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[Let's Read] Zweihander Grim & Perilous RPG Revised Core Rulebook

furashg

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I have the original book (huge). The new revised book is shorter. Does anyone have both? Is it worth it to get the smaller one too?
 

Broda

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I just reskin the existing stat blocks from the bestiary. Given the bestiary is massive, the lack of NPC shorthand is an inconvenience but not a game breaker for me.
Yeah, the one definitely offsets the other.
 

Molotov

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I have the original book (huge). The new revised book is shorter. Does anyone have both? Is it worth it to get the smaller one too?
I have both the original Zweihander (offset printing) and new one. They're effectively the same size as far as I can tell. I don't find the new one materially smaller / shorter, but the layout's been tightening up a bit. I prefer my new one as a result.
 

Frey

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I just bought the book (got it in Sweden) and it's huge and heavy! But I think I prefer this ruleset than WFRP4.
 

Skywalker

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Yeah, the one definitely offsets the other.
I would also highly recommend using the Underling rules in Main Gauche for most enemies other than bosses or other big monsters. Essentially, they don’t bank AP so they are easier to run and don’t react with defences, and they die on receiving an Injury.
 

Broda

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I would also highly recommend using the Underling rules in Main Gauche for most enemies other than bosses or other big monsters. Essentially, they don’t bank AP so they are easier to run and don’t react with defences, and they die on receiving an Injury.
Thanks for the tip. Haven't checked out Main Gauche yet, but I hope to when I finish this read-through.
 

Broda

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Checking in, thread still not abandoned. But, y'know, real life yada yada. I won't bore y'all with the details, I'm sure you have problems of your own. I'll get back to it as soon as I can. It's bugging the crap out of me that it's been this long.
 

Broda

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CHAPTER 10: GRIMOIRE (CONTINUED)

Whew, been a while. Thanks for waiting. When we left off, I had just scratched the surface of Chapter 10. We had gotten an overview of Magick, and an explanation of how Arcane Spellcasters use it to affect the world around them.

Next, we get a view of Divine Magick, the kind practiced by Priests, Shamans, and even Druids. Divine Magick springs from the same well as Arcane Magick, that is, the Aetherial Winds that blow from the Abyss across the Aetherial Veil. But unlike Arcane Magick, Divine Magick is granted to its practitioners by the Gods themselves.

Just as there are ten directions of the Aetherial Winds (not counting Malkiuth), there are ten dieties in the pantheon of Zweihander. Or at least in the core Rulebook. Briefly, they are:

The Crouching One: god of assassinations, blood and cruelty

The Custodian: lord of death, dreams and the afterlife

The Demiurge: hermaphroditic god of nature, animals, earth and fertility

The God-Emperor: the big one, lord of civilization, courage and humanity, ruler of even the other gods

The Learner: god of knowledge, justice and history

The Leviathan: goddess of the sea and storms

The Martyr: lady of healing, mercy and childbirth

The Nightfather: lord of good fortune and commerce, also patron of thieves

The Steward; god of soldiers, strategists and warfare

The Winter King: god of winter, wolves and battle

As with Arcane Magick, long-term practice may have physical and psychological effects. These do not seem to be as common in in Divine Magick as they are in Arcane Magick, however.

There follow a few paragraphs about Faith & Worship. We are told that each god has different ceremonies and customs. Where the God-Emperor's faithful adherents might gather weekly in large and ornate churches, followers of The Demiurge are more likely to be found gathering in forests during certain seasonal events.

There is a fine and often blurry line between superstition and religion in Zweihander, and the one hand often washed the other. In a world where literacy is not the norm, the common man will rely on signs, superstitions and customs to reinforce his religious beliefs, whereas the rich may read holy books or study religious languages. The lowly superstitions bind the poor to the more wealthy and learned gentry in a way that would not be likely without the common thread of religious belief.

The organization of religions in general are briefly covered. For example, some religions may have militant and scholarly branches in addition to clerical ones.

Here, too, we are made aware that any religion may be taken to dangerous and fanatical extremes, sometimes requiring an Inquisitor to quell zealotry that has become barbarous or perverted. Inquisitors will more often be needed to dispatch those who have cast their lot with demons or other abyssal creatures (for there are powers other than Aetherial Winds or even gods).

