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What is the appeal of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay?

Numanoid

#rocksteadyrollhard
Validated User
For me the appeal was the ability to play a "Started at the bottom now I'm here" Warhammer special character in a fantasy grimdark setting. Unfortunately the one time I tried playing, the other players were really into the OSR "every encounter could end with your character dying of sepsis, alone and unmourned. Just make a new one and don't get attached!" sense. The two sets of goals did not match well.
This sort of highlights my issue with WFRPG, but in a different way.

I've never been into any of the Warhams minis game. I run lots of OSR stuff in a low-fantasy, Early Modern Europe vibe.

What can I get out of WFRPG that I can't get out of OSR?
 

Tricksy and False

Social Justice Murderhobo
RPGnet Member
Validated User
What can I get out of WFRPG that I can't get out of OSR?
OSR characters tend to be built around adventuring archetypes. For me, there's an implied assumption that these are folks who are equipped in terms of talent, skill, and gear to begin adventuring.

With WFRP, you might have a career like "beggar" that is unsuited to a life of adventure. You might not have chosen to go on an adventure, you might not have the talents for it, and you might not have the appropriate gear for surviving it. It creates more of a thrust-into-events feel for me where your character is making the best of the situation, rather than playing someone actively chasing adventure. This can be achieved with OSR, but is not the default assumption made by the rules.
 

Wicked Grin

New member
I think a big part of the appeal is... there's a sensibility and aesthetic to WFRP that suit people happy to be cowards, scumbags and screw-ups.
It's fun to play the young Paladin, swearing to uphold the King's Laws, sure. But for some people, it's fun to be a failed baker screaming loudly while wailing at a rat man with a butcher's hook down a sewer for the price of lunch. Where being an adventuring dwarf probably means you're looking not to get the princess and get the gold, but dying in a suitably funny, awful fashion.

It's fun to be working class nobodies, looking to make your way in a world in which 'adventuring' is rank madness.

And because of that, players get to make stranger, darker, funnier, more insane characters than you might get in Forgotten Realms or whatever. Losers and failures and people with nothing to lose. If you're happy not being a big hero, WFRP is a great place to play. Plus, the simple jump ahead from strict medievalism to the cusp of an Early Modern sensibility is a nice change of pace. To go from 'ho there, boon companions' to 'alrigh, squire?'

Plus, if you do decide to go a bit more high fantasy about it, all the baddies are Medieval Darth Vader Bastards and the orcs are much funnier than 'I crave the flesh of halflings!'
 

Numanoid

#rocksteadyrollhard
Validated User
I think a big part of the appeal is... there's a sensibility and aesthetic to WFRP that suit people happy to be cowards, scumbags and screw-ups.
It's fun to play the young Paladin, swearing to uphold the King's Laws, sure. But for some people, it's fun to be a failed baker screaming loudly while wailing at a rat man with a butcher's hook down a sewer for the price of lunch. Where being an adventuring dwarf probably means you're looking not to get the princess and get the gold, but dying in a suitably funny, awful fashion.

It's fun to be working class nobodies, looking to make your way in a world in which 'adventuring' is rank madness.

And because of that, players get to make stranger, darker, funnier, more insane characters than you might get in Forgotten Realms or whatever. Losers and failures and people with nothing to lose. If you're happy not being a big hero, WFRP is a great place to play. Plus, the simple jump ahead from strict medievalism to the cusp of an Early Modern sensibility is a nice change of pace. To go from 'ho there, boon companions' to 'alrigh, squire?'

Plus, if you do decide to go a bit more high fantasy about it, all the baddies are Medieval Darth Vader Bastards and the orcs are much funnier than 'I crave the flesh of halflings!'
All good things, yes, but that's sort of the default setting of most OSR stuff I run. Characters are glorified tomb robbers, not heroes - you're only adventuring because you're a borderline criminal who can't function anywhere else. Life is cheap and death is certain, HP is low enough to make death minimal but abstract enough to say they die without having to roll about whether its from a septic wound or shock. Cliched orcs and dwarves aren't something I have to worry about because orcs and dwarves don't exist except maybe in your nightmares - you're worried more about witches or the religious mobs or the cannibal bandits in the woods or whatever. Gods of Chaos aren't defined beings known by all and trying to recruit cultists like sports teams, they're unknowable, poison concept that make you drink to drown out the screams.

