Friday, April 28, 2006

Pants adventures can be good for you.

Working for a Gaming company is a bit like being a therapist.

If you're counselling folk for a living, you have to be in counselling yourself- to get all the stuff you hear off your chest.

If you make roleplaying games, then you have to be gaming on a regular basis.

It helps you test what you're making, but it also gets all that creative imagination stuff going. You come up with ideas for new books, cool add ons and great ways to improve what you've already done.

Sometimes it can show you what you might have done wrong, or could be better.

Take 'Fools before Swine'

This is a convention scenario we originally started working on back at the time of the scenario competition. We're so busy at the moment that it's taken us 6 months and a bank holiday weekend to get this knocked into shape. So we sat down to playtest it last week (as our regular Dave session couldn't happen due to illness)

It was funny, and very Warhammer (it's about a man who turns into a pig) but the structure was all wrong. A couple of the clues didn't hang together, and the set up of the NPC's just didn't ring true. It felt contrived.

So we're having to go back to the drawing board on it, do some rewrites and test it again. Somewhat humbling, as we'd all like to beleive everything we do fairly drips with genius, but ultimately good for us.

Just because we are lucky enough to do this for a living, it doesn't mean we're immune from the occasional GM slump. We're human- just like any other gamer out there.

So, lesson learnt, and not a councillor in sight. Told you it's like therapy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Phone call excerpts

As those who follow our forums might already know, our big book of all things Chaos- The Tome of Corruption- is starting to mutate into it's final form.

We've got a cover for it, plus plenty of text and rules just oozing with unpleasant detail.

We're starting to get really excited about the book, even though it's not out until Autumn. So, in an effort to share the chaos, ah... love about, heres some quotes from our recent conversations

BI: So, how is Tome of Corruption going Hal?
Hal Mangold: Oh,'s like 300lb of ugly squeezed into a 30lb flesh sac
BI: Ughh...
Hal Mangold: No, it's going to be great- wait til you see the pustulent skin textures!

Mike: I want a Puny, Pointy headed mutant with Strange Walk and a Chaos Organ
Dave: What for?
Mike: Its about the only thing my character could kill

BI: So Rob, why all the references to rancid ham?
Rob Schwalb: Oh man, it's the most repellent thing ever...
BI: I can think of worse
Rob Schwalb: Not after you hear this story you won't... (censored to protect readers of a delicate nature)

Passer-by looking at the cover art: Is that a Goat? What are all the masks about? It's a bit 'Frankie goes to Hollywood- Relax' video isn't it?

Editor: I don't think we should be endorsing whaling in our books
Kate Flack: It's Norsca...besides, have you read the rest of the book? I think Whaling is the least of our politically correct worries.

BI: Blood replaced by eyeless white mice...Rob, what were you doing to come up with that?
Rob Schwalb: Ah...the mice...that was a good day

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Three Men (and an Elf and a Girl and Two Other Men) in a Boat.

This session saw the party leave Altdorf and travel along the Weissbruck canal. As this section of the campaign takes a few days without any major occurances I thought it was just the right moment to drop in one of the scenarios from last year’s competition. As Masquerade of Horrors is set on a waterway, and as I felt the party could do with some comic relief added to their grim peril, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to drop it in.

Now that the party have bumped into Alexa’s old contact in Altdorf they retire to an inn to catch up, but their discussion is rudely interrupted…

Alexa: “How about asking them if they wanna join in a quick game of Cripple My Pig?”

Unused to the ways of human cities, Alcar bridles about his encounter with the flower of Imperial nobility…

Alexa: “Look at it this way, at least its posh sick.”

Some fast talking puts the rakes in their place…

Kurt: “We are here on the business of the Grand Theogonist, do you have any idea of the trouble you’re in?”

Acute senses and appalling humour come into play when the party discover they are being followed…

Alcar: “I check behind us using my Night Vision.”
Mal: “But it isn’t a Knight!”

Wanted by the law the party decide to lay low…

Kurt: “We’ll stay on the barge for now, but once we get to Bogenhafen we’ll drink liquid gold from diamond cups, which we’ll then smash!”

