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Emperor's Decree demo review, from Portland OR (pics)


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#1 dvang

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 06:24 PM

Well, I ran two games of the WFRP 3e demo tonight. I know you all have been waiting with baited breath for my report and experiences

So, without further ado, here's some information and stuff from my games.

First Game:
All the players were familiar with both Warhammer and previus versions of WFRP.

This first image is the setup, before the game started (after some rules instruction). The table is a 6x3. Notice that each player's layout isn't taking up much space. The pieces of paper in the middle are stuff I printed out for player reference only (and which was rarely used/needed and eventually set aside). The piece at the end was the pre-order form... again, not part of the game pieces. So, worries about the amount of space needed are mostly unfounded IMO (and in the opinion of the players too).

I started with a run-down of the rules basics, then started into the demo. The dice pools took a little bit of getting used to, but with a little bit of prompting from me, the players got pretty good at figuring it out.

Image 2 here is combat. There is a stand-up at long range (farthest left, the elf with longbow), a player at medium range (slightly closer, the wizard apprentice) and a bunch of enemies and the daring trollslayer and roadwarden in combat with several enemies. (by the blue box, representing a wagon).

Image 3 shows the elf stand-up and the Trollslayer's stuff. He has taken 4 wounds (top of his stuff) and one is a critical (it's flipped over).

Image 4 shows a typical roll for the elf shooting his longbow (2 conservative stance). Only 6 dice in this instance, and a miss (the elf couldn't seem to hit with his longbow). We found the trollslayer got to roll a lot of dice, but everyone else was rolling maybe 6-7 on average.

Image 5 is another combat roll, this time from the trollslayer. 3 reckless, 2 characteristic, a skill, a challenge, 1 misfortune and 1 fortune.

Image 6 is everyone engaged in close combat around the wagon. At the bottom of the image, the roadwarden has taken 3 wounds, and in the upper left, you can almost see the increasing number of wounds the Trollslayer has been taking.

Image 7 is the displays the tremendous amount of damage that the Trollslayer had taken, and kept on going. His Wound threshold is 15, and here he has taken 15 wounds with a single critical, so was at 0 wounds. 1 more and he would go unconscious. Ouch. Some excellent use of action cards by the other plays to support and defend each other allowed the Trollslayer to avoid being knocked unconscious in the later  rounds. It was a close thing, though. Although this looks like it is taking up a lot of space, keep in mind that the Trollslayer player did it for visual effect (we weren't using that space anyway). He could easily have stacked or otherwise minimized the amount of space the Wound cards took up.

Image 8 is another shot of the table, from my GM's perspective.

Image 9 is another comabt roll by the Trollslayer (again, notice a lot of dice for him. a 5 in a characteristic, plus a skill, plus at least 1 fortune for his Grudge ability, and some misfortune for various reasons.) Still, it wasn't difficult to sort out the rolls.

Image 10 is a shot of the table after the first combat was over, and a break occurred. Notice the elf (bottom right) took a few wounds.

Image 11 is a shot after the end of the second wave of combat (some reinforcements had come, with a "boss" type enemy). The players were ultimately victorious, however...

Image 12 shows the fate of the Roadwarden. 12 wounds, and was knocked unconscious. Luckily, only a single ciritcal, so she wasn't killed.

Image 13 shows the fate of the elf, 10 wounds (2 are cut off), 1 shy of going unconscious. All in all, the players had 1 person go unconscious, the trollslayer at 0, the elf with 1 left, and the wizard luckily unwounded, as you can see in Image 14.

Ultimately, I was quite impressed with how easily the game played. Other than me checking one or two rules to answer questions, no one needed to look at the rulebooks (not even the wizard casting spells after he had a quick glace before the game started). The cards made it handy to have the information at your fingertips. The recharge system worked well, and players had no trouble placing tokens to recharge and removing recharge tokens. Fatigue and Stress was important several times, as PCs started to go over. Especially true of the Trollslayer, with only 2 WP, his stress was constantly on the edge of hitting 5 and making him pass out. It worked excellently, and gave the players quite a few options on what to do during a turn. Initiative worked well, there was no bickering over which player went when, and there was pretty much no meta-gaming in the discussion. They quickly made a decision on who should go, and they did.

The only issue that I had, was that I felt I needed more tokens to use as a GM, and it would have been nice to have a separate set of dice for the GM so I didn't have to use the ones the players were using. I didn't run out, and it wasn't really a problem, but it would have simplified things a bit so I didn't have to grab from the "player area" to do stuff for the NPCs.

