I want to thank dvang for running a fabulous WFRP demo of "Journey to Black Fire Pass" on Saturday at Guardian Games in Portland, Oregon.
This is the second demo I've taken part in with dvang as the GM, and it's clear that this man is not only an ambassador for WFRP 3E, but for RPGs in general. He's prepared, patient and creative - all the hallmarks of someone who's good at introducing a game to complete strangers. And this is doubly important for RPGs, which can make some people feel a bit nervous when "getting into character" in a public place (people like me, for example).
Here are a few highlights from the demo that I feel demonstrate the above qualities:
I arrived early only to find dvang had already set up the table, complete with: custom-scanned character sheets (these were amazing), a photocopy explaining the various dice, a rule sheet on movement ranges, a 2-paged typed outline of the rule mechanics (which he used to explain the game to us before we started playing), a map of the empire and a miniature representing our character. And this doesn't even take into account any material he created for himself to run the adventure. Whew!
Throughout the adventure, there wasn't a single instance where dvang didn't know the rules or was able to look something up quickly to answer a question (I believe he only had to open the rulebook once). This was pretty impressive as I kept trying to use the Agent's various social cards in, shall we say, "inventive" ways.
Dvang put up with my constant questions and sub-par roleplaying, as well as a somewhat psychotic Trollslayer who felt like disemboweling just about any NPC that spoke to him, or was in the same room, or was breathing somewhere across town. If I was GMing and had to deal with a player like, well, myself, I'd be sweating bullets, especially when we spent over half our allotted time trying to determine if Rudi had killed the elf conman, or barring that, where the elf was hiding (his room was empty and the window was "mysteriously" open). It's been years since I roleplayed on a regular basis, and I forgot how easy it is for a group of players to latch onto the smallest details, regardless of their importance to the overall storyline. Dvang took it all in stride.
For example, when the Trollslayer declared he was burying his axe into Rudi's chest (before we had a chance to negotiate with him about the map, and did I mention this was taking place in our room at the inn?), dvang simply said "roll initiative!" as if he was fine with us cutting down an NPC within earshot of the entire town. Fortunately, we were able to spare Rudi's life for the time being and avoid being executed by the local militia.
He did a good job of bringing the Old World to life through his descriptions of the people and places, which was nice as my knowledge is only so-so and another player didn't know anything about Warhammer. He was also aware of how the game was progressing, giving us small hints here and there to help us out (such as asking if we wanted to set a watch for the night), and having several of the goblins and orcs flee after the Orc Warboss nearly killed the three of us single-handedly.
Here are some other random things that happened in our demo:
We had 3 players for our demo, ending up with the Agent (played by me), the Hunter and the Trollslayer. The other two players settled on their characters quickly (with the Trollslayer's player sitting right down at that character's seat without a moment's hesitation). Because we were one person short, this left me with the Agent who was, in many ways, the group's spokesperson. Not having RPed in over 5 years (other than the "A Day Late..." demo), I was pretty nervous to take on the Agent's leadership role. Fortunately, everyone at the table settled into their characters nicely and we had quite a bit of in-character dialogue and drama. I think this was my favorite part of the demo, even though it probably used up a lot of extra time and forced us to call things off before we reached the story's conclusion.
The dice were against us. Our poor Hunter could not pass a Hunter-related skill check to save his life. However, when it came to firing his crossbow, his dice were hot!
We tried to sneak up on the goblin sentry, and both the Agent and Hunter passed (beating all the odds). As the Agent, I tried to counsel the Trollslayer (who had no hope of sneaking up the canyon successfully) to hang back while we scouted out the greenskin camp, then come charging in from afar to catch the enemies' attention while the Hunter and I popped up and blasted the badguys in a surprise attack. The Trollslayer thought about this plan for a second and then charged ahead anyway, alerting the goblin and getting us caught in an ambush later on down the road. It was pretty funny.
In the beginning of the goblin and orc ambush, dvang rolled some ungodly numbers with the goblins' ranged attacks, bringing all of us down to nearly half wounds. I think he quickly realized things were not looking good for us...
Then the Orc Warboss and the Trollslayer squared off in one-on-one battle. The Trollslayer started out strong and hurt the Warboss with a nice Troll Feller strike, but then whiffed his next attack and was knocked unconscious with 2 criticals in return. Ouch. The Hunter player and I looked at each other and figured we were dead anyway, so we decided to go out in a blaze of glory and charged the head Orc. The Hunter managed a nice shot with his crossbow, and I did a massive 1 point of damage to the Warboss with my pistol, but our combined attack was just enough to knock him out. At this point, I think dvang took pity on us and had the gobbos and an orc flee, leaving a single orc for the Hunter to finish off. Against the odds, all three characters survived.
We made it to the dwarf stronghold, but had to end the demo early because we ran out of time. We left off at the part where the High King's dignitary didn't want to give us back the relic shield, and I had to convince him to hand it over without spilling any secrets. Remember when I mentioned my sub-par roleplaying skills? Yeah, this part was tough and my brain just ceased to function. Maybe next time!
All-in-all everybody had a blast. I will say that playing in dvang's demos can be a little bittersweet. I'm not part of a roleplay group, so now I have to wait until FFG puts out another demo before I can play in one of dvang's games again. Drat.
Again, thanks to dvang for all the hard work and time he put into making this a fun experience, it showed.