posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory


You remember how the Bestiary was full of lots of really good and interesting setting writing that helped paint the Hams world as a place where fantastical things happen on a regular basis and many of its monsters actually have interesting lives and perspectives of their own? Old World Armory is, uh, not as good of a book. What's interesting to me, and why I want to cover this one, is that it chooses to be boring rather than to completely shatter the game's equipment system. As you might have noticed all the way back in the Core Book, WHFRP2e doesn't have much room for gear to have variation. Armor goes from 1 to 5 (up to 7 if you're using Rune of Gromril but I've gone over the balancing issues with that before). Most serious weapons do SB or SB+1 if they're an especially strong and awkward weapon like the lance or flail. Weaponry is highly generalized. You simply can't get the dozens and dozens of individual, fiddly weapons out of the system that you do out of 40kRP.

Old World Armory could have tried to change that, but for the most part recognized there just aren't very many mechanical levers to differentiate gear, and so instead it contents itself with being something we've all seen dozens of times in this hobby: The slightly tedious and questionably researched repository of medieval/early modern weaponry so you can decide which one sounds coolest to count as your Hand Weapon. I won't be going at length about what a Ranseur is vs. a Partisan, because I'm not Gary Gygax and I don't have a fetish for polearms (actually I think polearms are awesome and want more polearm fighting styles and martial arts in games, but that's different). But you know, I'll take a book of 'things the author thinks are cool that you can pick for flavor for your weapon' over 'book full of massive numbers of extra fiddly rules about gear that contains dozens of broken options in a game that didn't have the mechanics to handle this'. There's also some decent stuff on trade and commerce in the Old World that helps sell that the world is pretty interconnected; international trade is huge and there will always be ships and caravans for your PCs to hire onto as guards for an adventure.

A lot of the actual rules about commerce start to hit the point where they aren't necessarily useful for an adventuring band that's going to be focusing on fighting hell-knights with tentacles coming out of their heads, but there's nothing really wrong with talking about how Bretonnia mints its coinage, or how the Norse from the southern parts of their country have started to adopt trading scrip to deal with Marienburgers and started to talk about maybe not worshiping tentacle Gods anymore. Similarly, later writing on how much rare, old elven coins are worth to a collector or how much you can get for treasure can be genuinely useful for a campaign; knowing an old elven silver-leaf is worth 200+ GC means you can imagine adventurers getting involved in murder and mayhem over rumors of a lost chest of them from an old elf colony. Knowing how much the PCs could get for what they find in an old treasure horde can be helpful. Knowing the exact exchange rate of the Imperial Karl against the Bretonnian Denier? Eh. Easier to abstract a gold coin to a gold coin, especially as all prices in the game are given in Imperial gold anyway.

On an organizational note, I appreciate them reprinting several of the critical rules from the Core Book equipment chapter right at the start of this book; the intent is to make it so once you have Old World Armory you don't have to flip back to the Core Book to find those tables. I also appreciate them re-emphasizing that the Encumbrance rules are optional. If you don't want to use them, you use the normal rules for armor penalties in their place and just sanity check how much PCs can carry. Every game I've played in has done so. Also, I never noticed but the general rule for selling off your items is actually pretty generous to players IF they're good at haggling: You make an opposed Haggle test, if you succeed over your opponent you sell at 100% of the item's value +10% per degree of success (note: Not per DoS over your opponent, just per DoS you scored while winning). If you lose, you sell at 50% of value -10% per DoS they scored. A character who is actually good at Haggling can thus get an awful lot of money for the group selling off spare gear or treasure. That's going to become especially apparent when we get to the treasures.

The section on Currency is where we start, and it says the average person in the Old World does a lot of their trade in kind or services, as coins are scarcer outside of the cities. But everyone will take coins for their work; coins are a big mark of wealth and they're useful to any person at any level of society. Everyone likes money, it's just that a butcher in a small town is more likely to accept keeping part of the meat from butchering a farmer's animal in return for doing the work. Neither of them has a lot of coins from their trading at the market at the nearest larger town or city, so exchanging services directly and saving what money they have for taxes or unusual purchases is the norm.

Somehow, everyone in the Old World uses the same basic denominations of currency, which is hilarious, but at the same time I'm happy with a standardized valuation because I don't want to get too deep into the mustard trading rabbit hole. 12 brass pennies to one silver shilling, 20 silver shillings to one gold crown. The names and designs of the coins change, but the basic brass-silver-gold and the proportions of their valuation don't. Also, given that a person who isn't preparing their own food can live on 5-10 pennies a day, this means a silver shilling is actually a lot of money for the average person. A single gold crown is enough for an average person to live on for a month, even including some minor luxuries like drink or the very occasional meat dish. When you contextualize how much you're actually spending on adventuring gear and how much you actually get paid for fighting monsters, PCs actually see a hell of a lot of money flowing through their hands, which is something both this and the core book pointed out. Why do people take up a job where they have to fight Chaos Warriors without an entire army to back them up? Because you get paid enough to live on for a year or two in one night's (dangerous) work.

Bretonnian coinage is simple and not especially ostentatious. The golden Ecu is their most valuable coin, featuring a stamped bust of Giles d' Breton to commemorate their best knight. The silver Denier has his coat of arms and the date of his death. Their brass pennies just print out the coat of arms of the Lord of the land they were printed in. Coinage is pretty uncommon in Bretonnia, though, given the subsistence agriculture and crushing oppression.

The majority of coinage in the Old World comes from the relative economic superpower that is the Empire, and I suspect the reason almost every land uses the same denominations as the Empire is because Imperial coins are traded everywhere. The Imperial Mark is the closest to a standard currency for the Old World's international trade; everyone will take an Imperial Gold Mark/Gold Crown and give you good value for it, and these coins are everywhere. Every single major city mint and Imperial province prints their own designs of coinage. Altdorf, for instance, puts a figure of Morr on the back of every silver coin to commemorate the victory over Vlad von Carstein (the book doesn't point this out, but I note they do this with silver coins. The anti-vampire metal). Middenheim is printing commemorative coins to honor the regiments that fought to defend the gates against Archy. Hochland is the first province to put a gun on their coins, in honor of the Hochland Longrifle. The halflings mark every coin with their glorious symbol, their gigantic cocks. They love chicken in the Moot! Sitrlanders still mark their coins with the ancient queen who died at Blackfire Pass fighting alongside Sigmar, as they refuse to change anything. There's a ton of regional flavor to Imperial money and it's actually pretty cute.

Estalia uses the Excelente, the Real, and the Duro, but they're the same as Imperial coins, even being measured to the exact same weights to ensure they can be traded freely. Kislev devotes a lot of effort to its gold Ducats, because each bears the image of the Tsar or Tsarina and then the Bokha Palace on the back. They commission the dwarfs of the World's Edge Mountains to make new stamps every time they have a new Tsar, because it is important to get the highest quality machines to represent the core of their state. The silver Denga isn't quite as majestic, but still bears the image of Tsarina Katarin. The simple brass Pulo has an image of a bear, because bears are cool, and an image of an eagle, because eagles are also cool, and does not change printing. Norsca has abundant silver, and as Norsca has begun to trade more with the south (at least along the southern coastal regions) they've begun to mint their own silver trading chits, which are accepted by Marienburgers. Gold is never used for coinage by the Norse, because gold arm bands and necklaces are valuable gifts for a Jarl to give warriors (since it isn't as common as silver) and much more valuable being traded for status than made into coins.

Tileans have highly un-standardized money, with every city-state using different weights and measures, so you're never entirely sure how much a Tilean coin is worth. This makes their money much less likely to be accepted, and dwarfs flat out refuse to take Tilean money because they see it as shoddy craftsmanship and an insult to coinage. Debased and clipped currencies are common without any standard of weights and measures, though they try to stick to the Gold-Silver-Brass standard. Dwarfs engrave their gold coins with images of the Great Book of Grudges, because gold is usually used in international trade and they want to remind everyone they trade with that there could always be a grudgin'. Silver and brass coins usually feature mountains and runes. Dwarfs just call them 'gold, silver, and brass' because they think making up dozens of names for them is a waste of time. Elves also make coins for international trade, though they prefer to avoid putting swords or images of battle on them. They hand-craft their coins because they're elves, and that's just how they do. The book mentions they often don't use coinage among other elves, preferring to trade in favors and long memories, and I like to imagine this is because it takes so damn long to make their coins by hand that they don't actually have enough to use at home. There is also a little mention of Cathyan money (often found with a hole through it so it can fit on cash-strings) being made of steel, or how the Lustrians have started to trade nuggets of pure gold with travelers in exchange for fighting against evil in the jungle.

There's also a big table of exchange rates but if that honestly comes up in your game I think your GM is kind of boring. They just needed to put a table somewhere in here, I think. This is an earlier book, from before they'd become as comfortable with the model of '100+ pages of pure fluff, then some rules'. There's also some rules on forgery, but it's so hard to do that you're better off just killing some monsters and having an adventure or stealing the money. There's also a bartering system, where you assign a thing a number of points based on its rarity and how badly the item is needed where you're bartering. It's a little cross-matrix of numbers but generally you'll get what you need once you trade something the other person agrees is of equal value, same as most economic transactions. You can also barter your services the same way, so if you're down on your luck and starving that's one of the uses for your Trade skills, I suppose.

The currency section is really a good look at what we'll be getting all book. There's some fun flavor and details, but it's just not as interesting as the setting's history and this book doesn't have quite the same focus on direct adventure hooks as later books. Still, it's worth covering. Just don't be surprised when I skip around a lot more than I usually do.

Next Time: Trade Routes of the Old World

Chocolate: More valuable than gold

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Chocolate: More valuable than gold

You know, going through OWA a bunch in preparation for this, there's more in here that's of use than I used to think. But it's the kind of stuff that's less likely to come up directly in a campaign and is more some interesting background and material culture stuff, for if you want to know what kind of hat your PC wears or why the corrupt taxman is trying to confiscate your chili peppers. Throughout the book there's less direct history and fluff and more 'what do people wear, what do they eat, why is this so expensive'; the most useful mechanical element of the book is giving you an idea of how rich you get when you successfully plunder an ancient barrow or manage to steal a load of cocoa beans imported from Lustria.

