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Advice on advanced adventuring in the Old World


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#1 Lionus

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 06:34 PM

Hello, all!

A friend and I are planning a 1 on 1 campaign set in the Old World. I will be GMing the game, and he will be playing a Witch Hunter. The idea is that he will play a Witch Hunter with a full compliment of advances, along with magical lore of Sigmar, and he will be the kind of wandering hero type. He is an advanced character, with significant contacts as a result of a long career in the church and as a witch hunter. I am not planning on letting him take advances frequently, if ever once he begins, as his character will be pretty maxed out in the start. He will have a collection of colleagues in major cities and major institutions, a list of friends and enemies and how they became that, and a network of informants and lesser investigators. But mostly, he will be wandering the length and breadth of the empire with only his horse and one NPC companion, kind of a squire type to stay in the rear with the gear while our trusty hero stomps chaos out of the Old World.

My question is this: What advice does anyone here have for running a high level game in the WFRP setting? The idea is there will be a good level of combat, and he will be a very capable combat character, but also he will have religious and political allies, enemies, responsibilities, and so on and so fourth. How can I maximize these other elements of the game? My player is writing a detailed character history complete with stories of major successes, failures and accomplishments in life; family, church and work history and connections, etc. I am also preparing a detailed docier on people he knows, who knows him. likes him and so fourth. The main think I need help with is how to make such a large world come to life for such a powerful character? What kinds of hooks and plot devices have others found to work well in these types of situations? What kinds of pitfalls should I look for and try to avoid? Any and all advice is appreciated. Thanks!



#2 valvorik

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 08:11 AM

No real advice though have you read the Witch Hunter novels - or perhaps that is the source of idea?  To be interesting, as in a novel, it's not really fun if the PC has too many connections and allies, some yes, but also conflicts with superiors and rivals, both Chaos cultist nemesis and something like the Zealot who is your internal rival etc.



#3 k7e9

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 07:00 AM

I would probably allow the player to have a henchman (a lesser witch hunter or a zealot or some such). That way the character has someone to talk to and has an ally when needed (in a fight or when trying to climb a wall or other tasks that "require" two people). A free retainer card (examples can be found in the lure of power expansion) could be used to represent the ally and it's basic abilities. It could be good as it sounds like an epic campaign with great peril, in those cases you need someone to watch your back.

An ally is also good tool for you as a gm, it could give you insights into how you player thinks (trough conversation between the player and the henchman) in the adventure and could be used to drop hints if the player is really stuck or missed something that the retainer might have picked up on (but it should not be a solve all mysteries for the player).
You could also kidnap, torture, cripple (or even kill) the poor ally. It's is a great way to add some emotion to the game and one way to make the nemesis even more hated and loathsome.
Or the player could be betrayed (at the worst moment) by the henchman. That would add a twist (as long as the player does not see it coming).

#4 Ralzar

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 10:20 AM

I would say a good witch hunter story would contain paranoia, investigations and the "enemy within". After all, the witch hunters main job is not fighting chaos monsters on the battlefield, but rooting out corruption within society.

 

So, I would say to do this: Pick one or more of his allies and make them the hidden nemesis for the campaign. Make the witch hunter doubt who is actually his allies and who has just helped him to avoid suspicion. Make him have to consider turning on his own friends and allies to find the answers he seeks.How many friendships is he willing to sever, how many political bridges is he willing to burn to get to the truth? And what if he is wrong?



#5 Emirikol

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 02:05 PM

Lure of Power....

 

Hero's Call....

 

Both great for advice in this regards :)



#6 Lionus

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 11:33 PM

Hey guys, thank you so much for your input so far.

 

Yes, the Mathias Thulman (spelling?) books were part of the inspiration, He's reading them now, and he's very very excited.

 

As far as allies, I plan on using them more as hooks and/or supplemental help than anything direct. While I don't have any official mechanics, I plan on using something modified from the Ascension book for Dark Heresy. He will have a network of people in different places that can give him leads to things that need investigation (hooks), that can give him a critical clue if he gets stuck, or makes a connection the player might not see (supplemental help), or misinformation (adds paranoia, distrust, work conflicts etc). They will all have their own levels of availability, reliability, loyalty and some motives I plan on keeping hidden from the player to the greatest extent possible. There are conflicts between him and other high ranking church and political officials as part of his backstory and some of them will come in very directly.

 

He will definitely have a henchman. we discussed many options, but he is insistent that the robin to his batman will be someone coming from the church. His trusty sidekick will be kind of like a squire to a knight. I'm not a huge fan of that idea, but he really wants it, so I'm going to let that go. I might kill him off at some point, though, that sounds fun.

