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Warhammer frpg - 2e vs 4e

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Hello

I have ran several campaigns using warhammer frpg 2nd ed, both in the warhammer world and outside of it (I wanted to see if it was suitable for a "low-ish" fantasy pseudo earth campaign, and it is!). I avoided 3e entirely because it really wasn't the same game anymore.

Now 4e is here. I've only glanced at the book. One of the big feature seems to be how you can stick in the same career the entire game, which is an interesting change but I don't see it as fundamental. I'm more interested in the other changes.

Some, like @CapnZapp , have said that 4e is "broken" and doesn't work. Is it true? Can you elaborate why? Basically I'm wondering if it's worth investing several hours in reading and mastering this new system.

cheers,

Pierre
 

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Retreater

Legend
Here are my stumbling blocks with 4e:
Advantage is hard to keep track of. What gives Advantage, what takes it away, remembering to increase it, remembering to decrease it, remembering to add it to your roll in the first place, etc. It's a major time sink in combat, keeping up with buffs like you would in a game like D&D 3.5.
Fate/Fortune/Resolve/Resilience - I can't keep them straight. They're similar but function slightly differently, even though they have similar names. I actually have to crack open the rule book each time they're mentioned. I've been running the game weekly for over a month.
Nit-Picky XP - You get XP which you can store up to buy +1% to one skill. Having more meaningful chunks to purchase like in previous editions would've been better. (Like purchase +5% at a time. Who's going to even notice 1%?)
Honestly, if you've got the 2e stuff, I think it still holds up. Unless you're just wanting to use the latest, greatest (or need to get physical copies), I'd suggest you just stick with it if you're happy with it.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
Hello

I have ran several campaigns using warhammer frpg 2nd ed, both in the warhammer world and outside of it (I wanted to see if it was suitable for a "low-ish" fantasy pseudo earth campaign, and it is!). I avoided 3e entirely because it really wasn't the same game anymore.

Now 4e is here. I've only glanced at the book. One of the big feature seems to be how you can stick in the same career the entire game, which is an interesting change but I don't see it as fundamental. I'm more interested in the other changes.
Momentum, Advantage, or whatever it’s called, stacks on each character individually and must be tracked for everyone, so house rule that away or never run a combat with more than a few enemies.

Casters are far more powerful, gain power quicker, and generally throw things off the expectations most have of tbe Warhammer setting. It’s also far less dangerous to be a caster.

Conditions are a ridiculously stacking nightmare. You’re on fire, but how on fire are you? Three stacks? That’s real bad. They could have made it simple, like each stack means the same thing (roughly, mechanically) across the board, but each one is uniue so has unique mechanics so cards or printouts to keep track.

There’s what four different kinds of meta-currency to track now. Each does a different thing, is earned in different circumstances, and it’s a silly mess.

Shields are mysteriously hard to sort out.

There’s a lot more but that’s what I remember from bouncing off it hard a few years ago.
Some, like @CapnZapp , have said that 4e is "broken" and doesn't work. Is it true? Can you elaborate why?
It’s a clunky, poorly written, poorly organized mess. If you strip out most of the systems and subsystems and take it back to the basic mechanic, there’s a playable game in there somewhere. But it’s a lot of work to find it. Me and my table bounced off it hard. It’s one of the most pointlessly bloated games I’ve seen. Almost Exalted levels of why.
Basically I'm wondering if it's worth investing several hours in reading and mastering this new system.
I don’t think so. The nicest thing I can say about it is the books are quite well done and look great. The Enemy Within is amazing so far (I’ve only read the first few of the new ones).

We did take their use of success levels, aka degrees of success, mattering a lot back to 2E. Added that to damage and used degrees of success for other tasks like picking a complex lock requires so many degrees of success before it’s picked...or a particularly sturdy door needing so many degrees of success before it’s smashed.
 

TheSword

Legend
Hello

I have ran several campaigns using warhammer frpg 2nd ed, both in the warhammer world and outside of it (I wanted to see if it was suitable for a "low-ish" fantasy pseudo earth campaign, and it is!). I avoided 3e entirely because it really wasn't the same game anymore.

Now 4e is here. I've only glanced at the book. One of the big feature seems to be how you can stick in the same career the entire game, which is an interesting change but I don't see it as fundamental. I'm more interested in the other changes.