Which, as much as that stuff can descend into Mustard Smuggling campaigns, is perfectly fitting to the objectives and tone of a Hams Fantasy game; Hams PCs tend to care about money, and you're as likely to find lots of stolen caravan goods or whatever as you are to just find piles of gold and jewels. Having some references points on what your PCs can get for a bunch of Cathayan silk they stole back from hobgoblin raiders is hardly the worst possible use for a sourcebook, and it's certainly better than the book being pages and pages of new gear that the game system can't support. That said, it's time to get into the trade and taxation section.

One thing that stands out to me as I read through the Merchant Houses section is that the information here disagrees with some later information, probably because the writers hadn't yet really decided what they were doing with Bretonnia. They describe a knightly family in Bretonnia that is often criticized for their devotion to the wine trade. House Agnew supposedly helped Marienburg secede from the Empire for reasons of nebulous economic advantage that aren't expanded on here in their small entry, and all of this was written before they did the Bretonnia sourcebook and decided on matters like the Merchant Clubs. It also contradicts some other fluff elsewhere (though not in the 2e line) wherein the High Elves were partly behind Marienburg's secession so that they'd have a friendly mercantile port and prevent the Empire having a good harbor to build a navy of their own out of, which I generally prefer because I like the High Elves being a somewhat dickish (though not outright hostile) 1st World Nation fucking around with the Old World for economic advantage, but I digress.

The House of Bacher, based out of Marienburg, is one of the primary movers of foodstuffs throughout both the Empire and Bretonnia. Something to remember about Marienburg is that it sits at the mouth of the River Reik and is basically the prime gateway from all sea trade into the Imperial river network. Half the reason the Empire has never taken Marienburg back is that if they want to, they can shut down one of the primary arteries of commerce all through the entire Empire. It's the kind of situation that can't last forever, but for now the Empire finds it much easier to deal with Marienburg as a friendly but separate economic power rather than risk having major shortages from houses like Bacher no longer sending food down the river routes. I mention all this here because Bacher has no real writeup beyond 'based in Marienburg, vital element of sending food to Imperial cities', so it's a good place to talk about the economic and strategic importance of Marienburg.

Korbal's Fine Wares deals in extreme value commodities, like the very small amounts of Gromril (extremely powerful, hard to shape metal) imported from the dwarfs per year, high quality cut gems, and imports from the Eastern lands. The Von Kantors are their opposite, dealing in normal bulk ore and trying to use cheap labor and convicts to beat dwarf goods on price. The Rumster Clan is infamous all throughout the Empire as the most powerful halfling family in the setting: They run the entire meat pie business in all of the Empire's cities on one level or another. The meat pie mafia can be found wherever there's cheap filling and slightly off flour, warming up the ovens; their pies are cheap and tasty, but also a very good way to make yourself very sick.

One of the interesting things in this section is the map of every major trade route in the Empire, Kislev, and Bretonnia. True to history, the majority of the most profitable trade routes run via the ocean or world's rivers; far more trade moves down the River Reik than over the Empire's roads. Water transit is an order of magnitude easier and safer, even with all the pirates and sea monsters. On a personal note, it amuses me to take a look here and see that the biggest trade route passing through Norsca goes exactly where I put the capital of a developing Norsca for a game set in 2631, over 100 years after the time all of these books are written; for once my instincts about geography were right and it turns out a river delta with a natural harbor would make for a good place to put a big settlement. That's one of the interesting bits about the Old World in general: Major hubs are where you'd expect them to be. Big cities tend to be near a source of fresh water and easy transport, or on important caravan routes or genuinely strategic locations. The Old World's geography makes sense for the most part.

Another interesting bit: Altdorf is certainly a major trading hub and the capital of the Empire, but they also note that it makes a lot of its money on tourism and education. Altdorf's universities are famous all over the human world, and not just the Colleges of Magic. Nobles and wealthy merchants from Estalia, Tilea, Araby, Kislev, and even occasionally Bretonnia will send their children to study in Altdorf, and bring some of the family fortune with them when they come. Similarly, as a major hub of international diplomacy, Altdorf sees a lot of economic activity just to support all the diplomats and government officials who come there on official business.

Marienburg is strategically vital, as noted above, and is one of the largest port cities in all of the world outside of Ulthuan. I already went over why they're important, but it's here we get the note that Marienburg is also the main gateway for elven goods and trade coming in from Ulthuan, since all of that comes by sea and almost all sea trade to come to the Empire passes through Marienburg. A cozy relationship between Ulthuan and the Libertarian Fantasy Dutch (Marienburg) lets the elves evade a lot of Imperial tax and the Marienburgers collect a lot of the difference, I'd imagine.

Middenheim actually isn't a particularly important trading city, being primarily a strategic location. Without any rivers, all trade to Middenheim has to go overland; if the city wasn't so important as Ulric's holy city it would be greatly impoverished, as it's much cheaper and easier to trade with Talabheim.

Meanwhile, Nuln is doing its best to compete with Altdorf, building up its own universities, trying to draw people to travel there, and running its grand cannon foundries. You won't find better human engineers or human-built weaponry anywhere else in the world, and Nuln churns out armor, weaponry, and tools at a rate unmatched by any other human city in the setting.

Also an interesting note: The Reikland's engineers have been experimenting with advances in agricultural technology (probably aided by the establishment of the Jade College) that have greatly reduced the rates of famine in the Empire, and made the Reikland's farmers very rich. Reikland, Averland, and the Moot produce an awful lot of food, which is sent along the rivers to the rest of the Empire.

An added note in the margins: Most Cathayan goods actually come from Araby, as do Indian ones. This makes Araby tremendously wealthy, as Cathayan spices, silks, and other exotic goods are always in huge demand in the Empire, and the Empire is an economic superpower with money to burn on imports for its wealthiest citizens.

Estalia and Tilea do a lot of business with Araby as a result, and then do a lot of business with the Empire. Tilea, especially, is a major economic rival and competitor to the Imperials, since they have an awful lot of good harbors compared to the Empire paucity of sea travel. This allows them to import and export international trade more easily, sending things through Marienburg to the Empire. Estalia is one of the main gates to Araby, and the great port at Magritta sees exotic goods like coffee flow into the rest of the Old World. Tilea and Estalia hate one another, and so prefer to do business with the Empire outside of the Tilean port of Tobaro, which you might remember from WHFRP Companion as that cliff city that had a pig for a prince once and that fought off the Rat Nazis.

Kislev lacks for major ports, but its cities produce a great deal and Praag is the Western end-point of the Warhams equivalent of the Silk Road. Erengard is also the main gateway to Norscan trade; while the Kislevites hate the Norscans for a lot of reasons, they trade with the southern tribes that aren't as fully taken over by Chaos before sending the goods to Marienburg. Marienburg has been trying for years to cultivate relationships with the southern Kings of Norsca because Norsca is absolutely full of silver and is, curiously, the only place in Hams that produces amber. Norscan whale oil and timber are also worth risking the journey to get, and the southern Norse are just as happy to get vast wealth by trading with foreigners as raiding them.

Bretonnia is a major food exporter, but also produces fine wines, brandies, and horses that the rest of the Old World would very much like to buy. Brionne, Bordeleaux, and L'Anguille are major ports, and having 3 major ports directly under their control to the Empire's 0 is one of the reasons the Brets actually have a better navy than their more advanced neighbor.

I actually like all the stuff about where goods go and why, because you're very likely to find yourself escorting merchants or signing on to trade voyages. You could get a fun adventure out of sailing from Erengard to Norsca to negotiate with Norse kings and bring valuable commodities through the pirate-infested waters of the Sea of Claws back to Marienburg, where you have to deal with the Libertarian Fantasy Dutch potentially backstabbing you over the money. Where there's huge sums of money at stake, there's conflict. I also like the reminder that international trade is a big part of the setting, and people from other lands are actually pretty common in the Empire, especially in Reikland. You want to play an Arabian noble studying at an Altdorf University who gets caught up in adventure? That shouldn't be a problem; it's right there in the fluff.

We also get a nice table of the value of lots of trade goods in the Empire. I will note Chocolate and Chilis are the most valuable exotic goods in the Empire; anything that has to come from Lustria is worth more than gold. Tea is surprisingly cheap, and I suspect this is because the elves export tons of it. Coffee is very valuable, too. Also, almond oil is apparently very valuable? What would you do with almond oil? Generally, the less it's possible to grow or produce something in the Old World, the more valuable it is.

As you might imagine from the rest of the Empire, taxation in the Empire is very messy. In general, as long as the government gets the money it needs to do whatever it's trying to do, it doesn't question the ridiculous methods by which it gets it until there are open riots in the streets. PCs will often be able to avoid taxation because they don't declare their income, the state is hardly omnipresent, and they move around a lot. At the same time, the Empire will often employ small bands of freebooters as tax farmers, and if your PCs include anyone skilled in business and then a bunch of people skilled in murder and magic, getting in on that action could be tremendously profitable for them.

One of the common taxes in the Empire is the Poll Tax, where citizens are required to travel to a larger city and register that they are citizens of the Empire every 5 years, paying a shilling per male, 6 pennies per female, and 3 pennies per cow. This leads the official demographics of the Empire to be skewed (and inaccurate) as many children are dressed as girls during the trip to reduce the tax burden on their families. The Poll Tax is only loosely enforced until the Empire suspects a war is coming, because it both needs the money and needs to know how many men it can call up to war.

The Ear Tax is a tax on ears above a certain size, used as a tariff to hassle elven merchants. It's hard to enforce, because elven merchants usually have embassies, lawyers, and a lot of money. Collectors only ever attempt to collect the Ear Tax (One shilling per overly extravagant ear) if they're sure they can easily get away with it.

Imperial Regiments will often raise money for the army by a practice known as 'dinning', where they send the regiment's musicians to go and play patriotic music as loudly as possible...at midnight. They won't leave until the Regiment has the money it needs. If anyone complains about the noise, they're obviously A: Unpatriotic and B: Unaware that this is significantly better than how an actual 30 Years War era regiment would be raising money.

