News for September 2009
Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts 22
A look at party sheets in the new edition of WFRP
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay | Published 01 September 2009

By Jay Little

While some roleplaying games focus the attention on a single character, many RPGs focus on the actions and stories of a number of player characters who work together. It may be a consortium of superheroes, a special forces unit, a small band of secret agents, or one of many other types of groups. In many fantasy RPGs, individual characters band together to form parties.

Sometimes it is for mere convenience – there may be safety in numbers, or all the characters are headed toward the same destination. Other times, the group has a common goal and purpose for working together. A party identity can help establish the mood and atmosphere. A strong sense of why this group of individuals is working together can help add depth and immersion to the game experience.

Groups of player characters often have at least some sense of purpose or direction – even if largely unspoken or only briefly defined. In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the role of the party has a mechanical effect, as well as its story-driven effect.

The player characters in the game share a central party sheet, representing the teamwork, leadership, and camaraderie of its members. Each party sheet offers its own abilities, as well as makes managing certain party resources easier. Here is a closer look at the features that make up a party sheet.

Party Talent Sockets
As you may have noticed, the player character career sheets have a limited number of available spaces to socket talents. Each group of characters has an additional resource at their disposal to take advantage of their diverse talents – the party sheet. Each party sheet has several sockets that can also hold talents, and the type and quantity may vary from party sheet to party sheet.

Each talent slot on a party sheet can hold one talent of the corresponding type. The talents socketed to the party sheet are provided by members of the party, from their personal selections of available talents. However, when a talent is socketed to a party sheet, the ability is conferred to the entire party – everyone benefits from the leadership or knack of the character providing that talent. For talents that require a player to exhaust the talent card to gain a benefit, this means any player in the group has the ability to trigger the benefit by exhausting the card.

As long as the GM deems that the members of the party are close enough together to benefit, everyone can use the abilities listed on talents socketed to the party sheet. If one member of the party moves away to do something on his own (such as a thief sneaking out to reconnoitre an abandoned warehouse) then he may not be able to take advantage of the party sheet talents until he gets back in contact with the rest of his party.

Party Ability
Each party sheet has a special ability unique to that sheet. Some party abilities allow members of the party to use talents in different ways, exhaust talents attached to the party sheet to generate an effect, or have other novel and unique traits. The use or restrictions of each party ability is listed on the individual party sheet.

Fortune Pool
Each party sheet features a fortune pool. This area is a reserve to store fortune points gained over the course of a session. When the GM awards the party fortune points during play, they are placed on the party sheet in the central reserve. Once the party sheet has accumulated the proper number of fortune points, fortune refreshes and the individual party members can regain a fortune point.

Party Tension
The party sheet also features space to track the party’s tension. Party tension is a representation of the friction, anxiety, and apprehension a group of characters struggle with in the face of new challenges, arguments within the party, or as consequences for certain roleplaying actions.

When a triggering effect occurs that raises the party’s tension level, the GM moves a tracking token along the party tension meter on the party sheet. The party sheet lists the results that occur when certain spaces on the sheet are reached. If the party’s tension meter ever reaches the final space on the track, a more severe effect occurs, then the tension meter resets to zero.

Tension as a GM Tool
The tension track on each party sheet is a subtle way the GM can help resolve conflicts between players or their characters, or help reinforce the type of game experience the players collectively want to participate in.

When the party’s focus starts to wander, or in-character arguments threaten to cross over into player arguments, the GM can advance the party’s tension a space or two if he wishes. The goal is not to punish or embarrass the players, but rather provide a simple, visual cue that things are escalating in a way that may be counterproductive. Or that enough time has been spent on a particular side conversation, and other members of the group are ready to proceed with a course of action.

If the characters are working together especially well, the GM can move the tracking token a space or two back to reflect this. Moving tension back also offers the GM another in-game resource to reward players for good roleplaying.