This section is a pretty good encapsulation of Zweihander's approach in a nutshell. There is an implied setting of sorts here, despite the author's claims to the contrary. And while the need to maintain a safe distance from the established IP of other games may be seen by some as a hindrance, I find it to be one of Zweihander's strengths.

There is an actual framework here. It is solid and substantial enough to build on, yet it has enough empty space that it allows, even invites, players and GMs alike to use it as a canvas upon which to leave their personal statement, without feeling as though anything is being controverted.

I find this to be a nice middle ground. It my not be to everyone's taste, however. I'm lazy, and I don't really like to do a ton of "world building". But I also like to be able to run adventures without having to read and absorb a ton of lore. Zweihander satisifies me on both counts. And unlike a lot of "setting neutral" games that give only the barest descriptions of the in-game world, Zweihander creates a fairly palpable and inhabitable setting. I would be just as comfortable running my own homebrews as I would using Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay adventures. In fact, I am currently adapting an adventure from the cult classic game Maelstrom (a game which has some similarity to the subsequently published WFRP).

Next, I will go over the rules for actually casting spells, and take a look at the actual spells themselves.

TO BE CONTINUED...
 

Broda

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CHAPTER 10: GRIMOIRE (CONTINUED)


Now we know a little bit about what Magick is in Zweihander, and where it comes from, but what does it do? Well, this next section aims to explain exactly that.

First, we are told that Magick is divided into four "Principles". Think of these as levels, or an ascending scale of potency and effect. They are:

-Generalist Magick: common to both Divine and Arcane Spellcasters, these are the most basic spells available.

-Petty Magick: slightly more powerful Magick, but not so much so that it would instantly be recognized as such. In fact, these Spells are often mistaken for accident, luck or natural occurrence by those not attuned to Magick. Be warned, however, that even at this level, Magick is potentially dangerous and its use is not to be taken lightly.

-Lesser Magick: this next Principle creates effects that are instantly recognizable as supernatural in origin. As the power of Magick increases, so does its danger to the caster.

-Greater Magick: the strongest Magicks able to be wielded by mankind, these are available to but a few select Expert Professions with specific Traits.


Any character who wishes to use Magick must be of a Profession that bestows either the Arcane Magick or Divine Magick traits. The character must have at least 1 Skill Rank in Incantation, then the character immediately gains three Generalist Magick Spells. After that, the Character may gain Spells from higher Principles, but only after they select a particular School, or Aetheric Wind. The ways of Magick are steep, and the only way for a Character to move beyond the confines of the simple Spells of generalist Magick is to devote themselves to an Expert Profession. Characters may normally only have a number of Spells from each Principle equal to their Intelligence Bonus, or [IB]. So, if your [IB] was 4, that would be a maximum of 4 Generalist, 4 Petty and so on. Note that bargains can be struck with certain dark forces to grant a character greater access to Spells, but this option is fraught with soul-rending danger. Then again, when have you ever let that stop you?

Spells are kept either in an Arcane Tome (in the case of Arcane Spells), or a Prayer Book (Divine Spells). Either of these may take many forms, from scrolls to rods to copper plates, to actual books. This presents a nice opportunity for a bit of flavor to personalize your character, and you are encouraged to choose a form that best fits your character's Profession and Maickal theme.

Before a Spell can be added to one's Magickal toolbox, the new Spell must be acquired somehow, temporarily recorded, practiced and perfected. This means dedicating time, effort, materials and possibly Reward Points. Then, the spell can be permanently recorded onto whatever medium the Spellcaster is using. This repository should be jealously guarded, as it is irreplaceable and its value immeasurable.

