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GM Questions (and some answers)

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I got an email from a person with some questions.  Here's what I put.  Feel free to help him out:


 I have just made an introduction story for one of my players. As we played we had a question about combat.

 * you need to engage a target to attack it. So if your target is in close range you can use your free manouevre to get next to him and then u must use a fatigue to engage?

No.  Simply moving to the "engaged" range is all that is required.  The only time you need to expend a fatigue is to run away without them getting a free attack on you.


 * when you are engaged (and already drew your weapon) you can attack But then. Can you use all action cards for defence? dodge, parry, etc….? Or does those actions cost fatigue?

Each defense card is only used for one attack.  Example:  you can block one attack.  You can dodge one differen't attack.  


 * some action cards have social checks. If we are correct we count the characteristic dice and the fort. and exp dice. then we look at the opposed rules for difficulty dices? and thats wht we check?

Yes.  It is an opposed check.  You use that difficulty.

 * i found action cards that make target get one fatugue. But how can a target lose fatigue? It becomes a wound since targets dont have fatigue. Isnt that a very cheap way to get a wound on a target?

If the target is a monster, he takes a point of damage instead.

 * how can u recover stress? I saw some talents with when making a wp check to resolve stress, but what check is this? I only see the nightress to recover stress egual to wp. But no checks whatsoever.

Stress may be recovered using the following methods:
- Universal effect (2 boons)
- Rally step
- End of an encounter
- End of an act

- Assess the situation

 * after a combat u resolve stress and fatigue (equal to wp and to?). Isnt that a bit cheap?

Yes.  Some groups have a house rule for "Lingering Fatigue" and "Lingering Stress".  Fatigue and stress will oftentimes come and go very quickly.  They are meant to be that way, unlike wounds.

 Also we had some questions about storymode:
 * the setting was inside an Inn. I described the Inn and persons. But then… He could make and Observation check to observe some weird things or people. How do you
 manage this? You just say make an observation check (entire room or just some persons?)?

In a simple case, have only ONE check.  Sometimes have multiple checks.  Sometimes you need to give your players something suspicious to notice.
Example (simple):  It is a plain inn and there are three people in there, including the barkeep.  
Example (multiple):  The characters are at the inn for several hours with many patrons coming and going.    Or, there are many patrons in the inn.
Example (prompt the players):  Mister Ratcatcher, you notice that there are several patrons here wearing some kind of red cloth tied to their belt.  Make an observation check to determine which Dock-worker gang symbol is imprinted on it.

* how do you manage to superstitious players? 

Great question.  Some players walk around and want to make observation and stealth checks all day long.  Essentially, you just need to de-sensitize them to what's going on and be fair that you aren't "sneaking up on them" with bad guys all the time.   You don't have to roll for everything either.  If the answers are obvious or are becoming routine, just tell them.  If not, then make a roll.

I've found it works well to tell players as much detail as I can get away with so they have multiple things going on in their heads all the time.  If you've watched any of the new Sherlock Holmes movies, imagine all the things that he notices in a room and how he has to rule-out all the extra stuff out of his thinking.  In a sense, get used to describing in excess so the players don't have to come up with ideas on their own.

* or players who wants to do things that hold nothing with the story? 

We get a fair amount of this.  It's best to make life outside the story boring and drop the character out of the action.  Here are some good examples:

If the party is at a mansion in the woods and one of your three players decides he wants to go for a walk in the woods, LET HIM GO and tell him "ok, we'll get to you in a minute."  Basically, you dropped him out of the fun portion of the game and he volunteered to be bored.
In the meantime, I like to ask my players in a format like a choose your own adventure book:

Would you like to look around the outside of the mansion in the woods?

Would you like to look around the barn out back?

Would you like to go up and knock at the front door?

Would you like to check out the strange looking tree out front?

OR, would you like to try something else?   The player who drops out of the story all the time will oftentimes choose this answer, but you have already directed him towards the story with the other three questions and now he's going to have to come up with an idea FOR YOU.

The drop-out player will say, "I'd like to walk back to town."

Ok, great, we'll get to you in a moment

The rest of you, what would you like to check out?   mansion, barn, tree, door or try something else?  Then you resolve this with the other players first.

I've found this really helps keep people on track.  It also trains their BRAINS to look at what you're putting in front of them.  It becomes harder to drop out of the story.