Other Examples of Tension

In addition to the examples provided, there are a variety of other factors that can influence party tension. For example, an encounter with an especially fearsome creature could potentially increase party tension, or a horrible miscast by a Bright Wizard while he's in an extremely reckless stance. Accusations of heresy levied against the party by a zealous Witch Hunter might ratchet tension up a few notches, as could an ambush by a group of beastmen who completely catch the party unawares.

Conversely, spending a restful evening in a temple of Shallya could easily decrease tension, as could a great in-character conversation with an important NPC. There are some other applications, as well, and creative GMs will find plenty of opportunities to integrate party tension in a way that feels appropriate for his group and play experience.

Set in the grim world of Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy universe, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is a roleplaying game that sets unlikely heroes on the road to perilous adventure. Players will venture into the dark corners of the Empire, guided by luck and Fate, and challenge the threats that others cannot or will not face.

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Comments (22)

Storm Wolf
Published: 9/4/2009 9:58:35 PM
#22

I'm with Darkkami about the price.  Other RPG's are as expensive or more to get into and I don't know where people are going to buy this game, but I'm planning on only spending around $65 - $70 with free shipping.

Pak1to
Published: 9/3/2009 4:34:52 PM
#21

I still feel the Tension Meter raise to ten, then ... too unnatural. . My players will not accept it so easy. What would I do when they ask "we were discussing about the plan, so now we cannot talk, what do we do?" or "since when the GM tells the gamers what their PCs do?"

Roleplaying situations are not solved like that, you need roleplaying.  The tension meter is too much boardgame.

Paq1to

The Spaniard
Published: 9/2/2009 8:22:30 PM
FFG Staff
#20

 ""From what I hear, Fantasy Flight Games already tried to release this product under a different name and it was a horrible flop. So now that the have the Warhammer Fantasy license, they're just using the license at the expense of the current players. (Who liked the game, by the way.) Is there any truth to that statement, or is that just a nasty rumor?"

I can attest that this is a complete fabrication. 

cP
FFG

 

McClaud
Published: 9/2/2009 8:08:51 PM
#19

@ the_crom:

Yeah, I'm not finding most of your assertions to be true. It's already been revealed that it won't have a board, and that all these aids can be scrapped and you can just use the character sheet (if you know the information by memory). That other famous RPG that everyone's so hyped up about is more of a boardgame than this.

Also, what game are you referring to that is a flop? Descent isn't a flop by any means. Runebound isn't either. Other than that, what other game is even close to what is being listed here?

(If you're alluding to Road to Legends, that's also not true. It had issues, but a lot of gamers fixed them and used the FAQ to get the game balanced)

Unknown
Published: 9/2/2009 5:15:50 PM
#18

Aramis, 

I honestly don't see why people complain about the price. Each DND cole book retailed at 40 bucks. Thats 120 bucks just to play the game with bare minimum books. Then you have the Book of Magic, Book of Divinity, Book of Items...etc. Same For Warhammer FRP. Core book, Bestiary, book with all the gear...

So why is it that buying 4 books for 9 bucks is bad? My math must be off. I thought 4 was greater than 3. I also thought 120 bucks was more expensive than 100.  =p

cogollo
Published: 9/2/2009 4:46:25 PM
#17

@pak1to

Sorry man, but, in my opinion, your argument sounds too simplistic and completely outside the spirit of an RPG and what a Gang of Thugs is.

Even Anarchist Gangs of Thugs have a leader... I doubt there are many democratic Gangs of Thugs... If the leader is unable to crack a couple of heads, then what sort of leader is that? He should be "fired" and a new leader "elected". You have myriad of examples in films (Reservoir Dogs, for example; The Sopranos is also good to see what happens with a Gang of Thugs) and real life (any Mafia gang) about what a Gang of Thugs is and sometimes they do come to full internecine war (I guess this would mean a tension level of 1000) but not because the leader called the rest of the gang to order after some minor quarrel.

Also all members are losing 1 wound, so it does not necessarily mean that the leader was the one that hit the others, maybe there was a bit of brawling among the thugs.

