Interview with Zweihander's Daniel D. Fox: Bounded Accuracy Meets WFRPG

While titans battled for the blitzbowl championship, I spoke to Daniel D. Fox, emperor of Grim and Perilous Studios’ Zweihänder RPG dynasty. He talked playtesting, balanced math, and upcoming projects like the Tetsubō RPG.



Zweihander manages by the grim machinations of its creator, Daniel D. Fox, to forge itself into something both eerily familiar and utterly belonging to the current moment in games. – Adam Koebel, co-creator of Dungeon World​

Around Thanksgiving about six years ago, Daniel decided to write an RPG with an old school feel but built to new standards, especially the bounded accuracy that D&D 5E introduced. Warhammer FRPG was out of print, so he hacked its rules while pulling out the setting.


Three years of playtesting warped that work into 688 pages and led to a kickstarter that raised over $61,000, doubling that with late pledges. While starting from a Warhammer hack, Zweihänder (review) mutated into something unique. Daniel made sure the math worked, with percentile rolls ranging from 45 to 85%. Another change from Warhammer is that each profession possesses a unique ability to make each one both highly useful as well as interesting.

I asked Daniel why D&D players should consider trying out Zweihänder. He said in D&D your PCs change the world while in Zweihänder the world changes your PC. How does your PC, your everyman, deal with what fate throws at them? Character creation is nearly limitless, but you also have to work with what random rolls create. In addition, the rules are world agnostic. GMs can develop fractured fairytales, worlds on the edge of collapse, or other dark magical settings. These decisions, along with the gritty roleplaying, define Zweihänder.

While the RPG is massive, hundreds of pages are player options. Random results lead players to creating unique and unlooked for characters like a half-gnome pit fighter missing part of a foot. No character is meant to be weak or unplayable however, with each of 72 starting professions providing a unique ability and a variety of advances, skills, and talents. The grit and grime enhance the roleplaying without dragging the player completely down into the muck. Hundreds of mechanical options await players.

The GM too is given a toolkit of world and adventure ideas, monsters, and robust rules for wilderness treks, chases, combat, and magic. A GM seeking out a lower magic setting with hundreds of potential options for players can craft a world to fit their groups’ tastes exactly. Zweihänder is similar to D&D in that neither comes with a defined world; the GM is given tools to build their own.


Support from Grim & Perilous Studios for the next three years includes Main Gauche (rules expansion), two upcoming large adventures, and new rules for new worlds including Tetsubō (Asian), Dark Astral (space), and Peacemaker (western). Although small in size, G&P believes in playtesting, math that works, and professional polish.

Grim & Perilous Studios is open to pitches from freelancers for layout, art, and writing work. With all the planned books, they need additional support and Daniel believes in paying fair wages for good work. Contact Daniel at daniel@grimandperilous.com.

Grim & Perilous Studios in now being distributed by Andrews McMeel Universal (current authors include Exploding Kittens, Roger Ebert, Calvin and Hobbes, and Garfield). Zweihänder and future books will be for sale in Barnes & Noble, Target, and other large retailers.

Check out Zweihänder if you like world creation, character options, ongoing support, and/or freelancer opportunities. Daniel wants everyone to have a chance to try Zweihänder so his final words were if anyone could not financially afford the RPG to contact him directly at daniel@grimandperilous.com and he will provide you with a PDF copy.

This article was contributed by Charles Dunwoody as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. Please note that Charles is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Charles Dunwoody

Comments

Gorath99

Villager
The links in the opening paragraph are broken. (There appears to be a "http://"" in front of each URL, as well as a fancy double quote at the end.)

Thanks for the article. Zweihänder sounds interesting. The artwork is right up my alley too.

Shame that (as usual for English language books) the book is priced considerably higher in continental Europe. Amazon France and Germany both sell the book for over 60 euros, which is 20% more than Amazon UK (about 50 euros) and almost double the price of Amazon US (about 35 euros). I assume this is entirely Amazon's decision. Very annoying though. At 35 euros this would be an impulse buy for me, but not at 60. :-(
 

Banesfinger

Explorer
Zweihänder has been compared to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying, with its main strength being that it is not tied to a specific world like Warhammer.
What are the other major differences of Zweihänder, compared to Warhammer 4th ed. ?
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Zweihänder has been compared to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying, with its main strength being that it is not tied to a specific world like Warhammer.
What are the other major differences of Zweihänder, compared to Warhammer 4th ed. ?
Yeah, I'd like some comments on this.

I'm considering getting WFRPG 4e as a gift to a young gamer who'd like to try something new.

I loved WFRPG (1e), but haven't kept up with it since ... oh, 1990? Anyone know what Zweihander is like?
 

Hurin88

Explorer
Bounded Accuracy is a design principle introduced for 5e, not 4e DnD. It was specifically a change from the less bounded accuracy of 4e.
 

JudgeMonroe

Villager
Zweihänder and future books will be for sale in Barnes & Noble, Target, and other large retailers.


My Targets have board game sections but no RPG books in either the toy/game or book/magazine sections. This is an interesting direction for them to take.
 

Skywalker

Explorer
Zweihander is mechanically more closely linked to WFRP2e. Though WFRP1e is still looked on fondly by all WFRP fans, the mechanics of 2e are generally considered to be close to 1e whilst cleaning up and streamlining the system. The changes in Zweihander are mostly to deal with specific issues that arose from playing the 2e rule set.

4e uses the same base 2e base but adds more new mechanics and subsystems to work around the issues rather than work through them. Some of these fixes are reminiscent of the WH40K RPGs, such as career bundling, but others are entirely new such as momentum.

Fans of both RPGs will tell you that the one they like is closer to 1e than the other :) I personally found the art and tone of Zweihander to give it a stronger 1e vibe than 4e, though admittedly the mechanics were closer to 2e than 1e.

Overall, my preference is for Zweihander (though 2e is still an RPG I love and play a lot). Its particularly good in that it has allowed us to take the ruleset we love and apply it to our own settings inspired by the likes of Joe Abercrombie, Glen Cook, and GRR Martin. 4e looked great on paper, but we found that a number of new subsystems to be confusing and a pain to keep track of in play (momentum being the prime suspect).

Another plus for me for Zweihander is that it has Tetsubo and Peacemaker on the horizon for samurai and western action respectively. Tetsubo in particular was written for WFRP 1e by some British RPG Industry heavyweights (Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson) but never saw the light of day for being too grim and perilous for the broader market GW wanted to sell to. Its great to see this book finally arise and take form.

Cubicle 7 are also doing Age of Sigmar which is WFRP but set in the heroic genre of the war game. However, it will be using an entirely new system, so I don't expect much cross over. However, they have been saying that it is designed to be newbie friendly.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

pogre

Adventurer
2E WFRP is still my favorite. I'm honestly undecided about 4e - I have not played it extensively - I agree with the upthread comment about it having a few too many fiddly parts during combat. I plan on running an entire campaign this summer - it may change my mind.

I was impressed with the effort behind Zweihander just not the rules decisions. The author is definitely proud of his work - he is pictured in the rulebook at least twice. ;) In all seriousness, for the rule set closer to 1st edition I would certainly give the edge to Zweihander just from reading both systems - and playing an adventure or two with both.
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Top