Playing Warhammer with the Landshut Rules, v2

Warhammer!

It doesn’t get any more British or European than that. Chaos beast men, tragic and dangerous magic, Warhammer has it all. Plus, Landshut is not only the title of my ancient school, free kriegsspiel rules, but also the name of my hometown, which happens to be… a medieval German town. Remember Altdorf, the city in the Old World of Warhammer? That’s a town about two miles from where I live. Just saying. Us Germans have bragging rights when it comes to Warhammer, right?
 
Okay, so now Warhammer. How can we play it with the Landshut Rules
 
Like so:
You need the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game 1st edition. Because that’s the one and only. And please lose your copy of Zweihänder. Because it’s an abomination.
 
But first: You need a name! Names inspire and imprint your character’s personality.
 
1) STATS
Use 2d6 to determine Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness, Dexterity, Leadership, Intelligence, Cool, Will Power and Fellowship.
 
ONLY record a stat if you roll 2 or 3, or 11 or 12 for it. If it’s 2 or 3, write „low“ or „bad“, followed by the stat, and if it’s 11 or 12, write „high“ or good“, followed by the stat.
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2) Create your character with the help of the Warhammer 1e wiki
 
3) Humans get 5 hits, dwarves get 6 hits, elves and halflings get 4 hits.
 
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Optional Rule: Gore Die
 
Remember how you roll attacks with 2d6. These two dice should have different colors. ONE die is the Gore Die. The higher that die, the messier, bloodier, gorier your hit is. Note that a gory, bloody, bloodspraying, disgusting hit will not kill the opponent if he still has Hit Points left – but it will definitely put negative modifiers on his next attack roll, movement, abilities, skills and so on. Only when Hit Points are reduced to zero, a character dies. To give you a few rough ideas for Gore Die results:
  • Gore 1: drop weapons, superficial wounds, hits that knock the wind out of you, stumble, bruises, stuns, knockdowns 
  • Gore 2: dislocations, shattered weapons, numb limbs 
  • Gore 3: incapacitated limbs, deep wounds, smashed teeth, broken bones 
  • Gore 4: severed arteries, internal bleeding, spine injuries, gouged out eyes 
  • Gore 5: half a limb lost, organs ruptured 
  • Gore 6: entire limb lost, body parts hacked in half 
  • Gore 7: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, flying body parts, fuck what a mess
Gore 7? How? This is another optional rule: When a character is down to 1 Hit, the next attack that takes him to his gods has Gore Die +3.
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12) MAGIC
Magic is the offspring of Chaos. It’s powerful, but dangerous. Choose one of six Schools of Magic you belong to. Each school practices one general type of magic.
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Amethyst = death, undeath, entropy
Ruby = fire, hell, blood
Amber = animals, monsters,emotion
Gold = metal, industry, physics
Moss = plants, plagues, life
Sapphire = time, abyss/stars, thought
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Casting Spells
Warhammer magicians start with (level+1) spell points. Spells are freeform – describe what you want to achieve, and the referee will roll 2d6 against your Magic Dice. Roll your 2d6 at the same time. Magic is a fickle mistress, you never know if you can surf the waves of magic – or drown in them. That’s why the referee always rolls against you, instead of determining a target number you have to beat.

 

The only wizards facing great dangers are Demonologists, Necromancers, and Evil and Chaotic magicians. They gain Insanity Points and Disabilities, or increase the chances of contracting Tomb Rot (necromancers, I’m looking at you).

If you roll successfully, you cast the spell, and it costs you zero spell points. If you fail the roll, you still cast the spell, but it costs you (spell level) spell points.

This is Warhammer, so I’ll allow wizards to sacrifice 1 hit to gain 2 spell points.

A character example:
 
My name is Konrad Fuchs, from Eschendorf, a village in Stirland.
I roll completely average for all stats.
Over at the WH1 wiki, I’m rolling my character:
 
I’m a human, 1.7m tall, 50 years old (nice, exactly my real age)
4 Fate Points
 
I choose to be an Academic. 
I get 3 skills: Super Numerate (a gift for calculation), ambidextrous, lightning reflexes.
 
