As its Warhammer Wednesday we want to share the third in our series of WFRP Blog Posts from C7 writer Ben Scerri. If you need to catch up on his previous in-depth posts you can find the first one here and the second here. You can also join the C7 chat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to give us your feedback. You can find the WFRP4 Core rulebook in stores now or order directly here.

Hello again, folks! Today we’re talking setting expectations in WFRP — that’s right, we’re doing a little Gamemaster advice! The rulebook is full of mechanics, stories, hooks, monsters, spells, careers, trappings… EVERYTHING you might need to run a game. But today I want to talk a little about starting a game, so that’s where we’re going to jump in right now.

‘Nobody expects the Estalian Inquisition… but they sure as Sigmar should expect your game sessions!’

A good campaign will begin by setting expectations (especially in reference to what you should expect from the setting *wink*) — what are the likely themes, what are the boundaries, what are Characters going to spend most of their time doing — which allows the Players to become invested, and play their Characters to the strengths of the shared story.

I have a little tool I like to use when starting a WFRP campaign, and — like all good things — it owes its roots to the Ruinous Powers!

Let Chaos into your Campaigns

The four Chaos Gods have always stood as the four main pillars of what makes a good, fully-fleshed-out Warhammer experience to me. In them, we see the greatest extremes of Human emotion, and given Warhammer is a deeply emotional setting, it makes sense that Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, and Slaanesh are the furthest extremes therein!

I like to think of each Chaos God as a slider — a scale from ‘0’ to ‘Tzeentch’ — that tells us how much we want to focus on that God’s style of extremism in play. A good campaign — in my opinion — will focus about half of the time on one God’s sphere, then have two other God’s peppered through, making up most of the other half, with the final God used only in extreme circumstances… What do I mean? Well, that’s a good question: let’s break it down further, shall we?

Khorne: Violence, Combat, and Military-Fiction!

Khorne — the Blood God — is all about killing things, fighting enemies in glorious battle, and likely dying at the end of a sword.

Campaigns that feature Khorne’s sphere of influence heavily likely have a lot of combat in them: the Characters hunt monsters, or serve in the State Army of Altdorf, or plumb the depths of a Dwarf ruin, or serve as sewer jacks beneath Ubersreik! These sorts of campaigns can expect combat at least every session, with the risk of death always being right around the corner.

Players are encouraged to choose Careers that focus on martial Skills and Characteristics, or those that supplement martial Characters (barber-surgeons, wizards, priests, and so on). Additionally, Players are encouraged to have back-up Characters ready in case their main Character passes through the Portal during a session, and greets Morr, the God of Death — perhaps taking control of a non-player character, like a hireling brought along for extra muscle.

GMs of these sorts of campaigns will want to be very familiar with the rules of Combat and Injuries, and might want to ignore the Sudden Death rule entirely! Further, the GM should focus on the action at the table — don’t worry about backstories and intrigues too deeply. Draw the Characters into conflicts using visceral threats — enemies knocking down the door, the threat of being hanged as a criminal, the murder of a loved one or notable-about-town.

Nurgle: Decay, Disease, and the Downtrodden!

Nurgle — the Fly Lord — is the perfect vector for stories of societal decay (both literally via plague, and figuratively via corrupt politicians) and hopelessness, with Characters struggling to hold back an inevitability.

Campaigns that feature Nurgle’s sphere of influence heavily likely have a lot of roleplaying with the downtrodden, lots of insidious cults, and lots of gritty ‘realism’ for the Characters to struggle through. Finding a meal and a place to sleep is a concern. Staying out of the rain so as not to catch cold is paramount. And avoiding the boil-covered beggars on the steps of Shallya’s temple is more than mere colourful description: it is the difference between life and death!

Players are encouraged to buy into the horrific themes of these sorts of campaigns: generally speaking, it’s impossible to scare someone whilst playing a game unless they want to be scared. Players should also look at Characters that mire them in the conflicts — so they can’t just walk away from all the horror — through academics who are rooted to a place of study, community leaders or family-oriented Characters, or other such small-folk who don’t have the luxury of leaving.