Some, like @CapnZapp , have said that 4e is "broken" and doesn't work. Is it true? Can you elaborate why? Basically I'm wondering if it's worth investing several hours in reading and mastering this new system.

cheers,

Pierre
Do you plane on Roll20 a different VTT or face to Face? Believe it or not from a tracking perspective it makes a massive difference.

I play on Roll20 and use the blue bar on a token to indicate advantage. I allow other players to see this bar and then everyone updates their own token. It means at a glance everyone knows how much advantage their is and when it’s lost. I’ve used it in a fair few games now and it works really well
 

Retreater

Legend
Do you plane on Roll20 a different VTT or face to Face? Believe it or not from a tracking perspective it makes a massive difference.

I play on Roll20 and use the blue bar on a token to indicate advantage. I allow other players to see this bar and then everyone updates their own token. It means at a glance everyone knows how much advantage their is and when it’s lost. I’ve used it in a fair few games now and it works really well
We use Roll20. Supposedly the character sheets are automated to add it to your attack rolls - if you remember to add it when you earn it, remember what circumstances allow you to add it, remember to decrease it when you need to do that, remember why you decrease it. Then are you counting the right number of allies or enemies - is this person considered engaged with two people or three people - and what if that enemy is engaged with two people or three people. And then tracking critical effects, conditions, etc. It's a lot of book-keeping no matter how you go about it.
 

TheSword

Legend
We use Roll20. Supposedly the character sheets are automated to add it to your attack rolls - if you remember to add it when you earn it, remember what circumstances allow you to add it, remember to decrease it when you need to do that, remember why you decrease it. Then are you counting the right number of allies or enemies - is this person considered engaged with two people or three people - and what if that enemy is engaged with two people or three people. And then tracking critical effects, conditions, etc. It's a lot of book-keeping no matter how you go about it.
Don’t your players keep track of their own? We just add it to the token and it’s obvious then. I’ve found once they understand what it means and how it is gained and lost players care a lot about advantage and are more on it than I am.

The key is making it visible. By having a bar on the token that they can see, everyone can point out if something has been missed.
 
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eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
I'm rather mixed.

Momentum is a good idea, in theory, and while tracking can be somewhat odious, it does alot to eliminate the "whiff factor" inherent in 1 and 2e.

I miss big sprawling career trees.

Casters are better, though at the moment, there isn't a huge variety of magic. 4e could definitely use a Realms of Sorcery type book.

I always end up mixing up resolve/reslience and fate/fortune.

I like that everything is D10s only now, no different dice weapon damage etc. That's a nice change for me (who mostly plays first edition).
 

CapnZapp

Legend
@overgeeked : Are you me? It feels like I wrote that post! (y)

@Ancalagon : I don't think I ever wrote a summary here at EN World, so let me link you to Chuck's Winds of Chaos forums:

(I have written more recent posts that reflect my later gamesmastering high-experience characters. If anything, they heap even harsher criticism against the edition. My point here is that I stand by every single point listed here. Not one is merely a "first impressions" type of complaint that later turned out to be premature.)

In short: nothing works. Yes, really.

Almost every single addition to 4E (compared to 2E) makes for a worse, frustrating mess. Taken in isolation, many rules might come across as reasonable, but this is a case of death by a thousand cuts. Added together, 4E becomes a game of immense complexity with lots and lots of easily forgotten or overlooked exceptions and/or modifiers. I really REALLY tried making it work, as in trying the game for a whole campaign (40+ sessions, taking heroes from first through fourth careers) and really attempting to patch or houserule or nix each niggle or unworkable rule as I encountered them*. To my surprise, nothing worked. No matter what I did or where I turned, 4E remained a hopelessly unbalanced mess, with horribly entangled and cumbersome rules. I did not give up easily, but in the end, I was faced with the only possible conclusion: that 2nd edition represents a massive improvement that fixes almost everything (by removing what 4E added)!

As a new "improved" edition, 4E must rank as one of the most complete failures I have ever encountered. (Rules-wise, that is. The book does look good.)


Zapp

PS. This link should work even if in the far future Chuck closes the doors on his forum:


*) Feel free to search my posts made in the year or so after the linked post to gain an idea of what those tribulations were... (You might need to log in/register in order to access my profile though). Far less painful is to simply stay away from 4E, though...
 
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TheSword

Legend
Just as a counterpoint to @CapnZapp and @overgeeked who have some pretty strident views on 4e. Not everyone agrees with them.