Punishment for stinginess during character creation is meted out…

Gideon: “I’m going to make a quick sketch of the mask!”
GM: “OK, make a read/write test.”
Gideon: “I failed.”
GM: “You ruin one of your pieces of parchment with your smudgy poor quality ink!”
Gideon: “I wasn’t using my parchment! I was using… using…” He wafts about the bill poster for the Shaffenfest. “I was using the back of this handout!”

A pretty visitor enters the inn…

Alcar: “I talk to the lady in the green dress.”
Mal: “You’ll impress her stinking of Loren de Vom.”

Fresh from his chat Alcar decides to help himself to some other patron’s possessions, but is caught by a scullery maid, some fast talking has to ensue…

Kurt: “Can I help you?”
Outraged Inhabitant of Room Twelve: “Are you a friend of that elf?”
Kurt: “One of his helpers, yes.”
Outraged Inhabitant of Room Twelve: “Helpers? What does he need helpers for?”
Kurt: “Well you know how elves are famed for their night vision?”
Outraged Inhabitant of Room Twelve: “Course!”
Kurt: “During the day their as blind as bats – not that he likes us to tell folks that.”

After bribing the inhabitans of Room Twelve the PCs are offered the opportunity to indulge in some culture…

Alexa: “It’s not blasphemous is it?”
Von Barbe: “Oh no, no, no, no, no!”

Everything goes horribly wrong…

Alcar: “I attack the wizard with the greasy article.” (The wizard in question was trying to cast "Drop").
Mal: “Kill him and take his ink!”
Ed: “We have strange wants and needs!”
The Others: “Yes, a dress and some ink!”

Masquerade of Horrors proved a fantastic addition to the session, and Sean and Colin’s script for the play in particular got a few good laughs out of the group. Now Mistaken Identity draws to a close and Bogenhafen, the Shaffenfest and untold riches await!

- Dave Allen

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Better than Barber-shop

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Early Days

Mal Green – Gideon Funter. A travelling classics scholar, learning all he can about ancient texts. At least that’s what he’s telling people until he gets a license to practice cryptoclastic thaumaturgy.
Kate Flack – Alexa Drull. A young smuggler taking wine from Altdorf to Talagaad. Gobby as a Frogwife. Annoyed about having her boat sunk.
Christian Byrne – Heinrich Klein. Give him a shave, some decent clothes and a few week’s feeding up, and he’d look like the spitting image of a certain Herr Leibrung.
George Mann – Alcar. Has left the town of Delberz since a friend went missing. Always on the lookout for freebies. An Elf. Already getting grief about being an Elf from other party members (Alexa: “You lot are all wizards and princes ain’t you – lovely ears though”).

Ed Morris – Kurt Heidel. Leaving Ahlenhof to avoid his creditors (or as he tells the rest of the party “due to an indiscretion with a lady”).
Owen Barnes – Hans Gottreid. He just wants to get to Altdorf to sell some herbs, but he might be distracted by the prospect of easily made oodles of cash.

So it's a quiet night in the Inn before getting a coach trip in the morning...

Gideon: Don’t you lot worship a woman?
Phillippe: They venerate the Tilean war goddess 'ere do they not? And our Shallya? And the goddesses Rhya and Verena, non? 'Ere in your Empire? Non? Allez! While they get your supper ready oo is up for a few 'ands of Pavarron Twist?
Alexa: I will.
Phillipe: Oh, you wish to gamble with the men do you mademoiselle? ‘Ow eccentrique!
Kurt: I’m in too. (Looses)
Phillipe: Ah, you are unlucky monsieur! Again? Oh, unlucky! Again? Oh, unlucky! Again…

A coach trip to Altdorf is obtained, though when it starts to rain the party are glad they all bought tents as part of their starting equipment. Alcar the elf is soon in for a shock though...

Alcar: I don’t know what’s become of him, he was Rolf, a… friend I made in Delberz. Some foul black magic has transformed him into a hideous undead creature! I feel bad about it, but he is perhaps better off now that he is finally slain.

