log in or register to remove this ad


Main Gauche supplement for Zweihander- a read-through



Hello, all. In another thread, I'm doing a read-through of The Zweihander Grim & Perilous RPG Revised Core Rulebook. It was quite the undertaking. Clocking in at nearly 700 pages, that book had a Players' Guide, GM's Guide, and Bestiary all rolled into one comprehensive package. Seriously, you could game for ages with the material in that book alone.

But what if I told you that there was material that had been left out of the core rulebook? Well, there was. I have heard interviews with the game's author and lead designer, Daniel Fox, wherein he stated that he had to leave some material out, lest the book's weight (and its price) become unmanageable. Some of this material has been published as "Dark Astral", a sort of rough set of conversion notes for using Zweihander (which initially sprang from WFRP2e house rules) to play games set in a "Grimdark" future. But, as it turns out, there was more. Much more.

Which brings us to Main Gauche. Weighing in at just over half the page count of its predecessor, this new supplement is nevertheless a heavyweight in its own right. It's packed full of new professions and rules to enhance your Zweihander game. I have seen it described as a "Chaos Supplement". Intruiging! Let's take a look at it, shall we?


As with the Revised Core Rulebook, Main Gauche is a beautiful book. It has many of the same qualities that made Zweihander such an impressive physical product. The same matte finish, which gives it a somewhat "understated" look. Well, as much as that's possible, given the cover (more on that in a bit). Thick, glossy pages. Lay flat binding that allows Main Gauche to be used effortlessly in play. Excellent illustrations by Dejan Mandic throughout, including on the border of every page. As with the corebook, Main Gauche has a cohesive feel. The art is plentiful, very well done, and, unlike some other games, not in garish color. No, these are in a distinctive black and white, that has a very nostalgic feel for old farts like me. It has that "almost underground comix" vibe that I loved so much about early RPG art. It sets quite the mood.

And while I had described the cover of the core book as not being very dynamic, the cover of Main Gauche is Dynamic with a capital D. By Ken Duquet and Dejan Mandic, it is a harrowing scene of adventurers (cleverly depicted as Characters of Professions listed in this very book) engaged in battle with what appear to be the very forces of Chaos. There is blood. There is Fire. There are Demons.

The endsheets are a darkish grey, and there is a greyish brown ribbon sewn into the binding to use as a bookmark.

Another minor complaint I had about the core book was that the printing in some of the tables was a tad small to be read comfortably by me (though, again, I am old). That is the case here, as well. Again, this is only something that comes up in the various tables, and in the Table of Contents.

Overall, I cannot find fault with the physical presentation of this book. Now, let's crack it open!

After the Table of Contents, there is an introductory bit of fiction featuring ex-convict, soldier and survivor Danziger Eckhardt, who also introduced us to the core book. And as grim as that into was, this one is even bleaker. I won't spoil it, but I will say it doesn't make ol' Danziger a very sympathetic character. Brrr!

Next there is a note from the designer, which tells us a bit about what has happened since Zweihander's official release in 2017. He then goes on to explain that Main Gauche is a mix of new material, and stuff that was left out of Zweihander's core book. Fox explains that what is in this new book has been thoroughly tested, and crafted to adhere to Zweihander's "bounded accuracy" model of game design, as well as its aesthetics and "feel". One thing I like about Zweihander is that many of the optional rules can be bolted on or stripped away with ease and without disrupting the flow of the game, so I welcomed the news that any systems contained within these pages would have the same modularity.

Then, we get a breakdown of what we will find in Main Gauche, to wit:

-Liber Mortalum (Book of Mortals) new Professions, and lots of 'em.

-Liber Armorum (Book of Weapons) 65 new pieces of armor, armament and shields, plus new materials with which to craft them, And, more WAR MACHINES!

-Liber Vehiculorum (Book of Vehicles) expands upon existing vehicles, but also adds fantastic machines, powered by Wytchstone, that drive or fly. Also includes rules for vehicular combat.

-Liber Alchemiae (Book of Alchemy) how to make stuff into other, cooler stuff. New Diseases, Disorders and Treatments. Also, fun with Wytchstone ("Wytch-Science", a practice of the Skrzzak)!

-Liber Daemonum (Book of Demons) how to contact and control be killed by Demons.

-Liber Umbrarum (Book of Shadows) Covenant Magick, a new path for those wishing to get new and exciting spells from Demonic patrons. Just remember, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

-Liber Malus (Book of Evil) rules for creating your own creatures and NPCs.

-Liber Obscurus (Book of Mysteries) jinkies! Rules for running investigations and conspiracies.

-There's Something About Marie, a full-length adventure that can be used as a follow-up to "A Bitter Harvest", from the core book.

-Appendix expanded tables which fold new material into the material from the Main Rules.

That's what we're going to see in Main Gauche, and I will be going through it, Chapter by Chapter. I hope you'll stick around.

I have noticed a couple of minor typos in the first 15 or so pages. My only real complaint with the main book was the editing, and I really hope that's not a running theme with this one.

Overall, though, I'm pretty excited to check this out. But, I have yardwork to do tomorrow, so I gotta go for now. Watch this space, because next up is


log in or register to remove this ad



The Zweihander core book had nearly 120 Professions. In Zweihander, your Character will have a randomly rolled Archetype (a sort of broad class, e.g., Academic, Warrior, Socialite, etc.), and then, from within that Archetype, a Profession will also be randomly rolled. There are also Expert Professions, which are not randomly selected, but can be chosen provided the Character meets certain criteria (for a more detailed explanation of all of this, see my Zweihander read-through, linked in the OP).

The core book had 72 regular Professions, and 46 Expert Professions. Main Gauche has 18 new regular professions, and 50(!) new Expert Professions. The new regular Professions have been folded into expanded Archetype tables, making character creation flow seamlessly even when using material from this new supplement.

The new professions are presented in the same format as those from the core book (NAME, PROFESSIONAL TRAIT, SPECIAL TRAIT if applicable, DRAWBACK if applicable, ADVANCES needed to advance to the next Tier). Traits, for those who don't know or remember, are special abilities unique to certain Professions or Ancestries (again see previous read-through for more details).

None of the new regular Professions seem to have access to Magick, but some of the Expert Professions have limited acess to Magick, or the use of Magick-like Traits. In addition, 12 of these Expert Professions have access to Covenant Magick. Covenant Magick is a new tradition, and sort of a melding of Arcane and Divine Magick from the core book. It will also cost you your soul. More on that in Chapter 6.

These new Professions showcase a broad range of character types. Some of them have analogs to WFRP's Careers, and some are unique to Zweihander. Cleverly, some of them are multi-faceted. Like the "Blitzballer" (a nod to Warhammer Fantasy spinoff board game Blood Bowl). When you roll a Blitzballer, you choose one of six roles (blitzer, blocker, catcher, lineman, runner or thrower), each with a unique Trait. Similarly, the Expert Profession, Fanatic, requires the Player to select a "sect".

The overall selection of new Professions varies fromsome that might at first glance seem pedestrian, like, say, the Pamphleteer or the Quartermaster, to those that are instantly engaging, such as the Reaver or the Armiger (basically a walking tank). As I stated in the OP, each Profession adheres to Zweihander's "bounded accuracy" model.

Zweihander's trademark humor is on display, in such Expert Professions as the Grognard, or Traits such as Wyrd Science.

Each Profession gets its own illustration, and the characters here are diverse in race, gender and even body type, as in the core rulebook.