There is a really well subscribed discord for 4e called the Rat Catchers Guild. Join the Rat Catchers' Guild Discord Server! About 1500 subscribers. Mainly it covers 4e, with some discussion of earlier editions and Warhammer in general. Full of many people loving 4e and cracking on with it!

Advantage is the central mechanic of combat, that speeds up the fight and makes it more than just taking it in turns to bang people over the head. It does require everyone to engage with it though. It’s fundamentally different to 5e’s mechanic which just involves rolling two static numbers. It matters if you’re fighting a weapon master or a peasant. The book is full of suggestions for balancing advantage depending on the party. I limit it to maximum 5 and that seems to work fine. I personally love it, and it didn’t take too long for my players to get used to tracking it. I also find Advantage is really good for me as a DM when narrating the fight.

Meta-currency again is really useful. It’s the answer to people who say WFRP is too swingy or random because actually you have 2-4 get out of jail cards that keep you in the game even if you die. Overgeeked’s criticism of conditions sounds bad until you realize that one of the metacurrencies removes conditions so actually they don’t stack very often. Stacking conditions is very similar to PF2. I’m ok with being slightly on fire, or in a blazing conflagration.

Magic is very good when it works and difficult when it doesn’t. The rules are definitely ripe for house rules. Until then it is more than possible to tweak Magic by being generous with ingredients as treasure and considering some of the optional rules like partial channeling. There’s a magic supplement coming out early next year.

My biggest issue with the game is that if you’re an optimizer you can break the system. If your players are going to ignore the lore and are the type to squeeze every ounce out of a ‘build’ they’ve found on the internet or select the most powerful talents multiple times and ignore the rest, then they will rip the game apart. It’s been the same for every edition of WFRP, in fact every d100 game I’ve ever seen. If your players are pretty easy going though and don’t play that way then I think it’s a beautiful game. Full of cool abilities, interesting characterizations and great encounters.

One thing that worked well for me, was I ran two players individually through the module, Night of Blood, with a pregen from the starter set. It was perfect for learning the rules, how advantage works etc. not only is it a fun little scenario with a few combats and skill tests it is a nice introduction for the setting. The whole thing takes about 3 hours to run and works fine solo. When everyone gets together for the first season they’ll have a better understanding of how to create a character they’ll like and how everything works.

NB. Shields are fine. You can use them to oppose an attack at -10 Melee basic skill but you get to add +2 to your Armour for any location. Or you can use Melee Parry skill if you have it at +10 and get the +2 as well, though melee parry is a lot rarer than melee basic. You can also use them to deflect crits and take hits from ranged.

NBB. The Enemy Within and it’s companions are absolutely amazing. There is substantial extra stuff and the last two books are a tour de force. Worth every penny.
 
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Retreater

Legend
NBB. The Enemy Within and it’s companions are absolutely amazing. There is substantial extra stuff and the last two books are a tour de force. Worth every penny.
Totally agree. Which is why I would love to play them as intended. It's a classic campaign for that system. Playing Enemy Within in D&D would be like converting Masks of Nyarlahotep to Marvel Superheroes.
 

TheSword

Legend
Totally agree. Which is why I would love to play them as intended. It's a classic campaign for that system. Playing Enemy Within in D&D would be like converting Masks of Nyarlahotep to Marvel Superheroes.
A great player who has always been a fan of the style of WFRP has just agreed to make the switch to VTT, so I’m about to start an online 4e run at it with 4 experienced roleplayers which should be good. 2 have completed Night of Blood, and three have completed the starter set adventure with me so we should be in a good place to give it a go. Hopefully I won’t need to convert it to 5e.

What did you run as your first 5/6 sessions with your group?
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
@overgeeked : Are you me? It feels like I wrote that post! (y)

@Ancalagon : I don't think I ever wrote a summary here at EN World, so let me link you to Chuck's Winds of Chaos forums:

(I have written more recent posts that reflect my later gamesmastering high-experience characters. If anything, they heap even harsher criticism against the edition. My point here is that I stand by every single point listed here. Not one is merely a "first impressions" type of complaint that later turned out to be premature.)

In short: nothing works. Yes, really.