During times of food shortage, the Empire charges people taxes based on their waistline, on the theory that the fat are doing just fine for themselves and can afford to pay for food for the skinny for a bit. In practice, this led to the invention of the corset for purposes of tax evasion. Oh, Empire. Your people are ridiculous in ways that make me happy.

The Empire is also fond of raising money via requiring licenses, for everything. This has the dual purpose of collecting licensing fees for everyday activities (like wearing hats or owning ferrets; I'm not making this up this is directly from the book) and collecting fines for people who did not know they needed a ferret and/or hat license. This is also where the Empire will sometimes sell taxation licenses to private individuals as tax farmers. Which is inevitably a tremendously corrupt and unfortunate thing that PCs are likely to either have to put a stop to or get in on (there's a ton of money to be made, dangit).

I love what a goddamn mess the Empire is. It's one of the most fun parts about it.

Next Time: Armor? In this, the Old World Armory?

Old World Armor-y.

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Old World Armor-y.

So, as you've probably noticed, from a mechanical standpoint armor is extremely important in WHFRP2e. Unless you're a spellcaster (Divine Spellcasters can wear up to Medium with Armored Caster and be just fine) or someone really, really reliant on stealth you almost certainly want the best armor you can afford. This is because armor is very reliable in WHFRP2e. There are a few things that will pierce your armor, but the vast majority of incoming damage is going to get reduced or deflected by solid armor. Many of my combat PCs owe their lives to their heavy armor, and upgrading from light to medium is a big step up in durability; when you have a TB of 3-5, even a single point of armor is valuable. Three or five points is a big deal, and allows DR to generally keep slightly ahead of damage by design.

Some players really hate the fact that you can bounce off or get your damage heavily mitigated, because they don't think about what it does for the player as opposed to the enemy (namely, that you're fairly likely to take chip damage or no damage from weaker enemies if you have heavy armor). Not only that, but I've played 40kRP; I've seen what happens when you make DR much more unreliable, and it goes completely fucking nuts. Plus, you know, 'I hit him for 5 wounds' matters a lot when you have 15 wounds. The problem for our current book is that the armor system doesn't really leave much room for inserting new armor, mechanically. When you've got Light, Medium, and Heavy and generally want to keep to a cap of 5 AV per location to keep DR scaling from getting out of control, there's not much you can do mechanically to differentiate new suits of armor. Thus, the majority of this section is fluff about the various armors, who wears them, and a reminder that the Empire actually has some of the best armor technology in the setting, thanks to their friendship with the dwarfs. The Imperials were unwilling to settle for just buying full, articulated plate from their neighbors, and so learned to forge and build it themselves; the Empire, dwarfs, and Chaos are the only reliable sources for whole-body-covering full plate armor.

Leather armor isn't popular because it's protective, and a professional warrior in the Empire would usually scoff at someone claiming they want to wear lighter armor in combat 'to have full mobility' (though leather is the only armor with no penalties). Leather is popular because because it's cheap, light, and plentiful. Almost every soldier can afford an armored jack, a skullcap worn under their big hat, and some leg protection. And it'll still slow down a knife or sword, so it's still valuable. Leather armor is easy to make in huge quantities and not too burdensome to wear, so every Imperial State Trooper has a suit of Full Leather Armor as part of their basic trappings. Leather is also easy to decorate and incorporate into a uniform, which furthers its popularity with the Imperial Regiments, who like to dye it in bright colors so a soldier can be identified amidst the smoke and fire of a battle. Elves, on the other hand, like to wear leather to be 'unburdened' in battle, which works great until you're outnumbered and can't manage to Dodge and Parry everything that's coming at you. Wood Elves, especially, prefer to wear little but camouflaged leather armor in battle (partly because they don't have much metal and need it for weapons, I imagine).

Studded Leather is A: An invention of D&D but a fantasy staple and B: A really great upgrade to normal leather that provides 2 AV. This is leather with some metal elements to reinforce important parts of the armor. Any location you wear Studded on cannot wear Mail or Plate; I dunno, it makes it weird, I guess. So you could wear Studded arm protection over normal Leather on your chest and head backed up by actual plate elements if you wanted. Generally, characters use Studded for two reasons: One, it's half the price of Mail, so it's pretty affordable to upgrade your full suit to Studded early. Two, it counts as Light Armor and so has no attendant armor penalties for physical actions and only gives -1 to casting checks; if you want to be an armored battle wizard, you can probably get away with 2 points of AV for 1 point of casting check penalty. Characters who are really dead set on being light and sneaky will also get great use out of Studded. It's 1 less armor than Mail to not need to deal with -10 AV; that's an acceptable tradeoff. You won't be armor-tanking everything with this armor, but it's solid enough that it starts to be worth asking if you'd prefer this or Mail, and that's a good question to have mechanically.

Mail is sort of the mid-point. If you have Mail armor, you're planning to upgrade to Plate at some point. At AV3 (when stacked with a full suit of leather), Medium armor will double the average unupgraded human's damage reduction. Someone with the same Damage as you have Toughness will have a 30% chance of bouncing off you. Medium is a huge upgrade to your actual tanking. For most professionals in the setting, Mail armor is where stuff starts to count as 'real' armor rather than just the junk issued to conscripts and militia. Someone who can afford a real coat of metal armor has enough money and status to be counted as a 'real' warrior. Mail is almost always worn over leather backing, both to provide more protection and because it's more comfortable to have padding between your skin and the chafing metal suit. Fluff-wise, Bretonnians wear an awful lot of Mail because they don't know how to make the flexible components of Plate; fluff-wise Bret Knight Armor is supposed to be Full Leather, Full Mail, Plate Breastplate, Plate Helmet instead of including limb protection, though they just get Full Plate according to Knights of the Grail later like any other knight. Mail is much easier to size and adjust, so it's commonly issued en-masse to richer mercenary companies or better Regiments of Imperial State Troops. It's usually worth the -10% Agi over leather. If you have a ton of money, you can buy a superior Mail suit for 5x the price from Marienburger master armorers that provides the same protection for -5% Agi.

We also get our first super-armor here: Ithmilar Mail. Ithmilar is Legally Distinct From Mithril(tm), and in no way linked to the Tolkien Estate. It is merely a very light, silvery metal that the elves use to fashion fine armor that wears like clothing. There are no legal similarities to Mithril(tm). Ithmilar Armor is not available for sale, but is a fantastic endgame goal for a PC. When worn with Leather, it provides AV 4 (AV 3 worn on its own without Leather) while having absolutely no drawbacks. You can even still put plate over it, though you'll be limited to AV 5 if you do. But still, having your mail component either top out at 1 point under Full Plate with no drawbacks or being able to wear Plate but with only the -1 Mv penalty even without the rare Sturdy talent is really good. This armor is difficult to make, never for sale, and the kind of thing you get from quest rewards or from killing an elf prince or elite soldier.

Scale Armor is an attempt to do for Medium what Studded does for Light and it sucks. It's terrible. It sets you to AV4 when worn with Leather, which is fine, but it does it while imposing both the penalties for Medium (-10 Agi) and Heavy (-1 Mv) armors and being unable to layer Plate over it. Also, a full suit of Scale costs only 10% less than a full suit of Plate, so...just spend the 40 extra crowns. Scale Armor would be fine if it was very cheap, but it isn't. No-one uses Scale.

Plate Armor is the best armor in the known world and man does that ever show in gameplay. You get full plate, you've got a huge, endgame upgrade for your warrior. AV5 will stop an awful lot of damage and increase your effective ability to take damage immensely. There's a reason almost every truly elite warrior in the Empire wears plate; this stuff will bounce a musket shot reasonably often and stands up to angry Chaos Warriors, big monsters, and even the occasional vampire. Because of its value, Plate tends to be decorated and stylized, designed to show off an elite knight's allegiance. If you're going to make something this impressively engineered, you'd best make it fancy as hell! To that end, we will get an entire primer on heraldry and a random table of decorations and customizations for armor appearance later in the Armor bits. Almost no-one in the Old World besides Imperials, Dwarfs, and Chaos wear full suits of Plate, and it's a big edge for all three of those forces.

Plate also leads into our second Super Armor, and this one's a doozy: Dwarven Gromril Armor. Made out of the super-dense metal that falls from the sky occasionally, only dwarfs know how to forge and shape this stuff. A suit of Gromril Armor is very rare outside of dwarf hands (where it's merely the standard equipment for particularly elite warriors like Ironbreakers) and generally reserved for high nobles and kings. This is because it breaks the armor cap. It acts exactly like normal plate, but it provides 3 AV from the Plate component instead of 2, and can provide 6 AV instead of 5. This is a huge, huge upgrade, deceptively huge, since it lets you break out of a normally tightly controlled stat cap. Added bonus: The gauntlets on a suit like this count as a Gromril weapon, so not only are they Damage+1 over normal Gauntlets, but you could totally punch out dracula with them (Vampires vulnerable to Gromril can't use their TB against damage from Gromril weapons. At all). This is the best non-magical armor in the world, and again has no listed price; you get this kind of stuff for doing a great deed and striking out some grand grudge alongside your Dawi buddies.

There's also fluff about how dwarfs don't actually count leather armor as armor and instead think of it as clothes. Elves like to wear mail and shun plate, even when they can't get Ithmilar (it's limited to elite soldiers even among them) because they prefer contoured and form-fitting armor, because they're typical bloody elves. Kislevites have studded armor all over the place because they're often trying to make armor fast and for large percentages of their population, reserving the serious metal armor for Winged Lancers and other elites. Arabians wear lighter armor and robes because they live in a hot sandy place with no water and dying of dehydration and heat exhaustion is a real threat. Cathyan armor is said to be of a very alien and unusual design, but every bit as protective as Imperial plate. They use lacquered wood extensively, something the Imperials have never bothered with.

Oh, the section on Heraldry is also where they confirm the Catbird only ever became a symbol of the Empire recently, but the Empire still claims it's ancient. We also get fun little notes like "The Lion is a symbol of courage, but has been used by so many regiments that it's mostly lost all meaning." The decoration section is cute and fun for coming up with how colorful your armor is, and it gets across one of my favorite bits about Warham's visual design. It's a muddy setting, yes, so everything looks lived in, slightly damaged, or grubby. But it's also all colorful and vibrant and decorated. It works great with the Grim and Perilous (but not exactly Grimdark) tone of the setting.