My second game had 3 players unfamiliar with both Warhammer and WFRP. (I didn't take any pictures of the second game). One of the players joined after I had already briefed the rules, and had to 'catch up' a bit during the course of the game (so it was a little more difficult for him). The dice pool took a bit longer to get used to for them (interesting...) but by the second wave of combat I didn't need to do much prompting at all. They got the recharge mechanic pretty easily, as well as the combat maneuvers pretty easily too. We were also a bit under time pressure to finish before the local Camarilla LARP came in, so I fear I rushed the social encounter portion a bit (they also won intiative and rolled really well for all their actions, so it went faster than the 1st session's social did).

Both games took about 2 hours to actually play.

I asked my all my players for thoughts and comments about the game, both good and bad (if any). No one had anything bad to say. Everyone said they had fun. Here are some comments they wrote for me (posted with their permission, exactly what they wrote, and entirely unprompted from me).

[First game, WFRP players:]

"What a pleasure. I played Vaerun the High Elf Envoy from Ulthuan. She performed excellently. The new variables of the game (dice symbols) added many ways to interpret combat resolution. The visual aids kept combat swift. Social combat rocks. The aggresive/conservative stances made player-character activity super-dynamic. Recharging action cards guarantees the PCs will have to change-up their activity, so no one feels like a one-trick-horse. The learning-curve, compared to some other games (like HERO/Champions...which I love) is very short. I can't wait to pick-up WFRP 3rd ed. & convert my old characters from 2nd Ed."

"Combat was quick & exciting, with many options. The choice between taking fatigue & stress or acting is a hard trade-off. Working with other characters to enhance already proficient characters was a worth while & valid option. There was no writing [necessary] in the adventure for tracking purposes."

"Combat was very quick, even while we were learning the system. The tokens made tracking stress, fatigue, and wounds very simple and made it feel more realistic. The fears about the amount of space required were unfounded. The sample adventure was a good taste of what you can do under the new system. This game can't come out soon enough. COMBAT HAS NOT LOST ITS BRUTALITY!"

[2nd game non-WFRP players]
"Felt like it has a steep learning curve, but would be very fun once that is overcome. Social combat felt a bit half-baked (especially compared to physical combat, which had a lot of options)."

"More intuitive dice system. Good overall." [note: I'm not sure if he meant he feels it "needs" a more intuitive dice system, or it "has" a more intutive dice system. I don't recall him commenting on the dice system either way. It's probably the former, though]

"Overall a great game. The types of dice do help promote additional roleplaying and storytelling, as well as adding a cinematic feel to the game. The price point is still a little steep, but the components are high quality."

My personal opinion is that the game lived up to my expectations. It was pretty easy to GM, and took only a little bit of guidance to lead the others into the system. There is still a learning curve, and there were some questions I had to look up. Magic went well (in the first session, the second session didn't use the wizard) and the player had a positive experience. No one had an issue with the recharge mechanic. A few people did say, when I asked what they thought about it, that it felt similar to a MMO mechanic. No one said that was bad, everyone liked it. It felt familiar, I think, and natural. The abstract movement was pretty simple to use and execute. Being a fan of miniatures, I thought I might be concerned but it played very well. Actually, it was nice because it didn't take up much space on the table, yet still provided some movement tactics. Fatigue and Stress played a significant part, especially int he first game. Comabt was dangerous, and both games had PCs either knocked unconscious or near their threshold. Both sessions the players seemed pretty comfortable interpreting the dice rolls without GM assistance, for the most part, by the end of the combat if not earlier. It's an excellent game IMO, and I hope everyone tries it. Granted, I spent a lot of time (every night for a few hours, Mon-Fri) reading up rules and the demo. I think it payed off, though, because all the players seemed to have fun and enjoy the game (at least they told me so, anyway!) and it played pretty quickly.

Enjoy! I hope the pics help!

[P.S. Thanks again to all the players who played!]



#2 HedgeWizard

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 07:20 PM

thank you very much for the write up and the pictures.  I really appreciate you taking the time to do this! Cheers!

 



#3 David Spangler

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 02:08 AM

Yes, this is an excellent report. Thanks!



#4 Deadline247

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 03:13 AM

Great review...thanks for taking the time to write that up and add pictures. Looks like everyone had a great time.  



#5 joelat713

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 03:17 AM

Wow! Outstanding report! Kudos to you for posting this. It re-sparked my interest in the game.