My trappings: suit of decent, light-weight clothes, including sandals. A knife is carried, tucked in the belt, alongside a purse of 10 Gold Crowns.
 
My career: 99! Wizard’s Apprentice!
My career skills: Arcane Language: Magick; Cast Spells: Petty Magic only; Read/Write; Secret Language: Classical, Scroll Lore
 
I start with: (Level 1+1) spell points: 2
 
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So, in short:
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Konrad Fuchs, Wizard’s Apprentice
(from Eschendorf in Stirland) 
1,70m tall, 50 yrs
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Trappings: suit of decent, light-weight clothes, sandals. Knife tucked in the belt, 10 Gold Crowns.
Skills: Super Numerate (a gift for calculation), ambidextrous, lightning reflexes, Arcane Language: Magick; Cast Spells: Petty Magic only; Read/Write; Secret Language: Classical, Scroll Lore
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4 Fate Points
2 Spell points

I’m a wizard’s apprentice, so I might know, let’s say, 1d6 petty spells: I roll 2d6 and take the higher result: 4. Then, I pick the spells from the list: Butterfingers, Cunning Hand, Flight of Amar and Magic Alarm. Each petty spell costs 1 spell point if I fail the roll.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Playing Troika! with the Landshut rules: REDUX

SKILL
Skill in Troika! is used for all saves, so it’s a very important number. It’s rolled with 1d3+3, so it has a range between 4 and 6. 4=low skill, 6=high skill. Medium skill is not worth writing down.

STAMINA
Roll 2d6+12. If the sum is 16 or lower, write down “fragile”. If the sum is 22 or more, write down “resilient” or “tough”.

LUCK!
Roll 1d6+6. If the sum is 7, write down “luckless”. If the sum is 13, write down “lucky”. Grant the player rerolls if the character is lucky, or force him to reroll if the character has no luck.

POSSESSIONS
Conveniently enough, Troika! provides a rule for starting gear. Of course, I’m using this, as well: start with 2d6 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, a rucksack and 6 provisions.

BACKGROUNDS
Determine your background, using either the book or one of the gazillions of available Troika! classes online.

ADVANCED SKILLS
Just write down the Advanced Skills without the numbers. If you feel better with quantifiers, add descriptions like “very good sleight-of-hands”, or “expert in grappling”.

MAKING ROLLS
When casting spells, making saves, testing your mettle, make opposed 2d6 rolls. Ref grants bonus if the situation warrants it.

Making a Landshut Troika! character:
Skill: I roll a 3 – so my character is “skilled”.

For Stamina, I roll 7, so it’s 19 points in total: average. I don’t write this down.
My Luck is 7: out of luck! 
I start with 8 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, a rucksack and 6 provisions.
I could roll d66 to determine my background, but I’m picking one I discovered last Saturday on Troika! discord: the Man of Arms, written by Lejeune:

So, my character looks like this:

______________________________________________________
Herbert von Mirskofen, a luckless Man-of-Arms
skilled
out of luck

Advanced Skills:
Sleight-of-hands 
Knife-fighting
Grappling 
Holding things
Possessions: 8 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, rucksack, provisions, fine deck of cards, debt to a warlock, six painted knives, bow tie
______________________________________________________

Playing the GLOG with The Landshut rules: REDUX

1. Stats
The only exceptional attribute I roll is Intelligence (15). 

2. Template (Classes)
I pick the Wizard template A. Wizards are weakly creatures, so they are not able to take lots of damage.
My abilities are:
Spellcasting: 1 Magic Die, 1 Spell Slot, and I get two spells
I decide to be an Orthodox Wizard. I roll for my spells and start with Levitate and Lock.

3. Race
I’m a Sparrowling.

4. Attack rolls
Opposed 2d6; better fighter might add a bonus. Ref determines.

5. Gear
I pick 2d6 items: 8.
Leather armor
Sword 
Dog
Blank magic book
ink + quill
waterskin
Donkey
Dagger

…and now I lose 1d6 of them: 4
The d8 determines which items must go: donkey, waterskin, blank magic book, ink+quill.

