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OSR How Would You Convert WHFRPG to OSR?

Retreater

Legend
My groups are moving more and more to OSR systems and away from trying out "new" systems. Not to mention we're also playing on VTT that aren't ideal for teaching new systems and implementing ruleset idiosyncrasies. A goal I've had for a few decades is to run Warhammer Fantasy's well-regarded "Enemy Within" campaign, and I've started collecting the 4e WHFRPG's revised books. Only problem is, I don't see us being able to play it in that system. (I GMed a handful of sessions using that ruleset before moving players and the pandemic broke up the group.)
What would be some easy to implement rules changes - if any - to give OSR systems a Warhammer feel? My gut-reaction is that we limit non-human PCs to reflect a more humanocentric world, maybe allow being reduced to 0 HP having a critical injury chart instead of instant death, put in some kind of roll mechanic for magic. I'm thinking that AC can maybe work the same way, even though it wouldn't be as DR - it just makes a low roll be a non-hit.
What do experienced WHFRPG and OSR GMs think?
 

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Play WHFRP 1E. It's already OSR.

The systems/ themes and genre just dont carry over.

It's not like its a hard game to learn. Percentage based, and you roll race, career (class) and skills at random.

You can have your Rat catcher with his small angry dog up and running in no time.
 

Retreater

Legend
Play WHFRP 1E. It's already OSR.
I can appreciate that to you and me that it is easy enough. But not for my potential players who are struggling already with learning OSE or Swords and Wizardry, having to move to a completely different ruleset, hoping that the VTT can handle things, not having access to the rulebooks, relearning the expectations of play, etc. I would rather put the work on me than on them.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Warhammer allows for humans, dwarves, elves, and halflings so you should be mostly good there.

The big change is with how wizards are treated. In OSR entry level wizards are garbage, in WFRP any wizard is awesome.

I'd say if using the BECMI style rules you have all wizards use the elf class, and have mundane elves use the human class with modifiers to make them elfy.

I'd probably also make custom spell lists for the colors of magic and be prepared to add a bunch of spells to make up the gaps of missing basic powers.
 

I can appreciate that to you and me that it is easy enough. But not for my potential players who are struggling already with learning OSE or Swords and Wizardry, having to move to a completely different ruleset, hoping that the VTT can handle things, not having access to the rulebooks, relearning the expectations of play, etc. I would rather put the work on me than on them.

It's not exactly a hard system (its roll percentile under a skill for 99 percent of it) and not knowing the rules/ monsters/ what things do is part of what makes the OSR experience the OSR experience.

To convert 5E into WHFRP would be monumental.

You'd largely have to re-do all the classes.

For casters, you'd keep the Wizard class (remove Druid, Warlock, Cleric, Sorcerer, Bard) and decide what spells from the various Winds of Magic (which now replaces the Arcane School) go where. In addition to the Winds, you want Necromancy, Chaos and High magic as well.

Break all spells into Universalist magic (everyone can cast) and the rest into one of the 7 Winds of Magic. When you select your Arcane school you get access to those spells as well.

Pyromacy get all the fire spells (hellish rebuke, fireball, wall of fire etc). Green mages get Druid spells, Light get Aburation and healing magic etc etc

Spells can be cast at will, but require a roll of some sort or trigger a check on the Winds of Magic table (causing anything from exhaustion, to burnout for the day, to mutations, to daemonic possession to being sucked away into the void).

Give them proficiency in a martial weapon instead of Arcane recovery, and make up some class features for the other Winds (Pyromancy = Evocation, Necromacy can stay the same, Light magic is Abjuration, Green magic is Druid stuff etc).

That's your biggest job.

From there, Fighter, Barbarian and Rogue can pretty much remain as is. Be selective with subclasses - Cavalier, Champion, Swashbuckler, Berserker, Thief, Assassin, Scout etc are all fine and fit with the theme. Eldritch Knight and similar, less so.

