Making the Speak Language Skills Interestingly Useful

A few weeks ago I posted on making the Read/Write skill interestingly useful, but that just raises the question of language skills in general. Tim Eccles’s article on this topic in Warpstone #19 is excellent on the historical and linguistic implications of what we knew about (then-)canon, but this post, like the last one, is going to concentrate more on the in-game practicalities of the skills. Because, like with Read/Write, the exclusivity of the language skills may work in favour of flavour, so to speak, but against the kind of communication a game needs to flow:

This is an example of language problems used wonderfully, but unfortunately few of us are Simon Pegg or Edgar Wright!

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Making the Read/Write Skill Interestingly Useful

I’ve always had a bit of an issue with WFRP’s handling of the Read/Write skill, at least in its first and second editions. One of the strengths of the game has always been how it’s rooted its fantastical (and sometimes fantastically silly) elements in a world that felt real. Much of the heavy lifting with the latter was done by the careers system, but it was also observable in the rarity of the Read/Write skill. (Of the six pregens in The Enemy Within, only two were literate, and the Elf wasn’t one of them.) Meanwhile WFRP3 and Zweihänder both fold literacy into a more general education skill, in both cases treated as ‘advanced’. This was a world, the system tells us, dominated by illiteracy; those who could read or write were a privileged few.

But the wisdom of this approach is contradicted by the last 40 years of game design. Generally speaking, GMs now know that it is a bad idea not to give out any information because a lack of leads stalls the game. An entire rules system, Gumshoe, has been designed to address this issue. If the characters can’t read, then that immediately eliminates a major source of clues and leads to keep the action going. The problem cropped up as early as 1e’s intro adventure, The Oldenhaller Contract, itself: the scenario relies on the PCs being able to read the advertisement nailed to the Deutz Elm in Episode 12. So in this post I’m going to look at a few ways a WFRP GM can help keep the game going while still being true to the (pseudo-)historical verisimilitude of the setting.

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Back In Business! Creatures by Slaughter Margin!

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After the Zweihänder news yesterday I finally got around reinstalling the latest update. And Against all odds everything seems to be working ok again! It seems that I needed to let go to get the groove back on.

This also means that FINALLY I’ll be able to upload and host Emil Heide’s excellent document that lists creatures by slaughter margin for WFRP2. You can download it HERE.

The Queen of Embers

Sami Uusitalo has done it again and proves us that even though the official line of WFRP is dead (at the moment) the fans are still alive and kicking!

The Queen of Embers (Download PDF) is a new mammoth adventure with no less than 121 pages of adventure! It includes all the details you will need to make a memorable campaign though eight connected chapters taking place in Nuln and Wissenland.

This kind of job is not for a faint hearted fan so I really hope that you will take time to read it through, comment it and GM it to your friends. Remember to tip your hat at Sami because his is the keeping all of our spirits high!

[Adventure] Sweetest Kiss

After few months of just sitting on it I decided finally to release this new adventure. It is currently art free and lacks a proper layout as well as art. But as things are I doubt I’ll reach a point when I will be able to fix these things. So it would be a shame to not to share it.

I am in debt for Dave Graffam for the great maps and commenting on the adventure. I would also like to express my thanks to Sami Uusitalo who has yet again provided me with excellent comments and ideas to sharpen this adventure.

The playtesting of Sweetest Kiss is still in progress  (we have managed to play through only the first two chapters). If you have the time to run this and give me some additional comments I would be extremely pleased!

The Sweetest Kiss is an adventure to start a new campaign. It was written after a lengthy discussion at the Strike-to-Stun forums about dungeon bashing with WFRP2. Running it for any group on their first career should not be a problem. The GM will need to come up with one additional encounter to play the social events that lead into this adventure.

I hope you have great time with the Sweetest Kiss (< download PDF)!

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In other news – We have started a new Dungeon World campaign. If you interested in following how that goes feel free to read about it at the Guild Redemund’s Blog.