LETTERS FROM THE OLD WORLD.
The continuing adventures of the usual bunch of miscreants this time playing Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play 4th edition, and The Enemy Within Campaign, of course.
SESSION #01 To The Coach & Horses.
Fergus McClean, Dwarf Scout (Guide) played by Bear.
Looks Like: Rough and ready-for-anything Dawi- a bit unkempt; constantly muttering and grumbling at Seamus his imaginary dog.
Sounds Like: Northern 'I wur down t'mine', although taciturn, and always grumpy.
Fergus is a short embittered (divorced) Dawi from the mining village of Schwartzstein in the foothills of the Grey Mountains. That is until he discovered his best friend Seamus with his wife Cherrie. Fergus left his village and his old life behind and set off in search of adventure, eventually taking up Scouting as a living. He has business in Altdorf, and is at present journeying with three Manlings he has come to trust who are also on their way to the capital.
Frederich Hass, Human Witch Hunter (Interrogator) played by Jim.
Looks Like: Thick-set, tall with a resting angry face, never too far away from a snarl, otherwise well turned out.
Sounds Like: Whispering menace, accusatory- probing, but charming when he wants to be. Accent is brooding (intelligent) cod-Russian (like a clever but menacing Daktari). Note he sees the hand of the Ruinous Powers behind every untoward event.
Frederich and his brother Olek watched their parents burned alive, prior to this a normal childhood was in progress. The Cult of Sigmar (with the help of the state) who burned Ma & Pa Hass then took the newly orphaned pair in and raised them to be model citizens. The orphans are Sigmarite through-and-through, Frederich the crusader, he likes the power that it brings; Olek the instrument (or else Prophet) of Sigmar. They're not zealots, not warped and broken inside, no... not at all.
Lothar Jurgen Muller, Human Witch Hunter (Interrogator) played by Kev.
Looks Like: Neat, tidy, clean-cut, perhaps even a little dashing- the boy next door, but doable- and always with a smile on his face, and often in his eyes. Lothar carries his own embroidered place mat with matching knife and fork. Manners and civility are so important.
Sounds Like: Civil, polite, formal, caring- and entirely without menace. He's a Paladin doing Witch Hunter, which may yet prove amusing.
Lothar is a baker's son from Ubersreik that just happened to become a Witch Hunter, he didn't just drift into it, he has a plan (perhaps). Lothar however came to Witch Hunting with the thought that he could perhaps be of help- to the Empire, to his family, to the poor wretches that have fallen into corruption, and possibly to help himself (a little) along the way. He is resolutely nice in a world full of foetid stink and terror.
Olek Hass, Human Artisan- Blacksmith (Apprentice) played by George.
Looks Like: Seven (plus) feet tall, and not too skinny with it- lithe and muscled, he's a giant- with wild eyes.
Sounds Like: A camp Nazi constantly unfolding, expounding and explaining the mystery of ongoing events, and seeing the presence of Sigmar everywhere.
Olek and his brother Frederich watched their parents burned alive, prior to this a normal childhood was in progress. The Cult of Sigmar (with the help of the state) who burned Ma & Pa Hass then took the newly orphaned pair in and raised them to be model citizens. The orphans are Sigmarite through and-through- Frederich the crusader, he likes the power that it brings; Olek the instrument (or else Prophet) of Sigmar. They're not zealots, not warped and broken inside, no... not at all.
So here we go.
Just to say this is the first time any of us have played WFRP for quite some time, if at all, I think me and Kev (Lothar) my brother, are the only ones that have played the system before. But that was way back in the 80's & 90's. I DMed this campaign when it first came out- or at least the first book of the campaign (or was it a box set), from memory the game group fell apart, which happened a lot back then. We were kids.
Ben (Fergus), Jim (Frederich) & George (Olek) have never played WFRP before.
So, this is slow play, because we're finding out how things work- there's a lot of explaining, and set-up, and... well, we don't get much done, but we're in the tutorial and so that's all okay with me.