GMs should read up on the rules for Disease and Infection, Psychology, and the Between Adventures chapter. Further, the GM should look for what the Characters want, and use unconventional methods to threaten them. The GM should strive to stretch the Characters beyond their means, and to push them into hopelessness, and terrible consequences. This is not the sort of campaign folks should be foisted into without first agreeing to it!

Tzeentch: Mysteries, Machinations, and Mutations!

Tzeentch — the Lord of Change — is a cunning tutor for the twisting of fates, and circuitous logic, with the Characters chasing leads, learning of foul cults, and uncovering secrets laid down in the dusts of time.

Campaigns that feature Tzeentch’s sphere of influence heavily likely have a lot of background woven in by the GM, involve investigations, conspiracies, and lies being told. The Characters themselves may even have secrets from each other — though it’s often more fun if the Players are all in on the secrets, so everyone can appreciate the dramatic irony when they come into play. Learning things that should be left alone, and the ever-present threat of Corruption are constant themes in these campaigns.

Players are encouraged to create Characters with deep motivations that run beyond merely generating wealth, fighting the good fight, or becoming famous. Characters with aspirations — the sky’s the limit — are easier to goad into terrible acts, and give everyone a good playing field to ask questions like ‘Do the ends justify the means?’ Characters in these sorts of games also benefit from having some means already — nefarious connections, obscene wealth, a seedy past, or access to forbidden knowledge.

GMs should read up on the rules for Mutation, Corruption (specifically Dark Deals), and the investigation Skills like Bribery, Gossip, Intimidate, Intuition, and so on… Further, the GM should become deeply familiar with genre fiction — such as farce and noir — and learn to ask Player Characters leading questions such as: “Who was it who murdered your mother?” rather than “What happened to your mother?” This sort of game requires more preparation time for the GM, so it’s not encouraged if you’re time-limited, but I find it the most rewarding style of play.

Slaanesh: Depravity, Intrigue, and Inequality

Slaanesh — the Prince of Excess — is a seductive god who’s stories involve the worst of Humanity’s crimes. The inequalities of the Nobility, the hypocrisies of the Cult of Sigmar, and the undercurrent of Human greed and perversion are the constant threats to the Characters…

Campaigns that feature Slaanesh’s sphere of influence heavily likely deal with some real-world problems dialled up to the extreme, and can act as catharsis or amusing satire. Real world history can often provide inspiration for these sorts of campaigns, by tying in political figures past and present! Mostly, though, these campaigns will be about Characters talking, scheming, and stabbing each other in the back.

Players are encouraged to create Characters and stories that revolve around the movers and shakers — the nobility, the priesthoods, the wizards in Altdorf — whether directly (by being those figures) or tangentially (by serving, investigating, or surrounding them). Players should pay special attention to their Ambitions, and should work together to create potentially conflicting stories! If everyone is engaged and onboard, a campaign where the Characters are in opposition to each other can be very entertaining — so long as everyone is still having fun, and respects each others boundaries. Remember, a good story is more important than ‘winning’.

GMs should read up on the rules for Ambitions, and the politics of the Reikland / world history. Further, they should spend the majority of their preparation time planning interesting non-player characters with as deep Motivations and Ambitions as the Characters — perhaps even going so far as to give them their own full Character Sheets and engage in Between Adventures Endeavours just like everyone else! GMs are well served by having a relationship map of their non-player Characters, and often find most of their planning being reactive to the Players’ actions.

Chaos Undivided

Now that we’ve discussed our individual ingredients, let’s mix them together and see what pops out! I’ll pitch four example campaigns, with a combination of the four sliders — one set high, another two at the low end, and the last for a single epic moment in the game…

Slaanesh, with a dash of Khorne and Tzeentch, and a pinch of Nurgle. The Characters are servants and courtiers in a noble court, where duelling, backstabbing, and political intrigue are their bread and butter. Play revolves around pursuing their own goals whilst guarding their backs from the machinations of jealous and scheming rivals and villains. The threat of disease and starvation should be far from their minds… until a terrible winter spreads famine and plague across the land.

