person perspective tends to be smoother than 1st person. It also helps delineate between in character and out of character dialogue between the players and the GM, and I've found that players tend to describe their characters more dramatically, adding in a lot of detail to their individual roleplaying.

players will make all of their own dice rolls and describe the outcome of their dice pool results for themselves where appropriate.- My thinking behind this is that the story is more interesting when everyone is actively apart of describing the action at hand. As a GM I will happily help them decide the basics of what the dice mean but leave it up to them to describe how the action plays out. When the action teeters on factors outside the scope of their character however I as the GM will describe the outcomes, like failing a resilience check when poisoned or during social encounters with an NPC.

The GM will not "fudge" the results of his rolls. - this is personal preference really, but I like to make a promise to my players that they can trust my rolls even if they are done behind the GM screen when the situation warrants it.

If a rule is unclear the GM will always interpret it in the best light for the players until an official ruling can be settled on. -This is here to clarify more than anything else.

Off topic comments and conversations are limited to before or after the session, or during a rally step. -This one is a no brainer, going off topic during the session wastes time and more often than not detracts from the overall enjoyment of the game, and with the natural pause afforded by a rally step it’s a good time to chat for a second. I like to simply state my expectation on this one so everyone is on the same page.

During story mode play players may interrupt another player where appropriate, during encounter mode players should refrain from speaking out of turn. - Another no brainer, simple courtesy that just needs to be said for everyone to be on the same page.

When the GM is narrating descriptions, no one else is talking. - I don't like repeating descriptions, and most of the time if I, as a GM, am describing the scene or anything else, chances are very good that it’s important. If a player interrupts the other players miss something important.

No food at the gaming table, feel free to eat during breaks, before or after a session. -This one is a new one specifically for WHFRP 3rd Edition. There is a good deal of expensive components that I don't want to become stained and greasy.

Beverages are perfectly okay but be mindful of them and try and keep them in sealable containers. - Same reasoning as above, a dropped coke could utterly ruin a core sets worth of components.

So thats the basics anyway of the Table Etiquette I use when GMing a sesson and the reasons I choose to do things my way. I would really like to hear what other folks do, I am always looking for ways to improve the games I run!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Adel Tolzen, Reiklander Agitator

WHFRP 3rd Edition Character Backstories:

Adel Tolzen, Reiklander Agitator:

You are an orphan who grew up in the care of an eccentric old codger called Aldous Randulf Mourn; apparently he was an old acquaintance of your grandfather Leo Tolzen, best known for a series of treatise he had written during his days as a dilatant at the University of Altdorf entitled Faith and Politics and Why the Two Shant Meet, which was a well written and in your opinion, fairly logical look into the mess that giving the churches of Sigmar and Ulric an Electoral Vote has proven to be, citing, very smartly, various examples throughout the disaster that was the Time of Three Emperors. Needless to say the theologians and witch hunters didn’t think so highly of the work and it was banned within a month of publication. Apparently he and his younger brother Lazarus were from a minor noble family from southern Reikland but he was never one for talking about his relations. What his families former station meant to you was that despite your common birth you received a very well rounded and thorough education, learning to read, write, and do arithmetic from an early age, and later going on to study some history (though somewhat tainted by “Uncle” Aldous’s renditions of what might have “really” happened), and most importantly you were taught the basics of economics, politics, and law which would prove to be the very subjects you would go on to make your career from.

When Uncle Aldous passed away last year his entire estate, which in all fairness was on the meager side, was taken by the Von Jungfreud family in order to pay off significant debts he owed to local moneylenders as well as a hefty sum in back taxes Uncle Aldous refused to pay due to the criminal nature of the institution of taxation. Despite the Graf  having the lawful right to collect recompense for back taxes and for him to order a sum of the estate go toward the repayment of loans, you took this as the high and mighty aristocracy squelching the rights of the lesser folk (utterly ignoring the fact that Uncle Aldous was an aristocrat, albeit a very minor one, himself).

After the estate was sold and you were evicted, you decided that enough was enough and it was high time someone made a stand against the oppression of the lower class, against the corruption inherit in the church, and most of all against unfair taxation. To this end you have drafted pamphlets in opposition of innumerable taxes, laws, and the societal structure of the Empire as a whole, going so far as to promote the idea of giving the common folk a voice in government, an idea that got you stabbed on two separate occasions, and one of those times it was by a commoner who thought you needed to be “put back in you place”.