Next, back to the drop-out player:

Ok, Drop-Out player, you're walking alone down the road, at night, in the forest.  You start to hear sounds in the woods. Would you like to keep going or head back and catch up with your group?  Ok, you want to keep going?  Ok, farther down the road, the noises in the forest seem to be closing in on you.  Make a discipline check at 1 purple.  Oh, a success eh?  Well, you notice several dark figures moving around in the woods on both sides of the road, maybe 30 yards inward.  You're not sure if they noticed you yet.  It could be beastmen, bandits, or who knows what.  Would you like to keep going or return to the group?

Oh, you want to keep going?  -- Esuing slaughter of the character by beastmen in the woods who prey on player characters that wander off alone occurs.  Now, it doesn't have to be that way.  It can simply be, where you go back to the main group while he makes his observation roll and tell him "we'll get back to you."  I can assure you though that this has happened in my group.  A player gets greedy and decides to go loot some room during a combat.  I ALWAYS have multiple opponents close in on that character.  It has the benefit of teaching players that splitting up the group is not a good idea.

or….he keeps going and you have him make a couple more random checks (make it boring and nothing happens..DON'T CREATE STUFF FOR HIM).  

Tell them "well, there's not much going on here." and give him as much time as he represents the group.


Really, you just need to make YOUR options better than his and give them more options to choose from.  Many GMs make the mistake of thinking that the players will figure it out if you let them sit there and be bored long enough.  In my opinion, that sucks.  It's no fun to be a player at a table where a GM has a plot that he's selfishly holding and not describing enough for me to interact with.


Sometimes you just need to review.    OK, guys, remember that you found the farmer with the bent moustache dead in his barn by the mansion and there was a hook besides him that only the groom would use, but the groom went missing in Altdorf last month and there were rumors that he'd been fraternizing with two secret societies.  One was the brotherhood of the chains and the other was the Book Ninja clan.  You know that the book ninjas are in the Sludge district and the Brotherhood is down by the docks.  

- then go right back into your options:

Would you like to re-examine the clues from before?

Would you like to go to the sludge district?

Would you like to go to the docks and ask around or observe people?

Would you like to try something else?


​You don't always have to do it this way as it may sound routine, but I've found it works when the group seems like they're struggling or if I want the scene to go a certain way.





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Just my two cents.

I believe that per RAW, you can use any number of Active Defenses against a single attack, contradicting Emirikol.

Fatigue and Stress can stay with you longer in story mode. As in this mode, you normally recuperate only between Acts (Encounters) in a rally step.

All these words can be a bit complex to remember. So I would recommend you stick to the essence of the game: structuring your adventures in parts that all have a beginning, middle and end, with a rally step between each piece.

So in story mode, a day where nothing really happens might be just that, 3 free style acts where PCs do what they want (investigate, shop, spy, travel, etc) with 2 rally steps in between.

The way I simplify story mode is that I use turns, roughly, even in story mode. Even though there is no initiative or strict time frame, I just make I go around the table, asking everyone more or less in turn what they do. After one such turn, I give players an End of turn phase where they will remove recharge tokens. In a normal (interlude type) day, rally steps will typically occur at noon and at supper time, unless some real action comes upon the PCs.

By using "turns" in story mode, it becomes very similar to encounter mode as a gaming experience. After every turn around the table, players remove recharge tokens. Gives a nice pace and feels totally natural, even though spells and effects suddenly last a lot longer in the story! I thought that would bug me, but it doesn't.

What's important here isn't to simulate the passage of time, but to balance effects and powers over narrative time. To use a movie example: it's not important how long the spell actually lasts in the game world time, it's the time it lasts ON SCREEN that is important. That ON SCREEN time is time at the gaming table in the real world. If a spell during a combat lasts three turns, then out of combat it should still last three turns, because three turns in story mode takes approximately the same amount of gaming time as in encounter mode, often less.

This change between Story mode and Encounter mode is uniquely taken to a new level with these WFRP mechanics. Takes a moment to get used to, but once you get it, it really helps the story flow.

(Typically, in D&D for example, if a wizard would cast a spell that lasts 5 minutes, he would then want to play out each minute in detail, to maximize his use of the spell. That would automatically bring the game in encounter mode, even though the dramatic moment doesn't necessarily require it. It just bogs down the game, gives the wizard tons of game time while the others wait… It breaks the flow of the story! With the WFRP Story mode, this won't happen.)


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