After describing each of the Professions in detail, Chapter 1 closes with four pages of tables, listing all of the Expert Professions from both the Zweihander corebook and Main Gauche. They are all listed alphabetically, with entries for Qualifying Tier (minimum Tier of advancement needed to choose that Expert Profession), Skill Requirements (Expert Professions have Skill prerequisites), and, where applicable, Other Requirements. As I stated before, regular Professions are not chosen randomly, so these aren't "tables" as such. What they are is a very handy, at-a-glance listing of all Expert Professions, that will save you and your players much page-flipping, and make comparing (and, by extension, choosing) these Professions much easier. It's a neat tool to have, and one that doesn't appear in the core rulebook. This is a great way to painlessly meld these new professions with the existing rules.

Chapter 1 is the longest Chapter in the book. Bursting with new options for Players, it adds a lot, without adding any appreciable weight, or game-breaking balance issues.

That's all for tonight, I'll be back soon with...




Chapter 2 is an expansion on the ideas contained in the core book's 7th Chapter, "Trappings". It isn't very long, 18 pages actually. But, unsurprisingly, it's packed to the gills.

It begins with "Settlements & Availability", which describes the three basic types (and sizes) of settlements to be found in the game world. It also details the various economic and commercial nuances of each (in ascending order of size- Village, Town, City). The book goes into the inter-dependencies of each settlement type with the others, usual distances apart (given in days of foot travel), how their size and remoteness affects the availability and pricing of goods, which social classes are most prevalent, and how they are usually governed.

I like this section very much, for two reasons. One, it's very useful, and one can easily see its utility in play. I know Zweihander has "no established setting", but touches like this make it easier to function without one. At this point, all you need are a name and some NPCs. Maybe some details about what this village produces (Fish? Pumpkins?), or who the local Burgomaster is. Sure, you could come up with all of this on your own, but it's nice to have all of the heavy lifting done for you. Another tool in the kit.

The second thing I like about this section is that it's very straightforward. Linear, not too wordy, but still descriptive enough. Stuff like this represents a definite improvement over the sometimes jumbled and overwritten core book.

Next up, we have "New Materials In Craftsmanship", which lists eight materials from which armor and weapons can be crafted. This is a new concept. Most of these materials are considered non-traditional, so, "off the rack" weapons will not have these qualities or materials as a matter of course. The book tells us that the Standard Pricing in the core rules assumes construction of Iron. However, the new materials include, but are not limited to, Cold Iron (effective against certain Magickal creatures as if Anointed), Ironwood (an unnaturally strong wood that increases the range of arrows and such), Meteoric Iron (armor and weapons crafted from this are more effective), and Mithril (ancient Elven secret, fused to mail, making it light and strong). Some of these materials have drawbacks as well, either in terms of cost (as much as 9 times Standard Pricing in some cases) or fragility. So, unlike a lot of supplements, Main Gauche preserves balance and avoids power creep (looking at you, High Guard).

There is also a nifty formula for translating a Character's weight to Encumbrance points, just in case your Half-Ogre and Dwarf want to use the ol' "Fastball Special" on an opponent.

Next, we get "New Weapons" -bit of an understatement, this. 60 new weapons in all. That's more than in the core book! Did you enjoy the page in the AD&D Player's Handbook with the picture of all the weapons? Well, then, you're gonna be an orgasmic mess when you see this naughty word. Every weapon is illustrated. It looks like there are also a few old faves from the aforementioned Player's Handbook, and, if I'm not mistaken, Tunnels & Trolls as well (here's a little nostalgia for the old folks)

As in the core book, the weapons are grouped by type: Martial Melee, Simple Melee, Martial Ranged and Simple Ranged. Each is described according to the same format as the corebook (Name, Skill, Load, Handling, Distance, Qualities, Type, Alt. Damage, Encumbrance Value and Price). There are tables for each type of weapon. The "Alt. Damage" listing is a nice touch. You may remember that Basic Damage in Zweihander is 1 exploding d6 (referred to as the Fury Die) + Combat Bonus (or another Attribute Bonus, depending on Traits or Weapon Qualities), modified by Traits /Weapon Qualities, etc. Alternate Damage is similar, but instead of defaulting to Combat Bonus it references Combat Bonus, Agility Bonus, or Brawn Bonus depending on Weapon, then adds or subtracts a fixed amount. It's optional, but it can help to distinguish the weapons from each other a bit more. In the main book, the Alternative Damage was in a separate Chapter from the main weapon lists. Here, it's all together. I like that better. However, it would have been nice to have the weapons from the Zweihander core book rolled into these tables as well. I get that it would have made these big tables downright MASSIVE, but given the way the Professions from both books were melded in Main Gauche, and how cool that was, it seems to me to be a bit of a missed opportunity. To be totally fair, my group doesn't use Alternative Damage, but still.

In addition to new Weapons, there are new Weapon Qualities. Remember, Qualities are properties that change how a Weapon operates, deals Damage, etc. Some Qualities bestow a benefit, and some are a drawback, and since a Weapon can have more than one Quality, the combinations make each weapon distinct. There are 9 new Qualities here, and they nicely expand the options and effects available in Combat.

Like Weapons, Armor and Shields have Qualities. In fact, there are new Types and Qualities for both. There are optional rules in Zweihander for Piecemeal Armor, and, as with Weapons, those have been folded into the new item tables rather than kept separate.

War Machines, which include large field Weapons such as Cannons and Bolt Throwers, are greatly expanded upon here, with 6 new Types and 6 new Qualities.

Overall, Chapter 2 is a roaring success. It's a concise, yet comprehensive set of tools that can be used to add variety and distinction to the Weapons in your Zweihander game. Two thumbs way up for this Chapter!

That's it for now, be seeing you.



The third chapter of Main Gauche is all about Vehicles, both mechanical and animal. Now, both of these things were touched upon very briefly in the main book. But only in Price Lists and in the Chase Rules. And, while both of these are useful pieces of information to have, they definitely didn't paint a complete picture of what these various forms of conveyance really mean in the game. Well, that's been rectified here. As with the previous chapter, this one is short (22 pages), but seemingly bigger on the inside.

Chapter 3 begins with "Fantastic Machines", which explains that, as with weapons, strange and dangerous Wytchstone concoctions can be used to create amazing and even fearsome methods of travel, and/or mayhem. Each Fantastic Machine is powered by an "Arkwright Cauldron", or engine, which is in turn powered by "Bottled Lightning". Again, the awesome power of this potent fuel is kept manageable by its high cost and difficult fabrication. But rules are given for doing just that, for those brave or insane enough to play about with Wytchstone.

There is a sidebar on Crafting Fantastic Machines, which refers the reader to the Crafting rules in Chapter 7 of the core book. There are, however, several listed (and statted), for instant in-game use, should your GM allow it. Some of these machines have mighty abilities, and some might push your game into an almost Steampunk (Wytchpunk?) territory. At first, some of these seem almost at odds with the grim n' gritty, humanocentric default of the game. That's not to say they aren't cool, because they are. But I can't see them fitting every campaign. But, like so many things in Zweihander, they are an option you may use to enhance your game or not, depending on your taste.

The actual Fantastic Machines themselves are quite diverse, ranging from the Difference Engine (large, primitive computer), to the Haldavinson (think monstrous American motorcycle), to the Kugelpanzer (nightmarish monowheel of death). Other uses include Torchlamps (a sort of gaslight), and Zeppelins. As might be expected, some of these machines may be quite dangerous to operate. Not only due to the volatile Wytchstone-derived Bottled Lightning, but due to the uncertain results of a mechanical science in its very infancy. Your Character may achieve glory, be immolated, even suffer permanent and grotesque effects due to exposure to Wytchstone's inherent corrupting influence. But it isn't all corrupting influence and unstable rolling deathtraps. No, Main Gauche also has greatly expanded rules for Steeds and more conventional vehicles, such as chariots, carriages and coaches. There are 6 Vehicles and 8 types of mount (War Elephants and Donkeys are included next to several varieties of horse). As with Fantastic Machines, Vehicles are illustrated and described.

