Warhammer Fantasy 2e (2005)
Chris Pramas et. al. (Black Industries)
I’ve been announcing this bastard for a while now and it is time I get to work. Instead of re-iterating what has already been quite firmly established I shall merely go over each section and discuss the differences between this and the previous edition. Without further adu, let’s simply jump in. If you have not read my review of the first edition, I suggest you do so now.
The 2nd edition by Black Industries, a now-defunct sub-division of Black Library (Games Workshop’s Bolter-Porn publishing sweatshop) does not differ greatly from the older edition, retaining by and large the gritty feel and unforgiving system that made the 1st game so compelling. It is not a replacement (as is the case with DnD), a usurper meant to sweep away what was broken and replace it with something else entirely. It is instead a refinement, the ore has been smelted and its impurities have, by and large, been washed away.
We begin with something with something to tip us off that we are in the modern age: A FUCKING SHORT STORY. It is about 4 pages long, thus avoiding the penalty of Rein*Hagen, reserved for those rpgs that open with a short story more then 10 pages long. Normally the very existence of a short story is sufficient to condemn a book to the deepest layer of hell if not for the fact that it A) sets the mood, B) describes what could easily be a session of play and C) is by Dan Abnett. You are forgiven Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying 2nd edition.
Character creation has been simplified. Stats have been streamlined considerably: Agility now encapsulates Initiative and Dexterity, Fellowship also counts as Leadership, Willpower now doubles as the Cool stat and Movement is now a fixed stat (different for each race). The biggest departure is the fact that Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay tells you it’s okay to CHOOSE your race. What vile trickery is this?!? As we swipe various cheeto-stained naruto figurines, bags of 20-sided dice and old, dusty paperbacks of Faffhrd & the Grey Mouser from our desks in search of our inhalers whilst frantically breathing into a paper bag, we discover it is not quite that bad.
It is true we may simply SELECT a race, in irreverent defiance of the sacred traditions of humano-centric gameplay, however we soon discover that Humanity is still the dominant Race and has the superior amount of starting professions to show for it. A further weak-willed concession, no doubt brought about by the insidious machinations of Tzeentch and his servant Matt Ward, allow you to invoke Shallya’s Mercy whilst rolling stats. This means you can pick a single stat and instead replace it with the Average of your race. Scandalous! Racial abilities have been expanded a little but are by and large the same with Elves being great at almost everything yet drawing the short end of the straw when it comes to Fate points and the overly lucky nature of humans being nerfed somewhat (human max Fate points have now been capped at 3, or as we called it in my Dark Heresy game; an encounter’s worth of Fate points). Instead of all the cool talents and skills of the demi-human races, Humans begin play with the ability to speak Reikspiel (the language of the noble Empire) and two random Talents. Halflings are still a joke, albeit a joke with an actual resistance to Chaos ability this time (and a sling profiency! man halflings are lame).
The rest of the character creation process has been streamlined considerably, the risk/reward mechanic of starting age has been removed entirely so your age no longer affects your physical characteristics. You no longer need select an adventuring class and then roll on a different table. Instead you roll twice on a single table (only your race affects your starting career) and select the career you like best.
What I do appreciate is some tips on making your character come to life. Who do you love/hate, where are you from, what is your family/social class/religion (hint, in Warhammer Fantasy, people do not often die of old age), what did you do before and why did you become an adventurer, best friends/worst enemies, loyalty and what are your prized possessions and Why? To top it off, everyone gets a grimdark distinguishing mark (missing teeth, tattoos, warts, scars, nose-piercings, pox-marks etc.). Additional details like place of birth and weird star signs (merely cosmetic in this game) help flesh out your character somewhat.
You are now ready to fuck some shit up and die a brutal death in the mud.
What of the classes themselves? By and large the same classes are available in 2e as in the 1st edition. Here too you can tell the classes have been streamlined considerably. No longer are there nine varieties of thief or artisan (they removed the Circus Strongman which is a shame :() and even the spellcasting professions have been boiled down to a more manageable number (Alchemy is now a mere wizardly lore, druids get to GTFO and the Hedge Wizard is now available (though practice of sorcery outside the colleges is punishable by death)). Talents have been divvied up in skills (which run off characteristics) and Talents (which do not), simplifying things immensely. Some element of randomness has been removed from the game, classes no longer have a percentage chance of starting with a certain skill or talent, instead you always get to choose.