Caveats done, let's get on.
The exact date is unknown, the adventurers have been travelling for a while now, and at a haphazard pace- mostly due to the inclement weather but a lack of funds hasn't helped.
They're on the road to Altdorf having made their way from Ubersreik, they are about two days shy of the city- their reason for heading to the capital-
Frederich Hass & Lothar Muller were both trained (in Ubersreik) by the somewhat famous Witch Hunter Fabergus Heinzdork, their master departed a month or so previous, but not before waving the following notice in their faces-
And wherever Frederich Hass goes his brother Olek goes too, now that the pair have been allowed to leave the monastery.
Note, Frederich looks after Olek, the big man tends to do and say some very odd things (although it's all, thankfully, Sigmar related) the giant zealot however needs chaperoning some/a lot of the time.
Fergus has his own reasons for wanting to go to Altdorf.
And so, in an effort to save money, and to pick up the pace of their journey, the four adventurers decide to press on from the Grey Goose Coaching Inn, in an effort to walk the fifteen or so miles to the next coaching inn down the road- the Coach & Horses.
You'll note, I've fiddled with the start a bit, here goes...
Wanted! Bold Adventurers! En route to Altdorf.
We're using Fantasy Grounds Unity here- so there's no automation and the players need to keep their character sheets clutched in their hands, and up-to-date. Why are we using FGU and not Foundry, which I bought specifically for the purpose of playing WFRP, well- because after spending 2-3 months trying to understand Foundry we've finally given up on it. I'm a technical idiot but have been playing VTTs for the best part of 20 years (FG and Maptools before that- macro writing, yay). Still, having read all the info, watched all the tutorials, and the other tutorials for the WFRP system on Foundry, and... I still don't know how to do most anything. I DMed a 5e D&D game on Fantasy Grounds Classic the day after I purchased it. Foundry sucks. I get that it's a work of absolute genius but to me/us almost completely unfathomable, tirade over.
So, where were we?
En route to Altdorf.
That's the wooded forest road top right (image above) and maybe this wasn't such a great idea- taking a wander through the woods.
Then the rain comes down (top left) and everyone gets soaked.
That is until Fergus leading the way spies a roadside shrine to Taal (top centre), and the gang get inside to hunker down and wait for the downpour to pass.
A little while after, and with the rain still coming down, Fergus thinks he can see something or someone on the road- out in the rain.
Eventually the someone or something gets closer.
The three Manlings head out into the rain to meet/help/kill (Olek/Lothar/Fred) the stranger approaching.
The figure slowly reveals itself, an older male- once well dressed, but now his clothes are ragged and tattered.
Then however the trio spot the blood- the man's throat has been sliced a mile wide open.
Which explains the fact that he seems to be talking but not making any sound- the words are not coming out.
It also becomes apparent that the scenery; the road, the rain and the forest, can all be seen through the approaching man. The figure is translucent.
The creature is a ghost.
Upto this point-
Fergus mostly stays out of it, back in the shrine- he wants to stay dry.
Frederich fears an ambush, or else spies a variety of other sinister events unfolding- 'this is a trap!'.
His giant brother Olek sees only the hand of Sigmar.
Lothar however just wants to help.
Then the Fear hits 'em and all four PCs are backing away from the approaching wretched spirit.
Although all of them are quick to recover, the ghost however does not attack or otherwise menace them.
The helpful Lothar, aided by the learned Olek, work it out.
This poor wretch is mouthing the litany, 'Save Me!”, Lothar determines- the Witch Hunter continues to offer his help.
Olek determines that the spirit is lost- his remains have not been buried within the precincts of Morr. This poor soul's ghostly spirit is trapped here.
Note, George (playing Olek) has been reading the WFRP Rulebook, good work that man.
Lothar urges the ghost to “show us...”
The ghost eventually leads the PCs a little way into the woods- to his earthly remains, Olek takes the bones, while Lothar promises that they will be interred within the precincts and with the Blessings of Morr.