Monks dont really exist (outside of Nippon but it would be very out of genre to have one).

Paladins and Rangers dont really have a role either. They can all go. Monster Slayers Rangers do make decent Witch Hunters though, and Paladins can fill in as Imperial Knights of Sigmar.

That leaves you with 4 classes (but plenty of subclasses) plus maybe Rangers and Paladins.

You can create your own Subclasses as well (Troll Slayer Barbarians, Imperial Knights, Elven Blademasters etc)

From there, you probably want a Critical hit chart of some kind (to simulate the brutality of the genre).

From the DMG use Slow natural healing variant rules, and gritty realism variant rules, as should Firearms (and the Gunner feat). Maybe also the Sanity rules.

Good luck man. It's monumental.
 


Were I to do this, I would start by looking at what creates the feel of Warhammer Fantasy for me, of the "Grim and Perilous World." I think you're on the right path with having zero HP being some sort of critical injury, or even going so far as to roll on that for a nat 20. The corruption of magic is another thing. If you didn't want to use Warhammer's, DCC RPG has some pretty good rules for that. You'll also need firearms rules, but there a plenty of those for all sorts of OSR flavors.

The biggest barrier, though, is the career system. For me, that's a major part of Warhammer, and arguably the most work to transpose to something like OSE. It's just not Warhammer without a Ratcatcher with a Small But Vicious Dog. One easy hack would be to (again, going back to DCC RPG), use their zero level character creation rules (minus the funnel). It's not quite the same, but it'll be close-ish.

One thing I might play with is changing the starting gold to starting silver, while keeping the cost of gear the same. This will drive home that it's a more hardscrabble world, when a fighter starts out with a dagger, leather, and wooden shield, because that's all that they could afford.
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
I would just get the roll20 or foundry module for it that does most of the work for you. It will be easier to teach if you don't have to do a lot of the little fiddly things.
 


Retreater

Legend
I would just get the roll20 or foundry module for it that does most of the work for you. It will be easier to teach if you don't have to do a lot of the little fiddly things.
Unfortunately I don't have faith in its implementation on Roll20 (which we use). Plus I'd have to convert over all the adventure content since the module isn't available there. So I'm thinking it's best to take the story and characters and jettison the rest of the rules.
 

Voadam

Legend
I am familiar with WFRP 1e but not the adventure.

I would mostly change things on the DM side, reskin another humanoid's description to be ratlike for skaven for instance, go with the stuff from the WFRP adventure instead of standard randomly generated loot.

As mentioned above the races match up, I would go with background/description/setting stuff so they are Old World or Empire appropriate and use D&D stats for most everything. I would not worry about matching the exact old WFRP player mechanics. I disagree with Sabathius-42, starting mages in my experience were super low powered and had to build up to any power with a lot of xp expenditures on marginally useful stuff so it is a thematic match to low-level OSR magic-users. I might convert guns for the Solomon Kane feel which should be easy for player one shot d6 damage pistols.

My understanding is the Enemy Within is considered a great campaign for the plot and thematics, so I would not sweat the specific system, running an Old World setting campaign using B/X or Oe should work fine.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
My groups are moving more and more to OSR systems and away from trying out "new" systems. Not to mention we're also playing on VTT that aren't ideal for teaching new systems and implementing ruleset idiosyncrasies. A goal I've had for a few decades is to run Warhammer Fantasy's well-regarded "Enemy Within" campaign, and I've started collecting the 4e WHFRPG's revised books. Only problem is, I don't see us being able to play it in that system. (I GMed a handful of sessions using that ruleset before moving players and the pandemic broke up the group.)

What would be some easy to implement rules changes - if any - to give OSR systems a Warhammer feel? My gut-reaction is that we limit non-human PCs to reflect a more humanocentric world, maybe allow being reduced to 0 HP having a critical injury chart instead of instant death, put in some kind of roll mechanic for magic. I'm thinking that AC can maybe work the same way, even though it wouldn't be as DR - it just makes a low roll be a non-hit.
What do experienced WHFRPG and OSR GMs think?
Weird coincidence. I've been thinking along mostly the same lines. Though starting with B/X and going from there. And the same in regards to using the WFRP4E version of The Enemy Within.