Our brave and competent heroes enter combat with the foe...

Mal: I cast “drop” on the mutant with the crossbow.
GM: OK, are you Channelling?
Mal: Yes.
GM: Roll under your willpower.
Mal: Oops!
GM: Using an ingredient?
Mal: No.
GM: Make a casting roll.
Mal: It’s a one.
GM: Make another willpower test.
Mal: Oops!
GM: Gain an Insanity Point.

And make a shocking discovery...

Alexa: Heinrich, you got a brother?
Heinrich: Yes.
Alexa: This ‘im?
Heinrich: Sigmar’s Arse! No, no wait… he isn’t.

After someone who can actually read is called over...

Alexa: Twenty thousand Karls! We’ll be rich! Rich I tell yer!!!

It's always useful to call on the expertise of handy NPCs...

Gideon: Our friend is hurt – you’re a physician, what can you do for him?
Ernst: Um, I’m only studying to be a physician, all I really know about thusfar is leeches.
Gideon: Well you must have more knowledge on the subject than any of us!
Ernst: Erm, well, I suggest he gets some rest.
Gideon: Rest! He’s got a crossbow bolt stuck in his lung!

Altdorf proves welcoming...

Guard of the Estate’s Gatehouse: Zer Crown Prince hass already left, but I do not tsink he vud haf vonted such a rag tag bunch in his employ anyvay. Look at you, unt frauline, unt scruffy elf. You! You did not even arrange to bring a sword did you? And you! Did you seek an interview with ze Crown Prince covered in grass stains?

Alexa: I saw you, you were making signs at my mate Kastor. What do you want with my mate Kastor, eh?
Man with Itchy Ear: Erm, Kastor eh? (Scratches left ear with right little finger furiously whilst looking directly at Heinrich).
Alexa: That’s a rude gesture in Tilea, that is!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Pre-Adventure Adventures

As Kate mentioned yesterday I've been getting a group together in order to play a very well known campaign. I'll be using a lot of fan material from the BI site to supplement the written modules. Dan White's Herbalism article will help flesh out one of the PCs, and his Von Tribble's Emporium might get a visit too. I also plan to run one of the scenarios on days when the whole group can't make it, meaning that we can keep regular play going but that everyone will be familiar with the campaign's metaplot. I'll choose these as appropriate, but I have already worked out some apt points where Masquerade of Horrors, The Eye of the Tiger, The Bigger they Are... and Noblesse Oblige could get a well deserved airing. The Three Feathers could also get a visit too.

I think one of the most neglected, yet rewarding aspects of character creation is giving them a history. Randomly generating a group and having them "all meet up in a tavern" leaves me cold. I also wanted to take advantage of some of the relationships between PCs and NPCs which are implicit in the campaign, and help the PCs realise that NPCs are living personalities as well.

With this in mind the following history has been created to help the party gel:


Heinrich Klein was born in Averland yet had always been attracted by stories about life at sea. He travelled to Tilea as an adolescent hoping to join one of the many mercenary companies who travel on voyages to the distant lands of the Old World. Instead he was press-ganged into one of the many pirate crews who scour the Tilean ports looking for fresh meat. He served terms on many vessels and on the dangerous pirate-run island of Sartosa. Earning his freedom after many years with the Sartosan buccaneers he returned to the Empire and hooked up with Alexa Drull, a young Nordlander who lived by smuggling wine along the Talabec from Altdorf to Talabheim.

Alexa and Heinrich worked together on the Talabec, using a contact of hers in Altdorf named Josef Quartjin to procure fine wines to take to Talabheim tax free. Unfortunately for Alexa the rough treatment her little boat has taken during repeated hurried attempts to hide it from the eyes of the law has taken its toll, and the vessel has sunk some way from the town of Garndorf. Short of cash and without a vessel the two have made their way to the town in the search of some kind of employment, whether legal or not.


