Thursday, 9 February 2012

Journey to Aldorf: Campaign Introduction

Every great adventure has a climatic end...

As I write this, I Peter Mostert swear by the light that keeps chaos at bay that this tale I am about to tell you is one such adventure. But to fully comprehend the grandness of such a tale I must first tell you how it began, for as interesting as this story ends in all its glory, the telling is in the first steps taken by four adventurers who walked its path, the glory they won and the sacrifices they made.

Some would later call them heroes, others would judge them, murderers. Yet no one could deny they were touched by faith.

Its exact date eludes me now but it was a time when a great storm was brewing up north in the harsh lands of Norsca. A storm that was nearly the end of us all if not for the light of Sigmar!

I remember being afraid, and how thick the air smelled of broken dreams and shattered hope. But poetics aside it was the smell of fear and death which still wakes me up in the middle of the night till this day that I remember vividly. A foolish lord with glory in his heart, too much gold in his pocket and steel in his hand thought it wise to reclaim Marienburg the city of gold in the emperor's name! 

A bit of history first... You see in 2429 IC Westerland formally seceded from the Empire and since then Marienburg has remained independent. Now a victory would have brought this lord great wealth and renown. With defeat? we'll I can't even remember his name any more buried along with his army in the Cursed Marshes. The young foolish lord seemed to have forgotten how easily gold motivates and changes the mind of sell-swords.

Fortunately for Marienburg, it is far too valuable to the Empire's trade routes for it to be ostracized for long. 

Among the mutilated and dead, a beacon of light shone brightly the night after the battle that would later be known as the Battle of "Fools Gold", for a lone campfire illuminated the gloom of the accursed marshes surrounded by our 4 adventurers.

Looking back never would anyone phantom how bright and long that beacon would shine for the Empire...

Campaign Report: Journey to Aldorf - Session 1 (PART 2)

A Howling Good Time: PART 2
(Continuing from PART 1)

The Giant Wolf's arrival changed things. With the arrival of their pack leader, the other remaining wolves immediately joined its side which consisted mostly of the wolves who had overwhelmed and made short work of the mercenary group. 

Knowing it was going to take more than a few lucky shots to take the Giant Wolf down Thorgrim the Slayer turned away from his kill and headed to assist the Smuggler who he knew was going to get into a world of hurt.

Meanwhile, the Pistolier's search for the missing child was not going well. Try as he may he could not find any trace of the missing child in the darkness. Was the child alive? Should he turn around to immediately assist his comrades? It took a while but the Pistolier suddenly realized that searching with a torch from the campfire would probably be a better way of searching for the child in darkness. 

True enough using the torch did help in his search but the Pistolier now wish he hadn't because before him in a pool of blood was the remains of what could only be guessed was the missing child. Not ready to face the dead child's mother with the news and determined to avenge the dead child the Pistolier ran towards the wolves now surrounding the Smuggler.

Now one thing you need to know about giant wolves is that they are twice as large as a normal wolf but just as fast if not faster. While the Smuggler was no pushover with a sword for every would he inflicted on the pack leader he was getting his own fare share. If help didn't come soon things were not going to get pretty. The Hunter, aware of his companion's dire situation yet ever calm in the face of danger again readied his crossbow and with another quick prayer let loose a bolt into the side of the nearest wolf between him and the Smuggler dropping it dead.

Evenly numbered and now heavily wounded the Giant wolf survival instincts were taking over, clawing, biting, and slashing with beastly fury and speed at its enemies. At the receiving end of all, that pain was the smuggler taking the brunt of the giant wolf's attack. But through skill or pure dumb luck, the Smuggler managed to stay standing with no critical strikes upon his body. Either way, the Smuggler knew that if things didn't change fast he wasn't going to be able to keep the giant wolf from eventually ripping his throat open. 

With a mighty roar! Thorgrim the Slayer yet again rushed into battle towards the giant wolf. The beast was gaining the upper-hand against the Smuggler and Thorgrim knew that if he didn't act now it was going to be too late to help his companion... 

Tasting blood and sensing his enemies weakness the Giant Wolf went in for the killing blow but in its rush to finish of its prey, the beast had exposed its left flank to the incoming Dwarf. Seeing the opening Thorgrim saw his chance and stepped in. With weapon held high above his head and slayer blood lust fuelling his strength Thorgrim swung down with all his might cleaving the pack leader in two. Standing over his fallen foe, dwarf beard drenched in crimson red Thorgrim turned towards the Smuggler who's faces clearly showed a sigh of relief, for he knew that this encounter was not looking like it would end with him still on his feet.