#6 dvang

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 07:02 AM

Thanks. I know I didn't mention much about how the games themselves went (other than the first was particularly bloody), but they were pretty varied.  I will also point out (and you can see from the photos) that I did not use the official character sheets. I merely photocopied the sheets from the demo booklet onto card stock. So, they ended up slightly smaller, but with the information and background printed right in front of the players.  I added some additional stuff on the backs, like the in-game racial benefits, as well as what any item quality benefits (like Pierce 1, Attuned 1, etc) their PC had on their equipment.



#7 Erisquilty

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 07:12 AM

A great report. Informative. Your tone seemed fair and objective, which I appreciated. Thank you!



#8 NezziR

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 07:21 AM

 Excellent write up and great photos. I was glad to see your review. I was expecting something spectacular from you :)

Outstanding.



#9 dvang

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 07:35 AM

One thing I think I should explain a bit more, since it was quite exciting for us.  I mentioned it briefly, but I will expand a bit.  In the first game when the Trollslayer (in the thick of combat) was fighting a pair of enemies and went to 0 wounds (thanks to his timely use of his once-every-4-rounds +2 soak ability).  Fearing for this life, both the Elf and the Roadwarden engaged the enemies and performed the Guarded Position action to defend the Trollslayer.  They rolled well, and ended up giving 3 misfortune combined dice to all the beastmen opponents for the next round.  This caused all their attacks (directed at the Trollslayer, of course, to take him out) to miss.  The Trollslayer and Wizard then proceeded to wipe the two remaining beastmen out the following round. Very exciting, and some great group effort.  All the players (as was I) were pleased and excited by how they were able to help each other like that.



#10 Nojo509

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 09:44 AM

That's a great report on the demo games. It was odd that the WFRP 2.0 players seemed to pick up the new mechanics faster, but maybe it was because they weren't absorbing a new setting.



#11 NezziR

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 10:08 AM

Nojo509 said:

That's a great report on the demo games. It was odd that the WFRP 2.0 players seemed to pick up the new mechanics faster, but maybe it was because they weren't absorbing a new setting.

It actually worked out the opposite for me. The one player that had never played Warhammer played the Slayer. By the end of the game he has sworn an oath (to wear the Wargor's nose ring as a bracelet) and voluntarily drew an insanity card after the Roadwarden was killed and he realized he wouldn't be able to discharge his debt to her. He also immediately grasped the game concepts and was recommending actions to other players before the second act was complete. Great player - good times. He also totally wiped out my Ungors :(

 



#12 dvang

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 01:13 PM

I had the impression ... and I apologize if any of those 2nd game players find their way here, that they all were not too experienced with RPGs in general. I do know that they were talking about recently trying to find a Vampire group at the end of the game, and the guy that sat in late was actually there for the Vampire LARP later in the evening. So, it's possible that fantasy RPG experience overall (or lack thereof) may have been a factor.  I do think it probably helped, yes, that the first group was familiar with the setting and the types of characters.  They played the game a bit more tactically, devising strategies a bit more.  The second group took a bit more straightforward approach to everything.  A lot of 3e will be familiar, it's just the mechanics of how things work that's different, but to me the feeling seems pretty similar.  Especially when the GM throws out tidbits of lore, "The group heads out from Ubersreik down the path from Marienburg through a portion of the Reikswold forest ..." and so on.  Trollslayer versus Beastmen, et all.



#13 Yipe

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 03:30 PM

dvang said:

I do think it probably helped, yes, that the first group was familiar with the setting and the types of characters.  They played the game a bit more tactically, devising strategies a bit more.  Especially when the GM throws out tidbits of lore, "The group heads out from Ubersreik down the path from Marienburg through a portion of the Reikswold forest ..." and so on.  Trollslayer versus Beastmen, et all.

Allow me to make a small comment here about the topic of prior WFRP experience...

I participated in dvang's first demo - taking over the Roadwarden after a player had to leave early.  While the other 3 players obviously had a breadth of knowledge regarding the Warhammer world, I didn't.  In fact, I've never played either of the previous editions of WFRP, though I did play some WFB and WHQ a long, long time ago.  So, for example, when dvang described the group heading out from Ubersreik and into the Reikswold forest, I had no specific knowledge of what he was talking about.

In addition, as I hadn't planned on doing any roleplaying in public (I'm shy), I arrived late to the demo and missed most of the "rules intro".  Therefore, when a spot opened up at the table I only had the vaguest sense of how to play.