We also get rules for damaging armor in combat, but they're highly optional. The normal assumption is you're repairing and mending your gear in your downtime and so tracking armor damage isn't necessary. The rules also aren't very good: Any blow that causes Fury, any blow that causes over 7 damage (before reduction from DR, which is weird), and any blow that causes a Crit make you roll d10. Note that if a blow causes all 3, you'd check for damage 3 times. You roll d10 for each damaging incident. On a 1, the armor loses 1 AV in that location. It's just adding a lot of extra rolling to combat, and damage totals over 7 are really common, so it's just going to make an essential asset to heavy fighter PCs much more unreliable for very little gain. I wouldn't really bother with the armor damage rules.

The addition of the two super armors isn't exactly game-breaking; they're neat and useful things to shoot for for an end-game PC, and Gromril is a little more iffy than Ithmilar but they'll both probably work fine for you at human scales of toughness; the DR system doesn't really break down until you're at 13-14 and even then 3rd tiers can get through. Studded is a mechanical godsend for certain character types and early PCs. I just wish they'd made Scale a little less awful; another midpoint upgrade would have been helpful. Still, you can see the general tenor of this book really well here: A couple worthwhile additions, a lot of fluff, but there just isn't much room to mess around with the armor system.

Next Time: Stabbing

Do Not Use The Optional Rules

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Do Not Use The Optional Rules

So I'm going to be real with you here: I barely need to write up the Weapons section because we are 100% in 'what the fuck is a Bec d'Corbin' territory here, where they're trying to provide a wide catalogue of potential 'What Is My Hand Weapon' entries with very little mechanical variation. Instead, we're going to talk about some very stupid ideas that are included in this section along with a couple actually decent variant weapons. You don't really care about 6 different varieties of axe and which ones would fit best with which craftsmanship rating of weapon. No-one does.

What really matters is we get a sidebar that straight destroys the entire weapon system if you use it, two pages in. Yes, it's optional. Yes, it's clear it's optional. But it's amazing in that it concisely says why it's a bad idea before giving you rules that are, in fact, a terrible idea. I'm talking the 'Distinguishing Hand Weapons' sidebar. See, some gamers and designers apparently complain about the way a mace is a sword is an axe in Hams. Not realizing there aren't enough mechanical levers to have fine distinguishing features on every weapon type. They even mention as they talk about coming up with rules to distinguish one kind of hand weapon from another that this stomps all over the toes of the Specialist Weapons and the way they're all sidegrades or minor upgrades. But they're going to do it anyway, even as they say 'If you gave a hand-pick Armor Piercing because it seems realistic, no-one would use a sword'. Gee, maybe that's why we use a generic Hand Weapon and Great Weapon and leave their actual form entirely to flavor, designers. Are you about to prove that completely correct? You are!

Their suggestion is that you only allow these distinguishing features on Best weapons. That way players will have to get a Best Weapon before they destroy one of the mechanical pillars of the gear system. You might think I'm being hyperbolic, but they list new prices for the various Best Hand Weapon variants on this Optional Sidebar, and guess what the cheapest one is? It's an axe. At 60GC. What minor edge does it have over a normal Hand Weapon in this new conceptual 'Hand Weapon Choice Matters' system? Why, it has Impact. You know, that ability that is the entire reason you use two-handed weapons. Now on a one-handed weapon freely usable with a shield for a Free Parry. And this is the cheapest, easiest to get item. I mean, I don't even need to tell you what the other weapon proposals are (though the dumbest is the Sword costing 140GC to gain Defensive, that thing the shield you're using with it already had). Every single PC in the game is going to gun for a Best Hand Axe at that point if you use this subsystem: It is simply the best weapon in the game outside of really exotic or magic weapons. They just wrote why you don't want to do this in the section about doing this! They have a similar subsystem for Great Weapons that tops at a 350GC Greatsword having SB+1 and Impact as the best option. Do not use these subsystems, they completely destroy the entire reason we just have an abstracted 'Hand Weapon' and 'Great Weapon' and that axe option completely breaks the game's gear system.

The reason I'm so down on this is the entire point of Specialist Weapons is they're all sidegrades. Some of them are losers (like Parrying) for the most part I admit, but in most cases they're a defensible tradeoff choice. A Flail does more overall damage and has Impact in the first round of fighting in return for being two-handed and not allowing a shield/second weapon for the Free Parry. A Rapier does 1 point less damage in return for -10% to enemy active defense. A Great Weapon trades your Free Parry and +10% to enemy active defenses for that hugely powerful 'reroll damage take best' Impact rule. You can easily get through an entire campaign as a professional fighter using a hand weapon and shield. It's a good choice, even; solid and reliable. You can also consistently get good use out of two-handers, fencing weapons, etc. By suddenly adding in 'Also there's just a Hand Weapon with Impact' and making the only barrier a (not that high) GC cost? You destroy the whole specialist weapons system and remove the whole reason we abstract the Hand Weapons in the fucking first place. And when you put this in an official book, even if it's labeled optional, you've now made it so that a lot of people will expect to use this broken option.

The thing that gets me so much is they even include the direct reasoning for why the subsystem they're writing up here is a Bad Idea right before including the subsystem. How? Why?

We also get a couple unusual weapons here: The Elf Battle Axe is an axe you can't buy and need to find/steal like Ithmilar armor. It's also the best two-handed weapon in the game to a ridiculous degree, at SB+1, AP, Impact. I get wanting to have some special super weapons you can get late game, but that's pretty nuts. The Wood Elf Hunting Spear is easier to get since you're not that unlikely to kill some Wild Riders at some point: It's a normal Spear with SB+1, which helps make up for a Spear's lack of free-parry (despite being one-handed and usable with a shield) and makes it a viable option if you get one. The Khemri Khopesh is a strictly worse Hand Weapon with Slow (+10 to enemy defenses) because seriously, Khopeshes are terrible. If you get a Best Khopesh, it's at least SB+1? Tilean Pikes are a two-handed weapon that can attack at 6m but can't attack closer than that, and that can set up a reaction to stab someone moving within 6m and keep them stuck at that range. A curiosity, but not all that useful for an individual adventurer. The Claymore is a hand and a half sword popular with Bret Questing Knights that can swap from a Hand Weapon with Slow to a Great Weapon when wielded one or two handed. The White Wolf Hammer is...weird. It's an SB+2 on the charge hammer that does SB+1 when not charging. It requires its own weapon prof, only available to White Wolf Knights. It never actually says if it's two-handed or not. Errata doesn't clarify this, but says it's meant to have Impact and Tiring like a Flail, so I think it is meant to be two-handed after all and to be a slightly better Flail.

We also get rules for Jousting! This could come up if you're a Bret. A Jousting Lance deals SB-2 damage instead of SB+1, and a Jousting Demilance deals SB-3 instead of SB. In full armor, you probably won't kill each other. You roll Init, and the one who wins Init gets +10 to WS in the pass. You roll a Charge attack. If you miss, your opponent strikes back. If you hit, you both test Str, with the attacker getting +10%. If one side succeeds and the other doesn't (don't count DoS) the failing side is knocked off. If you both fail, you're both unhorsed and feel very silly. You then roll WS to keep your lance from shattering, which is sort of reasonable but doesn't happen anywhere else in the system. If your opponent isn't on the ground, they strike back, using the same rules as if you'd missed.

It's a little silly, but it's decent enough. Tourney champions can make a lot of money in both the Empire and Bretonnia, and traveling between tournaments seeking prizes is a good adventure hook for a knight.

Ranged weapons don't really get anything new, and Guns will be covered elsewhere. We also get rules for breaking weapons: If you parry an All Out Attack or parry a Damage 7 (not damage total 7, Damage 7) attack, you have a 10% chance of shattering your weapon. Eh. Doesn't really add much to the game. Shields take two points of damage to break, and lose Defensive after the first damaging hit as they start to come apart.

We also get rules for specialized materials. Any melee weapon made mostly of metal can be Gromril or Ithmilar. Gromril weapons are even available to buy, for 4x the normal price, a hard check to find one for sale, and you have to buy a Best version or else the dwarfs wouldn't bother making it. However, they add +1 damage and they won't break, ever, if you're using the breakage rules. 400 GC for an SB+1 sword that will turbo-fuck vampires that are vulnerable to that material? I'll take it. It's not exactly game-breaking, and costs as much as a suit of plate, but it's a big boost if you can get it. Ithmilar is never for sale because elves are gits, but if you get an Ithmilar weapon it gains Fast, giving -10% to enemy dodges and parries. Also, if a vamp is vulnerable to that material, it has a chance to set them on fire, which is hilarious. Ithmilar weapons are usually taken from dead elves, taken from people who took them from dead elves, or given as gifts.

So just don't use the Hand Weapon/Great Weapon 'Distinguishing Features' rules and you'll be fine with this section. It's mostly boring fluff about a thousand different varieties of medieval and early modern weaponry, but most of the actual new variant weapons (aside from maybe the Elf Axe, which is ridiculously strong) are reasonable enough and maybe you're into 8 different flavors of polearm, Gary. Which is fine by me when they don't have any serious game mechanics attached. Still, there just wasn't much this section could do with its mechanical material, either, as seen by how rapidly game-breaking the one optional sidebar can be. Gear just doesn't have much mechanical variation in 2e, and I think it's generally better for it.

Next Time: I pull out my gun!

I pull out my gun!

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

I pull out my gun!

Guns are kind of in a weird place in WHFRP2e. On one hand, guns do more damage than other ranged weapons (sort of) and are your only source of Ranged Impact. And Impact really matters. On the other, because of action economy reasons, guns fall off hard for a ranged character compared to a a longbow, which can get effectively similar damage to a gun while only lacking Impact and having longer range while Swift Attacking if you have Rapid Reload. The most useful role I've found for guns is early game getting off the first shot against a heavy enemy, silver ammunition delivery systems against vampires (Blessed, silver ammo used against a vamp vulnerable to silver is a total of +6 damage, which is insane in this system, and doesn't have the drawbacks of a silvered sword), or occasionally pulling out a pair of pistols and dumping two shots into someone at close range but not quite melee range. Repeater guns would solve the problem of guns, except RAW they lack Impact and thus aren't very useful. No-one dethrones King Longbow unless you houserule Impact back in for Repeaters; then they're a viable (if unreliable) choice for a specialist.