I guess if FR/high heroic fantasy is all you know, WFRPG seems innovative, but if you're already playing grindhouse OSR and running things like Deep Carbon Observatory, it seems downright quaint.

Edit: I do like some of the older WH1e adventures for conversion into OSR though, there's some good stuff in there.
 
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Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
I guess if FR/high heroic fantasy is all you know, WFRPG seems innovative, but if you're already playing grindhouse OSR and running things like Deep Carbon Observatory, it seems downright quaint.
OSR is a recent development when compared to WFRP, so people playing WFRP 1E (and even 2E) didn’t have the options available in the OSR space today.
 

Dionysos

Registered User
Validated User
The WFRP career progressions offer something you don’t often see in OSR games, though. Most OSR games use D&D type adventurer character classes, so you have fighters, wizards, rogues, etc. Character development in WFRP is through careers, and the careers themselves are deeply enmeshed in the 16th century German setting of the game. So, you might be a rat catcher who decides to make a dishonest buck as a snake oil salesman, then becoming an outlaw after he is run out of town. The character picks up skills and talents through his association with those careers.

So, the character progression itself encourages a narrative about opportunistic rapscallions looking for the next chance to get ahead. This progression system simultaneously emphasizes the very specific social reality of the setting.

I guess you could get an OSR game to do all that, but at that point your OSR game is pretty much a WFRP clone anyway.
 

Numanoid

#rocksteadyrollhard
Validated User
The WFRP career progressions offer something you don’t often see in OSR games, though. Most OSR games use D&D type adventurer character classes, so you have fighters, wizards, rogues, etc. Character development in WFRP is through careers, and the careers themselves are deeply enmeshed in the 16th century German setting of the game. So, you might be a rat catcher who decides to make a dishonest buck as a snake oil salesman, then becoming an outlaw after he is run out of town. The character picks up skills and talents through his association with those careers.

So, the character progression itself encourages a narrative about opportunistic rapscallions looking for the next chance to get ahead. This progression system simultaneously emphasizes the very specific social reality of the setting.

I guess you could get an OSR game to do all that, but at that point your OSR game is pretty much a WFRP clone anyway.
Yeah, I guess that stuff is too granular for me. In OSR, the only skills represented mechanically are the ones based on survival in dangerous areas. You’re an opportunistic rapscallion because the game, by its nature, rewards advancement in the form of XP for gold, so your going to be a greedy bastard just to keep pace.

In your example, via OSR: you’re a rat catcher? Cool, that’s a background for your guy who can survive two hits instead of one fighter. Want to be a snake oil salesman? Cool, find some snake oil to sell and hope you don’t get caught. Got caught? Congrats, you’re an outlaw now! :cool:
 

Dionysos

Registered User
Validated User
People were asking what WFRP offers that OSR doesn’t, and the answer is a fun character progression system that drives a certain type of narrative, while being intimately tied to a specific setting. If you love OSR mechanics, I’m not sure what you are looking for from this non-OSR game.
 

Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
Yeah, I guess that stuff is too granular for me. In OSR, the only skills represented mechanically are the ones based on survival in dangerous areas. You’re an opportunistic rapscallion because the game, by its nature, rewards advancement in the form of XP for gold, so your going to be a greedy bastard just to keep pace.

In your example, via OSR: you’re a rat catcher? Cool, that’s a background for your guy who can survive two hits instead of one fighter. Want to be a snake oil salesman? Cool, find some snake oil to sell and hope you don’t get caught. Got caught? Congrats, you’re an outlaw now! :cool:
One other thing careers offer (and something the 4E added some system mechanics around) is your position within society I.e. social class. This is something a “fighter” in OSR doesn’t really include.
 
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