Note, even at this point Frederich is seeing an ambush around every tree, and sneering at the lost spirit.
Fergus remains grouchy, he just wont go near the thing.
But here's a treat.
As the bones of the poor wretch are reverently collected up (by Olek) the spirit slowly fades away, still mouthing its litany- “Save Me!”, its last act is to scratch an image into the forest floor.
And then several checks later.
The ghost's surname was Baumann.
It's good when things work out.
We go on...
The rain stops, funny that- there's even a little watery sunshine breaking through the clouds here and there.
The adventurers head on, another ninety or so minutes walking... all the way to the Coach & Horses Coaching Inn.
However, while making their way towards the wide-open main gate of the walled compound the four wanderers are almost run over.
“Get out of the road you blithering idiots!”
A Four Seasons coach and horses comes hurtling at full speed from the inn yard.
Remarkably Fergus (Dodge 16) makes the check, he spotted the coach and four coming and so was prepared to step aside (+40 on check), some of the others get close- Olek has to spend a Fortune Point. But, alas, no casualties, and I let the players know- that was 1d10+6 damage (-T) for a hit from the coach.
The DM warns the players- this is how it is now.
Bad things are going to happen, and very specifically to you.
Welcome to WFRP.
The adventurers take a look around the inn yard, note the presence of a Ratchett Lines coach in the compound, and then head inside the bar proper.
They need to secure the following- food and strong drink (to salve the soul), a bed for the night, and a ticket on a coach to Altdorf.
And so inside they go...
And here we all are, and for the rest of the evening (real time). It was 9.10 PM when we got here (we started the session at 7.30 PM, and we played until 11 PM) so- lots of chatter, lots of figuring things out, rules and the like, but also lots and lots of role-play.
The PCs scan the crowd, discern what they can about the inhabitants of the bar. I wanted the players to understand that Perception and Intuition (to follow) can be used to spot stuff and gain insight.
And so in the image above, clockwise (from top right) best guess some sort moneyed or noble lady with her female entourage- a maid servant, and a bodyguard.
Gustav and Erpin, landlord and barman of the Coach & Horses respectively.
An unknown extremely unfashionable young fellow that sits at the bar and reads a book all night, possibly a student.
Gunnar and Hultz, the coachmen- getting drunk.
And Phillipe- he's got a gun! We'll meet him properly a little later.
And so after a number of Perception and Intuition checks to discern the above we get to the action, well, not quite 'action'; jolly Gustav welcomes the group to the inn and situates them at a table near the fire, then the PCs get their ear talked off- by Gustav and his parroting pet Crow- Blackie.
The PCs order drinks- two pints of Fondleburger's Famous (Lothar & Olek), a pint of 'Eavy Erpin Stout (Fergus) and a bottle of Blau Gottenschwester for Frederich, he couldn't afford the Chateau Pap-Neuf-Pap-Pap-Neuf-Pap-Neuf-Pap-Pap-Pap! But at six schillings a bottle few can.
The PCs learn to haggle, and Olek shows them the way- he's a Dealmaker.
They also learn how to Gossip and extract a few rumours out of Gustav.
Note, the PCs have been told that there are fifteen rumours available in this section of the adventure, and that they will be rewarded one shiny new XP for each new rumour they collect (to the PC that collects the new rumour). If they collect all fifteen rumours then they get another 1XP, each this time.
Then, well- the PCs get into their business, and in no particular order (mostly as I remember them) the following events take place-
The Witch Hunters (Fred & Lothar) secure knock down price tickets from the coachmen, they're heading to Altdorf tomorrow. This after Fred plies the pair with drink, and then Lotho Charms them a little, before Haggling the price down as low as it can go.
I rolled -5SL for the Coachmen, Lotho rolled +3SL.
Olek in the meantime, and after critically failing his Consume Alcohol check... and yes, I know you can't do this- but he rolled a '99' and by his own admission this is Olek's first ever taste of proper alcohol. Well, Olek gets a little tipsy and then starts up singing (Castrato) the Sigmar classic “'Ave It Sigmar!”, to the tune of 'Ave Maria', of course.