Suddenly from behind our adventurers, a man appeared on horseback. In the carnage of battle, the howling and growling of wolves and the screams of the dead no one had heard his approach or the dozen or so well-armed men behind him... "I must say gentleman that was an impressive showing I was delightfully entertained by your performance"... 

End of Session 1.

Journey to Altdorf: Campaign Introduction

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Campaign Report: Journey to Aldorf - Session 1 (PART 1)

A Howling Good Time: PART 1

The Battle earlier had been brutal. What few survivors that were left gathered before nightfall on an elevated clearing keeping them dry from the surrounding marshes.

One such group found themselves sitting around a campfire. A smuggler, a hunter, a pistoleer and a newly arrived Dwarf Troll Slayer itching for a fight but late to the party. Each with his own reasons and motivation to being there that night, with the only thing in common among them the goal of getting to The great city of Altdorf.  

The Cursed Marshes is a place that leaves its mark on everyone that pass through it and The hunter and Dwarf Slayer both caught an ailment while hunting for food in the surrounding marshes with nothing to show for it but the carcass of a dog. Meanwhile, dry at base camp The Smuggler and Pistolier talked to the other survivor and managed to gather some rations that would hopefully sustain them during their journey out of the marshes. The Smuggler even managed to get himself a cooking pan claimed to bring fortune and luck to its wielder.

Planning out their next course of action around the amber glow of their campfire with the sound of grease dripping and hissing from the dog roasting above it, the adventurers were joined by a colourful and mischievous character called "Mouse". After a short exchange of sarcasm and pleasantries "Mouse" was invited to join the adventurers for supper.

With years of experience living off the land The Hunter's instincts suddenly kicked in and he quickly warned the rest of the adventurer that they might not be alone while readying his crossbow.

Suddenly a scream was heard and true enough with little warning wolves started appearing around the survivors from out of the surrounding darkness. The Hunter warned his group that only a pack of wolves led by an Alpha would be this brave and coordinated and that they could count on more trouble showing up. Assessing the situation the adventurers saw that the wolves were simultaneously attacking the different group of survivors, mainly a small group of mercenaries, a blacksmith with his wears and a kitchen hand and his family.

The Dwarf with white fist gripped tightly around the hilt of his axe charged into the nearest group of wolves instantly slaying two in a flurry of blows Allowing the rest of the adventurers to move into action.

Noting that the scream came from the direction of a campsite occupied by the kitchen hand and his family, The Hunter with a quick prayer aimed and shot a crossbow bolt in that direction, immediately killing one of the attacking wolves with the Smuggler and pistoleer rushing in, leaving the mercenaries and blacksmith to tend for themselves.

Losing his pistol earlier in the day, The cautious Pistolier, first to reach the family but unaccustomed to hand-to-hand combat managed to distract the wolves but try as he may he could not get a strike on any of the attacker taking a few wounds in the flurry of claws and blade. The Hunter and Dwarf fared better dropping another 2 wolves between them. Axe drenched in the blood of beasts the Dwarf next rushed to aid the blacksmith. 

Now side-by-side, the pistoleer and smuggler started to make progress against the wolves with the help of the Hunters accurate skill with the crossbow. Killing the last of the wolves attacking the kitchen hand and his family the Pistolier was told by the grieving mother that one of her children had been dragged into the darkness by one of the wolves. The Pistoleer took it upon himself to search for the missing child.

While the Smuggler headed back to clean up the remnants of the attacking Wolves, he was stopped dead in his tracks by the arrival of a wolf, unlike the others. This wolf was bigger, faster and stronger than the rest. The Smuggler figured that this must be the Alpha Wolf the Hunter had warned about...


Journey to Altdorf: Campaign Introduction

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: First Encounter

I have no previous experience with WFRP. Regrettably, I wasn't even fully aware there was a WHFRP till its latest 3rd edition iteration due to my keen interest in Fantasy Flight.

But what I have been is a huge Warhammer (fantasy/40K) fan since I was 13 which I talked about in my last post. The Warhammer universe is so rich with character, personality, humour and chaos that it truly is a great setting for an RPG. I purchased the WHFRP Core Set last month and for the past few weeks have been going through the rulebook and GM book doing my best to understand the rule system and game mechanic for my first play session.

While there are traditionalists who have complained about the new system and how Fantasy Flight has changed WFRP3 into a board game, there are also those who think the changes are for the better and further streamline the game mechanics so that you (the PC a GM) can focus more on your adventure and the storytelling.

Here's what I think so far of the components in the WFRP3 Core Set...

This is one HEAVY BOX! and my imagination ran wild with what awaited me when I popped the top open.

