Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Dice: WHFRP vs. "The other guys"

To start with, I'm going to answer the crowd who think that figuring out probabilities of success vs. failure are hard "when the result depends on the roll of two green d10s, a blue d8, a purple d8, and a couple black d6s and the result is not numerical but based on adding up and cancelling out symbols."

In WHFRP the odds are just as easy to figure out compared to other systems - perhaps even easier.

I figure it out by assigning "soft" numbers to each of the dice, for example:

There are seven types of dice available for use in the Dice Pool: Characteristic, Reckless, Conservative, Fortune, Misfortune, Challenge, and Expertise Dice.

Characteristic Dice are rolled completely dependant upon the characteristic used for the appropriate situization; ie. Zog is bashing a door. Zog has 3 strength. Zog rolls 3 characteristic dice. The odds that you will roll a "success" with this type of die is about 50/50 -- maybe a bit less but I like to round off any decimals that don't start with a ".5" and end with a "0". So in the spirit of using "soft probabilities" I will assign each one of these dice a value of ".5".

Caveat: This system isn't really based on anything resembling real mathematics, rather it's based on my personal feelings as I roll the dice and my own observation on what results pop up after numerous roll-after-roll.

Reckless and Conservative dice are dice that give you slightly better results (with a slim chance of a counterbalancing effect. You can replace Characteristic dice with these depending on your "stance".. Example. Zog is a reckless motherfucker. Zog *IS* allowed a few different options on his Stance Track (determined on his career). We'll say he meter looks a little like this ------>>> "[R-R-R-N-C]" Where R stands for Reckless, N is Neutral, and C is conservative. If Zog is only a little reckless (Kept track of by placing a token along his Stance Track) then his token might just be on the "R" closest to the Neutral Space -- Then Zog can exchange one of his characteristic dice for one Reckless Die. The more Reckless he is the more dice he can exchange. These dice I will assign a "1" to.

Fortune and Misfortune dice are situationally applied based on positive and negative effects from things like:

1) "Its really rainy and dark outside and you're trying to see the face of the man who ran across the street -- you get to add 3 misfortune dice to your pool."

2) "You have blackmail on the village elder who you are trying to squeeze for information -- add 4 fortune dice."

These dice are worth either "+.5" or "-.5" respectively.

The last dice that there are are Challange and Expertise dice, which are the the antithesis of eachother. Expertise can be added if you're really REALLY good at something. (based on skills that you can pick). Misfortune dice are added to the pool if the odds are really stacked against you, ranging from:

1) "You are outnumbered 3:1, add 3 misfortune dice, one for each opponant facing you."


2) "Your legs were just decapitated by the cannon ball that knocked you off the ship -- Roll 6 challange dice to stay afloat and conscious."

I can assign a "+1.5" or a "-1.5" respectively.

So lets say the dice pool that Zog is rolling to bash in a door looks like this:

3 strength for 3 characteristic dice. (Running Total [.5+.5+.5 =1.5])
He's only a little reckless this time, R=1 on the track. (Running Total [1.5 (-.5)+1 = 2])
The door is solid and sturdy, Add two misfortune dice. (Running Total [2 -.5-.5 = 1])
Zog is Athletic (from a skill). Add 1 expertise dice. (Running Total [1 + 1.5 = 2.5])
2.5 > 0 so the chances are that Zog "The Risk Taker" will bash open the door.

Realistically you probably wouldn't have to sit there and assign numbers to the dice. It's more the case of scanning the pool and saying to yourself, "Gee, there some of those good dice and a bunch of those bad dice in the pool. I'm probably not going to walk out of this alive".

This system feels a lot more cinematic though. I like not knowing exactly how the dice are going to fall, or that "I need to roll anything but a '1' on this D20 in order to succeed".

If I want to continuously study probabilities when I'm gaming (unless its a war game) then I'm probably not going to have a ton of fun. When I play an RPG I typically don't power game, statistics and probabilities only serve to push people in that direction and really end up becoming more of a distraction than anything.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Warhammer RPG iphone App

"Iphone App? But my players already spend too much time on their phones as it is!"

FFG Has just released the WFRP Toolkit App for iPhone and iPod Touch. I've always saw great potential for the merge of technology and tabletop gaming (such as the "X-Desk"). This is a *cheaper* first step towards the new horizon of what I'll call, "Fusion Gaming" -- the hybrid mix of old school tabletop RP'ing and new technological resources used by players and GM's alike.

"So what exactly does this app do?"

From FFG: "When the main screen appears, you will see two metallic plates (as in the image to the right); the Dice Plate appears at the top of the screen, and the Options Plate appears at the bottom. Between these two metallic plates is the application’s background, the field on which your dice will be rolled.

Simply tap any of the dice on the Dice Plate to add them to your field. By default, the Dice Plate displays characteristic, conservative, reckless, and expertise dice. Don’t see the die you need? Drag the Dice Plate horizontally right or left to display a selection of challenge, fortune, and misfortune dice! Finally, to make the Dice Plate and Options Plate appear or disappear, tap and hold the background. This will remove these extra options, leaving only the gorgeous three-dimensionally rendered dice on a textured leather-like field. Now it’s time for the best part!

Once you’ve selected the dice you need, the real fun begins. Simply shake your iPhone, or iPod touch to “roll” your dice. A realistic sound effect will accompany the jostling and randomization of whichever dice you’ve selected, recreating the tactile joy of tossing a fistful of dice!"

"Hmmm... But I like tossing real dice. Doesn't' this take away from that aspect?"

True enough. It's probably not for everyone. But here's the twist. The App also comes in with a built in application for analyzing your past dice rolls and "shows a wide variety of statistics for the current session, including average pool size, challenge level, success and failure rates, and other helpful information".

