Saturday, 2 July 2011

Four Jolly Butchers

We played Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay last night, and it was everything I expected it to be. Stuart has a summary of events over at his blog, so I'll try not to go over too much old ground.

The setting was Marienburg, a prosperous but independent trading port that is a little bit Amsterdam, a little bit New Amsterdam, and a little bit Bristol. Apparently. Local crime boss Smiles Vanderveel had fallen ill with a mysterious malady, and with his withdrawal from the day-to-day running of his turf, his men had either deserted or been picked off by other gangs moving into the area to take advantage of his perceived weakness. As such, Vanderveel's boss, "Uncle" Smalls decided to send in some heavies to see if anything could be salvaged from the situation.

So on Angestag the ninth of Brauzeit, four unsavoury sorts got off a leaking boat at the rotting docks in the Doodkanaal district of Marienburg. I played Hammerhead Harry, a dwarven slab of muscle with a hammer, Stuart played Steiner Eriksen, a berserker from Norsca, and Stuart's son Sebastian played a boatman-turned-smuggler named Gisbert Lufthansa.

Now that last one is quite a silly name, but it's very much in keeping with the tone of WFRP, and is one of the things I love about the game; you could have the same tone in any fantasy game, but for some reason it just doesn't fit as well as it does in WFRP. I've seen people complain about how grim and depressing they find both Warhammer settings, and I wonder if they've missed the point.

Rounding out the party was Manoj's cat burglar Englebert, who was one of Smalls' "nephews" and as such was supposed to be in charge. Our gang headquarters was in the back room of a butcher's shop called, er, The Jolly Butcher, so after some initial missteps -- "You can call us... The Dicks!" -- we took our gang's name from the shop.

Our GM Ben had set the game up as a sandbox seeded with clues and rumours, so we were free to roam and restore the gang's fortunes in any way we saw fit. In our initial forays we discovered another group -- the Black Dogs -- selling narcotics in one of our pubs -- the Moby Dick, hence our first, failed, attempt at a gang name -- so we found their hideout, roughed them up -- which, due to WFRP's brutal combat system, ended with two of their men bleeding to death in a cellar -- and forced them to join the Jolly Butchers.

We also rounded up all the protection money that had gone uncollected during Smiles Vanderveel's absence, and gathered enough to hire a physician from one of the posher parts of town to come and attend to the boss. The doctor suggested that although Smiles seemed to be suffering from a tropical disease, it was more likely that he was under the effect of a magical curse, and that we could either find the original magician and kill them, or find another magician to dispel the enchantment. We decided to look for a necromancer who was reported to be causing trouble in the Boneyard, a nearby cemetery; it was possible that this necromancer had cast the original curse, and even if not, he might be able to undo it. Furthermore, the local rat catchers' union -- who were supposed to be under our thumb -- were on strike following the killing of two of their number by some sort of beast, also in the Boneyard, so we saw this as an efficient way to deal with a couple of problems at once.

We found neither beast nor necromancer, but did run into a couple of grave robbers who claimed to be working for a rival boss, Mad Eye Eddie; they were taking the body out of the Doodkanaal area and into Eddie's turf, but we decided we weren't tough enough to take on another boss just yet, although we did warn the robbers not to mess about in our backyard again and to tell Eddie that if he wanted to do business he could get in touch, and didn't need to be so sneaky about it.

Returning to the Boneyard, Englebert decided to do some grave robbing of his own, but was paralysed with fear when he ran into a bunch of animated skeletons. Harry remained stoic and waded in with his warhammer, until the rest of the group shook off their fear and finished off the undead. Steiner was quite annoyed with the burglar for taking the group on such a pointless and dangerous digression, but the discovery of a cache of gems changed his demeanour somewhat.

That's more or less it for the session. What perhaps doesn't come across above is how funny it all was, with fluffed rolls and comedy accents aplenty, and the decision to mark all our gang members with a tattoo of a smiling pig, even those who had "joined" the gang while unconscious. We had a couple of very tired players at the table, but even so everyone was enthused, and I haven't seen so much laughing in a game in a long time. It was a brilliant three-or-so hours, and I'm looking forward to more of the same next week.


  1. Cheers K for the write up. :) Thought wfrp2 would do the trick!! Sand box adventuring without the statistical head ache that is dnd, freedom to do anything anyway you want, whilst laughing a lot! :)
    Will get a map of the Doodkanaal produced later, as in blocks of housing with some trade mark sights, and your assets on it, along with current knowledge of rival bases. Looking forward to next week. :)

  2. Sounds like a very fun game! I always enjoy reading the session recaps from people here on the ole' blogosphere. It's nice to be reminded that people are actually playing, as opposed to complaining about, games.

  3. That sounds like a lot of fun. I think that I have to bump up the learning curve for my Heroquesters and get them rolling some percentile dice.

  4. Your account is much more lucid than mine Kelvin. I'll have to put it down to severe fatigue!


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