But fluff-wise, guns are very important to the setting. This is partly because the problems with guns come from the fact that people are using pretty early guns. Most Imperial muskets are still matchlocks, with wheellocks being the latest Nuln invention and Flintlocks starting to filter in from Araby (It's interesting; there's actually lots of side mentions of Araby in this book in particular, as a highly advanced place that competes with the Empire politically and technologically. I suspect they intended an Araby expansion at some point). Yes, Araby is on the cutting edge of human-built firearms technology, along with the Empire. Flintlocks and Wheellocks have allowed for precise (ish) trigger mechanisms and even experimental weapons with multiple barrels. Extensive work with rifling to create better hunting weapons in Hochland actually produced a militarily viable rifle that doesn't take any longer than a smoothbore to reload (but which is very difficult to manufacture and very expensive). The Guild of Engineers is said to be experimenting with a 'revolving chamber' weapon that will accept multiple charges and shots without needing six cumbersome barrels like current repeaters. While large scale military adoption guns are pretty new, most military planners in the Empire only expect them to grow in lethality and importance.

Also, the Empire's favored solution to 'Greater Demon' is 'Greater Cannon'. Handguns might be a little unreliable at times and less useful for an individual adventurer than a line of musketeers, but Imperial artillery wins wars and kills monsters. Why send a hero with a magic sword to duel a giant monster when you can blow it away with a cannon?

Most of the guns provided in this chapter are exactly the same as in the core book. The only really new gun is the Duck Foot, which is just a one-handed, four-barreled blunderbuss and as a result of not requiring attack rolls (just like the Blunderbuss) it doesn't really matter what proficiency they assign it, since it doesn't interact with the BS rules. They also introduce the Arabian Jezzail, which is a long-barreled musket for longshots, but they forgot to make it worth using: For some reason it does Damage 3 with no Impact, the damage of a totally normal bowshot, with 24/72 Range. I suspect that's because that's what the Skaven Jezzail does if you use normal gunpowder and they were already planning Children of the Horned Rat, but still. If you want a sniping weapon, get an actual Hochland Longrifle (48/96 Range, Damage 4 Impact, and a Best one gains AP) and the Engineer prof. They also introduce a new weapon type: Explosives! Hand-grenades have a huge 10m explosive radius and do Damage 6 (plus talents), but can, uh, go really badly if you get unlucky throwing them. Also, their 'good' throwing range is 4m/20m, so if you want to throw one far enough not to hit yourself you're at BS-20. They also take their own Prof. But that kind of damage and AoE is potentially useful. Incendiaries not only do a Damage 4 hit on contact, anyone hit in their 6m blast radius must roll Agi or catch fire. Remember, being on fire is d10 unreducable damage a turn until you somehow put it out. Great for vampire hunters.

Also note: If you miss a bomb or incendiary throw by 30% or more, you, uh, drop the grenade. That goes badly. Similar, any miss with a bomb or incendiary causes a Scatter. Roll d10. On a 10, the bomb goes off in your hand. On a 1, it doesn't go off at all. On a 2-9, it lands in one of 8 directions, d10m away from where you intended to hit. The astute among you will note that 10 is the blast radius of a standard Bomb, so RAW you can't actually miss your intended target with one, you're just checking who else you fuck over unless you drop it or it turns dud.

We also get some new rules for Best Guns. A Best Gun will reduce how unreliable it is. A Best Firearm or Pistol no longer checks for misfires or jams (which were about a 2% chance of jam, 1% chance of misfire before). A Best Repeater (Normally a 3% chance of jam, 2% chance of misfire) becomes like a normal gun (at 2%/1%).

One of the real issues with guns is less about their action economy issues (a gun would still be useful to get off the first shot on a non-specialist character before going into hand to hand, after all) and more to do with their fucking insane price tag. No PC buys guns, really. You know what you could get for the 300 crowns you pay for a Firearm? An elfbow (which is just as hard to find, RAW) and a suit of full mail armor, with 20 crowns left over for some ammo and a shield. Not to mention gunpowder and shot is expensive and easily ruined if you're carefully tracking ammunition. Guns don't have nearly the oomph to justify how fucking expensive they are. So you usually stick to whatever gun you started with or stuff you find on quests or take off of dead enemies. They're a niche weapon but for the price of their niche, you could be doing something much more generally useful as a ranged specialist. While I've definitely found a use for a pair of pistols sometimes, mechanically guns just don't quite live up to the hype.

You also get some rules for heavy weapons like Bolt Throwers, but for the most part the book itself advises making things like Great Cannons plot devices instead of 'gear'. They're there for when you race to get the gun working and fixed up before the Bloodthirster is on you, not so much for rolling to hit in normal combat. We did eventually get game stats for a Great Cannon in another book (Damage 20 Impact AP) but as they say here, there's no reason to bother when they do so much damage that they might as well say 'guy you shot is dead'. I actually like them making it explicit that those weapons should be used as setpieces and plot devices, rather than trying to stuff them directly into their game. Keeping a cannon as an objective or a dramatic element works better than distorting the base combat system to stuff one into it.

Fluffwise, the Empire has some of the greatest artillery in the setting, partly because they're willing to accept more experimental weaponry than most, and partly because they're buddies with the dwarfs, who are happy to help their human nephews with their cannon homework. Many is the Chaos Lord who has caught a cannonball. Cannons have been in use far longer than practical hand-held weaponry, and no Imperial army goes to war without big guns to back it up. After all, would you rather fight an angry, pissed off Balrog COMPLETELY LEGALLY DISTINCT BLOODTHIRSTER OF KHORNE THE BLOOD GOD with a halberd or a cannon?

Next Time: Magnificent Codpieces

A Best Codpiece isn't a waste, it's an investment

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

A Best Codpiece isn't a waste, it's an investment

So, this section has nothing that actively does anything in gameplay. In the normal rulebook, you just buy entire outfits of Poor, Common, Good, Best, etc clothing to determine the general state of your clothing. This section of Old World Armory introduces a lot of fluff on Imperial fashion, regional dress, and style, but also introduces the ability to buy every component of your outfit separately. The explicit, stated intent is 'So you can decide you want a really fancy, nice belt and that you're willing to put up with a patched or stained shirt for it, because you think this would be a fun look for your character'. I can respect putting in detailed fashion information specifically so you can play dress-up with your early modern fantasy adventurer. Especially as fancy clothing, slashed sleeves, and outrageous codpieces are legit one of the big draws of the Empire as a fantasy setting.

First, we get a general overview of regional styles and trends, both in the Empire and beyond. Estalians and Tileans are from a hotter climate and dress more for style than warmth. Neither will admit they dress like one another, either. They're fond of loose blouses for both men and women, cloaks (fencers wear longer cloaks to incorporate them into their fencing by catching an opponent's blade, and so they look cooler), and dashing, feathered hats. Kislevites incorporate a great deal of fur into their dress, especially their hats. It's warm, it's fashionable, and it's readily available. The Empire, however, is basically a confederation of several nations and regions and so does not have a monolithic style one can point to the same way they can Kislevites or Estalians. What Imperials wear is going to change a lot depending on what part of the Empire you visit.

The Western Empire is the richest part of the state and therefore has the most time to devote to fashion. Even the peasants of the West (like Reikland) are able to afford decent cloth, and even a peasant usually has at least one outfit that incorporates some expensive dye and actual style. Westerners have access to more dye than other parts of the Empire, but basically everyone in the Empire loves bright colors and decorated outfits whenever they can afford them. Men's fashion in the West does not favor beards, seeing them as a sign of being unkempt; a man should either be cleanshaven or have well maintained sideburns and a waxed mustache to show his facial hair comes from taking care of it, not from just letting it grow like some kind of barbarian. Women's fashion changes endlessly at court, but in 2522 low cut dresses with bright colors and plumed hats are the current style. All through the west, it's common to wear a draber outer layer and then slash the sleeves to show off a brighter or contrasting colored fabric underneath. Westerners change their styles and dress more than anyone else in the Empire.

Northerners (Hochlanders, Ostlanders, Middenlanders, and Nordlanders) prefer to dress in animal skins and decry fashions like face powder or makeup as a waste of goddamn time. Women are encouraged to dress more conservatively; whether this is because they prefer modesty or because it's fucking cold and a low-cut neckline that lets the wind in is a bad idea is anyone's guess. Northerner men prefer to sport full, groomed beards and long hair, mimicking the styles of the dwarfs. Note that this doesn't mean they don't take care of their hair or beards: Ulricans are famous for how much care they put into grooming and caring for their hair, they just have a lot of it. Women also prefer to wear their hair longer, and spend an equal amount of care on it. While they might decry silks as a waste of time, Northerners still love color; sporting a colorful outfit with well-kept furs is still a big social marker. They just want it to be warm and 'practical' as well as garishly colored and elegant at the same time. It's fucking cold up there.

Easterners are usually poor, and dress in very Kislevite styles. It's common to wear a very drab outfit with very little dye, but incorporate a colorful sash or scarf to keep the outfit from being boring. Men usually wear their facial hair in a goatee or drooping mustache, and given the overall Kislevite and Ungol influence I wouldn't be surprised to see topknots. They don't get much description of their clothes, because they don't have as much money or time to waste on looking fancy as the Northerners or Westerners. Still, they'll look as nice as they can. If there's one universal urge in the Empire, it's towards being as colorful and well dressed as you can afford. Imperials love fashion.

One of the interesting bits with the clothing rules is that they describe Best or Good clothing as the kind of thing you can keep putting back together and cleaning off for a long time; it'll last even through hard adventuring and won't need replacement. A Good or Best set of boots (especially dwarf-made) should 'last an entire adventuring career' even if you have a long one. I'm reminded of the Sam Vimes Theory of Economics, wherein a poor man can only afford poor boots that break after a month while the rich man could immediately afford boots that last for years, so the poor man stays poor buying bad boots. A good set of Dwarf-crafted hobnailed boots is a full 30 crowns, though, which is an awful lot of money; that's more than a full suit of leather armor.