While I do feel some effort has been made to balance out the classes somewhat, it is still up for grabs whether you start as a dreaded Pit Fighter, Troll Slayer or Apprentice Wizard or a Rat Catcher (still has the Vicious Dog!) or the even more pathetic Ragpicker. In fact several professions have been added to make the game even MORE medievally. The Barber-Surgeon, Camp Follower, Coal-Burner (a class a certain Irishman with a fondness for firm Afriquan bottocks would heartily endorse), Bone-picker, the ruthless Bailiff and the Zealot (for those who have lost everything but their Faith). As a nice nod to the Non-Imperial humans, several nation-specific classes have been added; The Estalian Diestro (professional duelist and insufferable bastard), Kislevite Kossar (extremely hardy bear-cap wearing motherfuckers that eat rocks for breakfast, headbutt axe-heads for fun and subdue she-bears for their wives) and the Norscan Berserker (even scarier tattooed motherfuckers that live next to the Gate to Chaos for fun, drink molten glass to unwind or would if they ever unwound, scream constantly from the day they were born and will only mate with enraged dragons, male enraged dragons).
Some of the older classes like Gambler, Trapper or Herbalist have been folded into other classes, but overall, I should say the essence of the game has been kept magnificently, even refined. And now, as is tradition, let us generate a character for Warhammer Fantasy 2nd edition.
We shall name our character Wagner von Kriegsburg, because it is the most german sounding name we can come up with and we don’t feel like using the random name tables. Wagner is Human (we have selected his race) and now he needs stats. We will ignore all of the roleplaying/cosmetic details, just the essentials please. It might seem as though wounds have been increased from the original game, but this is deceptive, since the default damage dice is now d10, rather then d6.
Name: Wagner von Kriegsburg
Age: DOESN’T MATTER BITCH!
WS 33 BS 31 S 31 T 34 Ag 24 Int 30 Wp 31 Fel 23
A 1 M 3 W 11 Starting Fate Points; 3
As we can see, Wagner is clumsy and has the charisma of a bag of wet sand. In keeping with the general spirit of the game, we decide that Wagner is, in fact, the least likeable man in all of Talabecland and we invoke Shayalla’s mercy to turn his Agility to 30. He now looks like this.
WS 33 BS 31 S 31 T 34 Ag 30 Int 30 Wp 31 Fel 23
A 1 M 3 W 11 Starting Fate Points; 3
We can decide his background later. First he needs an occupation. We roll twice on the career chart getting an 83 and 9. He can either be a Bodyguard (that’s good!) or a Thug (that’s also good!). Wagner is far too much of an asshole to ever find gainful employment therefore the profession of Thug should suit him nicely. Before we do anything more we immediately give him a free advance (every starting character gets one). Unfortunately, stats can only be raised in 5% increments in 2nd edition (as opposed to the 10% seven-mile leaps of the first game). Shrugging, we Increase his WS by 5%. Because he is such a giant asshole, he also gains a shitload of talents, skills and free starting equipment.
WS 33 (38) BS 31 S 31 T 34 Ag 30 Int 30 Wp 31 Fel 23
A 1 M 3 W 11 Starting Fate Points; 3
Skills: Consume Alcohol, Dodge Blow, Gamble, Intimidate, Secret Language (Thieves’ Tongue)
Talents: Coolheaded or Lightning Reflexes (we pick Lightning Reflexes), Disarm,
Resistance to Poison or Quick Draw (we pick Quick Draw), Strike to Injure or Wrestling (Strike to injure), Strike to Stun
Trappings: Knuckle-dusters, Medium Armour (Mail Shirt and Leather Jerkin)
As part of being Human, Wagner also gains the following skills and talents (we get to roll d100 twice, 57 and 17).
Skills: Common Knowledge (the Empire), Gossip, Speak Language (Reikspiel)
Talents: Resistance to Magic, Excellent Vision.
Naught is left but to add Wagner’s standard starting gear, roll his miscellaneous characteristics and prepare him for a short-lived career of Grim and Perilous Adventure in the Old World.
Warhammer is back bitches! Join us next time for a more in depth look at advanced classes and the system.