At this coming HelgaCon I will be running a Warhammer FRPG (2nd edition) game. Originally meant to be a concession to Jenn as this is her favorite system and about the only one she will actually play anymore, it actually also turned out to be the most popular choice when I sent a list of games I was considering running to all the HelgaCon attendees. This might have something to do with the fact that the game will feature skaven PCs, which is something I’ve only ever done once before (at last HelgaCon), but could also be just a general desire for some variety at the convention. Or maybe everyone secretly loves Warhammer, I don’t know.
I have some problems with Warhammer FRPG, and though at the convention I’ll likely run it as by the book as possible, I can’t help but sometimes contemplate how I’d modify the system to my liking if I were to ever run another campaign of it. Warhammer FRPG really strongly relies on a skill system, and as I’m sure my readers are aware, I dislike skill systems. This is further complicated by talents, of which some are very cool, others simply apply bonuses into skills, and some act as gateways into actions that nobody can do without the talent, such as knocking someone unconscious, which I think is a terrible idea. It’s such a mixed bag I don’t know how to glean the good from it without also taking along the awful. Finally, I think the combat system is too complex. There’s too much rolling, and too much opportunity for all that rolling to come to nothing. This is especially true at higher power levels, when both combatants have multiple attacks with huge weapon skill and parry/dodge percentages.
I was contemplating this problem in the shower this morning (where I do all my best thinking), and the number of house rules required to get 2nd edition to a place I really liked was a bit staggering. I thought about 1st edition briefly, but it not only has all the same issues, it has them in a more confused and jumbled presentation, such that it didn’t seem worth bothering. Then it struck me: what about Warhammer Quest?
Warhammer Quest is a board game. It’s probably the best co-op dungeon crawl board game I know of, but still a board game. It does come with a “roleplay book” though, which I’ve always looked at as a collection of optional rules that can be tacked onto the board game to add complexity (it includes city trips between dungeon crawls, advancement rules for the characters, tougher monster charts, etc.) The last few chapters introduce the concept of a GM and start to really push the thing into the realm of RPGs, an idea I always skoffed. Why wouldn’t I just play a “real” RPG at that point?
Well, now that I look at it, Warhammer Quest as an RPG actually presents a lot of the simplifications I would want. It has no skill system. Combat is quick and easy. Advancement simply grants better core stats and “skills” which really aren’t skills at all, but more like talents. You generally gain them at a rate of one per level, and a couple examples include (from the Elf skills): Rapid Fire (+1 attack with missile weapons) and Sureshot (Re-roll one missed missile attack). The skill list for each class is unique, and Wizards don’t get them at all, instead they get more spells. While most of these skills simply add combat abilities, it would probably be pretty easy to cherry-pick the cool talents out of 2nd edition WFRPG and drop them into various class skill lists.
OK, so what’s missing from WQ that I would want to bring over from WFRPG? Well, first there are two core stats I’d want to carry over: Agility and Fellowship. This gives you a nice range of general stats to test against for pretty much any action a player wants to take. I’d have to somehow adapt these to the d6 oriented type of stats present in WQ as opposed to the percentile stuff from WFRPG. Also as stat granularity is pretty course in WQ, there’s no random generation of stats. Do I want to do anything about that? I’m not sure.
Finally, there’s the career system. This is one of the biggest charms of WFRPG, for me at least. Ultimately it’s really just a class system, each player has one career and it dictates what stats, skills, advances, etc. to which you have access. The interesting thing is that it does set up a system for changing class as you progress: once you fill out one career you jump to the next one. WQ definitely also has a class system, though it’s not called such in the game. In the core book there are only 4: dwarf, elf, wizard, and barabarian. There are several expansions that add new classes like imperial noble, elf ranger, etc. I suppose it might be possible to just go through the WFRPG list of careers and adapt each one to a WQ class. You might even make a system for jumping careers, though I’m not convinced that would be easy or even desirable.
Hmm, an interesting thought experiment. I’m not sure I’d pursue this though without hearing a fair amount of player buy-in. Which is to say, Jenn would have to think this is a pretty fantastic idea before I bothered tinkering with it more. And I’m not sure that would really happen, as she likes skill systems.