Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Middenheim Madam (and why the WFRP career system rules)

Real quick observation on the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay career system:

The players are hard at work establishing a crime syndicate (the Crime Dudes), and one of the specialties they're looking to diversify into is the flesh trade. Hos, to be blunt. To facilitate this, they've put the word out on the street for an experienced ("old" was how they put it) doxy with house experience. A former madam if they could get one. Thus was born Marienburg Rose.

So now to stat our new NPC. Browse browse browse, I'm actually mildly surprised to find that neither 1e nor 2e WFRP books have a "prostitute" career (as completist as they otherwise are) - until I read twice under the "Camp Follower" entry. Uh-huh. Charm, Street Fighter, Sleight of Hand, Resistance to Disease, so on and so forth. Well, fair enough - and the career actually offers a good mix of survival and interpersonal skills. One career down.

Now, of course, they're not gonna have a "madam" career. Buuuuut - Innkeeper? That'll do for government work. And then I see that you can go directly from Camp Follower to Innkeeper in just 2 career changes via the Servant career. BANG.

The funny thing is, a character that's 3 careers in like this is actually fairly formidable in WFRP, at least to my first-career PC group. This tough old broad has a pile of people skills and is a nasty customer in a scrap, to boot. Should make for some interesting bar scenes if the PCs actually get a house going.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Not to worry, sir - I've got a Cunning Plan!

Notes from tonight's WRFP session, while they're still semi-fresh in my head:

When we'd called it last time, the guys were fresh off a remarkably successful killing spree (especially down a dwarf, as they were). They'd been hired by a local nobleman to "forcefully acquire" a gem from a gang who'd recently made aquisition of it themselves - a stone, keep in mind, that local lore held to be tainted by a Chaos god no less than the patron of plagues himself, Father Nurgle (and one which, like crazy people, they still decided to fuck with).

This turned out to involve picking their way through a series of already-stormed gang warrens, getting into a few pitched swordfights (maybe two?) and actually coming out alive and intact, and the odd bit of diplomacy (supplemented, of course, as always, by the Cunning Plan). We got to meet the lively and deeply silly Tileans (who I'm playing more or less as the Marx brothers in 3 Musketeer costumes, at least here) in the guise of the Valentina gang, who'd been thus far outfoxed and outfought by our stalwart gang of sanitation workers.

As we picked up tonight, however, they met the one surviving person in the complex with any brains in their head - the Boss's bodyguard, Salasomthing or other. Sal something. *run to look it up* It's Sebastiano, apparently. Anyway, him. He manages to (very nearly) get the drop on them with a crossbow pistol (which the guys all immediately lusted after, of course - sealing his fate, or so I'd have thought), and avoid a whack at his noggin with Otto the graverobber's club, before convincing the party of the inevitability of casualties should they fight needlessly (something that ACTUALLY FUCKING WORKED for once, which just proves that Warhammer FRP is MAGIC). I think the fact that he was prepared to go into battle with brass knuckles had something to do with it, too, the players seemed to half respect that. Heh.

So they pump him for information, successfully resist their deep needs to immediately murder him for his crossbow, and find out that the reason the Boss's bodyguard doesn't want to fight, is that the Boss's body has already been bloodily compromised - to the utter bewilderment of the bodyguard, who didn't see a thing. They find the body, sans head, track the blood to the not-anymore-quite-so-secret door (says the bodyguard: "The tracks, they lead to the book-a-shelf! But a book, she cannot kill a man! This makes-a no sense!"), and actually let the fucking guy go. (Take note, THAT NEVER HAPPENS.)

Leave it to my guys, though: They offered him a job.

