Shared Tasks in Zweihänder

Zweihänder‘s a fantastic game, but one of the aspects I’m less enamoured of is skill assists. When one PC wants to help another complete a task and has a relevant skill, the the latter PC rolls an extra d10 and can replace either of the numbers of their d100 roll. It’s a very simple system which, however, from my perspective suffers from a couple of weaknesses (apart from seeming very powerful):

Firstly, there’s no extra rolling and therefore no suspence as to whether the assist actually worked or not, or whether, indeed, the ‘helper’ ended up getting in the way.

Secondly, and more importantly for me, only one person can assist. There is, in other words, no mechanic for teamwork on a collective task. (With crafting, teamwork only reduces the amount of time required.)

This bothered me when it looked like I was going to be running a maritime campaign with Zweihänder. One of my favourite teamwork mechanics is in the brilliant, but little-known Napoleonic naval game, Beat to Quarters (available as PWYW on Drivethru here; and I can also recommend its infantry big brother, Duty & Honour: here). In BtQ, naval combat is resolved by a single roll (or card draw in this case), just as it is in the Zweihänder naval supplement, Maelstrom. But BtQ allows everyone to participate in whatever way they narratively want: you decide what cool thing you’re doing that round, and every success adds a bonus to the final draw. And it could be anything: maybe you are using your craft skills to repair damage to the ship, or your charm to calm the lady passengers. You tell the story and, if you succeed, your side gets a bonus.

So I started to look at other d100 games to see how they did assist mechanics.

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Passive Perception

I should probably rename this blog, ‘The Annual Empire’…

That being said, here’s a little idea I had while rereading the Zweihänder rulebook recently.

One of the rules issues that’s bothered me for years is how to run what Zweihänder calls “Secret Tests”. The classic example of this is the test to spot an ambush: it’s the kind of test the player needs to roll, but the very act of rolling tips the player off to what the PC is trying to achieve. Spotting whether an NPC is telling the truth is another example.

Zweihänder has a nice little solution, by having the player roll, but the GM doesn’t reveal the difficulty modifier: the player rolls, the GM describes the result, and in edge cases, at least, the player won’t know how far to trust the GM.

There are, inevitably, weaknesses to this method. It penalises near-successes, for example. But generally, I think it’s a pretty cool way to maintain suspense.

But another way to resolve these issues in a d100 system would be to make more use of the respective digits. I’m a fan of d100 precisely because it can do cool stuff with the various numbers it produces in a single roll (e.g. the d100, the result reversed, the two face digits – other possibilities exist, like the 2d10 sum; the d100 is super-flexible).

So maybe the GM sets a difficulty number from 1-10 to spot an ambush, avoid a guard, detect a lie, or the like, with higher being more difficult. In the case of a roll against an opponent, the base difficulty might be the tens digit of that opponent’s respective skill. So a guard with an awareness of 42 would set a base difficulty of 4, perhaps modified for weather, light, etc.

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TobCon 2017 Report; All For One Kickstarter

Last weekend was TobCon, successor to WimCon and, ultimately, TimCon. It’s a great little Warhammer con frequented by long-time WFRP fans, including those behind Warpstone and Liber Fanatica. You can read various people’s reactions to the games they ran and played in (including my games) in the thread here.

Anyway, I ran two games, both Zweihänder, and played two. I’ve talked about the games I played in over in the StS thread I just linked to. Here I’d like to offer some thoughts about the games I ran – the intentions I had, how I felt Zweihänder worked, and how I had to adjust on the fly.

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The Midderlands: A Weird and Perilous Setting, Kickstarting Now!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming, for a bit of promotion…

That’s too strong a word, since I’m not involved with this KS other than as a backer, but I think it must be of interest to anyone here reading about WFRP or Zweihänder. It’s a Kickstart for a, “green-hued, dark-fantasy, old-school mini-setting and bestiary set in a twisted middle-England.

Here’s the video (warning: dubstep, but please don’t hold that against the project):

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Zweihänder Kickstarter has been funded!

Amazing job fellow gamers! Zwehänder was funded in six hours and now we just keep digging for more rewards! I was away from computer when this thing went live but here is the announcement anyway! Yay!

ZWEIHÄNDER fans! We are now officially live on Kickstarter!

Thanks to each and every one of you for your interest, support and shared over these long years as we prepared the game for the public. We know you’ll enjoy ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG as much as we do, and hope to count on your support to bring a cool new indie tabletop RPG to market!

Happy gaming, and we’ll see you over at Kickstarter!