There are simply too many outfits and too many articles of clothing for me to go into all of them, but your PC can spend an enormous amount of money on looking good. In general, one of the things these 'stuff besides just adventuring gear' sections do is give you things to spend money on once you've already got your gear in order. It makes sense; PCs see a lot of money, compared to the average worker in the Empire. They also tend to throw it around a lot. A PC buying a cool Best Overcoat and Wide Brimmed Hat so they can properly look the part of an intimidating Witch Hunter or picking up expensive dyes to show off that they can afford them is the kind of thing I don't really object to as a moneysink; it's optional, but playing dress up is fun.

A Best Codpiece costs 40 GC, by the way. Just in case you wondered what was truly important in this section. Properly tailored codpieces (and especially properly decorated ones) are expensive, but absolutely worth it if you want to wow potential employers and gentlemen and ladies of good breeding.

One of the things I appreciate about Fantasy, and this gets it across, is that it's much more colorful than most Dark Fantasy settings. People try to put in bright dyes and pretty colors. They wear nicely tailored clothes. They put a lot of their effort into making art and architecture and fantastic codpieces. It's just usually got mud on it, or your fancy new doublet already has a couple patches because you wore it to an adventure and got shot a couple times. The pretty, but worn and lived-in look that the setting usually has is a big step up from everything being drab shitfarming all the time.

There's also a fun section on the materials your clothes can be made of and the sorts of dyes that are common, expensive, or in fashion. Red is a very popular color all through the Empire because the dye is cheap and it's nice and bright. Cotton and silk are imported from Cathay and are a mark of tremendous wealth. Homespun wool is common with the rural poor, while canvas, linen and flannel are popular everywhere. Black is considered the color of scholars, mourning, and the elderly, but is also popular with evil Chaos cultists and dark warriors who think it makes them look menacing. Light blues are cheap and come from copper, so everyone can wear them, while dark blues are expensive dyes and limited to nobles and rich merchants. Brown-yellow (tawny) clothing is popular everywhere in the Old World and almost everyone owns at least one working outfit this color. Green and yellow are both common dyes that almost anyone can afford, while purple is the color of royalty entirely because purple dye is so hard to get. The Emperor is said to prefer cloth with threads of gold to the more common purple, and silver and gold embroidery are the province of the wealthy.

The most important takeaway is that almost everyone wears colored clothing. Also, anything white doesn't stay white long.There's enough here to properly play dress up, and really, that's part of the appeal of playing an early modern Adventurer, isn't it? As silly as it can be, I like these bits and pieces on what the people of the Empire actually wear, eat, and do and I'm glad the book is more about this and less about giving direct stats to eighty varieties of polearm. I will be skipping the long section on carrying equipment, though, because that kind of stuff is pretty useless even within the game. No-one really cares that you need more than one pack to carry X amount of encumbrance. Especially with encumbrance being an optional rule, anyway. That kind of stuff doesn't tell you much about material culture and is really just filling out wordcount.

Next Time: Rumster's Special

Don't eat the pies

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Don't eat the pies

I find one of the most important bits on the Food chapter is that it puts into perspective how much money PCs actually make compared to the average peasant, or even the average merc in a bigger, safer company. When you're pulling down 30-50 (or more) crowns per extremely dangerous job for you and your 2-4 buddies, let's compare that money against the cost of the basics of living. Meanwhile, even if you're living a pretty high life when it comes to food and drink, as long as you're not drinking unmixed wine or demanding Bretonnian brandy at all hours, you'll be paying 1-2 silver a day to live depending on how expensive your tastes are and how much the dwarf demands to drink. And that's with a character buying fresh, prepared food from a fairly safe source all the time, the equivalent of eating out every time you're in town and aren't living on salt pork and dried nuts. An average Burgher can live comfortably on 5-10 pennies a day. So a single Gold Crown is almost a month's expenses and food for a person.

The money PCs make is a lot of money. It's why people do the insane jobs they do, especially since they usually have an easier time getting around the tax-man. One of the things this book exists to do is to give you thinks to spend your money on besides just a new sword or helmet; we went over it with clothes, but it's the same with food. Maybe your PCs really want a couple bottles of brandy to ease their nerves after a really nasty adventure against rat people; each bottle is 30 silver, which means a crown and a half. Bretonnian brandy is expensive. Same for unmixed wine, at 10 silver per bottle. Which actually leads to another interesting bit: Imperials drink an awful lot of alcohol, at all ages and all levels of society, but most of it isn't especially alcoholic. Wine is drunk mixed (both to keep the water safe and because unmixed wine is too expensive and too potent), and there's an awful lot of 'small beer' around, where the beer isn't especially alcoholic but is alcoholic enough to cleanse the water.

So all these people drinking huge amounts of beer aren't getting sloshed all the time, they're trying not to get dysentery and to get some extra flavor and calories. The detail that the brewers of Marienburg have adopted Bretonnian brewing techniques for their beer and ale tells me you don't want to drink in Marienburg, too; Bret beer and ale is infamous for being as terrible as their wine is excellent. There's a reason they all drink watered wine, instead. Except the nobles; Bretonnian and Imperial nobles both love unmixed wine. Bretonnian brandy is also noted as one of the oldest human liquors. This means that humans have been drinking Bretonnian alcohol since 3000 years ago or so. Alcohol is humanity's friend. You cannot ask them to abandon a friend.

Imperial food tends towards pies, stews, porridge, and sausage. Meat is expensive and isn't eaten at every meal unless you're a noble or a rich merchant. Bread is a constant staple, and they have many varieties to try to avoid going nuts from the monotony. Cheese is very common as an extra bit of flavoring, with Bretonnians preferring soft and mild cheeses while the Imperials like smellier cheese and experimenting with blue cheese and other exotic flavors. Estalians also invented cheddar, and it is much beloved. Fish is very common as a meat dish in Imperial cities, since so many are situated along river routes or near large bodies of water; anywhere people can catch fish to add to their food, they do. Imperials also have a big tradition of street food; there's enough travel and tourism in the Empire's large cities to support it. This is where the Rumster Clan and other less scrupulous halfling food sellers come in; the 2 penny 'meat pie' is infamously unsafe and cooked to a poor standard, but the halflings are skilled enough to make it tasty and enticing. Yes, the halflings have invented dubious fast-food that makes you sick as a dog. That is the great manifestation of wicked halflings: No concern with quality, unlike respectable halfling eateries like the Cock and Barrel from the WHFRP Companion.

And that's about it on food; the Empire doesn't have the same kind of rich culinary tradition as Bretonnia or the Moot itself. What's interesting here is the perspective it gives you on the value of a gold crown to the average person; an Adventurer is making serious money to match the serious risks (and the serious risk that their employer turns out to be a cultist or dark wizard or just a shrewd merchant who knows they can screw a couple rootless vagabonds) they take trying to do freebooter work with a small company.

Since food was so quick, let's continue on. There's a lot on various tools and items and pieces of furniture; I'm not sure why an Adventurer would buy an armoire and neither is the book. It includes one on the off chance you somehow think of a pressing need for cabinets during your grim and perilous journeys, and if anyone has one, I'd like to know. There's the usual assortment of knick-knacks you might carry like dice, cards, etc, and I find myself really longing for Myriad Song's Outfit system, where you'd just say 'I'm wearing a Rogue's Outfit' and it'd be assumed you have your dice, your cards, some hidden pockets, etc and some incidental bonuses from having those tools on your person. It was a really good way to cut out sections like this, which are really mostly filler. I will note that they call the Strigany 'Gypsies' outright when they talk about using the cards for fortune telling (they hadn't invented the name Strigany yet, maybe?) and identify them with Sylvania, and I'm going to keep pointing them out every time because the weird Roma stereotypes should be pointed out and the authors shamed for having them.

We also get some on the musical instruments popular in the Old World: The Harpsichord is all the rage right now among nobles, the Violin is very popular in Bretonnia, Mandolins are replacing the ancient and time-honored Lute, whose time has passed, etc. Music is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world, and a skilled composer can make a lot of money; remember that A: Opera is tremendously influential in both the Empire and Kislev and B: The Sigmarite Church absolutely loves sacred music (from Tome of Salvation) and pays a lot to retain the best musicians and writers. Given how dangerous traveling can be, if you wanted to play Johan Sebastian Basch (Legally distinct from Johann Sebastian Bach!) as he travels from patron to patron and city to city writing music and dealing with competition between churches that would probably be fun! Music is also very important to the army, as it's used to set paces and keep soldiers' spirits.

The bit on books and printing is very important because it says that the Printing Press is actually extremely new; a practical and relatively inexpensive Printing Press was only invented 5 years ago, in 2517, by a Gunter Johans of Middenheim. He is (the man is still alive, and improving on his design) a devout Sigmarite who wanted to get around the paucity of Sigmarite holy texts in Middenheim, and so tried to invent a way to print them faster. His invention of block printing has quickly spread through the entire Empire, and caused a revolution in mass media; people can print broadsheets and newsletters, and the new printed books are many times cheaper than older hand-copied manuscripts. Literacy rates are starting to rise because there's suddenly so much more access to books. Wizards and Priests alike are suspicious of this new printing press; Priests worry about typographical errors (especially Sigmarites, who think typos are obviously the work of Chaos trying to corrupt the holy texts of Sigmar) and Wizards complain that a printed textbook can never resonate with magic, craft, and artistry the way a hand-written and illuminated grimoire could. The presses grow more efficient every year; there's huge commercial demand for their production and great excitement about developing them further.

Gin Traps are actually sort of important because a Hunter can use them as an adventuring weapon; you make a Set Trap check (the book lists it as Outdoor Survival, but why? You'd think you'd use the literal Set Trap skill. If there's one sign there are too many goddamn skills in this game it's when the authors themselves forget the edge case skills like this) against an enemy's Perception. Then, during a fight or while you hide in a bush, they wander into your trap and take Damage 1 (small trap) or Damage 3, ignoring armor. That's actually quite powerful; a Hunter PC preparing an ambush with some animal traps could really put a dent in the enemy before you engage.

And with that, we're done with the misc. gear and random tools of Chapter 5. It's mostly useless stuff from a gameplay perspective, and a lot of the random backpacks and tools are sort of filler, but I'm happy enough to have the sections on food, material culture, and clothing.