Most recently you have led the crusade against the newest tax to be levied on the people of Reikland, the so-called “Feather Tax” which states that a man must pay a number of shillings annually for the length of feather worn in his cap. This of course is the most gross example of the aristocracy abusing their power imaginable and it was your new calling to get the “Feather Tax” repealed. In the end your vehemence, though impressive, managed to start a fist fight between a burgher and a rat catcher, and ended up with you locked in the stocks for four days with a 20 shilling fine for your release. Which of course wasn’t half as bad as the 4 weeks you spent in jail last Sigmarzeit for tax evasion, or the time you got purposely got caught stealing a nobles purse only to dump it out on the Marketstrasse simply to prove the average noble carries with him more coins than any twelve good honest common folk see in a years’ time, though admittedly worse than the time during last Sonnstill day when you painted in large bold, red letters “The Feather Tax is Foul” upon the façade of the excise office doors. After all that only cost you 10 shillings. This time however the cost of the fine alone took you down to your last few pfennigs.

During your most recent visit to the stocks you met a very grim looking fellow with kind eyes who had been looking for you. This Valdrid Jaeger told you of your father’s fate at some battle on the northern edge of the province of Ostermark not much longer than a year ago, and gave you a silver ring engraved with your mother’s name Ludmilla as proof of his story. What Valdrid clearly expected to be ill news was for you one of the most heartwarming moments of your life. For years you had assumed your father Otto had died while serving in the army but really all these years you realized you hadn’t been alone at all and he was out there thinking of you, and wishing he could come home to you. So after an almost reflexive response regarding the way the aristocracy paves their way on the backs of the common folk who lay down their lives in senseless war, you came to your senses, you and Valdrid had a few drinks, you sincerely thanked the man for traveling all this way to bring word and you parted ways presumably not to see each other again.

Soon after you and Valdrid parted ways the realization that this last passionate protest and the fees associated with it has left you more or less destitute. Perhaps it might be time to find some work that pays better than inciting the masses against the dominant paradigm for a while…

Valdrid Jaeger, Reiklander Scout

WHFRP 3rd Edition Character Backstories:

Valdrid Jaeger, Reiklander Scout:

You grew up in the town of Stormdorf, most famous for being a rain-lashed backwater in the south of Reikland just north of the town of Ubersreik. You are the oldest of two boys born into a modest but secure life as the children of a local innkeeper, Boris Jaeger. You and your younger brother Vigo spent the better part of you early years working in the families coaching Inn just north of town called the Three Feathers which had been purchased at a steal by your grandfather a few decades back, though nice enough the cellar has always bothered you as a child but you never could put your finger on why. Your mother Gertrude acted as the Inn’s cook and housekeeper, and your best memories involve her guarding the larder like some Greatsword in the service of a Graf from you and Vigo’s sordid attempts to get your grubby paws on cakes or some other sweet. Right up until the day she died not once to your memory did either of you ever make it within 10 feet of that larder without her soupspoon finding your hand, or you took a cuffing you never had a chance to see coming.

When you were 17 the Graf Von Jungfreud called for men to serve Sigmar and the Empire in the Northern provinces and being that you were of age, it was your duty to your god and country to answer the Graf’s call to arms. The morning you left for Ubersreik was the last time you would see your brother alive.

During your time as a scout in the Emperor’s Army you witnessed things no man was meant to see, the only way you’ve kept you wits about you in the face of the horrors of war and the terrible northmen was by taking things a day at a time, and as an extension of that you learned to look at even the most terrible situations analytically. In the last weeks of the fighting you and five other scouts were sent north of the main camp for reconnaissance. On the fourth night you came upon the enemy who had occupied the village of Vitebsk and had enslaved the settlements population. What you and your comrades witnessed that night was too horrifying for words, so much so that two of your fellows ended up killing themselves two days later rather than live another day after witnessing the debased violence the northmen inflicted upon their poor captives. Even to this day you aren’t entirely sure how you managed to put the sight of the mutilated corpses out of your mind, but you did, and you survived the last battle which occurred on the Ostermark border three days later, one of only a handful that did.

During the aftermath of what would become known as the Battle of Vitebsk Ford you met a dying soldier wearing the distinct blue and crimson of an Altdorf regiment, a fellow Reiklander whose leg had been cleaved through to the bone. The man was older than you but not by much, his scarred face covered by a thick black beard. He called himself Otto Tolzen and his last wish was that you bring word of his death to his wife and daughter in Ubersreik. Naturally you agreed to do as he asked and he gave you a small silver ring, his wedding band to act as proof of your story.

The return trip south to Reikland was relatively swift, you caught a riverboat in Krugenheim which sailed south down the River Stir into Altdorf, capital of Reikland, and all the Empire. From there it was a simple matter of a few days on foot to the taproom of the Three Feathers. You spent a month at home with your father and your new-found sister-in-law Bella. It was then that you discovered that your brother Vigo had joined the roadwardens a year after you had left and was killed in duty two years ago.