A sidebar explains the cost of Reagents, or material Spell components. Players in Zweihander are expected to keep careful track of these. There are different ways to acquire these Reagents, but their cost, possible encumbrance value and possible rarity are one of the reasons why Spellcasters may want to avail themselves of non-combat options more often than, say, their D&D counterparts. However, unlike in D&D, a Spell can be cast as often as the caster has time, energy and Reagents to do it (however, Spellcasting Characters are not able to cast in certain types of Armor- in this case, any Armor with the "Heavy" Quality, as in D&D). This is another area where Zweihander's balance comes into play. Sure, you can cast a spell as often as you like, but there are inherent dangers, costly components and other considerations. Which brings me to the four rules of Magick:

-Caster must have one free hand

-Must be able to see

-Must be able to speak

-Must have all necessary Reagents


Knowing all of this, how can your Character use Magick? Here's how. In Zweihander, Magick is cast in the following order:

Step 1: Select Magic Spell - Pretty self-explanatory. Pick your Spell (from only those you know, obviously, and begin incantating, gesticulating, and/or using various reagents. The GM will then select a Difficulty Rating (remember, this will be an Incantation Test). There are defaults for Generalist & Petty (Routine, +10%), Lesser (Standard, +/- 0%) and Greater (Challenging, +10%) Magicks, though these are guidelines and are subject to change according to the circumstances.


Step 2: Channel Power - You have the option, during casting, of "Channeling Power". This allows you, through force of will, or extreme focus, to bend even more of the Aetherial Wind to your will, increasing the likelihood that your Spell will succeed. By spending 1 Action point, you can add 10% to your Base Chance of Success. You can add 20%, or even 30%. But beware, this will also increase your chance to suffer negative effects as the result of your Spell. For Each 10% increase, you will roll a Chaos Die after the results of your spell have been determined, and you suffer a point of Corruption. So, a 30% increase automatically gets you 3 Corruption, and the increased possibility of triggering a Chaos Manifestation (to be explained later). You must have your Arcane Tome/Prayer Book in hand to perform this Action.


Step 3: Determine Results - Ya rolls the dice and ya takes yer chances Each Spell has a list of effects that will occur on a given type of Success or Failure. As you might imagine, Critical results of either type will magnify the good or ill effects of your Spell.

There is a bit here about range and area of effect, followed by a rundown of the different ways that a target can avoid the effects of Magick. Some Spells require a Skill Test to resist, just like Combat Actions do. Spellcasters can Counterspell, as long as they:

-know the generalist Spell Dispel Magick

-are able to follow the four rules of Magick, as listed above

-have two Skill ranks in Incantation to counter Lesser Magick

-have three Skill Ranks in Incantation to counter Greater Magick

You cannot Counterspell if:

-you are Defenseless or Helpless

-the original caster has achieved a Critical Success

-the Spell you are trying to counter has a Duration of "Instantaneous"

Unlike other types of Damage, Damage from Magickal Spells rarely causes Injury. Note that I said rarely, but not never! There will be cases where you will roll Chaos Dice due to Magickal Injury, but use a different results table than you would normally use.


Step 4: Roll Chaos Dice - this is the part where you find out how much your Magick may have hurt YOU. Good luck with that! This can be the result of Critical Failure, or of Chanelling power, among other reasons.

There is another sidebar here about Scrolls. Magickal Scrolls exist, but are rare. Characters cannot make them. And if they use one, they must roll Chaos Dice equal to the "level", or Principle of Magick. As in other games, the Scroll then disappears.

Chaos Manifestations or Divine Punishment can and will be the penalty for overuse and overconfidence. Chaos manifestations are randomly rolled, and may or may not be permanent. They are never pleasant. Divine Punishments (minor, Moderate or Major) will be assigned by the DM, usually with some lashing of poetic justice. These can be addressed through Atonement, however, so there is a glimmer of hope there.


Step 5: Unfetter Spell - a Caster can extend the Duration of any non-Instantaneous Spell. You will move down the Peril Condition Track when you do so (one step for Generalist/Petty, two for Lesser, three for Greater), but otherwise, you may do it as long as you are able.


While there are no limits to the number of Spells one can cast in a day, Spell effects cannot be "stacked" in order to allow results greater than a single casting of the Spell grants. For example, once you have cast Hasten Speed once, you have achieved the maximum possible benefit form that Spell.

Well, that's it for now. In my next (and final) post on Chapter 10, I will talk about the Spells themselves. See you then!

TO BE CONTINUED...
 
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