As with Weapons, Fantastic Machines and Vehicles have Qualities. These Qualities come into play during Vehicle Combat. As with Weapons, vehicles will have combinations of Qualities that give each a unique character. Some Qualities confer a benefit, and others a limitation or drawback.

Vehicles and Fantastic Machines are then presented on a table, according to the following format:


the number of persons required to operate said Vehicle

Passengers how many it can carry apart from its crew

Operate Check which Skill is referenced when trying to operate it


this is the Vehicle's base Movement , which will be modified by operator Skill

Size Modifier this stat serves two purposes: calculating the Vehicle Threshold (like a Character's Damage Track, but for Vehicles), and determining how much Damage the Vehicle inflicts when it hits/runs over something (or someone)

Horsepower the number of Horses needed to pull a non-Arkwright Cauldron-powered Vehicle


Then, each of the 6 horse-drawn Vehicles are described (with an illustration), as the Fantastic Machines were previously. Aside from one Fantastic Machine, The Juggernaut Frigate, no watercraft are detailed, and it is stated that rules for such will be appearing in a later book.

Next, there is a very helpful, but oddly placed pair of charts which gives the amount of weight that can be lifted overhead by a Character, depending on their Brawn Boonus and Ancestry. This weight is given in both pounds and Encumbrance points, which is very cool. I mean, it's gonna come up at some point. Accompanying these charts is a sidebar explaining how to use these numbers to also calculate your Character's maximum push/pull weight. Like I said, this is very cool, but why not put it next to the "how much does my character weigh" sidebar, in Trappings? It's not a really big deal, at all, and so far Main Gauche doesn't seem to suffer from nearly as many editing problems as the corebook. A minor point of contention, at best.

Descriptions of the various Steeds and their Encumbrance limits are next, followed by a chart in which each mount is listed (from the fast, sturdy Destrier, to the slower but serviceable Rouncey Horse), along with their Movement, Size Modifier, Encumbrance Limit, and Price. These animals, it should be noted, do not have Qualities.

Now, it's on to Vehicle Combat!

Firstly, we're told that Vehicle Combat is intended to be utilized during encounters that use Structured Time, e.g., Combat. An "Operate Check", used when driving/piloting a Vehicle, is used during times of stress, following the same rules as most other Skill Checks. Opposed Tests may also be used, when there may be some type of competing action.

Passengers in or on Vehicles usually have their full amount of Action Points during Combat. Most Vehicles in Main Gauche do not require considerations of Movement around the Vehicle, though there may be exceptions to this, at the GM's discretion.

Those crewing a Vehicle will usually not be able to use normal Combat Actions while doing so, unless the GM allows it.They cann, however, take advantage of a whole host of Vehicle Combat Actions.

Vehicle Combat follows much the same formula as regular Combat, and Actions are divided into Movement Actions, Attack Actions, Perilous Stunts, Special Actions and Reactions. As with regular Combat, both Attack Actions and Perilous Stunts may each only be performed by a character once per turn. In addition, Vehicle Combat uses the same Initiative Ladder as man-to-man combat.

Vehicle Combat uses the following procedure:

Step 1: Positioning - Determine whether the Vehicles are Engaged (Zweihander's term for face-to-face, or close enough to count). Furthermore, you must determine whether each Vehicle is Behind, Beside or In Front Of the other. These determinations are important, as they will decide whether attacks or certain maneuvers can be used or performed.

Step 2: Make the Attack. Collide is the only real Attack Action that a Vehicle can Perform, though there are Perilous Stunts that can be used. Cpmbat in Zweihander gives each Character 3 Action Points, and any that remain unused at the start of your next turn are lost. I like "Action Pool" combat mechanics such as this one, as they tend to do two things: act as a sort of "equalizer", in which everyone basically has the same resources (though there are exceptions, natch): and cause players to think somewhat strategically with regard to the management of that resource. Looking at Vehicle Combat, it seems that a large part of it is using the various actions to best position yourself to attack. It's not too different at all from regular Zweihander Combat, but it has a neat internal logic when it comes to vehicles.

...I had hoped to finish this Chapter tonight, but it's just not in the cards.




Okay, so, looking up, we see that I was partway through explaining the procedure for Vehicle Combat. I was in the midst of discussing Step 2: Make The Attack. I just explained the rules for one kind of Attack, a Vehicle-To-Vehicle Strike. That is, an Attack on one Vehicle, using the Attacker's Vehicle as the Weapon. There is really only one Attack Action, Collide, which is performed by making and Operate Check. The GM will determine the Difficulty Rating, as usual.

In addition, passengers may Attack using Ranged or Melee Weapons. There are some restrictions, of course. The Attacker, if not using a Ranged Weapon, will need a Weapon with the Reach Quality. And if the horse (a Dray Horse is needed to do this) pulling a conveyance starts to Bleed or is Injured, the Vehicle may suffer a Crash. Horses bleed just like Characters, that is to say, to death if not treated. And let's just say that one dead horse on your team can make for a really bad day, especially during a Chase or Vehicle Combat.

Ranged Weapons can be used, provided the Attacker can see outside the Vehicle.

Step 3: Other Vehicle Evades - is Successful, e.g., not Ecaded, it's time to roll Damage. Drivers/Pilots can "Jink", a maneuver designed to evade damage, equivalent to a "Dodge" in personal Combat. A Vehicle's Size, along with other factors, will be used to determine the Difficulty Level of such an Action.

One neat detail: Passengers who successfully deal a Melee blow will inflict additional Damage relative to the speed of the Vehicle in which they are riding. This has a cool internal logic, and isn't complex (extra Fury Die).

Step 4: Roll Damage - If the Attack is successful, it's time to figure out how much Damage the other Vehicle takes. Vehicles that Collide with other VEhicles inflict Damage according to the following formula: Vehicle Size Modifier+1d10 Momentum Die. The number generated is compared to the other Vehicle's Vehicle Threshold. This is like Damage Threshold, in that it is a track. Its value is determined by adding to the Vehicle Size Modifier an amount determined by the Driver/Pilot's Perception Bonus. [PB] 1 to 6 adds 1, [PB] 7 to 12 adds 2, and [PB] 13 or greater adds 3.

Sep 5: Determine Vehicle Condition - As with the Character Damage Threshold, the Vehicle Threshold is extrapolated to +6/+12/+18, to form a 6-step track, just like the Peril and Damage Condition Tracks used elsewhere. And, as with Damage, when Vehicles reach the Moderately Smashed step, they can begin to suffer Mishaps, the likelihood and number of which can increase as the Vehicle takes more Damage and moves further down the Track. Mishaps are like injuries for Vehicles, and are determined in the same way, by rolling Chaos Dice. On a face 6, a Vehicle that has suffered a Mishap will roll on the appropriate table (Moderate, Serious, Grievous), to determine what unfortunate thing has befallen it. Each table has 12 Mishaps, ranging from near-harmless, to worrisome, to downright crippling or even fatal. As with Injuries suffered by Characters, a Fate Point can be expended to ignore a single Mishap.,

(QUICK SIDEBAR: i failed to note earlier, when discussing Vehicle Position and its importance to Vehicle Combat, that Position can be changed by means of a successful Operate Check)

Next, there is an explanation of how to Repair Vehicles, the skills, time and material involved, as well as Difficulty Levels based on Vehicle Condition.

There is a paragraph on the Healing of Injured Dray Horses. I hope you have plenty of bandages!

Chapter 3 closes with some quick rules for using Steeds in place of Vehicles, and how it is different.