I still feel the party sheet can be a great tool for the GM. I've seen many times parties quarreling in-character or having very good cohesion. I feel it's nice to have some mechanics to cope with that easily. I would not use it when the problem is OOC, though.

In other systems, you would just let the storm pass with usually no effect on the PCs and that is unrealistic and frustrating for those players who don't shout high enough or are not so convincing themselves. I find it's still early to say whether it will work or not, but at least it's clearly an innovative original idea and that alone is very valuable. It's great to see some fresh ideas come into RPGs... since how Magic is taken care of in 2nd edition, I had not seen many revolutionary ideas like this in RPGs.

Pak1to
Published: 9/2/2009 2:26:37 PM
#16

Ok. Now how it will probably will work with my players. Gang of thugs, two of the are arguing heavily, then I as the GM move the Tension Meter to 10, and it works  as if the Party Leader hits each party member.  So, everyone will atack and kill him, because he attacked them. Even if that do not end with the party leader dead, it will not help to ease tensions. It will help to add even more tension. It is not a good idea.

Paqito

 

aramis
Published: 9/2/2009 1:53:56 PM
#15
  • the_crom     Published: 9/2/2009 11:24:27 AM
  • Wow. How quickly the sheeple fall into line. What happened to everybody who was complaining about this game? Did they just stop bothering to check in to see what's going on?

What point is there in continuing to point out our disappointment and dread of boardgame mechanics in what is ostensibly an RPG. The playtesters seem to be chomping at the bit to spill the beans, but don't. Several put vague hints of boardless boardgame.

Jay keeps popping off "optomisticly" stuff that is just further illustrating the boardgamishness of the ruleset; Jay seem to think he putting forth selling points; perhaps they are, but definitely not to me and mine. Between the price and the boardgamishness in the wrong spots (WFRP has always been a superset of a character scale wargame; I've run 30-on30 battles using WFRP 1E with no issues, and 2E playtest with only the usual damage issues.

It may be great, it may suck... but at the price point and weirdness point of WFRP 3E, the continuing revelations are relegating it to bargain bin purchase only for me, and no-go for most of my player base.

orc_ugly
Published: 9/2/2009 1:10:16 PM
#14

In my gaming group currently two of my players argue quite a bit (and out of character). So I think that the party tension meter is just what I need!

eihort
Published: 9/2/2009 1:06:51 PM
#13

 @Crom

A roleplaying game is a game where you play a role.  By your definition, the only real "roleplaying game" is "cowboys and indians" because anything with dice, cards, minis, or battlemats must take the game out  of the "head of the players".   It's riduculous to think that a roleplaying game cannot have cards, dice, and tokens.

Your assertion that FFG has already released this game under some other name is simply not true.  

 

the_crom
Published: 9/2/2009 11:24:27 AM
#12

Wow. How quickly the sheeple fall into line. What happened to everybody who was complaining about this game? Did they just stop bothering to check in to see what's going on?

At the risk of being called elitist, I'm going to reiterate. This is NOT a roleplaying game. This is a board game that is trying to emulate a roleplaying game. A roleplaying game is about imagination, its about a world built entirely in the head of the players. The rules are there to provide a framework to resolve actions. They are not there to force players to work together, to act a certain way, or even to build a story. The players do that. At its finest, an RPG doesn't even need rules. Some of the best adventures I've ever played in, the dice were never rolled. Could you do that with this game? The tension meter is the game's mechanics interfering with the player's dynamics. Same with the crazy dice. I'm disgusted at this game. It's a dishonor to the fine tradition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

From what I hear, Fantasy Flight Games already tried to release this product under a different name and it was a horrible flop. So now that the have the Warhammer Fantasy license, they're just using the license at the expense of the current players. (Who liked the game, by the way.) Is there any truth to that statement, or is that just a nasty rumor?

Normally, I have nothing but good things to say about FFG but this is ridiculous.

Armrek
Published: 9/2/2009 5:55:27 AM
#11

What about fortune points; are they distributed evenly or can an individual character get more thant others if he plays his role better?

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