Thursday, 13 October 2011

Character, Stats, and the three editions of WFRP

Tonight I start GMing my first game of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in... oh, about 20 years! Over the past couple of months I've been a PC in a first edition adventure, but taking the reins will be a very different experience indeed. Being a GM is a big responsibility because a whole evening worth of entertainment for several people (the other four in our regular gaming group) is your responsibility - I really hope I'll still up to this!

WFRP is now on a third edition, which comes as a big box of stuff including a bunch of special dice. I was initially intrigued by this system, but I've read enough reviews to see that it might wander too far away from what I like about first edition to be to my tastes. So I've decided to give second edition a try. I realise that this edition also had its critics - the campaigns in particular have apparently taken a bashing - though I think it's worth a try.

The main reason I like the look of it is the slimed down stats system, which does away with a few of the less commonly used stats, but retains a good basis for the development of character. Of course, I don't want the system to be too streamlined - the lack of careers in third edition is not at all appealing, for example. But I do like the idea of a sensible reduction in stats - i.e. taking away Leadership - and leaving it up to the GM to judge percentage + or - on, say, Fellowship.

Now, it has been pointed out to me that L and F are very different things. However, I would say that having Leadership as an effective sub-category of Fellowship allows the GM to judge modification based on characterisation and gameplay, which I like because it places emphasis on roleplay without too much dilution of differentiation between PCs. In this way, I think that stats should prop up characterisation, rather than define it. There should be enough in the initial role-up to help define the basis of a character that's already lived for, say 22 years, but not so much that it over complicates the issue.

I also think that it helps players if the stat lines are slightly shorter, as with second edition primary characteristics - I think it's possible that they might actually pay them more attention, rather than more-or-less over look them, as I've seen happen in games of first edition. Overall it's my hope that this will actually achieve fuller character development through role play and stats. A few sessions of adventuring should provide the answers.

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