What remains is:

  • Leather armor
  • Sword
  • Dog
  • Dagger

6. Powers
Since the GLOG has a detailed magic system, I decide to not grant any more powers to starting characters.

The final version of my character:

______________________________________________________________
Gerhard, Sparrowling Orthodox Wizard, Level 1
Templates: Wizard A

very intelligent

Magic Dice: 1
Spells: Levitate, Lock

Gear: Leather armor, sword, dog (“Sprite”), dagger
______________________________________________________________

Playing OD&D with The Landshut Rules: REDUX

1) Roll abilities
For every 15+, I write down “very” + the adjective that belongs to the characteristic, and for every 5 or lower, I write down the opposite of the adjective. All other numbers signify an unremarkable, average stat.

2) Character Classes
Fighting-men: can take more damage than other humans, use all weapons and armor
Magic-users: weakly, use dagger/staff, no armor
Clerics: can cast spells, no sharp weapons
Hobbit: resilient, no huge weapons
Dwarf: can take a lot of damage, no long weapons
Elf: choose to be either a sorcerer or a warrior, no blunt weapons

3) Spells

Clerics, Magic-users and elves get Spell Points. Magic-users get 4+Experience Level points, all other casters get 2+Level points. 
All casters can cast spells of any level. A save is required to cast a spell successfully and avoid paying Spell Points. A failed roll means you lose Spell Points equal to the spell level. 
The referee might consider giving out treasure that increases Spell Points. This might be done to counterbalance the more costly higher level spells (compared to the old system). 
To record spells, casters can write, draw, etch, tattoo or paint the formulas on every suitable surface. 
4) Attacks
Opposed 2d6 rolls + bonus for the better fighter
5) Damage
Ref determines damage with common sense, narratively. Knowledge of the genre is a big plus.

6) Give them a fighting chance
Lenient referees, you might grant the player a last opposed roll to save their character from dying.

7) Experience
Gain an experience level if it is dramatically appropriate.

So let’s create a character already!

Abilities:
STR: 11, average, what I write on the character sheet: nothing
INT: 9, average, , what I write on the character sheet: nothing
WIS: 6, average, , what I write on the character sheet: nothing
CON: 7, average, , what I write on the character sheet: nothing
DEX: 6, average, what I write on the character sheet: nothing
CHA: 13, average, , what I write on the character sheet: nothing

I play a fighting-man. 

The original Gygax game uses no skills, so let’s skip this step in the Landshut rules and go straight to equipment:

I pick 2d6 items: 7
1. Sword
2. Dagger
3. Plate Mail
4. Iron Rations for 1 week
5. Backpack, leather
6. Water skin
7. Mallet and three stakes

…and I lose 1d6 of them: 2

Rolling 1d6, I get a 2 and lose the dagger, so my new equipment list looks like this:

1. Sword
2. Dagger
3. Plate Mail
4. Iron Rations for 1 week
5. Backpack, leather
6. Water skin
7. Mallet and three stakes

I roll 1d6 again and start at the dagger: a 5. I count down 5 steps and land at the mallet. My final equipment list:

1. Sword
2. Plate Mail (counts as +10 HP)
3. Iron Rations for 1 week
4. Backpack, leather
5. Water skin

And last but not least, I get to pick two “powers”: special equipment, special abilities, connections, and similar stuff:

I can see in the dark just like a cat. And someone high up in the hierarchy owes me a favor.

This is what my original edition Landshut rules character looks like:

___________________________________________________
Splint Brackwater
Level 1 Fighting-man
Can see in the dark like a cat. Someone high up in the hierarchy owes him a favor. 

Sword, Plate Mail, Iron Rations for 1 week, Backpack (leather), Water skin
___________________________________________________

Playing the Rules Cyclopedia with the Landshut rules, REDUX

To recap the rules for adapting games to Landshut:

  1. If you’re playing a published rpg setting: roll attributes. Write down only extremely low and extremely high stats. 
  2. Pick 5 or 10 skills from the rulebook (if the game uses skills) 
  3. Pick 2d6 pieces of regular equipment/gear from the book, then lose 1d6 of them 
  4. Pick 2 “Powers”: special equipment, spells, special abilities, connections, special backgrounds etc.
So, I roll 3d6 in order for STR, INT, WIS, DEX, CON, CHA. Every stat that’s 5 or lower is the weak version, every stat that’s 15 or higher is the strong version.
STR: 6. What I write on my character sheet: nothing
INT: 12. What I write on my character sheet: nothing.
WIS: 13. What I write on my character sheet: nothing.
DEX: 7. What I write on my character sheet: nothing.
CON: 12. What I write on my character sheet: nothing.
CHA: 10. What I write on my character sheet: nothing.
So, that character’s stats are average, nothing worth mentioning.
Next step: I’m picking a character class. Since we’ll be playing without XP, but with milestones instead, the “prime requisite” stat recommendation is not of interest here.
A Magic-User it is.
Next step: The Cyclopedia offers a skill list. I pick 5: Alchemy, Alternate Magics, Planar Geography, Ceremony and Mysticism. In play, these are interpreted freely as the opportunity arises.
Then: I pick 2d6 regular items: 10!
  1. Staff
  2. Dagger
  3. Backpack
  4. Iron rations for a week
  5. Rope
  6. Hat
  7. Fine clothes
  8. Lantern
  9. Oil
  10. Books
Now, I lose d6 of them: 3. I roll 1 d10 three times to find out which: the hat, the rope, and the dagger. So, my magic-user ends up with: Staff d6, backpack, iron rations, fine clothes, lantern, oil and books.
The last step: I pick two powers: My magic-user has a very fine sense of smell, and he can walk on fire and lava, with only minor burns.
As usual, attacks are opposed 2d6 rolls. To this roll, you might add a very small bonus if a character is experienced in fighting, or has a good advantage over the opponent.
Spells: Clerics, Magic-users and elves get Spell Points. Magic-users get 4+Experience Level points, all other casters get 2+Level points.  All casters can cast spells of any level. But a save is required to cast successfully and avoid paying Spell Points. A failed roll means you lose Spell Points equal to the spell level. If you don’t have enough Spell Points, the referee might allow you to pay the rest with hit points – at three times the cost. The referee might consider giving out treasure that increases Spell Points. This might be done to counterbalance the more costly higher level spells (compared to the old system). To record spells, casters can write, draw, etch, tattoo or paint the formulas on every suitable surface. 

I start with 1d4 spells: 3. Yes, this is way more than regular Basic. But we’re not playing very often, so I want to speed things up. I pick 2 1st level and 1 2nd level spell: Hold Portal, Magic Missle and Knock.
Damage, injuries and wounds are determined by the ref, and should follow in-world logic. Also, the amount of pain or damage a character can take before falling unconscious or dying is pure in-world logic. 

Common sense, combined with genre awareness, is the key for every FKR game.

_______________________________________________________________
Win Sasreq the Fearless
1st level magic-user

Spell Points: 5
Spells: Hold Portal, Magic Missle, Knock

Staff, backpack, iron rations, fine clothes, lantern, oil, books
_______________________________________________________________

It’s not about equipment

Character equipment still plays an important role in OSR games. Seeing where the OSR play style comes from, that’s understandable. 

But for FKR games? Is equipment for FKR heroes as important as for OSR characters? I doubt it. If I take a look back at the pre-D&D scene, the time of the two Daves, Braunstein, Blackmoor, Prof. MAR Barker, Tekumel, the first thing I notice is that varying damage (in the sense of ‘roll a d6 for a dagger, and a d10 for a zweihänder’) was not around yet. So, apart from the fact that each weapon has its own advantages and disadvantages, there was no need to get ‘a better weapon’ so the character could do more damage.

Also, contrary to what many Original D&D players (or better: forum members) are claiming, pre-any-school roleplaying was LESS lethal for the characters than the first couple of editions of D&D. The reason for this is simple: Braunsteins and early Blackmoor was about adventure. Sure, you had your dungeons, but pre-hit point roleplaying was less about grimdark survival, and more about a shared fantasy experience.