More remarkably the Blacksmith's apprentice has Perfect Pitch, and the singing voice of an angel, and not a camp Nazi (his normal voice) angel. The entire bar falls to a hush as the giant man takes his turn.
Later, the noble (& beautiful) lady- who the adventurers have discovered (from Gustav) is Lady Isolde Von Strudelhof, has to tell the adventurers off. Actually, it's her maid Janna that does the telling off. The PCs were being very loud with their toasts (and quaffing), but as Lothar patiently explains they have just learned from the coachmen that General Sievers of the Imperial Ostlanders has returned to the capitol from the Border Princess, most likely to report victory against the Greenskins. The PCs make a collective Charm check and Lady Isolde is convinced. The tavern takes another moment to charge their glasses and toast General Sievers victory, and the good name of the Emperor.
Later still Lothar heads over to reassure Lady Isolde, and her party, that no offence was intended, and that decorum and politeness- while on the wane these days, are the foundation of a civilised society. Lothar is tres charming, and soon after garners another incredible result- something like +7SLs in his attempt to charm Isolde.
I rolled 90-something (again) for Lady I. Kev rolled '12', or something similar.
Isolde presses Lothar to do two things- 1) Join her on the coach to Altdorf tomorrow, and 2) to arrange a little more lite entertainment for the evening in the bar.
“It is just so dull out here in the sticks.”
Lothar gets on it, but the entertainment is for the next session.
Meantime Frederich has got his detective head on, after much chatter with the Landlord, Gustav he determines that the inn has a register- the names of those that stayed here. Three months past a 'Johann Baumann' spent the night. The fellow was heading to Ubersreik, from Altdorf, although Gustav remembers that Johann was not from the capitol.
Later still Frederich feeds and then Charms Luckie the Crow, the bird- he notes parrots things that it has heard, alas his efforts to get the avian to recall anything that Johann Baumann said three months ago come to naught.
Shame, if he had rolled better I would have made something suitably convincing up.
Where's Fergus in all this you are asking?
Well, Fergus is mostly about the consumption of alcohol, although he does go and have a chat with Phillipe at the bar, the tough with the bedroom eyes, beauty spot and hand cannon. The Dawi learns that Phillipe is indeed, as his name suggests, a Bretonnian- and that he too is heading on the coach to Altdorf, on the morrow. The two share stories, and then the conflab moves over to the adventurer's table. Phillipe is convinced that Fergus and his companions are good people, he buys a round of drinks for the party.
Note, the PCs/Players are struggling with the fact (I think) that drinking brings on Consume Alcohol checks, which- when failed, make your PC suboptimal. Some of the Players are having problems with this concept.
Here's the secret kids- relax into it.
The fact that no-one (or -thing) has tried to kill them so far is also a little disconcerting, although I've been telling them for months now that WFRP really isn't 'all fighting', except of course when it is, at which point (sometimes) it's about surviving.
And that's pretty much all we did.
It's worth mentioning that Olek used all of his Fortune Points up in the session- this is optimal, Lothar & Fred (I think) used all but one of their Fortune Points. Fergus spent zero, he was waiting for the 'action' to start.
Just to reiterate-
There's a lot of chatting in this game, some of it about the weather and what's going on, but when we get into it a lot more chatter is about uncovering the plot- asking questions, Charming and sweet talking a variety of folk.
There is some fighting, and it's coming- believe me, but again- a lot more of the PCs time is going to be spent exploring places and finding things out, which- again- involves chatter/detective work/investigation et al.
Chatty characters are going to do well here.
But again, this is only the tutorial, I'm trying to show you how everything works in WFRP in these first sessions.
I loved the session- I got to do lots of RPing, but I think some of the players have doubts. Just for info we are going to keep playing WFRP until we've finished the first book- that's four chapters, which I reckon will equate to 6-8 sessions.
Stay safe and well.
Cheers goonalan et al.