Almost every single addition to 4E (compared to 2E) makes for a worse, frustrating mess. Taken in isolation, many rules might come across as reasonable, but this is a case of death by a thousand cuts. Added together, 4E becomes a game of immense complexity with lots and lots of easily forgotten or overlooked exceptions and/or modifiers. I really REALLY tried making it work, as in trying the game for a whole campaign (40+ sessions, taking heroes from first through fourth careers) and really attempting to patch or houserule or nix each niggle or unworkable rule as I encountered them*. To my surprise, nothing worked. No matter what I did or where I turned, 4E remained a hopelessly unbalanced mess, with horribly entangled and cumbersome rules. I did not give up easily, but in the end, I was faced with the only possible conclusion: that 2nd edition represents a massive improvement that fixes almost everything (by removing what 4E added)!

As a new "improved" edition, 4E must rank as one of the most complete failures I have ever encountered. (Rules-wise, that is. The book does look good.)


Zapp

PS. This link should work even if in the far future Chuck closes the doors on his forum:


*) Feel free to search my posts made in the year or so after the linked post to gain an idea of what those tribulations were... (You might need to log in/register in order to access my profile though). Far less painful is to simply stay away from 4E, though...
I appreciate the detailed analysis, but when I look at your post (that link) ... a lot of the "things you hate" are... still there in 2e? :/

Is there anything easily ported over from 4e to 2e that is worth doing?
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
@Jaeger in another thread you said:

"One important tip for anyone who wants to give 4E a spin: You have to use the Fast SL optional rule on p.152. Not only is it easier at the table, it's the way the game worked all through playtesting. All the Talents and the Advantage system assume you are using Fast SL. I'm not clear on the why, but someone decided to flip the way SL worked at the last minute, and broke a lot of the game."


Can you elaborate on this? What is fast SL?
 

Staffan

Legend
@Jaeger in another thread you said:



Can you elaborate on this? What is fast SL?
Normal SL: Tens of your skill minus the tens of your roll. So if you have a skill of 54 and roll 12, your SL is 5-1= 4.

Fast SL: On a success, SL is the tens of your roll. So if you have a skill of 54 and roll 12, your SL is 1. On a failure, as normal.

One requires subtraction which takes time, the other just checking the die result. From an aesthetic perspective, one might prefer that SL be connected to the margin of success, but the probabilities are similar if not identical (fast gives you more SL 0, normal gives you more maxed SL).
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I appreciate the detailed analysis, but when I look at your post (that link) ... a lot of the "things you hate" are... still there in 2e? :/

Is there anything easily ported over from 4e to 2e that is worth doing?
You're thinking of things like how I like old 1E Brettonia better than new 2/3/4E Brettonia. :) Yes, that post was made when I still had hopes of using 4E. I listed all my beefs with Warhammer in general.

However, saying "a lot" of the points are like that is an exaggeration. However, that matters little. I gave you the link as a starting point - I've written several posts in that forum on 4E frustrations. And I gave you the link with the intention you should focus on the 4E-specific stuff after all... ;)

There is so much more to it. Lemme just bring up two examples. Both problems have been confirmed through extensive playtesting.

  • Wizards start out super-crappy, but become brokenly powerful once in their third careers or so. The math behind 4E Success Levels is completely broken and does not work. It is simply inept design.
  • Counterspelling Dispelling just ruins the game. It basically means that each PC wizard shuts down and is shut down by an enemy wizard/spellcaster. That's no fun.
  • Mathematically it's obvious that powerful awesome spells just never see use - you're far better off using low-CN spells each round. As you get better, you still don't switch to the powerful spells, since it is simply better to keep using Bolt or Blast. Why? Overcasting. Since achieving many Success Levels adds both more damage AND - through overcasting - more targets, you're far better off avoiding high-CN spells where you gain fewer SLs. In conclusion: when your Skills are low you stick to low-CN spells because, well, that's your only option. But when your Skills are high you still stick to low-CN spells because the developers are bad at math.
  • The idea you should spend several rounds "charging up" an awesome spell (called "channelling") just falls apart. Again, doing something NOW is almost always better than possibly doing something in the future. And when low-CN spells allow you do act now and getting stronger results (through Overcasting)... well, I'm sure you see the problem.