 It was only once you arrived home that the true toll of your time in the north caught up with you. With all those years learning to cope with the hardships of war, you couldn’t simply slip back into your old life, and with the news of your brother’s death the Three Feathers just wasn’t home any longer, nowhere is for men like you who have seen too much. So it was that you decided it was time to fulfill the promise you made to a dying soldier in the cold wastes on the edge of civilization, and so you set off south with your bow on your back and your old sword at your side to let a woman know she was a widow and a daughter know that she would grow up fatherless, but at least he died valiantly protecting them from the horrors of the northmen. Closer is something after all even if it’s only just that.

When you arrived in Ubersreik it turned out to be fairly easy to find the fallen soldiers family, his wife Ludmilla had died during childbirth just after Otto departed leaving his oldest daughter alone in the world. Luckily for you the young firebrand Adel Tolzen had made quite a little name for herself as an agitator and disturber of the peace. Her most recent and by all accounts vehement display of activism in opposing the so called “Feather Tax” had earned her four days in the stocks and a fine of 20 silver shillings, this of course being her fifth offense in the last year, prior to which she had spent a total of 4 weeks jailed for tax evasion, one day in the stocks for petty theft which she claims was to prove a point about the disparity between the classes, and been fined the grand sum of 10 silver shillings for damages caused when she painted “The Feather Tax is Foul” upon the façade of the excise office doors last Sonnstill day. Upon being released you told her about her father and how he died, Adel took his death as yet another way the aristocracy walks on the backs of the common folk but soon the news sunk in, not so much that he had died as after a few years without word she assumed he was dead, but rather that she had actually had a father all this time thinking about her, someone who cared. After a few drinks the two of you parted ways, expecting not to see each other again…

Burgrin Svenkrison, Azgaraz Dwarf Troll-Slayer

WHFRP 3rd Edition Character Backstories:

Burgrin Svenkrison, Azgaraz Dwarf Troll-Slayer:

You raised your family in the halls of the newly founded stronghold of Karak-Azgaraz, the Hold of the Fearless Axe among the peaks south of the Reikland town of Ubersreik, though your ancestral clan-hold was that of Karak-Norn, far to the east where the lost human province of Solland’s southern border meets the Black Mountains. In your youth (you were after all a short-beard whelp of less than 150 at the time) the call of glory got the better of you and you decided to lend your axe to the might of this new citadel where you could make a name for yourself carved in stone outside the shadow of your elders.
It was at Karak-Azgaraz where you met your wife Nolakya and the two of you had two fine, stout daughters; Balmira, and Kalnira. They were twins, gifts from the goddess Valaya herself, and on the day of their birth into this world you made a vow to that very goddess to cherish and protect them until you breathed you last breath. For 40 years life was hard, but rewarding, your daughters grew strong, with your auburn locks, and their mother’s kind blue eyes, you were happy and proud of your family and your newfound home. You made your living honorably as a caravan guard for the mining guild, leading patrols of clan dwarfs through the often treacherous mountain passes down into the human town of Ubersreik to trade what silver the veins below the Karak could produce for food, lumber, and medicine. It was during one such trip that the unthinkable occurred.

As you arrived back at Karak-Azgaraz the hold was in chaos with many good dwarfs wounded and signs of a serious cave-in all around you. Before you could even take a second breath you were off through the chaos all that mattered was your family. When you arrived in front of you hearth the door was swaying gently on a battered hinge a black barbed arrow lodged firmly in its facade, bits of scree and rubble coating the stones below your feet. It was then you knew what the next few steps through that door would mean and your heart sank to a place where no heart ever should. All you can really remember is the echo of footfalls as your hand pushed that door open. The next day you took up your axes and etched Balmira into one axe, Kalnira into the other and walked out of Karak-Azgaraz for the last time.

You had failed to live up to the vow you made upon the birth of you daughters and the only absolution left for a dwarf whose honor is lost is the path of the slayer. You made one final oath to the god Grimnir, the dwarf deity of warriors, and took upon yourself the slayer’s oath, committing yourself to seek out your doom fighting the enemies of all dwarfs.

