Thursday, 25 April 2013

"Fixing" WFRP 1e - what to house rule?

Thanks to the WFRP A-Z blogging challenge, in particular some great posts from +Marc Torley, I stumbled across the nostalgia fest that is Let's Read: WFRP First Edition and hence Zweihänder's Whiff Factor discussion.

This led me back to a topic that's been on my mind if I ever do ever get back to GMing WFRP, which is what if anything I would house rule?

I don't remember us having house rules back in the day, although I know I overlooked at least two rules as written - the +10 bonus for winning, and critical skill failures (30+ over the target number). I also had a dwarf warrior player in my main group, and while he and the party knew he was very hard to kill it also never led to the mindset where they could just fall back on violence at any opportunity. WFRP players know that the world is against them, even if right now they may be winning...

So, with the benefit of hindsight, what if anything do I feel is wrong with the WFRP 1st edition rules, and is serious enough it needs fixing?

Not broken, in my opinion (but commonly viewed as such)

  1. The imbalance of starting careers (that's life)
  2. The extremely slow progression of spell casters (magic is difficult)
  3. Elves dominating with high Initiative (they're not human)

Broken, but leave as is

Strength / attacks for large creatures. Clearly dragons and giants should be on a whole other strength scale than the characters are, and in the case of giants should probably be slow but hard hitting (miss, dodge, miss, miss, dead character). However I can't see myself using anything larger than a troll in a campaign, so this doesn't bother me enough to house rule

Slightly broken

  1. The "whiff" factor
  2. Naked dwarf syndrome
I don't think the "whiff" factor (i.e. starting characters being a bit rubbish) is nearly as big an issue as the Zweihänder author does (for example). He has valid points - the chance of critical failure versus success is too high for starting characters, and the multi career characters are conversely powerful. There is also the common complaint that in some circumstances (often elves again) an unskilled character with high stats is better than an average character with the appropriate skill. I think my house rule here should be to follow my earlier ignorance, and for first career characters at least to play critical failures for comedy rather than danger value, rather than forgetting about them entirely. Otherwise I feel the rules as written are good enough (though clearly not perfect).

The naked dwarf syndrome I'm also not sure is a huge issue, but they probably are slightly too tough in some circumstances. I'd probably have a rule something like for creatures of above average strength (4+) an above average hit (either 6, or perhaps 4+) does a minimum of 1 wound. So I'm happy to have goblins beat on an armoured dwarf all day, but at some level they do have to worry about attrition from tougher opponents, even without the possibility of an exploding dice.

So that's my starting point, though I do have a big list of discussion threads to review from around the interweb to see if there's anything I've overlooked. Meanwhile, what glaring holes are there in my list?

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