 

I think the core of this game will be investigations. I Don't have a solid idea of what the nemesis is yet. I am considering a cult, it can be extensive and pervasive, but lacks a single foe to focus my players hatred on. I'm also considering a daemon that possesses people. Still no face, but an identity, and a very difficult one to permanently eliminate.

 

I've been watching a lot of spaghetti westerns lately, and I feel like the atmosphere of those old movies is very similar to WFRP, just in different environments. Id really like to play up the all against all, corrupt powerful people, stranger comes to town elements from them. I love the extended stare downs and political and social maneuvering and wild swings in the balance of power. I feel like this can be a parallel type of experience for my player, provided I do it right. If anyone has any ideas on how to make some of those kinds of scenes really come to life, I'm definitely open to that.



#7 d6 Evil Men

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 05:33 AM

This sounds like a very cool campaign. I have run one long campaign that consisted mostly of one player. It is a great opportunity to really focus on PC's arc and his story line. Couple of thoughts.

  • I would definitely team him up with a close NPC. I would also give that NPC a secret, it doesn't have to be anything major - just personal, and make sure the PC knows there is more to the NPC than meets the eye. The NPC's story can then play out in the long run and is a source for a few side-quests. I would also consider having the player play as the NPC in short encounters on rare occasion. This way he can see how dangerous the world seems to someone who is way below his status.
  • I would consider having different interesting NPCs join the Witch-hunter for parts of the story. For example, have a grey wizard join him for a session or two and challenge the Witch-hunter's views on magic-users.
  • Definitely include internal conflicts within his order and the church. Give him a nemesis within the order whose views differ from his (radical vs. puritan etc.) and then have them meet somewhere and try to solve some situation at the same time. I remember using a Wizard's Guild in my campaign, where each member had a vote and the player had to garner enough members two vote with him to have his way. You could do the same with a Witch-hunter chapter house.
  • I would maybe approach this character the same way I would approach Batman. He is a badass and he needs to feel like one at times, so you should give him opportunities to flex his muscles and his authority against henchmen etc. Have him command a group of guardsmen on a raid, but use their combats only as background to the Witch-hunter's one-on-one battle against the Bad Guy.
  • Then again, I would also pit him against some opponents that are out of his reach. A really powerful Noble with his influence and resources is someone he can't just challenge head on.
  • It is great he has a rich background. I would use flashbacks to bring it alive and really bring some NPCs and the world alive. Does the hunter have a significant other? That is something that you can use to really make him feel vulnerable at times (if the player is into playing that sort of things).
  • It sounds to me that this campaign would benefit from focusing in one city or one area, so that you can really focus on all the different relationships and social maneuvering. Or, at least having some kind of a central hub.
  • Such a powerful character needs a worthy adversary. I would give some serious thought on how to give him a enemy he would love to hate. Also, take a look at this article from Pelgrane. It has some good thoughts: https://www.pelgranepress.com/?p=3468

Edited by d6 Evil Men, 25 March 2014 - 05:34 AM.


#8 valvorik

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 07:10 AM

For more character development etc., if you are familiar with it at all, you might try using the Belief, Instincts, Traits system of Burning wheel.  You can give fortune dice and similarly play with dice pools to reflect all those.



#9 Steve (of the Red Fez)

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 01:45 PM

The only major advice I would give is to make his decisions as difficult as possible. Fantasy gaming typically makes a clear distinction between the "good guys" and the "villains". Don't do this. Make everyone a person. Make their circumstances real and tragic.

 

No one chooses to fall to chaos "just 'cuz". Not every villain is a minion of the ruinous powers. He needs to face those situations in which he must decide whether or not to execute innocent people for the greater good, or whether he can take the risk of a letting a possibly good man or woman live. This is where the heart and soul of your game should live.

 

Don't get me wrong, fights are cool. Killing daemons is great. But neither of these things will have as big of an impact as deciding whether or not to burn a man because he unwittingly let a possible mutant stay in his home to escape the rain one night. Add to that scene the man's small child begging for his father's life and the wife screaming with tears.

 

When your player finds that "mutant", only to discover he was just a filthy beggar with no trace of mutation at all... well, those decisions will really start to take their toll and THAT'S what a witch hunter campaign is all about.



#10 Ralzar

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 02:49 PM

Speaking of mutants and hard choices. Give him a sidekick. The sidekick then gets exposed to so much chaos through their adventures that he becomes a mutant. Heck, he might even become a recurring villain. The one mutant who knows how the witch hunter thinks...






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