For years you journeyed the mountains and forests of the human lands of the Empire seeking out the opponent who was fearsome enough to send you to your gods but alas no monster was a match for your rage, for your skill, for your strength. Only once did a beast come close to ending your shame, it was a mighty beastman wargor called Izka deep in the heart of the Reikwald Forest and you had fought the beast for what seemed like hours, both fueling your blows with unsurpassed fury. Your axes bit deep into the creature’s foul hide, and his gouging horns had reduced your shoulder to a bloody mess of flesh and sinew. It was just as the mighty wargor was poised to cleave your head from your shoulders that the report of pistol fire came echoing through the trees and a patrol of human roadwardens entered the fray. A pistol shot clipped the bestial wargor in the right eye and he fled back into the darkness of the forest from whence he came and you finally succumbed to the pain or your grievous wounds.

To your chagrin however, rather than your spirit awakening among your ancestors you found yourself bandaged and wrapped up snuggly near a campfire, still in your mortal coil, and still in the gods forsaken Reikwald Forest, although in a different place than when you had fallen. As it turns out a young and impetuous Reiklander roadwarden called Corvin Drauwulf had led the charge and taken the shot that drove Izka off, and to make matters worse was also the very man who had administered to your wounds. After a very laudable attempt to let your temper fly at the indignation of saving a troll-slayers life, the strain caused you to fall back into fitful slumber. By the time you woke up next you were in a Shallayan Ward in the town of Bögenhafen. Once the awful priestesses allowed you to get out of bed you picked up your axes and made your way straight to the door of this meddlesome Corvin Drauwulf so that you could clear up the business of an honor-debt owed to him for saving your life, despite your personal wishes. It was during that meeting that you first met a young baby, Corvin’s second born son Odwin for the first time and as a way to clear the debt you vowed to be there in the boys greatest time of need and protect him as his father had you.

That was some 20 years ago now and with word that Corvin had passed away and talk of Odwin disappearing two years to the day after his best friend was killed, it was clearly time to pay back that honor-debt. You found Odwin easily enough in the town of Ubersreik, not too far from where your own tale began, buried so deep in a bottle he didn’t know which side was up or even what day it was. You have told him why you searched him out, to pay back an old debt to his father. Over the last few weeks it has become more than a debt for you, in the lad’s eyes you see the soul of a man who is honest and strong, but at the same time they look a bit older than the eyes of a young man should, dimmed with the weight of a guilt very few could understand. Needless to say you are quickly growing quite fond of Odwin even if you won’t readily admit it. Emotions aside however you have a glorious demise to worry about, and considering the few coins left between you the idea of starvation isn’t quite the plan you had in mind…

Odwin Drauwulf, Reiklander Roadwarden

WHFRP 3rd Edition Player Character Backstories:

Odwin Drauwulf, Reiklander Roadwarden:

You grew up the second son of a second son in the town of Bögenhafen, a fairly prosperous market center situated in the heart of Reikland approximately 50 miles south of the capital city of Altdorf. Your father, Corvin, was a roadwarden in the service of the Von Jungfreud family, making the patrol between Bögenhafen and Ubersreik until he was wounded during a terrible ambush on the road a few miles north of Stormdorf twenty or so years ago. As for your mother you really have little memory, she died of during the mysterious Red Pox incident that afflicted the town a decade ago. As for your two brothers Ulfred who was Odwin’s elder by six seasons was a soldier in the Altdorf Guard of Honor, from the last letter your family ever received from Ulfred they were on the march north but that was nearly twelve summers ago, and your younger brother Wolfram passed away from the consumption last Nachexen. Soon after Wolfram passed into Morr’s care, Corvin finally passed peacefully in his sleep at the ripe old age of 52. Before his death you spent a few weeks with him and the last words he imparted on you were “It’s a rum do this lot of ours, but never give up boy, fight the good ol’ fight for your ol’ da, it’s the men like us who make this world of ours a bit brighter…”

As the second son it was a family tradition for you to take on the mantle of roadwarden and when you came of age you packed up your rucksack, strapped your father’s old sword to your side and began your new life as a roadwarden in the service of the Von Jungfreud family.

It was during the first months that you met your future partner, the consummate optimist and good intentioned scoundrel Vigo Jaeger. The two of you trained together under the tutelage of the grim jawed Otto Klaus, laughed together, and when Vigo was married to his kind-hearted wife Bella, you were right there beside him. The two roadwardens patrolled the roads between Bögenhafen and Ubersreik for four years getting in and out of situations most men of the Empire would pass off as exaggerations and children’s stories, and it would be during one of these moments everything would come apart.

It was the 14th of Sigmarzeit, a Festag as memory serves, and you and Vigo were on patrol with four other roadwardens. You had pushed hard the last few days trying to get home to Bögenhafen for Bella’s birthday which was the coming Aubentag when things went terribly wrong. You were on second watch and dozed off for what could have only been moments, but a few moments were all that the beastmen needed. There was a horrific braying from the shadows and they struck. You are almost certain that Vigo never even heard the report from your pistol before the axe bit into his throat.