It's definitely on my list of apps to check out!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Session 3.5

I've had both a mini session, and one full session, over the past couple weeks due to conflicting player schedules.

The mini session last week was really just a filler in order to get one character up to speed with the system, and the setting.

During last Friday's full session though, we really got into the meat of the matter. Braying beastmen, spilled blood, a mugging, as well as a few "animal mishaps" filled the nights events.

Once they had assembled, (minus some cash and personal belongings for one) the group had finally managed to develop a cohesive plan on how to rob the old codger of his personal belongings. Two of the group had infiltrated the staff, being personally hired on by Herr Heinrich The other two had been foiled in their attempts to get into the good graces of the man -- they would be following behind on some horses they managed to scrounge up.

And so, the caravan left the dusty little town, bound for Lord Ascheffeenburgs personal country lodge, where glory and riches would await. The first day on the road was rather dull... The only action being the spotting of a beast upon two legs that seemed to be paralleling the wagon train. Spooked by a few arrows, it soon was lost to the eyes of the group amongst the tall brush and grasses of the prairie.

Night of the first day had come and the trail party decided it best to ask for the hospitality of the caravans camp instead of being murdered in their sleep, alone and un-mourned, by the beasts of the night.

As the night grew darker JH's character decided to go poking about the bush in order to find a place to bed down away from the caravan. At a few yards distance between him and the grove of trees his horses were spooked, one kicking him in the chest as it ran back from whence it came.

Hobbling back to camp he rose the alarm and was promptly sent back with the group members in order to scout out the area and kill any interlopers. A brief and bloody combat ensued with two of the beasts left dead in the bush.

As the sun rose then next morning the carts proceeded towards the cottage, albeit much more alert than they had been the previous day. With a gasp of relief they caravan saw the fortified cottage creep into view. Also seen was a large war band of beastmen, foul looking and filled with blood lust. The race was on.

Hacking and slashing their way through a few of the fell-beasts bought enough time for the carts to pass through the city gate.(opened by the dwarf) With their prize safely inside the walls the beastmen retreated back into the woods. The body count was high on both sides after this skirmish with over 90% of the caravan and household staff dead though the blood of many a beastman was spilled to the earth as well.

Exhausted and completely spent the group decided to accept the hospitality of Lord Ashauffenberg, a barking buffoon of a man, while they gathered their energy. They accepted the invite for a meal of venison and goose that would be served at dinner and, in the mean time, went to the bathhouse to recoup. A freak occurrence let a clue drop into their hands. The meal was to be poisoned. An interesting night was unfolding for the hapless adventurers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One Session Down, and Counting.

As the old adage goes:

"In the city, if your players are psychotic-sociopaths, the story will write itself."

So my party is had the misfortune of drawing "A Band of Thugs" as their Party Sheet. Though, true to form, they are playing it out to a tee.

The party: A murdering/thieving lout (High Elf), A compulsive liar (Dwarf)(and his little dog too), and two unknowns - though they are likely rapists, pillagers, or worshippers of the dark powers.

First session turned out to be quite memorable:

The party started the game flush with cash, spending much of their time drinking and carousing with the village locals, Ratting, and being a general menace. Growing bored with the routine and with the locals getting low on cash to gamble away the 4-some were determined to find some other action.

A sign tacked to the local bulletin board promised a paltry 6 silver per day for some hard labor to help move some rich old duffs private possessions to the country.

After some dickering on the issue a plan was resolved -- they would accept the job as a ruse to get into the mansion and pilfer as much loot as possible to sell to their fence in the city.

The dwarf, not the most charismatic of the group, decided to secure opening for day-laborers with the Lord's right-hand-man, Herr Heindrick; who a sharp-eyed and dodgy character with little patience for rowdy, lying, dwarfs. He was already in an ill-mood to boot.

Needless to say the dwarf grew unruly and was denied the job and proceeded to cause a ruckus in the local tavern. He was warned to leave. Not one to stand down from a fight the dwarf sic'd his dog on the bouncer. Unfazed as the scrappy little mutt sank his teeth into his side, the tuff proceeded to punt the dog into the corner, knocking it out cold.

After a couple rounds of fisticuffs the dwarf had had enough and shrank from the challenge, though still talking up a big game, ran from the bar taking his dog under one arm.

Once outside he commenced to tell his compatriots that he secured the job and they would all be well paid to boot. They decided to bed down for the night, the dwarf in the alley amongst the trash and the rest in the local opium den / hippy commune.

The following morning the group showed up at the manor fully expecting to be admitted and only then finding out that the dwarf had been lying to them the entire time. Amusement followed.

The Elf, a much more charming fellow, decided to go it alone and get the work papers from Herr Heindrick himself, enter the mansion, and do a bit of scouting before they determined how to burglarise the place.

And that's about where it all ended.... This was a pre-written adventure and we managed to get to page 2. Not even on the first encounter. I really didn't mind though as I usually allow a lot of leeway for my players to do as they wish and only push them towards the GM-Train from time to time if they get too far off track.

As it is, they have found out bits and pieces of the plot by overhearing the conversations of other hirelings and can do with them as they please. For the most part I feel a lot more comfortable running free-flowing sandbox adventures with the pre-written adventures only serving as a guiding-light somewhere off in the far distance.

More to come.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Game Night v5.4.3

The time has come -- after numerous aborted attempts, after endless weekends of boardgaming... we are ready to finally attempt another RPG.

I am going to trott out the new version of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

I have to admit, the Warhammer world has always supplied me with a steady stream of rich (grim/dark) fluff that keeps my mind enthralled. As an added bonus, it also allows for some amazingly gruesome deaths that I can foist upon my unsuspecting players.... whenever it strikes my fancy.