Saturday, 19 August 2017

On the Edge of Exile: House Rules #1

Now, we've talked about setting, so let's talk about house rules for my newest Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition campaign: On the Edge of Exile.

First up, my rule with books in WFRP is everything official is fair game, but it's your job to find it. In my experience, this means that the main books that get used are the Core, Realms of Sorcery, Tome of Corruption, Tome of Salvation, and the Career Compendium. Given we're playing in the Border Princes, I would be surprised if no one bug into Renegade Crowns, as well... But, honestly, my players won't need to do any reading if they don't want to - there's enough in the Core to keep most of them happy!

When thinking about house rules, I like to perform the following three tests:
  1. Do I know the rules well enough to understand what I'm changing?
    I've run WFRP, in all, for about 6.5-7 years of weekly sessions, over the years. Not consecutively, but frequent enough that I know the rules probably better than any other system I've ever read (apart from those I've made myself). I feel confident that I know what I'm changing.
  2. What don't the rules model well?
    Travel and resource scarcity. For a game all about famine, pestilence, and the wild places of the world, there isn't really mechanics for modelling these things. I've always thought it was weird, but I could ignore those gaps. Most of my WFRP games are enclosed city-campaigns, where there's little travel, and the PCs have a home base. Whilst this campaign definitely has a home base, it is far from safe. I'm going to need some more meat. I'm also going to need something to can handle Faction turns, and settlement management!
  3. Do any systems do that in a good and transferable way?
    Well... Kinda. There's some cool travel mechanics in Ryuutama which have been inspirational, but they're altogether too nice. Then there's some interesting ideas in Dungeon World that can be transferred in some ways. Factions I can source from Blades in the Dark and Stars Without Number, so I have a lot to work with, but nothing that does exactly what I want... Which means I pass my three tests and can move onto hacking!
This is a lot, so I'm going to break it into two articles. Part #1 will deal with the Faction Turns & Settlement Management mechanics. Part #2 will focus on the Travel Mechanics.

Faction Turns & Settlement Management

Let's begin with what I am most keen on - the PCs running a settlement! Now, I don't want this to dominate play, but I want it to be the impetus for player action. I want this to fill the same niche as the Crew in Blades in the Dark - it is the character that the game is ultimately about, and the PCs are facilitators for that shared character.

However, I want the settlement - Dunkeldorf - to be its own thing. It has problems and people within it that the PCs don't control (yet). So I've mixed in a little Sagas of the Icelanders and Apocalypse World hardholds... Here's what I came up with:

Sooo, as you can see, the settlement is getting the literal character treatment. Dunkeldorf has stats, and those stats advance as the PCs perform actions that would make them advance. I am keeping the Adventure Phase pretty loose... It's everything that isn't the Settlement Phase, basically. Speaking of:

Here you can see there are specific actions to take during the Phase. I wanted to give it some structure and mechanical weight, but not go overboard. I took a large leaf out of Torchbearer's book for this one! Now, the meddling of outside forces:

Cool cool, so we have some Stars Without Numbers / Blades in the Dark style factions going on. I'm actually going to run them like Apocalypse World Threats, but we'll get to that in a later article about GM tools. Now, the finishing touches:

This is basically my edge-cases, and ways for me to introduce the teachings of the Fate Core fractal: everything can be added as an Extra, if needs be.

Both this, and the Settlement Sheet I created to hold this stuff, is free to use and hack, provided below!

I hope this goes a bit further to explaining what On the Edge of Exile will be like! Next time round, I'll discuss the Travel Mechanics I've been brewing up...