Chapter 3 is really nice. It's beautifully illustrated, has a lot of useful info, and introduces some neat subsystems that run off of the same basic framework, rather than being fiddly mini-games. It's concise and well-written. Overall, I'd say my only compaints would be 1 or 2 very minor typos, and the introduction of new terms such as Momentum Dice and Vehicle Threshold, when Fury Dice and Damage Threshold already have an established meaning for pretty much the same thing. I get that it adds a bit of flavor and distinction, but I question whether it was necessary. I can see many just using the already established terms, as my group probably would. But, really, I must admit, that's nit-picking. It's a great chapter of new options that are easily bolted to your existing game. Well done.



At long last, I have made time to write up Main Gauche's fourth Chapter. This one is all about how you can achieve corruption, disfigurement and death better living through chemistry! Or Wytch-science, take your pick.

This chapter expands upon ideas from the Zweihander core book, namely Materia Medica from Chapter 9, Hazards & Healing, and Wytchstone in Chapter 10, The Grimoire.

Firstly, there is a brief passage that details how one goes about making Aetheric Fluid. This is used to animate and heal Golems. Further details on the creation of Golems will be given later in the book, we are told. As with the core book's 9th Chapter, there are instructions for what materials, amount of time, and Skill Test are required to create the Aetheric Fluid. Also listed are the results of success and failure when it is attempted.

Next up, we have a section called "DECOCTIONS & PRIMA MATERIA". This part explains that the five "classical elements" are for plebs, and that those of keener intelligence see in all things (animal, mineral, vegetable, or worse) materials which contain potent and valuable ingredients. In the right hands, these ingredients can be used to brew "Decoctions", powerful potions that will temporarily boost one of a Character's Attributes by 9%.

In order to begin, the Character must hunt, harvest or buy (this latter option being prohibitively expensive in most cases) the Prima Materia. There is a chart that lists the various Decoctions (one for each Attribute, remember), the Prima Materia required (Plant, Mineral or Creature - each decoction will require one or more of each. Furthermore, Prima Materia can have different degrees of rarity, kind of like Magic cards. Harvesting (or hunting) these ingredients will require a Survival Test...

-Abundant: (Challenging -10% Survival Test)

-Uncommon: (Hard -20% Survival Test)

-Exotic: (Arduous -30% Survival Test)

...and, as with other endeavours, each degree of rarity will require a longer amount of time to find (measured in hours). There are also benefits for success (Critical Success reduces time needed to find) and penalties for failure (no Prima Materia, and Critical causes Peril).

Then, the Alchemist can brew the Decoction. Again, materials, time and a Successful Test are all needed. The stronger the Decoction (and stronger... lasts longer), the higher the Difficulty Rating.

Assuming that all has gone well up to this point, the brew is ready for "Quaffing". In addition to having one's Attribute temporarily increased, he player doing the Quaffing must make a Successful Toughness Test, or suffer Peril. The stronger the Decoction, the more Peril you will face.

After this, there is a full-page sidebar about how to play Dice Poker. Now, this seems at first like another oddly placed sidebar. But, I'm starting to think this is intentional, rather than haphazard. And, because of this, I'm starting to like it quite a bit. I know that Main Gauche is largely made up of bits that were excised from the core rulebook for reasons of liability (y'know, due to people dropping 12.5-poun books on their toe), er, space I mean. So, it makes sense that some of this stuff wouldn't need its own chapter, but is still worthy of inclusion. I can get behind that, and it's actually a neat way to include them. So, I'm gonna walk back my comments about previous sidebars here.

As for the actual Dice Poker rules themselves, the book says that it's from The Witcher 2 video game. Each character playing will need 5d6. There are 9 "hands", listed from best to worst. A "play area" is selected, representing a table(a piece of paper or lid to a box, etc.) and any dice that land or fall out of this area after being rolled are not counted. This can be countered, that is to say, such "fallen" dice can be recovered by means of a successful Gamble Test. Characters first bid(and/or raise), then roll. They look at their hands, raise stakes if desired, and then may each re-roll from one to four dice. After the re-rolls, if any, highest hand wins. That's the gist, anyway. At first blush, this system is... OK. I can definitely see it being a nice change of pace. But one thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't really seem to take the Characters' Skill into account. You can use Skullduggery or Gambling, but only to "cheat" in various ways (failure brings n Peril and the potential of being found out). So, outside of using a Gamble test (and all repeated Tests made while playing get progressively harder) to recover a die that has landed outside of the play area, it seems that a Character who doesn't cheat is at a distinct disadvantage, and two characters who don't cheat are evenly matched, even if one has two Skill Ranks in Gamble, and the other has none, plus a low Attribute score to boot!

So, I'm of two minds about the section on Dice Poker. Obviously, some thought went into it, which is cool. And it is a functional game that helps to take in-game Gambling from the purely abstract and into the practical. But I'm not a fan of its total randomness, when Gamble is a Skill in the game. I'll still try it, because if my players end up getting a kick out of it, that'd be great. But I'd love to see Skill play a bigger part outside of cheating.

Well, I'm sorry I made y'all wait so long, and I'm even sorrier that I'm not gonna get to far tonight. There's a fair bit more of Chapter 4 to go (most of it, really), and in true Zweihander style, it's jam-packed. I'll keep plugging away at it, and hopefully with fewer(and shorter) gaps between posts.




This Chapter is like one of those "friends" who tells you what a bad idea something is, then proceeds to show you how to do that very thing. It's about Daemons. But, more specifically, it's about how your Character can gain Daemonic Patronage, and with it, gifts of forbidden power and knowledge.

A section called, "On The Nature OF Daemons" tells us a bit about these forbidden (I mean it- their worship is effectively banned everywhere that decent people - and even most awful people - live) deities. How people turn to them because of greed, anger or fear. And how Daemons will take advantage of that every time to twist their thralls into something so perverse as to be barely recognizable as human.

Occultists, as the followers of Daemons are called, are not concerned with the hereafter, but rather with the here and now. Earthly influence, fulfillment of carnal desires, the spreading of Chaos, and, of course, the recruitment of new followers to their Daemonic masters. But these Daemon-bound workers of dark Magick are not plainly evident, even in polite society. No, part of the danger of the Occultist is that they can be anyone... and often are who you'd least expect.

Certain Expert Professions from Main Gauche are able to make pacts with Daemons (this is the Covenant Magick" I mentioned in my post on Chapter 1). They will gain access to new and powerful Magicks, but they will give up their soul, and likely suffer the effects of Corruption as well.

There is an interesting system to make the worship of Daemons something with an actual sense of danger. It's tied to Zweihander's Alignment system, which is largely a roleplaying tool, but has lasting effects on your Character, for ill or for good, depending on their behavior. In Main Gauche, the Alignment system becomes a bit stricter where Occultists are concerned. Remember in Chapter 1, where it was stated that 12 of the new Expert Professions could use the new Covenant Magick? Well, each of these is beholden to one of 12 Daemons presented in this Chapter. Upon entering one of these Expert Professions, your Character will permanently lose their Order Alignment, and must select one of their Daemonic Patron's "Aspects". Each Daemon has three of these Aspects, which are kind of like that Daemon's "turn-ons". When you have achieved 10 Ranks in your patron Daemon's Aspect, you may either take a Fate Point, as with Order Ranks, or randomly roll a Daemonic Gift. Each Daemon has their own table. Like the Daemons themselves, these gifts are powerful, yet mercurial. Some are more beneficial than others. But all convey some benefit. Most also have negative consequences of some sort. Some are quite powerful, though, and it is easy to see the appeal of the left hand path.