Today the night is little more than a half remembered blur, some nights images come to you in your dreams, men screaming, the terrible braying resounding from twisted, inhuman vocal chords, the way the moonlight made the trees seem to close in on you, and Vigo being cut down before he could even get a hand to his sword.
After that night you continued with the roadwardens for another few years, though without Vigo’s optimism and easy smile there in the hard times you grew more cynical and jaded until you realized that half the time the men you were putting your life on the line to protect were just as vile as the monsters that haunt the forests. As time went on it became more and more asinine, your heart was no longer in it. Eventually you simply didn’t show up for muster anymore and left Bögenhafen behind all together.

You took a room in Ubersreik and spent a good deal of your time drinking in a local dive called the Red Moon Inn all the while trying to drown your sorrow, guilt, and your father’s last words which kept echoing in your mind; “It’s a rum do this lot of ours, but never give up boy, fight the good ol’ fight for your ol’ da, it’s the men like us who make this world of ours a bit brighter…” It was during one of these drinking sessions where you met the dwarf troll-slayer called Burgrin Svenkrison who recognized you as one of “that damned fool Corvin’s kin”. Burgrin had apparently known your father a long time ago, just after you were born, and explained that he owed your father an honor-debt, something about saving Burgrin’s life without asking, but just the same or something like that, you didn’t really understand but since that day that grumpy old dwarf has kept you sober and you’ve even begun to warm up to him, something about the look in his eyes makes you feel like he carries his own guilt and burdens much like your own.

Now that you have begun to come out of the bottle again you finally realize your down to your last few brass pfennigs and have racked up a pretty serious room bill you won’t be able to pay. Now it’s time to find some work…

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Selection of Warhammer Miniatures from this Year

Beyond roleplaying in the Old World I have been known on occassion to get in a few good games of Warhammer Fantasy Battles in which I play a Stirland Empire Army for the most part though I have been tempted to work on a Skaven Army recently. By play Warhammer I really mean paint miniatures and game on very rare occassion (though considerably more lately) I haven't tried the 8th edition of the rules but it has some curious aspects (nessessary perhaps not, but curious for sure), that might be fun to fiddle around with in the near future. Anyway on to some pictures, any comments are more than apprechiated!

A Skaven Screaming Bell I completed in July I really enjoyed the Rat Ogre and painting the delapatated wood bits.

A view from the front focusing on the nifty warpstone smoke.

A few close ups of the Grey Seer and the Rat Ogre (Seer's in the photo may be brighter than they appear)

Now for something completely different...

This is a very old giant model from Games Workshop that I did up for my housemate back in January of this year. I wanted to toy around with making his shirt resemble banners from provinces he could have fought in as well as a few from his orc and goblin allies, and one from Bretonia for good measure.

A close up shot of his face and beedy little eyes, man is the fella ugly!

Now for a bit of Empire to round this post off...

This is Heinrich Schaffer, my rather excentric wizard of the maccabre Amythest Order of magick, I had  a good deal of fun on his scythe and in the scribblings of Morrslieb's cycles in his spellbook.

A better view of the overall figure...

One of my 3 Great Cannons and the ragtag crew of gunners who operate it.

A few shots of the individual crewmen.

And the gun herself, I really like my artillery on circle bases, works well and lets me use all the really fun twiddly bits that come with the kit.

The Scene is Set for the First Session of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

Okay, so here's the thing, I happen to be one of those people who despite my (and other people's) best efforts need to do things right, and of course by right I mean take it way further than is nessessary. Some people call it OCD, I prefer to think of this affliction as simply a keen attention to detail. Anyway this is a shot of the gaming table set up for the first session of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition I will be running this Weds evening with four good mates who have never experienced the setting before or me as a GM, so naturally if I want this to grow into a campaign (which I desperately do) I figured I would give 'em one hell of show. And yes, that is a heavy crossbow hanging behind the gargoyle.

Anyway now all I have to do is have my part as the GM down pat and I have a feeling this might be one of the more engaging first tastes to a setting my group will have ever had.

We will be running through the Eye for an Eye scenario found in the back of the Tome of Adventure with an agitator, roadwarden, troll-slayer, and scout. I will post bios for the characters when I get them finished, and a report of the session after we have it. I am interested to see how the players enjoy it, one hasnt played an rpg since AD&D 1st edition, another is a child of Vampire: the Masqerade, and two have spent the majority of thier gaming careers playing D&D 3.5 and now D&D 4e (two games I will never touch with a rat catcher's ten foot pole) so it should be very interesting to see what thier individual impressions are.

And a few close ups of the details: