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12/15/2017

Role-playing Rants: My honest thoughts on the 4th edition of WFRP

A few weeks ago Cubicle 7 have released the covers for the 4th edition of WFRP, along with some news, regarding the first campaign, that they'll be releasing. Let's take a closer look at what we've been told.

Right at the start I want to make one thing abundantly clear - I'm very happy for the release of next edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I think that the 3rd one was a mediocre effort and a new edition will have a chance to wash that stain away. If it will be done right, of course.

So first of all we have the covers. One for the starter set, one for the rulebook itself. They compliment each other nicely and I definitely like the shout-out to the first edition of the game. From the covers alone a lot can be told and I think that Cubicle 7 gives us subtle hints about the tone of the game. On one hand we have a bunch of classic Warhammer heroes, doing ordinary Warhammer stuff, which is always nice and gives this setting a feel of normality, of everyday social struggles. Then again we have an action packed cover, where the heroes are fighting off a bunch of vile ratmen! This certainly shows that the 4th edition won't stray from everyone's favorite combat-heavy aspect of the game.

When nostalgia kicks in hard!
The color palette is interesting as well. Cubicle 7 clearly intends this game to be more "child friendly" than "grim-dark" and it shows. Yeah, we have the usual Old World squalor and gloom, presented on both covers, but on the other hand the whole thing is pretty colorful and heroic. I get a strong comic book vibes, just from looking at these covers. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. As long as they won't take it too far, I'm all cool with that style.

4th edition's mechanics will be a mix of rules from the 1st and 2nd editions, with a bit of the 3rd, thrown for good measure, apparently. It clearly shows one thing - Cubicle 7 aims this game not to new players, but to the "Old Guard". They know how nostalgic their target fanbase really is and, in a very well thought-out move, decide not to make a complete makeover, like FFG did with the 3rd edition. I honestly think that this is a... very risky move. Sure, on one hand they will get massive interest from the older players, the veterans of Warhammer Fantasy. On the other, however, not focusing on gaining the attention of new players is a dangerous thing to do. After all, focusing your product on a sake of nostalgia alone, does not equal success, or at least doesn't have to. I hope that the guys and gals at Cubicle 7 know what they're doing.

Another thing that I'm not 100% ok with, is the choice of the first campaign for the 4th edition. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to "The Enemy Within"! For the third, fucking time. My god, how much can you milk a single module? Why Cubicle 7, for the love of Sigmar, why? You had a clean start, a clean slate and you had to choose the most obvious and boring way imaginable. Don't get me wrong, I love "The Enemy Within", I really do. I GM'ed it this year and it was a blast. But this campaign is more than 30 years old, it's been known to every player out there, including those, playing other systems. FFG did their own version of it, it's been fan-remade (well, at least some parts of it were), there is nothing new or original about "TEW". Ok, so Cubicle 7 got Graeme Davis on board and that's a great thing, as he's the perfect man for this job, but that's still not enough for me, to justify resurrecting a fossil of that magnitude. I'm sorry, but a "director's cut" of "TEW" is a wasted opportunity, in my opinion. You could've given Mr. Davis a task to write something new and original, and MAYBE give us a refreshed version of some old campaigns later in the run. But no, you had to try and score a couple more "nostalgia" points from the old school players. I'm disappointed. Not pissed, or anything, just... disappointed.

Hopefully their next modules will give us something new and fresh. I understand that Cubicle 7 wants to reach mainly to us, old timers, but even so, they will need to present some fresh and unique content. Something never seen before. They've promised elven and Lustria supplements and that makes me very happy, but then again, I still remember the page from the 2nd editions rulebook, on which it was written that the elves will get their own book, one day. This never happened, as I'm sure many people know. Sure, there are a few great fan-made supplements about the High and Wood Elves, like the "Defenders of the Forest" and "The Book of the Asur", but nothing official. I hope that Cubicle 7 will change that. I also hope that we'll see sourcebooks for lands beyond the Old World. Lustria is a start, but I want to see more details about Albion, Cathay, Ind and Nippon. I want a whole, huge book about the fascinating Southlands and the myriad wonders and dangers, that can be found on this mysterious continent.

Hey, Cubicle 7, please make it happen!
I want something else than the usual Old World stew with Beastmen hiding in the woods, grim Witch Hunters and tired, moustached innkeepers. I want to see a lot of originality, even if "real" WFRP players and gamemasters will grimace with distaste, at the sight of a Cathay supplement. The thing that drove me away from Warhammer Fantasy, a few years back, was the lack of originality and the endless, boring cycle of "same old same old" attitude from the fanbase. Cubicle 7 has a chance to change that, nay they need to change that. Even if the 4th edition will be marketed mainly to the "old guard", it needs to show something new, something that has never been seen before. If it won't then... Well, then it will suffer the fate of the previous edition, as a interesting, but ultimately pointless game. At least that's my opinion on this subject.

I have a lot of hopes when it comes to the 4th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, but also a lot of doubts. I seriously hope that the developers won't fuck this up and they will treat us, their consumers, with dignity and respect and not like a bunch of tools, who will buy anything with a Warhammer logo printed on the cover. You know, like FFG did. I will have to wait a couple months more to see if I'm right, or that my initial enthusiasm was a mistake. Only time will tell.

Oh, one more thing. I've updated both my WFRP and 40K RPG collections. You can download a bunch of new, free and 100% legal stuff from here and here. As usual, all the credit goes to the fantastic community members, who spent their time, working on these supplements. Thank you.

You're awesome!
Until next time!

Xathrodox86

12/04/2017

Grimvember 2017 is here! The sinister "Order of the Feathered Lord" comes for you!

Let's end this year's Grimvember with a bang. So far I've only reviewed scenarios and campaigns, but now I'll take a closer look at a sourcebook of sorts - the "Order of the Feathered Lord" by Sami Uusitalo.

Every scenario is only as good as its villain, or maybe that's just my opinion. Anyway, I love a well-written bad guy in my adventures. Boring, one-dimensional villains are usually more harmful to the overall structure of the scenario, than they're to the PC's themselves. Fortunately the "Order of the Feathered Lord" presents gamemasters with a right bunch of evil a-holes, who are incredibly well written and very cool to use in almost any game of WFRP.

They also server the coolest Chaos God of them all!
The "Order of the Feathered Lord" is the first part in the "Blasphemous Cults" series, created by Sami Uusitalo. Unfortunately I only have volumes 1 and 3 (Cult of  the Possessed). If anyone out there has the second volume of this fantastic series, I'd be more than happy to add it to my extensive collection and, by extension, make it available for all of the 'Hammer fans, out there.

The document itself is very nicely written. The first half consists of notes of Samael Neuhauser, a Witch Hunter of Sigmar, whose notes on the cult are both fascinating and repugnant. Fascinating, because Uusitalo managed to create an exceptionally well written Templar of Sigmar. Seriously, the first part of this sourcebook alone is worth your time. Although bear in mind, the Witch Hunter in question is of the more... overzealous kind and his methods are downright disturbing. Cutting out a scribe's tongue and branding his hands with a sign of a twin-tailed comet? Yeah, he does that and writes about in a completely casual manner. Creepy bastard.

The Templar writes about a mysterious cult, named the Order of the Feathered Lord. During a routine investigation in Altdorf, he encountered a horrifyingly mutilated body of a priest of Manaan. Later, while chasing down a sorcerer through the gloomy streets of Talagaad, Neuhauser encountered similar, grisly scene in the docks of this wretched place. Finally deciding to delve deeper into this dark mystery, he eventually reached Marienburg, where, with the help of priests of Manaan, he found out about the Order of the Feathered Lord. Without much spoilers, this horrible cult was the result of jealousy, blind ambition and resentment. Sounds vague and unoriginal? Trust me, this organisation is anything but these things, but I won't spoil too much for you. You'll just have to read this fine document yourselves.

The "Order of the Feathered Lord" presents the GM with a very interesting idea - a chaos cult, with aquatic theme. Normally when one thinks about evil organisations with a sea motif, one generally imagines a cult of Stromfels. Meanwhile the Order of the Feathered Lord shows us that Chaos doesn't need to be contained only to dank cellars and gloomy temples - it can also be present at sea! Uusitalo describes a believable, realistic chaotic organisation, which operates under the guise of a Navigator Guild, and from Nuln, of all places! This, of course, makes them immediately 100 times more awesome than they already are. And they're pretty awesome, as you might already tell from my beaming review of this document.

The second part of the "Order of the Feathered Lord" contains the rules section. In here the reader will find info on Melkior Federkleiden, the cult's leader (every single one them, throughout history, took upon that name) as well as his stats. Of course we are talking about a cult dedicated to Tzeentch, so Federkleiden should probably be used as a "enemy within" type of antagonist. We also have the Chief Navigators, order's inner council of vile douchebags and the "standard" Navigators, who are no less evil. It's worth mentioning that all of these enemies are mages and all are mutants. The author presents interesting ideas, about how such an socially influential group could've hidden their mutations with relative ease, so it's worth checking them out, especially if you're running a game with lots of cultists. The Order's enforcers are converted, Empire mercenaries, known as the Cult of Khar-Nak, a bunch of filthy, Khorne worshippers. Yup, Federkleiden is so hardcore, that enlisted the help of a bunch of khornates. What a guy.

Finally Uusitalo gives us the description of a sextant, a daemonicly infused artifcat, used by the evil Navigators to ply their trade, by observing the vile moon Morrslieb and the many faces, which could be seen on its surface. Freaky! Oh and Melkior Federkleiden's sextant can have a single Pink Horror inside, ready to serve his mutated master. How cool is that?

The "Order of the Feathered Lord" concludes with a bunch of encounter ideas, that incorporate this villainous organisation of Navigators (including one, where PC's are the cultists!) and a single campaign concept. They're all excellent and a true testament to Uusitalo's skill as a WFRP author. In keeping with the atmosphere of this fine document, the "author", Samael Neuhauser, cites all of the sources that he used in composing this treaty. They include, among others, "Liber Chaotica" by Richter Kleiss and "Tome of Corruption" by Hrodbert of Hochland. Neuhauser even consulted his work with Mathias Thulmann, know from C.L. Werner's series of excellent books. Now that's what I call a good kind of meta!

What can I say? Grab it, read it, use it in your games. This is seriously one of the coolest, fan-made supplements for WFRP that was ever written. You can download it from the Daily Empire, or from here. Hope that you'll all enjoy it as much as I did.

So there you have it - the conclusion of 2017's Grimvember. And yeah, I know that it's December already, but, sadly, real life sometimes gets in the way. Anyway, I'll be back soon with more thoughts on the 4th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and maybe Warhammer 40,000? Who knows. Anyway, I'll catch you all later.

Until next time!

Xathrodox86

11/28/2017

Grimvember 2017 is here! "A Secret Inheritance" is a must-play!

We return to our regularly scheduled reviewing, this time with "A Secret Inheritance" by Steve Cumiskey. This one's a real treat and no mistake.

I've GM'ed this adventure last year for my Roll20 group. The boys were on a trip from Talabecland to Nuln and, along the way, I wanted to spice things up a bit for their little gang. "A Secret Inheritance" turned out to be exactly what I needed!

Plus it's full of Merchants! Who dosen't like economy themes in his adventures?
The premise is pretty simple. The adventurers need to find a shelter from a storm, in a small town of Eisental and become embroiled in a local guild affair. The town itself, originally located in Ostermark (altough you could place it anywhere. In my case it was in Talabecland) is a quiet community, which recently lost its two priests. Not only that but the merchant guild's building got burned to the ground as well, two weeks before the PC's arrival. Our heroes are hired by the brothers Lang, who are heading the Eisental's guild, to retrieve a certain chain of office. The pay is very good, so it's unlikely that a band of travelling vagabonds will pass on this offer. During the course of their investigation, they will meet (or be approached by) many interesting people, many of whom would like to use the PC's for their own ends. Also the animals living in the woods around Eisental are acting strange, being unnaturally agressive towards the citizens of the town.

Then there's the case of the two, lost priests and their vacant temples. It's never good when the dead can't be buried and need to be put on ice, awaiting the arrival of the new priest of Morr.

A quick word about the NPC's - they're simply great. Steve Cumiskey managed to create a bunch of interesting, unique and varied people for the PC's to interact with. All of them have their own problems. quirks, agendas and dreams and even the more disreputable ones are written really well. For good villains need to have a human side, they need to be relatable in one way or another. In this advenutre, they most definitely are and kudos to the author for writing them in such a way.

"A Secret Inheritance" is a very good example of a "by-the-book" type of scenario. It mixes two things which make for a great WFRP experience - intrigue and combat. Altough it should be mentioned that the intrigue is a much, much bigger part of this adventure. The combat however, when it finally occurs, is brutal and visceral and can take many players off guard, especially the less experienced ones. In the end however, that's what Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is all about - fighting against the impossible odds. Steve Cumiskey really delivers when it comes to desperate and brutal engagements. His enemies are also interesting and many a GM will be surprised to see, that "A secret inheritance" offers much more, than your average beastmen/bandits entourage of baddies, so often seen in adventures and campaigns.

There's really not much left to say about this scenario - it's fun, engaging and challenging. It's a great adventure to run between chapters of a bigger campaign, like "The Enemy Within" or "The Thousand Thrones". I sincerely recommend this module for it'll surely bring much joy to both players and gamemasters.

You can download "A Secret Inheritance" from here, as well as many other, fantastic fan-made supplements. Remember that you can always write me an email and I'll be more than happy to sent you this scenario, as well as any other, legal, fan-made stuff for WFRP and/or Warhammer 40,000 RPG's.

Until next time, when we'll finish the 2017 edition of Grimvember with a bang!

Xathrodox86

11/19/2017

Grimvember 2017 is here! It's time for an interview with Clint Lee Werner!

Here's something for all of the fans of ruthless bounty hunters, killers of witches and Grey Seers - an interview with a man, who writes and understand such character better than anyone, Clint Lee Werner himself.

I always loved the anti-hero trope. Not for me were the goody-two-shoes kind of characters, whose only problems revolve around their immaculate, shiny armor and magical swords of slaying goblins +2. I guess that's why I always liked Warhammer Fantasy so much (well, except for a short period of time, as some of you may know). This world is full of heroes who, in most other fantasy settings, could be even described as villains. Hell, even Gotrek and Felix are far from being a crystal clear duo of characters, what with their murder hobo kind of approach to many problems. Of course they are still the good guys and the readers know it. When it comes to Brunner the Bounty Hunter and Witch Finder Mathias Thulmann, however, things are not so simple.

Is this a face of a saint? I don't think so!
These two characters have been created by a man, who gets antiheroes, like no other. Clint Lee Werner is a talented writer with a flair for morally ambiguous characters, dark and gritty settings and a love for rats, that walk on two legs, eat green, magical stones and plan to take over the world. Mister Werner was kind enough to answer a couple of my questions and now you can read them. I hope that you'll this interview as enjoyable to read, as it was for me to conduct.

Xathrodox86: How did you came up with the ideas for Brunner and Mathias Thulmann?

Clint Lee Werner: The concept of Mathias Thulmann evolved from the historical figure of Matthew Hopkins. A film loosely based on Hopkins was made in 1968 titled 'Witchfinder General' with Vincent Price in the title role and it remains my favorite performance from my favorite actor. So I began to wonder what would happen if you had a similar character in a world where the witchcraft was very real, very dangerous, and actually was being practiced everywhere. Clearly from a cynical exploiter the character would have to be changed into an idealistic fighter, courage and faith rather than opportunism and greed as the key aspects of his motivation. In the end, Mathias Thulmann didn't have very much left from the source that inspired him beyond a few surface similarities. I'd say he is a bit more akin to Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane, but without the rather impulsive heroics that would motivate Kane and obviously without the same degree of Puritanical zeal. Thulmann is a more cautious and calculating kind of hero, one who weighs the risks before he acts.

Brunner likewise has his basis in some of the films I grew up watching. My father is a huge enthusiast for the Old West and in particular has a penchant for Spaghetti Westerns, the western films produced in Italy and filmed in Spain during the 1960's and 1970's. A key protagonist of a good number of the Spaghetti Westerns were bounty hunters and this kind of character was instantly appealing to me – a pragmatic figure who could be either friend or foe depending on who is paying him. Probably the key influences on Brunner's character were Lee Van Cleef's Colonel Mortimer in 'For a Few Dollars More' and Klaus Kinski's utterly ruthless Loco from 'The Great Silence'. These are men who are after the reward money and will use any tool at their disposal to get the job done – albeit I can't see Brunner ever stooping as low as Loco or perhaps ever rising to the same sense of honor as Col. Mortimer.

Xathrodox86: Brunner is the epitome of an antihero. How hard was it for you to write this kind of character? Did you had any sympathy for his motives and actions?

Clint Lee Werner: Brunner is a character who actually wrote himself, so I guess in a way he was among the easiest characters who I have written! I am minded of something Robert E. Howard once said of Conan the Cimmerian, how when he was working on those stories it almost felt as though Conan was at his shoulder reciting the tale to him. There were several points when writing Brunner's adventures that it really did feel as though he was correcting me as I worked – invariably to change something I had him doing into an even more pragmatic and vicious deed. The character himself seemed to strip away what honor I, as the author, wanted to allow him. It was almost like he was telling me 'no, I'm done with all that.' To be fair, there are very rare instances in the stories where Brunner does exhibit a sense of fair play or shows respect to an enemy, but these are diversions from the norm for him.

I would say I do have quite a degree of sympathy for Brunner's motives, at least his ultimate motives. He is a man who has had everything taken from him and now lives solely to take revenge. Not a simple revenge either, but one that will exact the same toll from his enemy. He is determined to do more than simply kill, he will first take everything away. So far as Brunner's actions go, I think he goes far too down and dirty to be entirely sympathetic. Pragmatism rather than valor.

Xathrodox86: Did you had in mind a definitive ending for the famous bounty hunter? I'm not talking about his fate in the End Times. Was there any chance for a happy ending for Brunner, or at least for him getting justice for all the wrongs that he endured?

Clint Lee Werner: Given the chance I would have liked to return to Brunner's story. Certainly I did have intentions to pursue his vendetta further. I also wanted to return to the character of his grandson, who would have been groomed to become the next Baron von Drakenberg and instructed in the art of war by men of Brunner's choosing. Ultimately, the Viscount de Chegney would have been deposed, losing everything to the new Baron von Drakenberg and forced to flee for his life. A happy end for Brunner himself, I do not think would be possible. Indeed, I considered that a fitting finale for him would be pursuing de Chegney right into the Chaos Wastes itself for their final confrontation.

Xathrodox86: Given how many things he kills/defeats, one might consider Brunner to be one of the best fighters in the whole Warhammer Fantasy. Where on the "badassery scale" would you put that character? What is it that makes him such a dangerous opponent?

Clint Lee Werner: Brunner would be the first to concede that he is not the best fighter in the Old World. There are better marksmen and better swordsmen. While he is quite capable in both respects, his real strength is his lack of scruples. While another warrior might be so absolutely confident in his ability to win a fight, Brunner takes pains to rig a fight in his favor. He also studies a potential enemy and is always adding to his bag of tricks. For instance, he learns that salt is useful against vampires so when he encounters Sir Corbus and recognizes him for what he is, he makes use of salt as a way to disrupt the vampire's attack and provide himself with an advantage. That is the key to what makes Brunner so dangerous – his ability to find a weakness in an enemy and then exploit it.

Xathrodox86: I always wondered about Brunner's resources. It's been very clear that the man earns a lot of coin, during his adventures. Where does he keep all that money? Sure, it's obvious that he has a lot of wealth with him, but what about the majority of it? Is Brunner a fan of the Old World's banking system?

Clint Lee Werner: Brunner is collecting all of that money for one purpose: revenge. As such a lot of it is being spent raising his grandson, or more properly training his grandson to become a weapon to use against the Viscount de Chegney. He still has connections with some of the friends and allies of the Baron von Drakenberg and he taps into those old connections to help further this cause, as it were. He also employs his mentor, the retired bounty hunter and gunsmith Kristoph Leopold as a kind of strongbox for some of his blood money. Naturally Brunner is too wary to put all of his eggs in one basket and he likely has other hidey-holes for his gold as well.

Xathrodox86: If you could do a crossover with any of Warhammer Fantasy's characters, which one would you choose to ally himself with the legendary Bounty Hunter, and why?

Clint Lee Werner: Quite some time ago I did a proposal for a crossover titled 'Witchslayer' which would have seen Gotrek and Felix meeting up with Mathias Thulmann at the infamous Reiksfang prison. How the slayer and his recorder ended up in Reiksfang would have been Brunner's doing. So while not a full crossover, there would have been an extended cameo for Brunner.

Xathrodox86: Before reading your Witch Hunter trilogy, I always thought about the Templars of Sigmar as rather one-dimensional. You know, "burn the witch and all who saw here, just for good measure!". Mathias Thulmann brought a lot of humanity into that image, made these grim warriors feel human. How did you came up with an idea for this character? How did you managed to show us his human side, and not just the grim face of Sigmar's justice?

Clint Lee Werner: With Warhammer, the threat of Chaos is so pernicious and pervasive that it demands the most extreme measures to contain it. As I think is often pointed out, Chaos corrupts not only the flesh and mind, but the very soul as well. That being the case, it becomes an unpleasant duty to destroy anything that has been tainted by Chaos as a preventative against its future spread. I think of what Joseph Cotton tells his assassin in 'Soylent Green' when asked if the killing is a good thing: 'Not good... necessary.' The witch hunters, at least most of them, are principled men who do not relish their duties but rather see it as a horrible necessity. Certainly that is the view Thulmann takes. While completely devoted to Sigmar, he has not lost touch with his own humanity. He still has sympathy with the innocents he is trying to protect.

Xathrodox86: Streng, Thulmman's henchman, is a very interesting character, in that he's an amoral, disgusting creep... but only at a first glance. Personally I always thought that there was a kind of honor and dignity about this man, and that he deeply cared for his employer. Did you wrote Streng as a sort of contrast to Mathias? How hard was it for you, to create such a polarizing duo?

Clint Lee Werner: Streng did start off initially as a deliberate contrast to Thulmann, and in that portrayal he was a bit one-note. With the first novel, however, his character took on a greater depth. He is a man who has been poorly used by the world, the first man he ever killed was his own father when he decided he'd taken his last beating from the brute. Instead of breaking Streng, the hardships he has gone through have made him cruel and callous. He has no pretensions of either honor or dignity and lives very much in the moment and sating whatever desires hold sway over him at the time. For his part, I think Thulmann keeps Streng around simply because of this worldly mindset, using him as a counterbalance to his own piety and faith. Streng, though he would never admit it, has a certain kind of awe when it comes to Thulmann. He admires the faith and conviction that drives Thulmann explicitly because these are qualities Streng lacks.

Xathrodox86: The Witch Hunter's trilogy ends on a kind of a cliffhanger. Did you had plans for a continuation? Did Mathias Thulmann and his allies, took any significant part in the End Times?

Clint Lee Werner: I am not sure how Thulmann and his companions would have fared in the End Times. I did have plans for a continuation of their story, which would have seen them in direct conflict with the necromancer Carandini as he captures Das Buch die Unholden. With the cursed grimoire and the spectral influence of Nehb-ka-Menthu's hand, Carandini would seek to penetrate the defenses of Nagashizzar and try to steal the secrets of the (supposedly) dead Great Necromancer. It is difficult to say how it all would have played out. I had solid ideas for the initial book and the finale, but was all at sea for the middle novel. Part of the problem with Thulmann's stories is they were set during the Storm of Chaos and those events were increasingly pushed into the background as the End Times approached.

Xathrodox86: Grey Seer Thanquol is one of the most famous villains in the whole Warhammer Fantasy. What was it that made you want to expand on that character and continue writing about him? Did you consult your ideas with William King, the creator of Thanquol?

Clint Lee Werner: It would have been fantastic to consult William King while writing the Thanquol novels, but sadly the opportunity never arose. Fortunately the character he depicted in the Gotrek and Felix novels was so vivid and 'real' as it were that he seemed to write himself. Next to Brunner, Thanquol is the only character I've had who did that. Sometimes with problematic results as his paranoid megalomania would start devouring page upon page and I'd have to rein him in to get back to the narrative. When I was fortunate enough to meet with Mr. King at the first Black Library Weekender he said he had the same problem with Thanquol hijacking the stories.

The opportunity to write Grey Seer Thanquol was suggested to me by the editors at Black Library. Always a fan of the character – indeed he is my favorite in the whole Warhammer setting – it took very little time to leap at the chance. Giving Thanquol his own series of adventures was simply too delicious not to take.

Xathrodox86: Thanquol is a mutated, chaos ratman, but he does have a huge fanbase. Why do you think that is so? More importantly, how are you able to write a villainous character in a way, that garners sympathy for him and his actions?

Clint Lee Werner: To be honest, Thanquol is such a vicious, irredeemable character that by all rights he shouldn't have a fan base. But he does, and I am certainly among them. One trick that makes him more sympathetic is to highlight his flaws – in many ways he really is his own worst enemy. Thanquol's arrogance when he is on top almost ensures his defeat. His petty scheming to ensure that he is the only Skaven who will reap the rewards of his success always acts to sabotage his plans. Then, of course, you have his fawning subservience when he isn't on top, shameless grovelling to either weasel his way out of punishment or to wheedle some kind of concession from his superiors. Add in an unhealthy dollop of perpetual paranoia and you have the toxic mix that makes up Thanquol's squirmy brain. Of course his sublime cowardice and lack of any manner of self-awareness when it comes to hypocrisy only adds to his manifold flaws.

No, by all rights we should despise Thanquol. But somehow we don't and instead find ourselves rooting for the old rat.

Xathrodox86: How strong, magic-wise, is Thanquol, actually? Could he take on the strongest casters of the setting, like Teclis or Lord Mazdamundi, and have a chance of winning? He seems to be the most powerful magic user in all of the Under-Empire.

Clint Lee Werner: The Slann are on a power-scale all to themselves, so I doubt anybody, daemon or mortal, would come out better against Lord Mazdamundi or any of the older mage-priests. When it comes to mortals like Teclis, Thanquol's power is more difficult to gauge. Has he eaten some warpstone, and if so, how much? More vitally, has he lost himself in the 'rush' from the warpstone or is he maintaining his focus? Less about the actual power of Thanquol, you have to remember the limitations of his perspective. He cares only about himself, ultimately, so he is apt to be far more reckless and injudicious in the use of that power. Just about anybody who isn't a greenskin is at least going to try to keep from destroying their own guys along with the enemy. Thanquol is apt to deliberately inflict collateral damage over the most petty of causes – whether real or simply a product of his own paranoid imagination.

Xathrodox86: Given how cowardly and back-stabbing prone, the Skaven actually are, just how did Thanquol managed to evade death all these times? Was it all due to the Horned Rat's mercy, plain luck, or his considerable survival skills?

Clint Lee Werner: In regards to Thanquol's survival, I believe he is truly marked by the Horned Rat. As the End Times showed, he was chosen by the Horned One.

Xathrodox86: Many fans are associating your work mainly with Warhammer Fantasy. However you also did some work for the Warhammer 40,000 universe. How different was it for you to write about the grim darkness of the far future, when compared to the Old World?

Clint Lee Werner: Warhammer 40K is a very different setting from the Old World. The mixture of technology and superstition is quite unique in itself and then there has been such a copious amount of background material written over the years, between the various codexes, novels and articles in White Dwarf and Citadel Journal that the sheer scope of the setting is almost cyclopean. Where it came to Warhammer Fantasy, I was able to keep up with just about everything, but the simple vastness of Warhammer 40K meant there was always some new detail I would discover while I was writing.

Xathrodox86: What are working on right now? Any chance of seeing some of your old characters in the Age of Sigmar? Do you plan to write about the Iron Warriors some more?

Clint Lee Werner: There is always a chance I might do some more with the Iron Warriors. It really depends on whether the readers want to see more.

As far as Age of Sigmar, one of my old characters has made an appearance. It is a fairly obscure reference, but I've already employed the character twice. Keep a vigilant eye on "Overlords of the Iron Dragon".

Xathrodox86: Thank you for answering these questions. I'm a huge fan of Warhammer Fantasy, and your stories about Brunner, Thulmann and Thanquol are some of my favorites. They really did help me immerse myself more into this fascinating, fictional world Thank you for that.

Clint Lee Werner: Thank you for your interest and your enthusiasm. It is the readers who ultimately make writing these books a worthwhile endeavor, knowing that you have brought some enjoyment to somebody through your work.

