For a while I have been looking for the “perfect” system, a roleplaying game which better suits my needs and my current preferences. As I quickly found out, this is akin to the hunt for the proverbial white whale. Since I didn’t want to end like Captain Ahab, I took a break from this search and thought hard about what I really needed.
I have taken breaks from GMing several times, but that was not what I wanted right now. So I looked back at games that brought me a lot of enjoyment. And immediately Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition came to mind. It was basically the first roleplaying game I played (that one session of TORG at a con doesn’t count), and it’s a game I have run several times with great success.
Is it the “best thing ever”? No. Does it have quirky mechanics that sometimes don’t make any sense? You betcha! Is it fun? Hell yeah! Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition is as old-school as it gets, especially if you are not looking for a D&Dish experience. For me the world was always the main reason to play the game, closely followed by the awesome carreer system. You know, in WFRP you don’t have classes like in D&D, but your character follows several careers. Each career gives you a set of attributes to improve and skills to learn. After you’ve fulfilled the so-called advance scheme, you can move on to another career as listed in your current career’s career exits. Switching from a career is no easy task, you have to track down the needed equipment, find a trainer, et cetera. Finding a trainer may be a campaign in its own. Also, every game in which ratcatcher is a viable career is a winner in my book!
The Warhammer World is a welcome change from all the high fantasy fare, we’re usually used to. Magic is powerful, but rare. A stranger is more likely to kick your teeth in than greet you with a friendly word. There’s dirt everywhere and let’s not speak about the smells. In WFRP you’re as likely to die in combat as to be killed by a terrible disease. If you’re lucky you end up in an insane asylum. If you know Warhammer Fantasy Battle you’ll notice that there’s a huge difference to the Warhammer World portrayed in the tabletop miniatures games (don’t get me started on Age of Sigmar!). While the world in WFRP 1st Edition is pretty bleak and dark, things are way different in the miniature games. That’s why I prefer the 1st Edition over all the others. In later games the designers tried to come closer to the Warhammer World depicted in the tabletop miniatures games. For an old-school WFRP fan like me, it’s just not what I am looking for.
Last week I sat down with my players to create a bunch of adventurers which we immediately threw into an adventure featuring a band of beastman and a strange ritualistic killing. Tomorrow they’ll continue on their way to Nuln, where further adventures await. And boy, am I excited. So far they seem to like both the rules and the world, and it feels great to run WFRP 1st Edition again. It’s like wearing those old running shoes, you always wanted to replace. They are worn, are definitely not smelling so great, BUT they are just so comfortable you want to wear them all the time. ^_^