Here's one thing you should know about me, I'm a very visual led individual. I like shiny things. Like when I play computer games my graphic settings have to be at maximum,  and when I play board games I can't stand coloured wooden blocks that are supposed to represent castles, knights, etc.  It's one of the reasons I'm a big Fantasy Flight fanboy.

Fantasy Flight makes products of great quality and they always impress with their board game components like the ones found in Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Starcraft and Chaos in the Old World to name a few. With the WFRP3 Core Set, Fantasy Flight yet again delivers. The box is sturdy and filled to the brim with goodies.

Content of the Core Set

Action Cards

There is a huge amount of cards in the Core Set. The cards perform a variety of functions with some card types formed into a deck that are drawn from during play, while other cards are used as an easy way to keep track of your skills, options, abilities and player information.

For a person like me (new to WFRP) I think this is a great system. Now everyone doesn't have to share or own their own rulebooks because everything they need is right in front of them during play. One of the reasons I never got into D&D was because it felt so daunting to understand game mechanics and felt too much like studying having to go through a load of D&D rule books.

D&D is too intimidating for me

To keep track of your character's information during play, large sturdy sheets are provided. There are Career Sheets that clearly define the different professions and careers in the game. Character Sheets allows quick access to your character's key information like characteristics, and a way of keeping track of equipment, experience and skill development.

A Party Sheet

An interesting concept in WFRP3 is the Party Sheet which represents the characters as a group with abilities, tactic and talents that can be shared. This sheet basically represents teamwork, leadership and camaraderie of the of adventurers. From my understanding, it's a way for a GM to reward teamwork and punish infighting.

A visual aid to what is happening to each character and the monsters they face, the punchboard components helps the GM and players to easily keep track of the environmental situation and effects that are happening.

A Standup representing a troll
A nice touch, but I'm not making too much noise about it. Since I'm a big fan of the Warhammer Fantasy Table Top game and know a lot of people who play it, my long term goal is to build up a collection of miniatures I can use to replace the punchboard creatures during play sessions. At the moment I'm looking at getting/scavenging second-hand bits from here and there.

Now what's really "thinking out of the box" when it comes to RPG systems is what Fantasy Flight have done with the custom dice in WFRP3. This isn't the first time Fantasy Flight have gone against convention with dice. Descent: Journey in the Dark was the first. The basic idea is that numbers aren't always going to be able to provide role players (or at least not easily) with a method of resolving creative and changing tactics, situations, and effects. 

       in with the new

Instead of calculating numbered values of action and the numbers it has to "check" against to succeed WFRP3's system takes your character's attributes and based on how easy or difficult the action you want to take is you add challenge dice for the difficulty and misfortune dice for environmental effects. 

Success dice are cancelled out by challenge dice. As long as you have more success dice then challenge dice your action succeeds. As simple as that. 

I haven't gone into the full detail of each game component since this post is more of an introduction of what you'll get when you purchase the WFRP3 Core Set. I will try to elaborate the game system in further detail in a future post. I'm GM'ing my first session this Saturday. Hope I don't screw it up. Till then it's reading and more reading...

NEXT ON BANES & BOONS: If my GM'ing session happens this Saturday, then my next post will be about the experience, my thoughts of the game in action and what I learned. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Box that Started it all

I remember the first time I was introduced to the universe created by Games Workshop. I had just turned 13 and my mom had given me the privilege of picking out my own birthday gift. Looking back I think it was more my mom's way of bypassing the guesswork involved in choosing a gift a teenage boy would find cool. after an hour looking around, I had still not found anything that tickled my fancy and my mom was starting to lose patience. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw it...

I remember thinking "WOW! that's one big box." Never had I seen such wonder. More wonderful was the image of utter awesomeness that was on the box cover. An image of total glorified carnage and violence that gripped my 13-year-old innocence by the throat demanding submission to its will.

The box art, for that, was what it was; pure artistry, was of men, NAY! Warriors in oversized armour fighting their way against all odds through tight corridors blasting their way against swarms of alien horrors. A spark in the darkest recesses of my mind ignited. I felt hunger.  It was beautiful. It was called "Space Crusade". , and I had to have it.

Space Crusade (1990)

Flipping the board game around to its back further fed the hunger that was growing within. Space marines! Orcs and goblins with laser guns! A mechanical dreadnought of death, and chaos marines?! chaos marines! two words in the English dictionary that could only have been envisioned and made a reality by a mind tainted by the Warp.

15 minutes (of demanding, that turned to an attempt at justifying the price, that resorted to pleading then degrading to begging) later I walked out the store with the biggest grin of my childhood never to be surpassed (slight over-exaggeration) till the day of my marriage to the love of my life.