However, in addition to the potential negative effects of any Daemonic Gifts, there is also the likelihood of gaining Corruption. For those not Daemonbound, Corruption is gained by doing bad things, even if they must be done for the greater good. That's where your Chaos Alignment comes into play. Your Character will now no longer gain Corruption from evil acts, provided those acts further said Daemon Lord's interest. However, wickedness that doesn't benefit or please the Daemon you represent will still gain you Corruption. Furthermore, anytime you fail to act in furtherance of your unholy master's desire, you are stricken with Corruption. And don't go thinking that you can just sit out conflicts that may pose uncomfortable dilemmas. Like a wise Canadian once said, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." No, you have to be actively evil here. It's not enough to sit back and hope others join you in your pursuit of evil. You gotta get out there and knock on doors, ya gotta sell it. Think of it as a blasphemous Amway. It'll have the same effect on your social life, anyway.

What I'm getting at here is this: if you want to be evil in Zweihander, there's a price to be paid (Corruption). IF you want to be really evil, you're going to have to work for it. There's no such thing as a free lunch. I can think of many games I've played where one or more players were "evil" in name only, or when it suited them. But, according to these rules, there are no "part-timers". You're either in, or you're out. And if you're in, you will eventually succumb to the evil you seek to serve. And you will also be forced to act in a manner that is sure to bring you trouble. Trouble from the law, and from any not so wicked as you.

Like the Alignment rules in general, these new rules going to require a GM who is dedicated to ensuring that they work as intended. I can't really see too many of these types of Characters lasting long in any gaming group not made up of like-minded Characters (although the idea of one or more Characters being "undercover" Occultists in a party sounds fun).

Next, we get introduced to the Daemons themselves. There are eleven of them here, though we are told that this is but a small portion of them. As stated previously, each Daemon has three Aspects. They are the almost human-like desires and emotions of that Daemon.

Of the 11 Daemons listed, some appear in the Zweihander Core Rules (albeit in a much more vague and non-mechanical manner), and some do not. In addition, two of the Daemons from the Core Book (The Ancient Ones and The Gilded Pharoah) are not detailed here. Somewhat confusingly, one of the Daemons that appears in both books - The Tusked One - is actually three of the Daemons detailed here, as that hideous being has three different Daemonic forms (The Endless Gullet, The Hellfurnace, and The Slavering Maw), which are, confusingly, also called aspects. So, The Tusked One has three aspects, each of which has three Aspects. I find the idea of such a multifaceted Daemon to be cool as a concept, but the double meaning of the word "aspect" here seems needlessly confusing to me. Wouldn't it have been just as easy to call The Tusked One's aspects "forms", or "avatars", or something?

Then, it's on to the description of each Daemon. They follow this format:

Name: The name the Daemon is known by. Not to be confused with a "True Name". Also, a description of that Daemon's form, if applicable, and a brief description of how it came to be.

Forbidden Lore: That Daemon's drives and desires, the things it seeks to advance through its Aspects.

Aspects: A description of each Daemon's three Aspects, and what the Daemon's adherents will need to do in order to fulfill them.

Each is illustrated, as is usual for Zweihander. This section should get any Character who enters the service of a Daemon up and running, whatever your particular stripe of evil. For example, there is The Black Lodge, both an entity and a place suspended between the very fibers of reality. This Daemon draws power from suffering. Its Aspects are: Depraved, Vexing, Xenophobic. It is worshiped by Dirgesingers (one of the new Expert Professions).

For those wondering how an Aspect might be used in play, let's break down the Black Lodge's Aspects.

Depraved: this Aspect can be fulfilled by indulging one's most primal instincts -food, mating and survival. But, this must be done in a manner at odds with established social mores and common decency.

Vexing: only by bewildering, scaring and aggravating those around you can you benefit from this Aspect.

Xenophobic: cold aloofness and a detatchment from others are the keys to benefiting from this Aspect.

Each Daemon is detailed in this manner.

The Chapter closes with a 11 tables of Daemonic Gifts, one for each of the Abyssal lords. Upon achieving 10 Ranks in your Daemon's chosen Aspect, your Character may either add a Fate point, or roll randomly for a Dameonic Gift (and take a permenent Chaos Rank). Each Daemon can bestow 11 different Gifts. These are all different, except for the rarest two, which are common to every Daemon.

-True Name, where your Character is given a True Name by their Daemon. This is a concept from the Core Rules. Each Daemon has a True Name, with which it can be summoned and possibly controlled (good luck with that!). In recieving one, the player becomes immune to Magick unless the caster knows their True Name. However, if their True Name should be discovered (and it has to be inscribed on something and secreted), they could be summoned, bound and controlled.

-Mark of the [INSERT DAEMON NAME HERE], the symbol of your Daemon on your forehead, visible only to those in league with you, or using Magick. Enables you to Channel Power to cast Spells, and apply that power to two spells instead of one.

Aside from these Gifts, there is a whole new tradition of Magick. Covenant Magick is granted by Daemons, and as such is sort of a mix of Divine and Arcane Magick. It'll be the focus of Chapter 6.

Thanks for reading. Stick around, there's more to come. We're about halfway through this book.


Now, let's see, where was I? Oh, yes, Chapter 6: Liber Umbrarum. I was just about to get into the Spells. I'll run down each of the Daemons listed in this Chapter. I will follow that with a brief description of that Daemon's nature, and give a couple of examples of what their Spells can do. The Spells follow the same format as those in the Core Rulebook.

THE BLACK LODGE: A being, as well as a place between time and space. The Black Lodge (and its followers) exist to satisfy earthly desire, confuse and frighten, and exist apart from others. Its Spells can allow a caster to walk between worlds (almost a kind of time-traveling/teleportation effect), enable your allies to move up the Damage Condition Track by dealing Damage to foes, or temporarily transform in to a Sidhe Lord from the Bestiary in the Core Book.

Though THE TUSKED ONE is not listed directly here, it is, as noted worshiped in three different aspects. They are:

THE ENDLESS GULLET: Exist to endlessly feed, eventually upon its followers. This Daemon laughs at the sick joke of its own existence as a being that seeks to eat everything in a limitless universe. Its followers see the Sisyphean irony of it all, as well. Greed in all forms are its hallmarks. Its Spells can cause nightmares, or summon a huge eating mouth to spring from the earth.

THE HELLFURNACE: A being that would see all consumed by heat and fire, leaving only ashes in its wake. Destruction, Fire and Wrath are its only goals. Its Spells can make an opponent's bones brittle, or turn them into as pillar of salt (thus killing them instantly)!

THE SLAVERING MAW: Brutal, cunning and greedy, this evil being compels its servants to raze, pillage and take the spoils. Its Spells can cause Terror, or temporarily grant Immunity from Peril.

Another group of Damons that should be considered together are the DAEMON PRINCES, a group of four (or possibly five) Daemons. They are:

THE PRINCE of CHANGE: A Daemon concerned with revealing to man That Which He Was Not Meant To Know, basically for shits and gigs. Almost a Disscordian being, it seeks to ruin through deception, trickery and anarchic, blackly humorous treachery. Its Spells can expel one from the Material Realm (which instantly kills them), or temporarily nullify the power of a Magickal item.

[bTHE PRINCE OF DECAY:[/b] Daemon of mortality and sickness. Its followers are bizarrely enamored of disease. Entropy, infestation, and disease are its purview. Its Spells can summon an overpowering odor, or allow one to vomit a corrupt, Infectious spew.

THE PRINCE OF PLEASURE: Patron of artists, torturers and whores. Hedonistic, cruel and perverse. Its Spells can grant Skill Test Bonuses when the caster takes Damage, or allow you to sprout a long and weaponized tongue.

THE PRINCE OF VIOLENCE: Daemon of rage, bloodshed and cruelty. Interestingly, hates Magick and grants none, though its followers may channel chaos into their weapons, making them frightening and deadly.

