Friday, September 23, 2011

What do you mean I'm playing a Coachman?

My friday group (the on & off guys with the changing lineup and the "Gamer ADD") started a game of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying a few weeks ago. This edition is made by Fantasy Flight Games, and it comes in a gigantic boxed set. Everything's beautifully illustrated and in Fantasy Flight style there are tons of punch-out tokens, cards, chits, and sheets to play with.

This is the primary appeal of the game: there's a doodad for everything. You have action cards, which include the most basic moves ("melee attack", "ranged attack", "block", "dodge") and all kinds of advanced attacks and feats; talent cards which provide various bonuses; small green and red tokens which describe your character's combat stance; wound cards, which you accumulate as your character takes damage (each card is literally 1 HP of damage); character portraits which you stand up in a clear plastic base, to use instead of miniatures; and the dice.

Oh, the dice are awesome. There are three basic colours of attack dice to use depending on your combat stance, two colours of skill dice, and two types of challenge dice. The entire attack and damage roll is made in one throw and can often use almost every kind of die at once. It's a lot of fun to pick through them and lay down a bigass 10-die attack roll.

The only thing that I found weird was the character generation. I show up and I have to pick a card out of this stack of 30, and I draw... a coachman?

Me: "What the Fuck! I wanted to play a witch hunter and wear one of those cool hats. What is this shit?"

GM: "Well, this is your career before you became an adventurer."

Me: "Oh... Well okay I guess. Can I change class later to be a witch hunter?"

GM: "Maybe. For now, you drive the town shit wagon. Your life sucks."

Me: "Fuck!"

It worked out in the end, though. I saw the other PCs wandering into town and immediately told my manure-cart boss to take this job and shove it. Thirty minutes later I was creaming goblins and it didn't really matter that I used to be the lowliest, most broke-ass dwarf on the planet.

Some other mechanics influence play in different ways. We have a 'party card', which gives our whole adventuring group "The Brash Young Lads" some special abilities. There is a track on this card from 0-8 called the 'Party Tension Meter', and whenever the PCs have disagreements the tension meter increases. Once it gets high enough, the whole party starts to take penalties.

In practise, this leads to a lot of fun, and sometimes tense situations. The only non-dwarf in the party is a high elf, played to the hilt as a money-grubbing, weaselly prick by one of our more committed roleplayers. He'll take any excuse to pocket a few extra silver or screw the rest of the part out of their share. This attitude has nearly cost him his life on several occasions, and since the party is now three dwarves to his one elf, he'd best come correct in future.

Because of the tension meter, we're almost encouraged to fight amongst ourselves and the GM is okay with it - it's part of the game! Warhammer tends to do this to our group; our Dark Heresy game was much the same. I've found that in both fantasy and 40k, almost everyone is a butt-ugly asshole (except the Sisters of Battle).

In conclusion: the dice alone make this game fun for me, but the action cards and countless thingamabobs may put people off. I know it's a very 'nu skool' way to play. I've heard comparisons to 4th Edition D&D, but I wouldn't really know about that.

This post brought to you by IRS years REM.

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