So there you have it folks. I really enjoyed interviewing Mr. Werner. He is an incredibly kind and down-to-earth person and I'm really grateful to him, for finding time to answer a couple of my questions. You can find his website here and it is certainly worth checking. I'm sure that Mr. Werner will continue to supply us with many more, fascinating stories, for years to come.

Grimvember 2017 returns next week, with another scenario review. This time we'll take a trip to Altdorf itself. Stay tuned.

Until next time!

Xathrodox86

11/08/2017

Grimvember 2017 is here! It's hard to live in "A Dog Eat Dog World"

Grimvember is in full swing, as I review yet another, fantastic scenario - "A Dog Eat Dog World" by the talented Samuel Kisko.

I've originally ran this piece between the latter chapters of "The Thousand Thrones" campaign. My players were already pretty buffed up and so I thought that this scenario should not present too much of a problem for them. Oh how wrong I was...

That front cover kicks all sorts of ass!
This adventure, set just after the Storm of Chaos, starts somewhere on the road in Middenland, but in reality can be set anywhere within the Empire. The PC's encounter a jolly Halfling by the name of Don Don. He's having trouble with pulling his food cart and, of course, asks our heroes for help, offering them free meals in return. Soon the poor shorty gets kidnapped by a huge dog and nearly killed by it. The adventurers (hopefully) save him just in time and notice that the felled beast is in fact a Middenland Wolfhound, a famous breed of attack/hunting dogs. Soon they arrive at an eerie village of Dunkelbild, whose occupants have a serious problems with a rather large dogs...

That's the general gist of "A Dog Eat Dog World" but, of course, there is much, much more. Without too much spoilers, it's a typical "lift the ancient curse" type of adventure. Said curse is connected with the ever illusive Strigany folk, callous nobility and, of course, lycanthropy, which plays a huge part in this scenario.

The plethora of supporting characters is one of "A Dog Eats Dog World's" strongest points. From the jovial Don Don to the Dunkelbild's Reeve, one Stephen Shaw, and finally Klid D'Mur, a albino Witch Hunter with an elven name - Samuel Kisko truly made a fantastic job with his ensemble cast of characters. Just like with the case of "The Lord of Lost Heart", the NPC's are not only interestingly written and developed, but they also feel alive and important. Something like that is often too rare, when it comes to role-playing games.

The conspiracy behind the curse, as well as Stephen's quest for the PC's, are also the highlights of this scenario. You can almost feel the tension, building in Dunkebild. The dogs hold sway here and people, more often than not, prefer to stay indoors, for the village belongs to the beasts. The old Baron Vornamen Otterbaugh, who was one of the Hound Masters to Karl Franz himself, gave his beloved pooches special rights and privileges. In fact the Wolfhounds became more important than the people of Dunkelbild and that made them feral and unruly. Fortunately the Baron was summoned to Middenheim, to fight at the side of his Emperor and left the village in the care of Stephen Shaw, who decided that enough is enough. The dogs need to be put in check and who better to this, than a bunch of expendable and disposable fellows, known commonly in the Old World as "Adventurers"?

Awww, they're so adorable... and deadly
"A Dog Eat Dog World" makes huge use of 2nd edition WFRP's investigation mechanics, but there is also a lot of combat. Mind you, fellow gamemasters who are reading this, that the combat encounters in this scenario, can be really tricky and incredibly hard for the players. Samuel Kisko suggests that the party should be comprised of second-career PC's, but during our run, the party of four, tough-as-nails characters, was getting regularly mauled by the pooches. I honestly feel that the difficulty level should be tweaked by each GM, as to avoid a Total Party Kill kind of situation. Unless your players like that sort of thing, in which case go for it. The author himself seemed to understand the difficulty of this module and he even states himself, that the difficulty spike should always be adjusted to the PC's power and experience levels.

I thoroughly recommend "A Dog Eat Dog World". It's a fun little scenario, perfect as a break between the chapters of a larger campaign. It deals with the dangers of lycanthropy, which is always an interesting thing in my book and presents some really interesting characters, as well as plot hooks, to the players. Samuel Kisko did an outstanding job with this adventure and it would be a crying shame to not check it out.

You can get if from my WFRP Fan Material collection, which you can find here, or just send me an email. I'll be more than glad to supply you with that little gem of an adventure.

Until next time, when there'll be more Grimvember goodness. Stay tuned.

Xathrodox86