Warhammer Disconnect

Dude on RPG.net has a conundrum.

His conundrum is right where my games generally begin.  It is good stuff he’s wrestling with here but his last resort is just about where I’d want the game to begin and if I lose, eff it, it is Warhammer. My character dies, becomes infected with Chaos or the Prince sent to the cold regions to the north with some half-mad priest of Sigmar to fend off the beastmen for as long as I can manage.

This makes me hungry to both try to third edition of Warhammer and to play a Warhammer set game with Burning Wheel, tossing in the Magic Burner’s Corruption rules that are tailor-made for corruption.

12 thoughts on “Warhammer Disconnect

  1. Huh. So, while I agree with you on this – the problem is an opportunity for awesome – this is a fantastic and malice-free example of a disconnect that I continue to feel may be one of the biggest in gaming.

    The guy is looking for a cunning plan, a cleve way by which he can get all the things he wants (freed slaves and continued profits), not because he doesn’t think the choice between them is powerful, but rather BECAUSE he knows it’s powerful, and as such it would be more awesome if he had both.

    The cynical dismissal of this is that he wants to have his cake and eat it too, and while there’s some truth to that, it’s as true as dismissing the alternative as emo-porn. Solving problems is _fun_, and I can point to a lot of fiction (especially geek fiction) where the protagonist’s virtue is his ability to come up with clever, unexpected solutions rather than his ability to fight or the depths of his emotional pain. There are a lot of reasons to try to shoot for that in gaming.

    Plus, it has a real benefit on the emotional level. Not every plan will work, no matter how clever. Sometimes you pull every single thing you can out of your bag of tricks, cut the worst deals imaginable, mortgage your future, and the dice still come up snake eyes, and you’re left standing there with a choice, possessed of the full knowledge that you did EVERY DAMN THING IMAGINABLE to fend this off, but here it is, and you need to decide.

    This is huge. You can try to simulate this externally by beating people up, go for the die-hard thing of dragging players over broken glass so that they’re totally spent when the big deal goes down. That can works pretty well, even very well if the player buys in. But to have the player do that to himself? It’s incomparable.

    Not to say every problem-solver is ready for that. Plenty of them expect success, and are frustrated when it does not come easily (there’s some generational commentary to be made there), but if those instincts can be paired with a willingness to fail (which, weirdly, hard sim is really good at teaching) and a commitment to setting, then the potential for awesome is there.

    -Rob D.

    • Rob, I feel like you are making a bunch of quasi-Forge/Story Games-related pre-judgements on me which just strikes me as odd as we have gamed together and have had a good time with it.

      Please, pretty please, don’t refer to any role-playing with any bit of emotional pain involved as nut-kicking emo-porn. It is freakin’ Warhammer, isn’t it supposed to be dark?

      The set-up is sweet and I agree that the disconnect is that where I’m playing at the moment, ya come up with a plan, do your best and see where the dice land ya. There is no perfect solution that is going to get you out scott-free but there is also some really intense strategy that goes into it all but it can fall apart and if it does, it’ll still be interesting.

  2. Oh, man, if there’s any sense of a judgment on you in there, I apologize. The contrast made me think and produce comment, pretty much just shooting the breeze over something that niggles at my brain. I don’t think there are any persuasive element in there, or at least it absolutely was not intended as such. I was generically tossing position out there, and absolutely did not intend to attribute any of them to you.

    • Coolio. The emo-porn thing just vexes me. I feel like some folks think my games consist of me kicking my friends in the junk as hard as I can, them crying, screaming, “AWESOME!” posting on Story Games and then kicking me in the junk so I can repeat the process and that just ain’t so.

      • Emo-porn as a term is mostly useful with either tongue firmly in cheek, or as an illustration that you can frame anything in a negative-sounding way if that’s your intent.

      • I can safely say that I have never been kicked in the junk, save for when the demon dice hit the table in Sorcerer.

        And re: your post below. You definitely helped me enjoy 4e on another level with the “Let BW be BW and 4e be 4e.” argument.

      • Junk: Demon dice with Dogs in the Vineyard. Man, I have eviscerated so many nice, well-meaning quasi-Mormon boys and girls with those dice.

        BW/4e: Yeah, it was an easy point to make because I feel like I went through that exact same process.

  3. Back to Warhammer, the new version is a little bit less dark than its predecessors. I’m actually pretty happy with this, since I always felt that particular aesthetic was overkill, sometimes to the point of being almost silly. It’s still dark, and the art is just as screwed up as ever, but the underlying note of “Chaos will win, nothing you do matters, except to kick the pebbles around while the world dies” has been replaced with a more simple “The world sucks and is dangerous” that I find more playable, at least for more adventur-ey stuff.

    That said, while the game is fun and clever, there is basically nothing that’s going to push issues beyond the GM, so while playing it might be enjoyable, it’s not certain to give a Burning Wheel style payoff.

    -Rob D.

    • I totally dig that. Yeah, the kick pebbles around while tentacles grow out of your scrotum isn’t my cuppa cuppa either.

      The nice thing about having BW, is that I don’t have to want other games to be like BW (but secretly in my dark indie heart sometimes I still kinda do). I think it has allowed me to enjoy 4e in a way that I have never enjoyed a D&D edition before. It is the first edition of D&D where I’m not grinding against it at the table thinking, “Why isn’t this doing what I want it to do, dammit!”

  4. I’ve picked up WFRP3 and I’m about a week away from running my first session of it. I’m seriously thinking on running some sessions of it at Dreamation, though I may do it as a pick-up game rather than something on the schedule. If you’re interested, I’d be happy to run a session for you and some others.

    As for the setting, it’s like Rob says. The game has lost most of the oppressively dark sensibility and replaced that with something that feels a little more like… I want to make a comparison to the Black Company but I’ve only just started reading the series so I don’t know if that’s quite right. The book spends some time on saying that the characters are “chosen by fate to stand against the incursion of Chaos” and that sort of stuff. It’s dark heroic fantasy with a metal soundtrack. Actually, if you’ve seen any of the Dragon Age computer game, there’s some similarities there.

    As for mechanics, I’m not sure I agree with Rob. There are bits to the game that do punch past the player/GM divide, but most of those things aren’t really addressed in an implicit way. And while I don’t think you’ll have the same kind of integrated character experience that you get from a game like BW, I do think that WFRP3 does give you the tools to have a really fun and engrossing adventure game.

    There are things in there about establishing character goals and rewarding players for chasing after them, as well as making decisions on your character’s mental state and having that impact how effective they are in combat. The dice pool can create results that have both positive and negative effects at the same time. There’s even some blocked-out text on “Yes, and…” and “No, but…”, and encouraging and rewarding players for trying crazy things.

    Shoot me an email and let me know if you want to try some of WFRP3.

    • I am not certain that I will be at Dreamation but I will certainly be interested in playing at some point.

      Thanks for the offer and for sharing your thoughts.

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