Some time ago Alcar tired of the strictures of life in the Laurelorn forest. Approaching his mid-nineties he felt it was time to see more of life outside and so left his community to explore the lands of men (having been given the warning those who leave the enclave receive about never revealing details of his birthplace to outsiders). He travelled to Middenheim first, but found the city cold and grey for his liking. He decided to make his way to Altdorf, and got as far as Delberz before running out of money. He struggled to make ends meet until he formed a friendship with a thief, one Rolf Hurtsis. Rolf taught Alcar that life in Empire is harsh; hunger, disease, violence and exploitation by the rich are ineluctable problems for the poor. Faced with this world view Alcar became cynical, and became a criminal himself. This went well until Rolf began to act erratically, was caught and jailed. Though Rolf managed to spring the jail he disappeared from Delberz. Alcar began to feel that, as an Elven thief, he was somewhat conspicuous, and set off to Altdorf once more.

Unused to the lands of men however he became somewhat lost, ending up on the road to Talabheim rather than Altdorf. He met a travelling tradesman, an herbalist named Hans Gottried, who was travelling to Altdorf to deal in his wares. For companionship and safety the two travelled together and have struck up something of a friendship on the long road to Altdorf.

Whilst passing through Ahlenhof the pair met up with Kurt Heidel. The youngest son of a successful burgher in the town all the best careers in business, clergy and the military had been taken by his elder siblings. Bored and doted on as the youngest son of a loving mother he had been using her generosity to fund a slightly unhealthy gambling habit. He has racked up some considerable debts and following the recent death of his mother he has been cut off from the family funds. Staying in Ahlenhof is certain to result in damage to limbs if not his life so he is looking for a quick way to leave the town, make some money and then try his hand in a larger city somewhere. Preferably somewhere he can lay low for a while.


Gideon Funter has spent the last 20 years struggling to learn the elementary lessons of cryptoclastic thaumaturgy at the grey college in Altdorf. His teacher, a Master Wizard called Heironymus Scheer, has decided his apprenticeship is almost at an end, and has sent him out in the world to learn about the practical applications of magic and has given him a mission to gather information on the Chaos cults of the Empire, with a particular warning to “beware the schemes of the Red Crown”. Masquerading as a scholar of the classics (until he gets his lisence he'll have to be very careful about who he reveals his powers to) Gideon has made his way from Altdorf to Garndof where a trail he has been following has run out.

Rumours in the town are buzzing of an expedition being organized in Altdorf – a noble is recruiting people to accompany him on a dangerous trip to the Grey Mountains, and he is paying an exceptional rate of 10s a day! The six adventurers gather about a noticeboard in town that people say carries details of the expedition, but only Gideon and Kurt can read it...

So that's the starting party. The first session tomorrow night sees them attempt to achieve the seemingly simple mission of obtaining a coach trip...

- Dave Allen

Monday, April 03, 2006

Gearing up for another campaign

Spring is here, and it's a time to clean out all those cobwebs and dusty old dice- that's why we're gearing up for a nice bit of campaign play over the next few months.

We've had some frenetic fun playtesting adventures, but the time has come to kick back, relax and play some good old fashioned 'Just because we can' games.

They say a change is as good as a rest and our GM, Dave, is certainly doing things differently with this game. Not only have we got to pick our careers rather than roll them (admittedly, he did say 'we need a wizard and someone who can handle a boat') we've also been sat down individually to create our characters- rather than rolling in a group.

It's suprising how you get into gaming habits without even noticing. Faced with a choice of WFRP characters- rather than fickle fate forcing one on you- has been a little odd. Where previously there were random roll there's just free choice! As a result we've all put a little more thought into our PC's. Some of use are even painting up some minatures.

However, the highlight so far certainly has to be shopping for trappings.

Dave has created a sheet of Empire coins (taken from the Old World Armoury) cut them out and then doled them out to us. There has been haggling, outrage and much downgrading of quality levels in the attempt to get properly equipped. (Mal, we're looking at you with your poor quality ink) Thank Sigmar you get your starting clothing for free- I'm sure some of us would have said 'ah, I can do without Breeches- why, I could make some!" It's funny how seeing the coins there in front of you somehow makes you reluctant to spend.

We're all looking forward to the new game and a change of pace... more next week!