THE OUTSIDER: Rumored to be a fifth Abyssal Prince, but at odds even with other Daemons on account of its complete devotion to Chaos. Its Spells can temporarily raise the caster's Peril Threshold, or give one greater power to attack Abyssal foes.

THE THIRTEEN; Actually several Daemons joined as one, concerned with treachery and backstabbing. Its Spells can summon caustic rain, or hordes of biting and stinging vermin.

THE WITCH-QUEEN: A once-human witch who was so evil that she was struck down by Daemons, yet rose again as one of them. Narcissistic and vindictive. Her Spells use Magickal cold to deal damage, or cause opponents to be stricken with Terror.

Some of these new Spells are quite deadly and powerful. But many have severe drawbacks, and even those used to aid one's allies may carry great risks that can also imperil or harm them. Such is the way of Daemons. And, as with the Spells in the Core Rulebook, there are rewards for Critical Successes, and Penalties for Critical Failure. Severe penalties.

One thing that strikes me upon reading this Chapter (and comparing it with Chapter 10 of the Core Rulebook, is that Main Gauche has added many options while avoiding the "power creep" that so often comes with RPG expansions. Variety, without sacrificing balance.

I'll also point out that Main Gauche has A LOT fewer typos so far than the Core Rulebook did. So few, in fact, that I'd have hardly noticed them if I hadn't been on high alert after reading Zweihander. So, a massive improvement in that department

There's a little more to Chapter 6, but I'm going to have to finish it later. I think one more post should do the trick. Again, sorry it's such slow going this time around. I haven't forgotten, and it will get done. Thanks for your patience.



Having detailed the various Spells that can be gained, at one's own peril, from consorting with Daemons, Chapter 6 moves on to Rituals. Rituals, you may remember, are a form of Magick that can be performed by anyone with the knowledge, material, time and courage. That is to say, one need not possess the Incantation Skill to perform a Ritual. The Core Rulebook had 7 rituals. Main Gauche adds a handful more, offering new ways for non-Magick using characters to suffer from the effects of Chaos alter the fabric of reality. These Rituals will allow adventurers to do anything from Bond Mithril to armor, to Create Golem, to Fortune Telling (7 different kinds!). Some of these rituals bring nuance to the Professions within the pages of Zweihander and Main Gauche. Sigils, for example, are used by Hexers to effect combatants, entrance creatures or focus and use various Magickal energies, among other things. An Oath of Peerage allows non-Magick using Characters to gain the patronage of Gods (or are they really Daemons?) to use their Alignment (Order or Chaos, depending upon which Peerage they select) to spend Fortune Points in ways not normally allowed (Zweihander is, after all, an "exception based" system). The Sigils used by Hexers, a kind of Magickal language that can be traced in the air, are detailed here as well. The Oath of Peerage and Sigils, like much of the Magick in Zweihander, are jealously guarded, and difficult to come by. All of the Rituals in this Chapter follow the same format as those in the Core Book. Which is, perhaps, one of the great strengths of this book IMO. I've said this before, but I like the way Main GAuche has added options while adhering to the same rules format. In doing so, it avoids not only rules bloast, but power creep. Well done. This chapter was a fun read.

This concludes Chapter 6. Next, we will learn how to build friends and murder people create monsters and NPCs. The next Chapter is the second-longest in the book, and probably the longest set of NPC creation rules I've seen in any game. Does that pique your interest? Because it damn sure does mine.

Be seeing you.



Chapter 7 of Main Gauche is an interesting and ambitious undertaking: the Liber Malus, which presents the Creature Creator, as well as the Non-P{layer Character Creator. At 60 pages, this could easily have been a separate supplement. It shows GMs how to design Creatures and NPCs. While the Bestiary from Zweihander's Core Rulebook devoted four pages to this topic, what we get here is a far more in-depth look at how a GM can populate their campaign world. In addition, we get a look behind the curtain, so to speak. Because while the section in the Corebook's Bestiary was sufficient to scale or re-skin creatures from it to better suit your games, Liber Malus gives you a step-by-step walkthrough of the process for creating fully fleshed out, balanced NPCs and Creatures.

This approach, in my opinion, showcases three of Zweihander's strengths: completeness, balance and utility.

As I said in my last post, this Chapter is the second longest in the book. It takes the reader, step by step, througfh the process of creating a non-player Character or Creature that preserves Zweihander's meticulous balance. It is a bit of a lengthy process, and I'm sure some will be content to continue re-skinning or scaling creatures from the Bestiary in their home games. But for those who wish to create friends and foes that are perfectly suited to their own needs and campaigns, there is Chapter 7. Which is a guide in ten parts to making your own. There is also a Creature Profile Sheet in the back of the book, and it can apparently also be downloaded.

I will now give an overview of the Ten Steps in the Creature Creator. In the book, each Step is accompanied by a piece of the Creature Profile Sheet, which grows larger as parts are filled in along the way. The example Creature is a Demodog.

Step 1: Influences & Classification - This is where you think about your Creature's basic concept. What is your inspiration? The Evil Dead movies? The Resident Evil games? Gothic/splatterpunk horror novels (probably dating myself a bit with these references)? Also, you need to decide which of the six Classifications (Abyssal, Animal, Beast, Humanoid, Mutant or Supernatural)most suits your Creature. If you're not sure about this last one, it is recommended that you look at the examples in the Core Book's extensive Bestiary. There is also a sidebar here about preserving the mystery of your creatures. Keep your creations secret and safe. Don't let the thrill of discovery be spoiled by that one friend who always sits around reading your Monster Manuals, and foils every meticulously planned encounter you run by excitedly elbowing the player to his left and exclaiming, "That only has 3 Hit Dice! Let's Kill It!" Dammit, Robbie, I'm tired of you pulling that crap, and while we're on the subject of things that irritate me, if you want to piss all over the toilet seat, do it when you're hosting! And how come you never chip in for Pizz- oh. Uh, sorry. Wrong group.

Step 2: Creature Size - This is exactly what it sounds like, and lays out the effects of larger and smaller Sizes (easier/harder to hit, deal less/more Damage, effects on Dodge and Parry actions, etc.). There are a few other considerations laid out as well.

Step 3: Risk Factor & Notch - If you'll recall, Foes in Zweihander are broken down by Risk Factor, which corresponds to the Character's Tier (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced), and further by Notch, which gives an idea of the level of challenge (Low, Medium, High) posed by that Foe to PCs of the same Tier. Frex, Intermediate (Low), meaning Low Risk for an Intermediate Character, or Basic (High), meaning High Risk for a Character in the Basic Tier..

Step 4: Primary Attributes - This is where the Creature's Primary Attributes are entered. Creatures have the same "stat block" as PCs. This section provides a brief overview of the Attributes and their Bonuses, and offers suggestions for assigning these Attributes based on Risk Factor.

Step 5: Role - This is a re-presentation/overhaul of the scaling/re-skinning rules from the Corebook's Bestiary, as mentioned earlier. There are four broad classifications that your Creature can fall into: Normal (whatever normal is for your undead fiend, toilet-dwelling demon or gigantic, burrowing carnivorous sloth), Underling (mooks, cannon fodder), Magician (which seem to have the most rules concerning their creation), or Boss. Normals and Underlings get a brief set of instructions, and are generally going to get fewer advantages. Bosses, as one might expect, get beefed up quite a bit (the higher the Tier, the beefier the Boss). Magicians must be crafted in fairly specific ways, I'm assuming for the sake of balance and ease of running them for the GM. However, they do get a lot of attention. Magick-using creatures will always invoke Chaos Manifestations, even if using Divine Magick.