Tzeentch, with a dash of Slaanesh and Nurgle, and a pinch of Khorne. The Characters are burghers, investigators, local priests, and rat catchers — local folks in a big city — where something just isn’t right. People are going missing — dying of strange wasting illnesses — whilst new and strange folk are rising with great fortune. Only the Characters can put the pieces together, and confront the darkness growing in their midst...

Khorne, with a dash of Nurgle and Tzeentch, and a pinch of Slaanesh. The Characters are members of a mercenary company, stationed on the edge of the Empire, or deep in the Border Princes, who must contend with the constant threat of war, starvation, and the wasting diseases that war brings. But not everything is as it seems, and a mastermind behind the company has other, darker, plans — perhaps uncovering something from the hands of their enemies. Will the Characters be mere pawns of their general, keeping their eyes down and their bellies passably full? Or will they root out the cancer in their midst?

Nurgle, with a dash of Khorne and Slaanesh, and a pinch of Tzeentch. The Characters are members of a small community in the deepest parts of the Reikwald, in a forgotten corner of the Empire. Their lives are hard, and it’s a constant struggle to keep everyone’s mouths fed, and their spirits up… But such hardship breeds cruelty and corruption — will the Characters fall to this temptation, or will someone, or something else have to take matters into their own hands?

Talk About Daemons…

What I want you to take away from this is to talk about your daemons as a group. What do you care about? What do you find fun? What haven’t you played before? Discuss this as a group, before you begin to make Characters, and you’ll find a far stronger narrative, with more entrenched themes and fun, bleeds through.

I hope you let us know on our social media channels which of the above styles of play is your favourite, and your best advice for running those kinds of games!

Until next time, folks!

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(Part #1)

It's that time of the week again, #WARHAMMERWEDNESDAY!  So, let's get stuck right into Ben's latest blog!

It's WFRP Time, again! Hey folks, I'm Ben, and I literally cannot stop talking about Warhammer. Honestly, it's a serious problem... but we'll manage, won't we? This week, my compulsion has me thinking about all the little optional rules scattered throughout Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and what they might mean for the fiction of your Warhammer game, in addition to the mechanics.

As I've said before, the fiction is as important as the mechanics of a game, and the two are closely related. We know WFRP is a game about gritty heroes because we have so many rules dedicated to permanent injury, disease, and the slow encroachment of Chaos. The mechanics reinforce the fiction, and vice versa. Therefore, it stands to reason that every change you make to the rules — whether it's house rules or the Options given to you in the rulebook — will, in turn, change the fiction of your campaign.

I'm all for customising play experiences (and the Golden Rule on page 149 enshrines this), but I'm even more for understanding those choices and making informed decisions. Design is, after all, 9-parts research, 1-part action! So let's dive in, and see what our meddlesome behaviour brings…

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It's #WarhammerWednesday time here at Cubicle 7 and that means another super WFRP post from C7 writer Ben Scerri! This week its all about Creatures! Let us know on Facebook and Twitter how you create Creatures for your games — and definitely regale us with stories of your own twisted creations! If you missed Ben's previous posts, settle in and catch up on post one, two, three and four now.

It’s that time again! Hey folks, I’m Ben Scerri, and I am Excited™ to jump back on my soapbox and wax lyrical about all things WFRP! This time around, I’m going to poke my head into the Bestiary, and I’ll explain the various methods I used to create Creatures for every WFRP occasion. Let’s begin!

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We hope you have enjoyed the last few in-depth WFRP blog posts from C7 writer, Ben Scerri. If you missed any, you can catch up on post one here, post two here and last weeks post right here. Today, Ben is discussing all thing Elven! As always, we love to get your feedback on Facebook and Twitter!