If FKR is playing worlds, not rules – then your character is not their equipment

The premise I’m using often for FKR gaming is Chirine ba Kal’s “play worlds, not rules”. Take your favorite book and turn it into a sourcebook for your games. I’m certain the main protagonist of that book is not defined by their equipment. That equipment might help describe him (a narrative device, then), but it’s not used to define him. Exceptions confirm the rule. Literary character are defined by their actions and interactions. Again, gear is just a diegetic tool to help with the description.

I think this is important because, at least to me, this means a shift away from the tight focus on gear, to a tight focus on behavior and, if you like that in your game, character archetypes. There is a reason why I love John S. Ross’s rpg Risus so much. Not because of the system, it doesn’t really interest me. What makes Risus shine is its concept of clichés: A character is described with clichés – genre-typical descriptions. For instance: A tight-lipped Barbarian from the North with scarred forearms. Instantly, you form a mental picture. 

But there’s more to clichés than just this. In all probability, you also intuit his abilities and predispositions: fighting. Enduring harsh weather. Drinking. Resilience. You just know them.

That’s the power of clichés. And of course, John S. Ross didn’t invent them, but he was the first to introduce them to roleplaying games. A stroke of genius.

Let’s stay with clichés just a little longer. So we have…

A tight-lipped Barbarian from the North with scarred forearms

Another question: Can you imagine what equipment this barbarian is carrying?

Of course you can! A sword. A flask. Heavy fur boots. Drab. Fur cap. A backpack. Jerky. 

The power of clichés at work.

So what really matters is not equipment lists or “starting equipment” (a perennial favorite in OSR circles), but a good, solid character description. And clichés work best for that.

This does not mean equipment is not important. But it should spring naturally from the character description, instead of the other way around.

In Risus, a character’s gear is called “Tools of the Trade”. This gear comes with the character. And you, the player, determine what these tools are.

Just one last example, a longer one this time:

Henry Dorsett Case
(Neuromancer, William Gibson)

“A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he’d cut in Night City, and still he’d see the matrix in his sleep, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colorless void….The Sprawl was a long strange way home over the Pacific now, and he was no console man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, his hands clawed into the bedslab, temperfoam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.”

So… “Washed-up console cowboy with a drug problem”.

And you know how he looks. You intuit his skills. You can imagine his “starting gear”.

Isn’t this amazing?

Finally. I’m writing a new game. For the Free Kriegsspiel Revolution.

Yes. A wrestling game. A roleplaying game about pro-wrestling.
And I’m not talking about the old chestnut Kayfabe, or its hip offspring World Wide Wrestling.
What I mean is this:

PICTURE THIS.
You are one of the chosen few. One of those who have been raised in the ring. As long as you can remember, wrestling runs in your veins, the lucha makes your heart tick. At first you thought, what a wonderful sport. What a feeling when the adrenaline rushed through your body. What a kick when you pulled off that Suicida Somersault Splash from the top rope. And the fans were going crazy!

Then you saw one masked man against many, fighting in that back alley, and all he used were those over-the-top high-flying moves you knew from inside the ring. As you ran into that battle, preparing yourself to help him, your eyes locked with his. And you knew: you had an ally, no, a brother, connected with you across many generations of your families.
And you understood that pro-wrestling had two sides: the public one, with cheering fans and spotlights and pops and heels and babyfaces. And the real one, here in the world, where wrestling is real and the costumes have power.

This game will be powered by Landshut.
Working title:

An example wrestler: Sir Thomas Hardcastle
A mat technician (someone who’s good at grappling), filthy. Strong. Tough as nails.
Stiff British wrestling, many joint locks, strikes with forearms and knees.
Special Power: Stiff Upper Lip
Day job: Financial Advisor
Lives with his dog (“Spike”) and his girlfriend (“Linda”) – yes, in that order
Hailing from Bushbury, NH

On genre assumptions and the vagaries of fate, or: Hit points, shit points

I have a strange relationship with hit points.
For “science fiction” games, I’m perfectly fine with “hits” and fixed damage: 1 hit does X amount of damage (usually 1, but this can go up to 4 for really terrifyingly potent weapons).
For fantasy games, though, I’d like to have hit points and variable damage (= dice).

After thinking long and hard about the reasons, and asking on the Bastionland discord, I thought I had come to a conclusion: probably I like hp/variable damage because for old school fantasy games, it’s not that uncommon to fight against many opponents on any given day, while in scifi games, this is happening significantly less often (or not at all).

Hm.

Not quite. What I’m thinking now is that I just like the uncertainty of variable damage; one blow might knock me down, or barely scratch me. THAT’S what I’m after. THAT’S what my more than 30 year-long experience as full-contact martial artist tells me.THAT’S also what I want, within limits, to have in my games.

Still, introducing damage rolls in my game is nothing I seriously consider. What I’m looking for is

  • The uncertainty of combat: My attack might miss or glance off the opponent. I don’t want autohits.
  • The uncertainty of resilience: One blow might be sufficient to knock me out good. I don’t want fixed damage, or better: I don’t want fixed damage all the way through.

Unknowingly, I already had the solution to this when I wrote the Into the Odd hack for my Landshut Rules.

Time to recap.

  1. Your character has X amount of hits. Usually, in the Landshut Rules, this is 4, but you can also roll a d6 if you’re feeling lucky (punk).
  2. Each successful attack reduces your hits by 1 or more points – this is something the referee and the players agree on before the game starts.
  3. If your character has run out of hits, any further damage might become critical: To avoid being critically injured (and unable to move, possibly dying), roll 2d6 vs the referee’s 2d6.The ref might grant you a bonus to the roll. If you roll higher, your character has avoided a critical injury: write down the damage, anyway. If you roll lower than the ref, your character is knocked down and is critically injured. The ref determines how long it will take to heal up. For heroic fantasy: If your character ever reaches Level+4 negative Hit Protection, s/he dies. For harsher games: reduce that number.
So there. I’ll be using this in my next game.
I’ll keep you posted.

Big Motherfuckin’ Crab Truckers come to Landshut

Have I written about Big Motherfuckin’ Crab Truckers, the one-page rpg written by Gregor Hutton, tha author of 3:16 Carnage among the Stars, and others?

No? About time, then.

So, BMFCT is a game where you play… exactly that, big motherfuckin’ crab truckers. You pick a class (Driver, Fighter, Lifter or Something else), and there you go. Classes in BMFCT are a cluster of four traits, with one trait being predefined: The Driver has a trait called, you might have guessed it, ‘Drive!’, the Fighter has one called ‘Fight!’, and so on. Fill the rest of the slots with your own traits.

Whenever you want to do something risky, AND someone at the table says ‘no fuckin way!’, roll 2d8, and add 1d8 for every relevant advantage or ttait you might have. Pick the two highest dice, and add them together. The referee does the same, but he always only gets 2d8. Higher roll wins.

Those are the rules in a nutshell.

This is extremely interesting: You have (usually) 2d8+bonus (dice), and an opposed roll.

Guess what system works the same? Yes. My Landshut rules. The only difference is that we’re using 2d6 and add a bonus number instead of rolling with advantage, but that’s marginal. Fact is, it almost looks like BMFCT and Landshut are twins, separated at birth.

I’m thinking to include that character class descriptions in the Landshut rules because they make it easier for people who have never played an rpg to get into the groove.

Like so:

Paladin: You are a fighter for the Side of Light. You are one of the Good guys. You possess a divine determination to eliminate evil. You get Smite Evil!, and three other traits.

Hobbit Chef: Aaaaah! Isn’t this delicious? Come, try some of my new chocolate-rum pudding, it’ll seduce you like one of the ladies down at the Hairy Feet Inn. You get Turn Everything Into A Good Meal!, and three other traits.

Wild Hog Rider: Your clan has been on this land forever. You may be only half as tall as them hoomins, but by the Gods!, your hog can be a fierce bloodthirsty beast on the battlefield. You get Warhog!, and three other traits.