Speaking of Magick, all of it is listed here. Every Spell in this game, from both of the books released so far, has been compiled and put into tables, from which you may select or roll randomly at your whim. It's a very cool and handy reference, which, like the combined Archetypes tables in the first Chapter, merges the material from the first two books in a seamless and very useful way.

Oh, I also forgot, this Step also lists the number of Spells, by Tier that each Magician-Role Creature should have, along with general reminders about Reagents, plus a couple of other guidelines.

Step 6: Skill Ranks - Guidelines for how to assign Skill Ranks to your Creature, according to their Risk Factor and Notch. Includes specific instructions for Magicians, and a listing of all Skills (remember, the same Skills apply, and they are all in the Zweihander Corebook) and their relevant Primary Attribute.

Step7: Bonus Advances - Bonuses, the little numbers that stack up high. Bonuses, you will of course remember, are used for all kinds of things, from determining Damage to calculating Secondary Attributes such as Damage and Peril Thresholds. Here, there are suggested Bonus Advances, also broken down by Risk Factor/Notch. Secondary Attributes, and how to assign them, are covered here as well.

Step 8: Traits - Just like PCs, Creatures have Traits, or unique situational advantages they can use. These are a defining feature of Zweihander. They are a lot of fun, and can sometimes stack in unexpected and awesome ways. There are nearly 300 of them listed and described here, as well as instructions on how to assign them, and how many to give.

Step 9: Attack Profile - This is where you list the Weapons, Traditional or Natural, that the Creature will use to thoroughly wreck your Players' naughty word. Each Classification of Creature has certain Natural Weapons available to it, and if you decide your Creature will use these instead of (or in addition to, heh-heh) Traditional Weapons, they are all listed here, according to Creature Classification. Again, there are guidelines for how many to assign, based on Risk Factor and Notch.

Just like Traditional Weapons, Natural Weapons have Qualities. The Qualities from both books are presented here, in a big, useful table. Like Traits, qualities can combine to make each Weapon unique and interesting or give it advantages and drawbacks for balance and flavor.

Step 10: Final Considerations - The finishing touches: Dodge and Parry values, Taints of Chaos, Trappings and Treasure, and a reminder to complete and review any final adjustments that are necessary.

All done? Good, get out there and TPK!

This section ends with a fully filled out, full-page Demodog Creature Profile. It's been building bit by bit in the sidebars of this section, and is a Creature of Intermediate(Medium) Risk Factor.

Aaaaaand, that's all for tonight. This section is unbelievably meaty, and I have some comments. But I'm going to save them, because this Chapter is only half-finished. You see, there is a Non-Player Character Creator, as well. It has fifteen Steps. I'll be going over that next.

Two and a half more Chapters to go. We're making progress. Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.



Thanks for your patience, everyone. Chapter 7 continues on with the NPC Creator, a step-by-step guide for creating fully fleshed out and well-balanced, custom NPCs, using the same format as the Creature Creator. There are fourteen Steps in this process, compared to the ten in the Creature Creator. Frustratingly, the initial listing skips #11, and the numbering sequence from 8 on in the the initial list differs from that in the detailed descriptions of each Step. This part of my write-up will follow the in-depth descriptions in the Chapter. As with the Creature Creator, the book will here create an NPC, step by step. In this case, it's Danziger Eckhardt, the unfortunate, unlovable protagonist of both books' introduction. Each Step is broken down, with tables from which you may choose or roll the various characteristics of your NPC.The Steps are as follows:

Step 1: Determine Approach - This section instructs GMs to decide whether they need a "quickie" NPC with a limited stat block, or a full-fledged Non-Player Character, with all of the nuance and detail of a PC. The former is referred to a a Simple Approach, and consists basically of enough descriptors to provide limited mechanical interaction, without needing all of the stats. The second is called a Complex Approach, and it will use every step in this section to craft a balanced, fully functional NPC capable of performing any action a PC can.

It is also recommended here to give each NPC, regardless of Approach, five descriptors to define the ost important details about them. The book uses Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane as an example, and gives him descriptors that include, "A dour English Puritan and redresser of wrongs", and, He is of the Warrior Archetype, driven by Judgement and is Order-Aligned".

Step 2: Persona & Identity - For the first, a short descriptor designed to give a "hook" to the PCs, so that they will "care bout" the character. There is a bit of advice here on how to use your players' frame of reference, combined with distinguishing characteristics or traits. Kind of along the lines of. [character from TV show] with a Southie accent, who is a bit of a practical joker."

Having encapsulated your character thusly, you will give them an Identity. This will consist of Name and Sex & Pronoun. There are two handy tables with 100 names each on them, for each Sex.

Step 3: Age Group & Ancestry - Tables from the core book, reprinted here for use in creating NPCs.

Step 4: Appearance & Social Class - For this Step, there are tables like the tables in the Core Rulebook, but it has been both simplified and added to, for maximum convenience and utility. In addition to tables for Age, Height, Complexion and Build, there is one for Manner of Dress. Distinguishing Marks have been reprinted here, as have descriptions of Zweihandeer's three Social Classes.

Step 5: Motivation - A table of twenty one-word Motivations, with descriptions. Designed to create a defining purpose for the NPC.

Step 6: Archetype & Alignment[/b] - Archetype is the same as it is for PCs, but Alignment in this case refers simply to either Order or Chaos. For the Simple Approach, this is as far as you need to go to create an NPC. If you require a more comlete NPC, one who will perhaps see combat, or be required to adventure alongside (or against!) your players, continue on.

Step 7: Primary Attributes - There is a nifty table of suggested Primary Attribute distribution by Archetype. VERY handy.

Step 8: Risk Factor - As with Creatures, NPCs have a Risk Factor and Notch, which give their relative dfifficulty as foes for Characters of each Tier.

Step 9: Skill Ranks - This section offers a guide for how many Skill Ranks to assign based on Risk Factor and Notch. Also has a full-page table of suggested Skill Ranks appropriate for each Archetype.

Step 10: Bonus Advances - Covers Bonus Advances, again broken down by Risk Factor and Notch, as well as Secondary Attributes.

Step 11: Talents - As above, with guidelines according to Risk Factor/Notch, and a two-page table of Talent distribution by Archetype.

Step 12: Additional Options - Ancestral Traits, Professional Traits according to Risk Factor, Taints of Chaos and/or Magick if these last two are applicable.

Step 13: Trappings - Your NPC's gear, weapons and miscellaneous possessions. Includes a bit on Fineries, or valuable items that may be in the possession of NPCs (for now, anyway, heh-heh).

Step 14: Final Considerations - Dodge and Parry values, if they have been affected by Trappings; Taint(s) of Chaos; Attack Profile (as for Creatures). Review and voila! Complex Approach Complete! Achievement unlocked: Create NPC.

The Chapter closes with a fully filled out two-page Character Sheet for Danziger Eckhardt. We know not only how he arrived at this current state, but why.

Overall, Chapter 7 is yet another example of the Zweihander "toolkit" approach. And a damn fine one, to boot.

Two or three slim Chapters to go, I'm intending to finish this soon.



Chapter 9 is all about Conspiracies. How to write them, how to run them, and what to do when your players do the unexpected. It combines ideas for running a very particular kind of adventure with some general, all-purpose GMing tips.

Conspiracies can be used to add more narrative flavor, as well as intrigue and suspense which are very engaging, but can be very hard to build. In my own experience, I have found that a little mystery, or an unknown threat, will often be more exciting to players than a single big, bad monster or objective in full view.

Zweihander takes a more structured approach than one might expect here. It all begins with the "Rule OF Threes". You see, a Conspiracy in Zweihander has three parts: Clues, Leads and Revelations. 3 Clues uncovers 1 Lead; 3 Leads uncovers 1 Revelation; 3 Revelations blows the lid off the entire Conspiracy.