Next Time: Mercury is too awesome NOT to be good for you

Deadly deadly poison

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Deadly deadly poison

So Chapter 6 is mostly about medicine and poison. There is an awful lot of poison in the Old World. Deadly, deadly poison. This is another good reason to have a 3rd tier Shallyan around whenever possible; they can trivially cure even the worst of poisons and most poisons in WHFRP take some time to kill you. This is one of the reasons they kind of suck for PCs but are amazing for enemies, and poison can often come off as kind of a dick move since it's a save or die (effectively) that bypasses the Wound system most of the time.

But first, let's get into dubious medicines that any PC with Trade (Apothecary) can brew. There are very few Crafting Rules in 2e, because the writers made a conscious decision to focus on adventuring and didn't want to give 'day job' rules. As a result, most of the crafting skills are up to hand-waving. Not so for an Apothecary. For half the price, d10 hours of labor, and a skill check (difficulty determined by the drug), they can make a variety of potentially helpful concoctions. Much like potion brewing for wizards, this is sort of dubiously useful; even half price is crazy for some of these relatively useless drugs. Let's take the most expensive drug on the menu, the Calming Nectar. It costs 300 GC to buy, so 150 to brew (they don't say if you waste the money if you fail) and all it does is temporarily lower Insanity points and remove Insanity. For d10 Minutes. Then you get an Insanity point as your insanity rushes back in. That's definitely worth a massive fortune and a -30% test to brew!

There's also a cheap 'cure all' tonic that does all kinds of random things with only a small chance of doing anything helpful, various drugs that can give tiny 5% buffs for a time (though one of them, Fey-Eyes, also keeps you awake for d10 hours no matter how tired you are while boosting Per, so it's potentially useful), and then there's the weird fact that an Apothecary can apparently brew Bugman's XXXXXX. This is the most powerful ale in the setting, a symbol of national pride to all dwarfs that gives a drinker Fearless for d10 hours, but counts as 4 drinks (You can drink up to TB before you start making Consume Alcohol tests to avoid getting smashed) and Consume Alcohol tests to resist its effects are -20.

Apothecaries can also try to make a specific Cure All herbal remedy to cure any disease a character has, but this takes a Trade test at -30, 2d10 GC, and d10 hours. If you succeed, the drug heals the character instantly; given how fond the game is of the extremely fatal and mutagenic Neglish Rot for anything related to Nurgle this is definitely worth trying if someone catches that and you don't have a 3rd tier Shallyan. If you fail, you roll on a table, with effects ranging from 'useless and you know it' 'counts as one alcoholic beverage' and 'Lose d10 Rounds to poison if failing TB'. Still, if you're gotten one of the nastier diseases and a buddy knows how to make herbal remedies, you're better off rolling the dice. They can also make Healing Draughts, and that's definitely worth it; remember, as long as you're at 4 or more Wounds, those instantly heal you 4 wounds. Carrying a couple healing draughts is a good idea for any adventurer who can afford them.

Poisons are nasty, expensive, and hard to get. They also require the Prepare Poison skill; if you fail at Prepare Poison, your poison is wasted because you messed up putting it in someone's food or spilled it rather than getting a useful concentration of poisoned oil onto your sword or arrow. Poison comes in a few general varieties, even though they have a lot of them listed here: Slow acting poisons usually take days or hours to kill based on TB (giving someone time to go find the overworked 3rd tier Shallyan to save them, or a normal doctor, or an antitoxin kit so they can reroll their save) if someone fails their Toughness save. Fast acting poisons are usually pretty expensive and rare and kill in rounds based on TB after a failed save. Combat poisons often cause a Save or the target takes extra wounds immediately from an attack that injured them. An awful lot of the poisons come from Araby and Naggarond; both places really like deadly deadly poison as a means to settle disputes.

The issue with poison as a combat tool is this: If I hit a serious enemy with a poison that is going to kill them in 5-8 rounds, the chances are we were going to kill that foe with base damage in that time. By the same token, if I get hit by a Chimera and fail a poison save but kill it anyway in the next couple rounds, I'm still fucked unless we've got antitoxins or a 3rd tier Shallyan (She works so hard). And that Chimera doesn't care as much about having a PC for the game next week. Sure, you've got Fate, but you've only got so much. It's something that works 'better' for the enemies because it tends to be so slow. Also, using poison is really expensive. It's much better for slipping it into a cult magus's wine and then watching them choke to death at dinner with plausible deniability rather than using it as a combat option. A neat detail is that they tell you how each poison tastes, and what you'd need to use to disguise it. Considering how many more poisons can be hidden in spicy food, it's no surprise a lot of Imperial nobles prefer a more mild diet even if they could afford the spices.

It's no surprise that almost all the new additions to the 'random junk that doesn't fit anywhere else' table after this are related to neutralizing and detecting poison in food and drink. Getting killed to death by arsenic is a very real concern for the wealthy and powerful of the Old World.

Finally, we get a bunch of religious paraphernalia that I've already gone over in ToS, so I won't be reproducing any of it here. Just suffice to say most people in the Old World carry at least one charm, prayer script, or minor holy object of a favored deity.

At the last, there's the various replacement parts for when you take a nasty crit, lose a limb, and don't have the invaluable 3rd tier Shallyan around to cast Golden Tears and put your arm back on. These will mostly mitigate the effects of losing limbs, and with enough money you can even get a semi-functional (for game terms, fully functional) artificial arm to replace a lost hand, thus putting this game higher on the important 'Can You Be Guts' test. There are no options for integrating a repeating crossbow and/or light cannon into said replacement arm, so marks off for that. In general, the replacement bits are enough to keep you functional-ish after losing limbs, and hopefully you won't lose that many limbs anyway; it takes a nasty crit in the first place and you generally have to also fail to get the limb healed before it's in danger of amputation. A good surgeon will, as long as you keep away from the many variant 'make the Surgery talent fucking suck' rules (there will be some coming up in this book, too! It's apparently a Thing for some of the developers) generally be able to save your mangled hand or arm.

Next Time: The Secret Power of the Small But Vicious Dog

The monkey, he is a sign of Stromfel's favor. Since I got him, I have not been scratched in battle.

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

The monkey, he is a sign of Stromfel's favor. Since I got him, I have not been scratched in battle.

The Animals and Transport chapter is a little cursory, so I'll be going over it quickly. The most important things to note here are that you can get a trained monkey to help you as a thief or entertainer, and that a Ratcatcher's dog actually does get a combat bonus over a normal dog; they all have Warrior Born because they have the hearts of champions. Also that a full Bretonnian raised warhorse is a hell of a mundane mount, having +1 Movement, 18 Wounds, and attacking at WS 35 for 5 Damage a swing; that's a not-inconsiderable boost to a PC's fighting ability. There are also rules for purchasing barding for your horse, giving them armor like a PC in case the GM keeps aiming for your horse; a fully barded warhorse (Bret or not) is 9 DR and has 14-18 wounds, so they'll have a tough time bringing that down. All actual fighting horses are quite expensive, starting at 300 GC for a basic Light Warhorse (though some PCs, like Roadwardens and Bret Knight Errants, get to start with one) and going up to 750 for a Bretonnian trained charger. Still, moving faster and getting your mount to kick in an extra, not-inconsiderable attack every round is a reasonable use for the money.

The Travel rules are mostly reproduced from the core book and mostly serve to reinforce that if you can go somewhere by ship or riverboat, do that. Coaches are slower and more expensive, and walking on the Empire's roads can be rough in the best of times; in 2522 with the Storm having just happened, the northern roads are even more bandit and beastman infested than normal. Stagecoaches are also pretty expensive, but their routes are usually cleared by the Roadwardens and the fortified coaching inns along the way are usually safe to stay in. Even PCs on foot or riding their own horses will often stop each night at another coaching inn because it's a safe place to pick up supplies and rest.

Which brings us neatly to the first parts of the Business and Property chapter. Now, when I first looked at this chapter, I didn't see much use for it. It's listings of how much urban and rural land costs, how much a nice house vs. a normal house costs, what average Imperial rents can be like, etc. But I think I see the actual use of this section now; what it's useful for is contextualizing wealth. Much like the stuff on the costs of living helps you see PCs are bringing in huge amounts of money for their escapades, the stuff on the actual cost of property and business tells you they're not making rich people money. The rich noble meeting them in his townhouse to negotiate over price paid 21000 crowns for the house alone, let along the 18000-27000 for the actual acres of property in a rich part of town. Your PCs are small time next to that kind of money, even as the peasantry gapes at watching PCs pulling down 50 crowns a job (which is about 5 years earnings for the average worker). The guy asking you to hunt down a possibly-demonically-backed group of brigands for 40 crowns is offering a lot of money to the average person, but he's quibbling over the literal money found behind his couch. The wealth gap in the Old World is immense.

The other use for all of these prices on businesses and property investments is that you might actually run a Warhams Fantasy game where the players are primarily seeking to get actual Rich Person money. It's a classic motivation, after all; a bunch of lower class adventurers getting a taste for actual money from their mercenarying pay and trying to make the kind of money that will let them retire in style. The costs for businesses, property, and major investments work as goals for a party that's trying to get Rich Person Rich and seeking to make enough money to become landlords and wealthy merchants. A quest for actual status and wealth can easily make you stumble on all kinds of other plots, or even work great as a way to tie together a bunch of shorter vignette adventures and minicampaigns as your party keeps chasing the big score that will get them townhouses, servants, and wine at every meal.

It also ties into the fact that Adventurers don't really fit neatly into Old World society. You have money, but you don't have money. You fight, but you're not soldiers. Most people of the Old World are really suspicious of Adventurers until a party does something helpful in their town or neighborhood, because what kind of lunatic goes out there and looks for trouble with only a couple mates for backup? This has always been one of my favorite parts of the theming of Adventurers in 2e; you're edge cases, oddities, and unusual characters. By the economic and social status you don't fit into, you're directly encouraged to play unusual people. I've always enjoyed that about Hams Fantasy because it encourages you to come up with wild character concepts. The Bretonnian Lady Knight is an obvious and classic example, but I've also seen all kinds of other weird characters like an elf princess who stumbles into becoming a crime lord or a dwarf runesmith whose constant, accidental adventures meant he advanced too quickly and broke all kinds of social conventions just by doing his best. Or the university dropout who got into tomb raiding (ahem, Archeology) and became a 17th century Indiana Jones, signature hat and everything. You're encouraged to be weird, because you don't fit in anyway.