However, I don't believe any of it really mattered.  Dvang did a good job of setting the scene, and it didn't take much effort on my part to picture a dirt road and a spooky forest.  Besides, anyone who's seen the LotR movies can adequately imagine an elf with a bow, a dwarf with some big axes, a fantasy landscape and some creepy monsters.  These images are pretty mainstream.

As for my ability to learn the rules on the fly, dvang will be the final judge, but I don't feel that my lack of WFRP 2.0 setting/game mechanics experience hindered me in any way.  After 1 turn I was able to generate my own dice pools and make some smart tactical choices based upon the action cards/talents available to my character.  In fact, I was the first in the group to suggest climbing onto the coach to get a better firing position (not knowing that high ground awards more dice) and to employ the "Guarded Position" card (in an attempt to save the Trollslayer).  I suggested that the elf player might do the same and our combined tactic worked - the Trollslayer (or Brigitta's Wookie as I like to think of him) was spared.  Sadly, Brigitta didn't fare as well herself...

Of course, I could be over-stating my roll a bit (especially as Brigitta ended up taking a nap face-down in the mud) but hey, it was a tense battle so my memory of events might be a little off.

Anyway, hats off to dvang for a great demo.  Thanks for letting me play!

 

 



#14 Yipe

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 04:00 PM

My apologies for the double post, but I had a quick follow-up that I felt was pertinent:

My fantasy roleplaying experience is limited.  The last time I played a fantasy RPG was AD&D in high school, and that's when Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice were popular (and you thought the Old World was a grim place with evil cultists everywhere).  As for roleplaying in general, I haven't played any RPGs in nearly a decade.  So... it just goes to show that the basic WFRP 3e combat mechanics (and setting) aren't too difficult to learn if someone like me can pick them up in a matter of minutes.  I'm not saying I know the system in and out - I don't by a mile - but after a cursory glance at my character sheet and action cards, I was ready to blast something in the face with my black-powder pistol.



#15 dvang

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 05:43 AM

Thanks Yipe, I did forget you had mentioned that when you sat in.  Honestly, I thought you did a great job with the game, and it certainly didn't seem like you were out of RPG practice!

By they way, I might decide to run it again (or another sort of WFRP 3e demo, including character creation, perhaps) in the next week or so.  Let me know if you or anyone you know might be interested.



#16 Yipe

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 09:04 AM

dvang said:

 

Thanks Yipe, I did forget you had mentioned that when you sat in.  Honestly, I thought you did a great job with the game, and it certainly didn't seem like you were out of RPG practice!

By they way, I might decide to run it again (or another sort of WFRP 3e demo, including character creation, perhaps) in the next week or so.  Let me know if you or anyone you know might be interested.

 

 

Thanks for the compliment - my RPG skills felt pretty rusty at the table.  I'm not sure anyone noticed, but Brigitta was mute during the entire battle sequence while the other players were saying prayers to what I can only assume are WFRP deities.  I didn't know any so I decided to let my sword and pistol do the talking.  Unfortunately, the Big Bad's horns and hooves did some talking of their own.  Ouch.

As for trying the demo again, that would be fun.  I'll be honest and say that roleplaying at a store (or any public place) with people I don't know is pretty far outside my geek comfort zone.  I can't say how in-character I will be, but this game is good enough that I'm willing to set my fears aside and give it another try.  And I do know someone else who might be interested.  Do you know what day/time/place you might run your next demo?  Weekday and weekend evenings work best for me, but I'm flexible.

Again, thanks for letting me sit in and play.



#17 dvang

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 11:06 AM

I certainly prefer playing RPGs someplace other than a game store (no offense to game stores intended). That said, my place is way too small to run a game (my group runs at another fellow's house, even when I GM). I need to talk to the GG management and see what their schedule is this weekend. I'll need to clear it with my wife (or get her to play), but I can probably do something Friday night or Saturday/Sun during the day/night. If we play at GG (which is likely) then we'll have to see what their schedule is like too. I am willing to run it somewhere else, but we'll need 2 more players (so the store is a good place to pick those up), and I don't have another location in mind we can use (suggestions are welcome). Anyone else in the Portland, OR / Vancouver, WA area are welcome to join in.  If we've got time, we might be able to look over other stuff like character creation. (Heck, maybe we'll make our own PCs and run them through the demo!)

Anyway, we don't need all this stuff in the demo post. I sent a friend request and we can continue using PMs/Email.



#18 Loswaith

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 03:03 PM

Thanks for the Photos.

On a side not the character sheet is far smaller than it seemed to be from information given prior.






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