What has always been great about Games Workshop is the amount of back story and history they include with their products. "Space Crusade" was my introduction to Warhammer 40K. A very grim look at humanity or lack of it in a universe at war. A masterful re-imagining of space opera where even the best of intentions is not without its morbid un-glorified carnage. A universe where even humanity's beacon of strength and hope is a carcass on a golden throne kept alive by the sacrifice of thousands of psykers (humans with psychic abilities) a day.

Warhammer 40K is where humanity's traditional enemies and allies of fantasy have been given a brilliant makeover whether it's the Greenkins with their crude salvage and tinkering of technology or the advance but dying race of Eldars (elves), Warhammer 40K has character and personality in the bucket loads.

My constant hunger for content regarding Warhammer 40k in general and Space Marines specifically lead me on an inevitable path towards one of the greatest indulgences of my life; Warhammer 40K tabletop gaming. It was like chess on steroids. And it had lots and lots of little miniatures that I could collect to my heart's content.  And with the introduction of Warhammer 40K tabletop, Warhammer Fantasy got on my radar.

Through my years with Games Workshop, the funny thing is that building an army, assembling the miniatures, customizing components, and finally painting them was always the best fun for me. Actually playing the game was secondary. I just enjoyed researching the army history, back story and creating the fluff behind my army.

It was always the story first and foremost that was my passion. The conflicts. The tragedies, The betrayals. The magazine "White Dwarf" was my companion and the most obscure Space Marine chapters, and the history of the Horus Heresy my obsession.

15 years, a wife and two kids later my fascination with the Warhammer Universe still burns bright and while priorities have changed (diapers and milk being the priority) and Games Workshop's pricing to costly for me to upkeep my tabletop hobby, I still have a hard-on I mean warm spot for the Warhammer lore.

About 3 years ago I started thinking about how cool it would be to have my kids involved in my gaming hobby. Remembering how my dad introduced me to chess and the great memories I still have of our games together till this day I started researching board games (it also was a justification to my wife on why a grown man could still play board games with little plastic men). I grew up with the classics like Monopoly, Snakes-n-Ladders, checkers and later on the revolution that was to be "Space Crusade" so I was keen to find out what was the "in thing" with kids nowadays.

Descent: Journey in the Dark (2005)

I've always been a very visually led person so the games coming out of Days of Wonder and Fantasy Flight automatically caught my interest. Starting from Descent my collection of board games has grown to about 15 titles. The majority being games from Fantasy Flight due to their partnership with Games Workshop and the Warhammer IP.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition

I don't think I can talk about WFRP without mentioning Dungeon & Dragons (D&D). Growing up in the middle east (Kuwait in the 80s) and later in Asia (Malaysia in the 90s) D&D was never really a viable option. Stores didn't sell them, Online shopping wasn't practical yet, and there wouldn't have been anyone to play with anyway. Even the "Space Crusade" game a got so many years ago was during a family trip back t Ireland.

Today, the scene in Malaysia's gaming community is so much more respectable and diverse now with more and more independent stores stocking up on products from the likes of Games Workshop, Privateer Press, Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Flight, and Days of Wonder. The player community is also growing rapidly mostly fueled by the guys who learned and played Warhammer and D&D during their university years abroad in the USA, England, and Australia.

With Warhammer's great story and history and curiosity with the RPG elements of D&D, I always fantasized about running a Warhammer RPG, exploring wastelands, dwarven strongholds and fighting off the corrupting influences of Chaos.

I was not fully aware of WFRP till the 3rd Edition.

D&D has always seemed daunting to start due to the dice, the math involved and loads of books to read. So when I read about WFRP 3rd Edition's new system I was intrigued but surrendered to the fact that it would most likely pass me by because if Warhammer Table Top was already scarce, WFRP would be almost non-existent in Malaysia. By accident, I walked into a small comic store while waiting for my wife to get her hair done one day and lo and behold out of the corner of my eye I saw it...

I remember thinking "WOW! that's one big box." It was Deja Vu. A spark in the darkest recesses of my mind ignited yet again. I felt a hunger.  It was beautiful, and I had to have it.

This blog will be my attempt at transcribing my experience learning about the system that is WFRP 3rd Edition. There are many rules yet to decrypt, and as I will be playing the role of Game Master (GM) this blog will also act as a record of my sessions and what will surely be learned from them.

If through this process you find the content I post helpful to you in whatever way you see fit the better for all of us :)

The dice have been rolled!.

What Banes and Boons await me?...

NEXT ON BANES & BOONS: My next topic will be my thoughts on WFRP 3rd Edition specifically the new Core Set and its components that have gotten as much negative feedback as good regarding its revolutionary game mechanic.