Continue reading for more!

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UK games publisher Cubicle 7 Entertainment has forged a partnership agreement with Make Believe Games, the company of legendary Vampire: The Masquerade creator Mark Rein-Hagen. They have announced their intention to release a tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the cosmic horror of writers like H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth.

In Unspeakable: Sigil & Sign expectations are flipped on their heads, and players take the role of cultists, members of an apparently evil organization, dedicated to the destruction of mundane reality. The game explores the multifaceted themes of what it means to be monsters, looking out on a world that is as disturbing and maddening to them as they are to it.

Dominic McDowall, CEO of Cubicle 7 Entertainment, had this to say:

“As a life-long fan of Mark Rein-Hagen’s work I am insanely excited about this partnership between our companies and what it enables us to bring to gamers. Cubicle 7 has some really strong experience with Mythos games, and Mark’s company brings some really brilliant creative talent, like C.A. Suleiman, to the table. We’re creating something truly fresh with Unspeakable: Sigil & Sign. New situations, new play experiences, and a whole new way to explore the Mythos.”

“For me, the entire concept of The Unspeakable setting is like a final exam of game design,” added creator-developer Suleiman. “Without abandoning what’s central to it, nor even leaving its classic pulp era, we get to pull back the veil on some of the deeper mysteries of the Cthulhu Mythos, in the process rendering a game environment as rich and compelling as that of any tabletop game setting.”

“I can’t remember a time before I loved the Mythos,” said Mark Rein-Hagen, founder of Make Believe Games and creator of Vampire: The Masquerade and the World of Darkness. “It was my introduction to horror. Real horror. Words cannot express how excited I am to finally be involved in a truly Lovecraftian RPG.”

Work is now underway on the core set for Sigil & Sign, which introduces the characters and setting as it establishes core rules and themes. It launches on Kickstarter in April. All products in the series will run on the Axiom System, first launched in MBG’s “Toxploitation” RPG, I Am Zombie.

About Cubicle 7
Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd is the creative team behind such popular games as The One Ring Roleplaying Game, Adventures in Middle-earth, Doctor Who Roleplaying Game, Cthulhu Tales, World War Cthulhu, Cthulhu Britannica, Doctor Who Time Clash, Dalek Dice, The Laundry RPG, and many more.

Contact Cubicle 7
General Queries: info@cubicle7.co.uk

About Make Believe Games
Make Believe Games is a U.S.-based company committed to making innovative games across multiple platforms. Founded by Vampire: The Masquerade and World of Darkness creator Mark Rein-Hagen, it is the publisher of President Cthulhu, the Democracy board game, and the I Am Zombie RPG, which introduced the tabletop gaming world to its card-based in-house game engine, the Axiom System.

Contact Make Believe Games
Nathan Tucker | Media Coordinator: NT@makebelievegames.com

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Our World War Cthulhu: Cold War Kickstarter has been a huge success and we wanted to say a huge thank you to all of our backers who supported us and helped spread the word. Thanks to you all we hit our funding target within the first 3 hours, then went on to hit nine stretch goals, the campaign closing out at £42,607 (that's over $66,500!), far exceeding our expectations! So thank you!

Because we hit so many of our stretch goals, we'll be able to make both the Core Setting Book and many of the supplements even better than we otherwise could have. Here's how it all ended up:

  • 256-page Core Setting Book - with extra material on the intelligence theatres of the Cold War as well as a section on operations in the UK.
  • Limited-edition, deluxe version, foil-stamped of the Core Setting Book.
  • 6-part campaign - Yesterday's Men.
  • 6-scenario supplement - Covert Actions.
  • Player's Guide - Section 46 Operations Manual.
  • A set of die-cut card handouts - Kickstarter exclusive!

Don't worry if you missed out on the Kickstarter - everything except the handouts will available in gaming stores worldwide next year. But, to make sure you don't miss out next time - make sure you sign up to our newsletter!