Of course, directly, you're not really going to find any use for detailed rules for rolling to see how much your blacksmith's shop makes each month, especially not if it demands you, the PC, actually spend all that time running it instead of investing in it like it does here. The intent here seems to be to provide a venue where your character can retire temporarily and earn money during a timeskip before the campaign moves on, or to provide goals for a PC who actually wants to retire and become an NPC. It's also an excuse for the authors to talk about the enormous number of professions and things possible in the Old World, and to give a price on a Rat Catcher franchising out to hire other, younger Rat Catchers to do the catching, equipping them with their standard issue dogs and pokey sticks and collecting their earnings.

Another good thing this section drives home is just how little privacy or 'personal space' you get in the Old World. Almost everyone sleeps in common rooms (only the wealthiest can afford private rooms and most coaching inns and inns barely have any anyway). The cities are full of buildings rammed together because property prices are high and everyone wants to live within the walls. Most people in the Old World just don't get a lot of space or time to themselves; you're going to be dealing with other people in close quarters all the time. Privacy is a luxury for the extremely wealthy, and until campaign's end, it's very likely you aren't one of them.

Next Time: Surprisingly Useful Hirelings

Bruno, get me away with this treachery if you would

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Bruno, get me away with this treachery if you would

So, hirelings. Weirdly, hirelings are actually very helpful! At pretty much all stages of play! Another useful thing about this book is giving you more things to spend your money on, and hiring some extra backup before a really rough fight, or a party with no scholars hiring on a competent translator for a dive into some ancient ruins? All these things are handy and surprisingly affordable. If your party is lacking an important character type for an adventure, or you just need some extra muscle, throwing down some extra money and paying a share to a hardened merc or a Journeyman Wizard can pay big returns.

For some reason (probably the fact that you can hire doctors), this is also where we get the first of several 'make medical treatment suck and kill PCs' optional tables for the line. This one is cited as an update of a 1990 WHFRP1e table doing the same, and again, I hate these things. It doesn't actually add anything to the game to include a significant chance you die on the operating table while trying to get your broken arm repaired so you don't have to amputate it. Critical hits, disabled limbs, all these are nasty enough. Adding in a -30% Heal check because you took a heavy crit and you've broken that arm before (with failure by 2 degrees killing you instantly)...what does that actually add to the game besides someone being able to say 'oh well that's just realistic!?' You know what'd be realistic? If everyone in the Empire was using pikes instead of halberds. But we don't complain because halberds are metal (this is the stated reason halberds are used instead, from the original writers of Warhams). Having medicine actually work okay if you have enough skill in it is fine; it gives physician PCs something really useful they can do. Not only that, throwing around -20 or -30 or whatever lightly because it 'seems reasonable' is how you get the line's dogshit adventure design where they keep deciding that characters with a base 35% 'should' get -10 to whatever they're trying to do because 'it should be hard'.

Anyway, hiring an actual full hireling with 6 advances in their career is only 2 GC a week. An 18 advance henchmen (the most powerful ones actually listed in this section) costs 4 GC, but if your henchman has more advances than any of your PCs they can grow disloyal, something we know well from pokemon. There's a whole loyalty table based on whether you're known to pay on time, how often you're known to get your henchmen killed (if you send them into traps all the time or whatever you're going to have a hard time hiring more), whether you seem to be wealthy, a wizard, etc. Cruel and murderous leaders will be penalized by disloyal henchmen. A PC who generally treats the people they hire like people will find it much easier to command them. Asking henchmen to do things usually takes a Fel test to see if they'll take your orders; if I order my merc follower to start a fight, they'll check if they think they're going to get paid and how much they like me before deciding if they'll do it. In practice, as long as you're decent to the people and ask them to do things in their wheelhouse, they'll do as they're asked. Offering more money in an emergency will also make things much easier on you.

You also get a d100 table to roll on to give each henchman at least one little quirk or characteristic, which is kind of cute.

As for why you hire these guys and put up with this, let's look at a basic Mercenary hireling, at 6, 12, and 18 Advances (So 2, 3, and 4 GC a week and a share of treasure). A completely basic mercenary comes with 2 attack, WS 47, BS 34, SB 4, TB 4, Agi 30, some okay armor (Mail shirt, leather jack), Strike Mighty, Strike to Stun, and a sword and shield and crossbow. If your party is lacking for a primary fighter or you just think you're going to need some extra backup, Hans the Merc is going to be able to handle that for you just fine; he's kind of a badass. Let's look at his big sister Sigurd, at 18 Advances: Full mail armor, 5 more WS, 10 more Agi, a great axe tossed in with that other good equipment, still has Strike Mighty (and Strike to Injure), and 2 attacks. A 52% WS character who hits for Damage 5 (and Damage 5 Impact if using their Great Weapon) while coming with DR 7 and decent wounds? That's actually useful at every level of play. The non-combat henchmen are similarly competent, with Translators knowing tons of languages, Guides being good rangers, Field Docs being excellent medics, etc.

So for not that much money and a share of the treasure, if you're lacking in anything on your team, you can find someone else who will do the job. Henchmen are very useful and helpful additions to your PCs' arsenal of tools. Even more advanced Henchmen are possible, and there are also rules for converting any of these existing profiles into an Elf, Dwarf or Halfling by applying a simple template and replacing their Free Human Talents (clearly marked in their writeups) with the other racial stuff. These NPCs lack for Fate and all, and they're not main characters like you guys, but still. It's nice that these rules are actually pretty robust and useful, giving the party another really handy thing to spend money on.

Next Time: Treasures, a final word on the Armory

Glittering gold, trinkets and baubles. Paid for in blood.

posted by Night10194 Original SA post

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Glittering gold, trinkets and baubles. Paid for in blood.

So, treasure. Treasure is actually worth a hell of a lot of money. It's not very exciting, and the actual 'roll on a random table for the value of the art object you picked up' table is pretty unbalanced (the most expensive artwork, for instance, can just turn out to be with 16,000 GC, which can immediately throw off a campaign's pacing if you can get anywhere near that price for it), but it's nice to have some reference points for what the stuff you find is worth. I'd ease back on how quickly the upper end of treasures ramp up, because most of the treasure table is 'worth a couple silver' and then a suddenly, 10% chance of 'worth enough to retire on, or buy all the Best Equipment you ever wanted' is more than a little out of place.

You can also find unusual coins, jewelry, all sorts of stuff. An old pre-Grudge-War elven colonial Silver Leaf is worth a full 250GC, so a rumor of a chest of those things will see people killing one another over them. Tilean Talents are widely recognized to be the first actual currency in the Old World produced by humans, and so these small slabs of gold are worth 15GC each when found in old treasure hordes. Gold Kokus appear to be very ancient Cathayan coins, predating anything the Cathayans use now but carrying Cathayan script, and they're worth 25 GC each because they're pure gold and very old. Pre-Imperial coins, especially those dating back to or before the Actual Age of Actual Sigmar, are generally worth about five times what a modern coin of their denomination would be. Gems are obviously very valuable, and very portable. Adventurers finding a well cut ruby or sapphire are in for a hell of a payday if someone doesn't kill them and steal it.

And at the end of the day, that's kind of all there is to say about the treasure rules. They give you some good estimates of how much the stuff you find is worth, though it gets a little crazy at the upper ends of cut gems and art objects. I suppose the difficulty with those is finding a buyer and not getting the item stolen back from you. With that, we're done with the Old World Armory.

So, let's talk about the book a bit to wrap up. Old World Armory is one of the more superfluous books in the line. It was written early in the line's history, and it focuses almost exclusively on the Empire. It does fill in some nice material culture for the Empire, stuff that's missing from the actual Empire book, but I feel like this is indicative of part of the problem with Sigmar's Heirs: It feels like everything in Sigmar's Heirs was split up into other books and thus the book doesn't give a great sense of the Empire. What amazes me about OWA isn't that it's a little dull; the system doesn't have room to make it anything else. It's that (aside from that one shitty sidebar about Distinguishing Hand Weapons/Great Weapons) it doesn't break the game at all. There are a couple optional super-items added for players to aspire to, rules for weapons made of super-materials and powerful elf and dwarf armor, but almost all of it stays within the lanes set by the normal game mechanics.

Which is one of the strengths of WHFRP2e: It's generally careful to limit itself. There's a lot of restraint in the rules writing and aside from a few examples like Bret Virtues (which are awesomely powerful) there isn't that much actual power creep in this line. The only classes that break the normal 'caps' on, say, Strength and Toughness advances are classes not normally intended for PCs like Exalted Lord of Chaos. The system is generally careful to keep things within agreed upon bounds. Damage reduction generally outpaces damage slightly because equipment adds more to overall toughness than it does to attack strength. Even when they break the 'normal' caps they never really go above the +40 max for stats. The weapon and armor design in this book is the same, which doesn't leave it much room to be an 'Old World Armory'; the material on culture and costuming and wealth is much more useful than the actual weapons and armor because the book just doesn't have much room to add new weapons and armor.

This book is totally skippable; it's not very important to WHFRP2e. Still, I like the sections on trade and taxation and material culture, because they help with the lived-in feeling of the setting and help remind you that there is extensive international contact. Hell, Altdorf even makes money as a tourist destination, since it's world famous and wealthy people with the means to reach it do so regularly. The book helps contextualize money, and gives you some useful or colorful new ways to spend your wealth as you get it. The book isn't the best book in the line, but it's not the worst, either; trust me, I've played 40kRP and seen the reams and reams of mostly pointless power-creep gear porn that make up many of its expansion and add-on books, and I am very grateful this book avoids being just that.

I still really don't get the hard-on for including lots of optional 'medicine fucks you over rules', though. I suppose there will always be an audience clamoring for 'gritty realism' in a game full of fantastical elements.

So, that's Old World Armory. I admit I only really did this one because I'm starting to run out of Hams.

Next Time: Ill conceived 4chan project number 2? Or City Books for the Empire?