After that, they trekked back through the sewers (where the Small But Vicious Dog proved quite useful tracking a fresh blood trail through the awfulness) to a side cavern wherein there was a minecart. A minecart containing both the boss's head and the corpse of his apparent killer. Oh, and the stone, which they immediately put in the Box For Evil Awful Things they'd been given for that express purpose. The guys knew something was up (I may have even heard an "I've got a bad feeling about this" in there somewhere). The corpse was covered with... rat bites. The rat... catching dog started to go apeshit. They took the hint and got in the minecart, just ahead of the Huge Fucking Swarm of rats. *this is where I make my DM face*

They have a short Indiana Jones ride, find out the brake doesn't work, and realize that they're going WAY the fuck too fast. Resourceful fellows that they are, they decide to use the corpse as a brake. By hanging him over the back by his ankles. And letting his face drag behind them. Now, in my defense, I'm going to admit that I'd just watched Hobo With A Shotgun (which you should immediately go watch, too), and that this had a lot to do with my ensuing description of the blood and tooth and bone fountain that resulted from high-speed application of fresh corpse to unyielding minecart tracks. It didn't really help, though.

They get to the end of the line, hit the stop at the end, and tumble out in ungainly wound-taking heaps (except for NPC Hans the Boatman, who makes his Agility roll, hops the side and comes to a graceful running stop, and who has now become Neil Patrick Harris in my mind, for some reason). Everybody dusts off, and they find themselves in a smuggler's cavern, with distant, weird shadowy figures blocking the one exit - which also is traversed by another track, with the attendant cart conveniently available for PC mischief. They take the obvious route and turn the cart into a murder machine. They decide not to let a perfectly good (slightly-used) corpse go to waste, and toss that in for ballast, add a layer of broken pallet and lamp oil on top, set the thing ablaze and push; following after with swords and what have you drawn.

The flaming corpsecart takes out the two Mysteriously Robed Individuals blocking the exit, who obligingly fail to dodge, and the ersatz adventurers run out into the moonlight - the moonlight shining down into an open sewer, admittedly, but moonlight all the same. There they find another four Mysterious Robed Individuals, who were not at all obvious cultists, chanting in a weird circle (NOT CULTISTS) and looking menacing. One of them (the one in the middle) was an albino. DEFINITELY JUST NORMAL FOLKS.

The guys yell at them to cut the shit, and threaten to throw the evil nasty gem over the city wall, but I just keep rolling dice and smiling, and the chanting keeps getting louder. Finally, on Round The Very Last Before Something Bad Happens (I didn't tell them this), they loose crossbows at the Normal Guys Chanting In Robes. This seriously fucks things up, and everyone's minds nearly rupture as an awful pus demon from beyond tears through reality, grabs a wounded culti- errr, normal guy for lunch, and retreats through the yawning rent in time and space. (Meanwhile at the table we chuckle, sip adult beverages and roll dice - sometimes it must really suck to be a PC.) Terror tests are failed, Insanity Points are gained. PCs run screaming in horror through the city streets until they collapse in heaps of garbage, shivering. All's well that ends well, right?

It wouldn't be the Warhammer World if it didn't add insult to injury, so I didn't feel TOO bad when, on their way to deliver the damned thing, they got a chamber pot dumped on their heads by drunken noble rakes. (I rolled the "rakes" encounter, "drunken" and "pranks" were right there in the listing, and I reasoned they were plenty sick of shit and piss by that point, soooooooo...) They somehow once again resisted the natural urge that all PCs have to murder all NPCs, and avoided getting killed by bodyguards or arrested, and made it to the drop. Where they managed to alienate the patron in a (rather ham-handed) attempt to get the full payment they were due, so that'll bite them in the ass, later. Yaaaaaay, Warhammer World! *this is where I make my DM face again*

It occurs to me just how much Blackadder has accidentally slipped into my WFRP game, and - just now - how much more I should intentionally dial in. If there's a bigger influence on the general tone of WFRP's brand of comedy - besides maybe Python - I can't think of one.


P.S.: If this all sounds at all familiar to you, and exactly like the example adventure in the 1e WFRP book, well, there's a reason for that.