What I was thinking about doing was this. Limit levels to 5-6. Restrict but don't ban non-human races in keeping with the setting. Let everyone multiclass. They have to buy into 1st level of any additional classes, say 1/2 the xp for 2nd level in that class. Careers are separate from classes. Basically straight out of WFRP. Characters get some kind of bonus to rolls when it relates to their career, say +2. Let characters switch careers when it's suitable for roleplaying and when adding levels or classes. Include casting checks which stand in for to-hit rolls for spells. Use critical hits and fumbles. Port your favorite version of WFRP's critical hit and fumble tables. Firearms exist, they're fairly rare, quite expensive, cause any NPC targeted by them roll a morale check or flee, and deal 1d8+DEX mod damage with advantage (roll 2d8 and take the higher result). All other weapons deal 1d6. Limit magic items to weird bits of Chaos like warpstones, etc. Leaving most of the classic D&D mechanics as is, like AC, just to make it run smoother and faster.

I'm sure I'm missing some stuff. But that's generally where I am with a similar idea.

Looking forward to seeing what the thread can come up with.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Publisher
There's WHFRP retroclone called Zweihander. Didn't play it, but I've heard it's good.

Also, Foundry VTT has terrific WHFRP4e module that looks awesome and does basically all the numbers.
 



Retreater

Legend
Thanks for the advice, but no new systems. My players simply will not learn them. It's D&D or nothing. They would be playing for the story and simple combat resolution. Learning anything new, especially something on a VTT, is just out of the question.
They're bright players, but the fun of playing for them isn't in robust character creation, feat and talent selections, point buy systems, etc. B/X is probably the maximum amount of character creation they are willing to do.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
It's a shame that they won't learn a new system, because Troika! can do warhammer very well.

What I would recommend is the GLOG, specifically Skerple's version: Coins and Scrolls: OSR: GLOG-based Homebrew v.2: Many Rats on Sticks Edition

The GLOG is sort of an alternative to old school gaming that has some very fresh elements in it (you can have lunch to retain some HP....) and a very cool spell casting system. The D&D roots are very evident - 6 ability scores, the d20, hitpoints... . It is also possible to create a class for almost any character concept. Power is capped so a troll will always be a big deal.
 

Thanks for the advice, but no new systems. My players simply will not learn them. It's D&D or nothing.
But they don't have to learn WHFRP.

There are no choices to make. They roll everything; race and class. No decision points to slow them down and nothing to learn.

Give them a character sheet, and 2d10 and you're away.

The only rule you really need to tell them is when they want to do something, you'll occasionally ask them to roll percentile dice vs a skill. Low is good.
 

Mannahnin

Explorer
Thanks for the advice, but no new systems. My players simply will not learn them. It's D&D or nothing. They would be playing for the story and simple combat resolution. Learning anything new, especially something on a VTT, is just out of the question.
They're bright players, but the fun of playing for them isn't in robust character creation, feat and talent selections, point buy systems, etc. B/X is probably the maximum amount of character creation they are willing to do.
Small But Vicious Dog and Ten Dead Rats are both B/X D&D retroclones with some tweaks to make them more Warhammery. There's very little the players would need to learn.

Here you can download the rules for TDR for free:

I highly recommend Ten Dead Rats. The designer, Paul, is also doing exactly what you plan to- running The Enemy Within campaign, and the group is broadcasting it on YouTube every Thursday night EST from 8:00-10:00 as well; they just started their third season, and it's a great and funny bunch of players.

 

chuckdee

Explorer
With no new systems being an immutable point, what is it exactly that you're trying to convert from WFRP that you're trying to retain? WFRP is a system with a world that has a unique flavor. Are you just trying to play in that World?
 

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