It is also recommended to use Index cards, so that both the GM and the Players may keep track of unfolding events and important facts (way ahead of you there, Zweihander).

Conspiracies in Zweihander are divided into 6 Steps. They are:

Step 1: Your Hook - This is the event that draws the Players into the story. Mysterious deaths, missing persons or objects. It is recommended that PCs are dropped into a story that is already in progress. That is to say, that the event or events that draw them in note be the beginning of a new conspiracy, but rather a facet of an ongoing one. At this stage, the GM is only concerned with what is happening, not yet with why.

Step 2: The Agenda - An Agenda is the overarching concept that drives the Conspiracy. It is advised that the GM define the Agenda in three "very abstract categories". This Chapter uses examples from the A Bitter Harvest scenario in the Core Rulebook, as well as the There's Something About Marie adventure in this book. In addition, the following advice is given:

Keep It Vague: Do not reveal everything, or too much, at once. The Consoiracy should be multi-layered, revealed in pieces, and give the Characters a reason to search out its true nature.

[/b]Time Is Not Their Friend:[/b] Putting the PCs under the lash of the clock is a great way to keep adventures on track and Players focused.

Go For Broke: Don't be afraid to make your conspiracies or your villains outlandish.

Reduce & Refactor: Listen to your Players' discussions and theories. Don't be afraid to make changes along the way, especially if it will improve your story and/or the Players' experience. They need never know that the nearly absurd theory that turned out to be true was, in fact, provided to you by them!

Web Of Conspiracy: Create a loose "Conspiracy network" that will help you to visualize how it is structured, and flesh it out from there, adding conspirators, henchmen and servitors as necessary.

Step 3: Clues - This Step gives an alternative to having Players roll for whether or not they find Clues. Instead, it is recommended to make the Players, in character, search for Clues, but letting Skill Tests determine what or how much they can glean from it if necessary. Advice on how and when to give hints is given here, as well as how to proceed when you Players just don't seem to be "getting it", and a general reminder not to over-complicate things. Which, I'd guess, is a common mistake when writing a Conspiracy-based adventure. Note: The Investigator Profession has a "True Detective" Trait that can confer additional benefit relating to Clues.

Step 4: Leads - Leads are defined here as a correlation between all three of the Clues. Though they may have an optimal "order" of discovery, for the purposes of your story, you may reveal them out of order, for a more comlex, challnging, and possibly realistic Conspiracy. After all, who thought that a break-in at the Watergate Hotel would unseat an American President? At this stage, it is still necessary to keep things somewhat ambiguous. Whereas the Players should be able to follow the Clues to a Lead, the Leads themselves should be more of a direction than a destination. There is advice for rescuing your Players from dead ends, mounting up tension and the sense of "someone" pushing back against their efforts, nad the importance of restraint when using GM fiat.

Step 5: Revelations - Here, it is impled that a Conspiracy can encompass an entire Campaign. I say "impied". because this is the first time in the Chapter that we are explicitly seeing that as a concept. While the into does say that Conspiracies can interweave complex storylines together, Step 5 suggests that each Revelation should come just before the end of each Character Tier of experience. This would certainly add deoth and flavor to many different types of Campaign, and it would have been helpful to have this laid out more clearly.

Examples from the adventure in this book are used to illustrate key concepts, and there is a reminder not to overload Players with minutiae. Just because I wrote it, doesn't mean it will come into play or even add anything. I have written lots of "background" and "flavor text" for my home games, that the players never saw.

Step 6: Beyond The Conspiracy - Think about what comes next. Is the Conspiracy truly foiled? Or have the players just uncovered one small wheel within many larger ones? Is this the end, or a new beginning? This will be up to the GM to decide.

Thus ends Chapter 8. Another fine set of tools, though it could have been a bit clearer in spots.



There's Something About Marie is the adventure included in the Main Gauche book. As with A Bitter Harves, the adventure fro the Core Rulebook, There's Something About Marie was originally a fan-made, contest-winning module for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd edition. Like ABH, TSAM has been not only converted to Zweihander, but fleshed out considerably. It is nearly 30 pages in length, and designed to be completed in 3-5 sessions. So, it is a substantial adventure. Whereas ABH was designed to step Players into the Core Rules, TSAM uses the Conspiracy rules from Main Gauche, along with the Social Intrigue rules from the Corebook. Like its predecessor, TSAM features playtest notes in the form of sidebars. Unlike its predecessor, it includes a couple of maps. This is an adventure that will test the Players' wits as much, or even more, than their prowess in Combat. And there are multiple options for resolving the various conflicts and challenges within. TSAM is another well-crafted adventure that doesn't feel "tacked-on" or obligatory. While many rules supplements don't include adventures, this is a nice addition, and fits what I refer to as Zweihander's "everything and the kitchen sink" design philosophy.

Finally, there are the Appendices. The first is an expanded "Taints OF Chaos" Addendum. These were listed, along with their effects, in the Corebook. But Main Gauche greatly expands the descriptions of these marks of Chaos, giving you an extra, visual layer to use in your game. Yecch.

The next two Appendices are tables for Creature Size and Risk Factor, a nice reference, and for Creature Traits by Risk Factor. These are suggested guidelines for assigning specific Traits according to Risk Factor. A lot of behind-the-scenes math has gone into Zweihander's design, and it seems that the intent is to allow GMs to make use of this knowledge, rather than let it languish on someone's hard drive, seen by 2 or 3 people.

The book ends with blank Creature and NPC Profile Sheets, and an Index.

Final thoughts: Main Gauche is a fine addition to Zweihander. It shares its high production values, and plays to its main strengths: consistency, utility and modularity. That it is able to add so many options to the game without "rules boat" is a testament to the quality of the game's, and this supplement's, design. Also, nothing here is "necessary", and can be added, or not, according to taste. But there is much here that will add depth and flavor to your Zweihander game, even if darkness, evil and Daemons aren't your cup of tea. And there are some great resources for the Zweihander "do-it-yourselfer". Zweihander has a fairly active fan-created content community, and with tools like the ones here, it's easy to see why.

One of my only complaints about Main Gauche would be that I'm not a fan of adding terms like "Momentum Die" to describe what is basically a Fury Die, mechanically. This is a minor quibble, and more a matter of personal preference than a qualitative judgement. I understand the thematic reasoning, the flavor behind it, but it seems an unecessary complication to a ruleset that is so elegant at its core.

More seriously, while Main Gauche does represent a MASSIVE improvement over the Core Rulebook in terms of editing and clarity, there are a few typos, and two fairly glaring editorial issues in Chapters 7 and 8, as I noted previously in each Chapter's read-through. Neither will likely impact the game, although the one in Chapter 8 is confusing for sure. And, like I said, compared to the Corebook, Main Gauche fares far better in that regard. But, in a way, that made it all the more jarring, as I was cruising along for the first 6 Chapters, enjoying the relative lack of issues, then BAM! Duck, You Sucker!

Overall, though, Main Gauche is a great addition to and mostly shows editorial improvement over the original. Highly recommended if you want to add a more sinister element, a greater range of Player options, or more weird tech via Wytch-Science. Also, the GMs' tools included here are characteristically useful and intuitive. I see a lot of value for Zweihander Players and GMs here. A solid, useful supplement that is also well-made and beautifully illustrated. And while I hope that the move to Andrews-McMeel Publishing will bring some much-needed editorial oversight to future Zweiihander products, I still give Main Gauche a hearty endorsement.

I hope you have found this read-through useful, and thanks for sticking it out.

If you have any interest in Zweihander, you can buy it at Barnes & Noble, on drivethrurpg.com, or for more info, go to grimandperilous.com.
Last edited:

Level Up!

An Advertisement