Now for something I discuss over here:

4th Edition just blithely allows you to add up Characteristics and Skills to much higher levels than 2E. That's fun, you say. No, it's bad design. 4E does this and also introduces opposed Tests as the default resolution mechanic: many many Talents allow you to pit your Skill vs the foe's Characteristic. Once you've seen a player character with 80% something in Charm attempt to make a stubborn NPC (still with 30% in Willpower) do something, you realize the game has given this character a persuasion power that puts Charm spells to shame. We're talking full-on Vampire's dominate ability here. Ask anything, and the system will overwhelmingly likely tell you the NPC agrees to it. When you tell someone to jump, the only option is to ask "how high?". That is broken, it is not fun, and it is decidedly not in the style of Warhammer.

In 2E 80% vs 30% isn't so bad, in regular combat for instance. Sure you hit a lot and seldom miss, but the opponent's ability to defend is still 30%. In 4E the same 80% vs 30% contest is so brokenly lopsided it isn't even funny, since if you roll 60 something, your foe's ability to defend is lowered by your Success Levels - from 30% to maybe 10%. This is just one out of many MANY examples where you should never change two variables at once. Taken in isolation, going with Characteristic + Skill might work, and opposed Tests might also work. But add both to the same game, and apparently never test it for high-Experience heroes, and you get a mess like WFRP4. And that's before you add completely broken Talents into the mix...

It's like someone designs a version of Dungeons & Dragons where you allow heroes to increase their attack score or spell save DC (or whatever) without the system ensuring that the defenses of the opposition scale along with it. The WFRP4 devs completely missed WHY skills in 2E are limited to three levels and +20% maximum, with zero Talents to increase that.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
My biggest issue with the game is that if you’re an optimizer you can break the system. If your players are going to ignore the lore and are the type to squeeze every ounce out of a ‘build’ they’ve found on the internet or select the most powerful talents multiple times and ignore the rest, then they will rip the game apart. It’s been the same for every edition of WFRP, in fact every d100 game I’ve ever seen.
I really don't wish to start arguing with you so I will simply ask you this:

Please don't insinuate that anyone breaking the system is "ignoring the lore" or are "the type to squeeze every ounce out of a ‘build’" I am sure you see how insulting that can be read as, even though I am sure you didn't intend it that way.

It CAN be that the system simply is bad. And in this case I am supremely confident it is.

My players did not particularly focus on breaking the system. It just breaks by itself.

I'll leave it at that. If you (or Ancalagon or anyone) are/is interested in discussing individual points of criticism from my posts here or at WoC, I would be more than happy to look at possible oversights or mistakes on my part. But I'll do my very best to refrain from making further general replies since I have made my stance clear: 4E is objectively a poorly designed ruleset.

the probabilities are similar if not identical
This is true.

It also means the notion any problems are due to using Normal SL instead of Fast SL just lacks justification. The system remains about as broken or working no matter which system you use, since they produce similar if not identical probabilities.
 

Retreater

Legend
What did you run as your first 5/6 sessions with your group?
The Starter Set adventure. Without getting into spoilers for that adventure, I'll drop hints. They just took a strange moonlit walk and ran into some questionable shifty folks.
With another group a couple years ago I ran the first two chapters of Enemy in Shadows before people moved and the game fell apart.
 

TheSword

Legend
I really don't wish to start arguing with you so I will simply ask you this:

Please don't insinuate that anyone breaking the system is "ignoring the lore" or are "the type to squeeze every ounce out of a ‘build’" I am sure you see how insulting that can be read as, even though I am sure you didn't intend it that way.

It CAN be that the system simply is bad. And in this case I am supremely confident it is.

My players did not particularly focus on breaking the system. It just breaks by itself.

I'll leave it at that. If you (or Ancalagon or anyone) are/is interested in discussing individual points of criticism from my posts here or at WoC, I would be more than happy to look at possible oversights or mistakes on my part. But I'll do my very best to refrain from making further general replies since I have made my stance clear: 4E is objectively a poorly designed ruleset.

That’s a fair point that you can make optimized characters and still love the lore.

What I was referring to was players that exclusively boost one stat and talents in one area to maximize a single ability…. Be it spamming dart spells, or attack. You’re right it has nothing to do with lore. I do think you can break the game that way though. I don’t think a game should have to physically make that impossible to not be a crappy game. It was the same with every edition of WFRP and Dark Heresy.

I think the problem, is when you write the system off as entire bad and a complete failure, at the same time as there are lots of people enjoying the game and it seems to be really popular then I have to question whether your measure of bad is the same as other people. When you write it off wholesale it becomes a credibility issue.
 

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