WFRP 4 analysis

Cubicle 7 // 2018
makrellen
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Iltherion wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:48 pm
So for a starting human to catch up to staring elf in WS would be 10 increases (elves start with 2d10 +30 compared to 2d10 +20 for humans). That would cost the human 275 XP. But when the game starts the elf would still pay 25 XP for his first increase where as the human would pay 40 XP. So essentially the relative gap becomes larger when you look at the XP cost.
Does that compare favorably or unfavorably to 2nd edition, where the human will never catch up to the elf?
In 2nd edition the gap in XP would always be the same. So you could off-set the difference with 100 XP more to the human for every +5 the elf was better. So I think that favors 2nd ed.

From a house rule point of view I think that is easier to work with - just changing the starting XP seems pretty simple to me. It is definitely harder to balance the races in 4th ed (if balance is something you care about - I am fully aware that many people don't).
CapnZapp
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Iltherion wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:31 pm
Dwarves/Elves being so much better than Humans/Halflings. I don't want to have effectively level three characters in my level one party.
In what edition of WFRP was that not the case?
A direct answer would be 2nd edition.

But it really doesn't matter. While some people might have fun with the idea that the warrior dwarf handles all the fighting while the puny humans hide, that is not my idea of fun.

I want all players to feel enabled and be active.

Yes, the dwarf character might not feel like the VIP star when it comes to social challenges, but that's such a small part of actual gameplay. (Resolving an audience with Countess Emanuelle might takes hours if not days in-game, but mechanically its rather quickly settled either way. Time spent around the table is small. In comparison a fight with Skaven or whatever takes hours of game time. Ergo: I don't want the difference between the rat catcher human and the dwarf warrior to be nearly as great as WFRP4 makes them)
CapnZapp
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makrellen wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:32 pm
Whymme wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:12 am
As someone who doesn’t have fourth edition, I’d like to know why you couldn’t compensate the advantage of elves and dwarfs at chargen with extra XP for the less advantaged races. So either you choose an elf, or you choose a human and get 600 XP extra to spend on skills and advances.
Also - in 4th ed characteristics and skills are not increased on a linear scale. For example - increasing your WS by 1% can cost 25 XP if it is your first increase or 50 XP if it is your 16th increase. So effectively your improvements slow down the higher your get.

So for a starting human to catch up to staring elf in WS would be 10 increases (elves start with 2d10 +30 compared to 2d10 +20 for humans). That would cost the human 275 XP. But when the game starts the elf would still pay 25 XP for his first increase where as the human would pay 40 XP. So essentially the relative gap becomes larger when you look at the XP cost.

What it boils down to is that you can't compare elves and dwarfs to humans based on XP. So to level the playing field you would probably need to look at other options. If I were to try it out (which I probably won't) I would probably completely remove Fortune and Resolve from elves (effectively not giving them the option to re-roll a failed test or remove a condition).
Well, actually... I too looked at it from the XP differential at first, but I've come to realize that doesn't tell the whole story.

Instead 4th edition completely differs from 1st or 2nd edition even though the actual numbers might look much the same.

By playing the game it becomes clear that if you have a Weapon Skill (including skill) 20-30% higher than your enemies, that translates to being MUCH MUCH more superior than you would be in 2E.

Why? Because while having a great WS in 2E of course meant you hit more (=a better offense) it didn't really translate to such a great defense - you only had one parry. Your dodge depended on Agility. And any third or fourth attack you simply had to soak.

In complete contrast, 4E means that with a high enough WS, you can stride across the battlefield like the goddess Kali, killing people left and right, and seldom to never getting hit, and even when you do get hit it's likely for minimal damage. (Sure I'm exaggerating a bit with the hindu imagery)

But the difference between a dwarf fighter with maybe 60% or 70% and the regular civilians with 40% or less, is that either the enemy is half-clumsy as well with 30% to 40% skill so that the humans don't insta-die... which means the combat monster can take on three or more foes at the same time, killing them all.

Or the enemy is someone that commands respect from the dwarf (50% or more) but then the civilians will feel completely outmatched, which is not a good feeling at least for our group.

Add to that how every option for retreat requires you to gain advantage and you'll easily see that as the GM I'm incredibly hesitant to feature enemies with better WS than the human characters, which makes the dwarf warrior completely OP.

This factor can't be seen just by looking at the numbers, you need to actually experience the game.

And so while the XP differental is indeed impressive, I fear the actual gameplay performance differential is even greater.

Or, to summarize:

Just picking the v1 numbers and dropping them into the 4E framework, as C7 has done (more or less) does not work. Like, at all.

All it does is confirm what many other rules issues point to: that there was noone at the helm who really knew what they were doing. Which is how you end up with the long list of absolutely damning criticism discussed in this thread.
CapnZapp
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Desalus wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:18 pm
CapnZapp wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:45 am
PS. Please don't tell me I should switch systems, how you love WFRP4 as is and/or why I'm so wrong. It's not that I'm ignoring you (though I am) - it's that this thread is about moulding WFRP4 into the game I want and need. If that doesn't interest you feel free to post in other threads. Have a nice day. DS
Is it really worth your effort to try to house rule that long list of complaints? I mean, that really is a huge list of things that you don't like about the system. I think most people would decide the system is not for them and move back to a previous version or move onto something else (since there are other options). I understand that If you and your group already purchased the core rulebook, that you'd feel it would be a waste of money to abandon it now. However, it seems best to cut your losses now rather than spend a great deal of time and effort attempting to fix a system that you find so broken.
I really encourage you to spend your efforts elsewhere. This thread is about houseruling 4E. If you want a thread about not houseruling 4E, feel free to start one.

Have a nice day.
CapnZapp
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Iltherion wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:48 pm
So for a starting human to catch up to staring elf in WS would be 10 increases (elves start with 2d10 +30 compared to 2d10 +20 for humans). That would cost the human 275 XP. But when the game starts the elf would still pay 25 XP for his first increase where as the human would pay 40 XP. So essentially the relative gap becomes larger when you look at the XP cost.
Does that compare favorably or unfavorably to 2nd edition, where the human will never catch up to the elf?
First off, as I explained in an earlier post, the XP costs doesn't tell the whole story.

Yes, theoretically the human will come closer and closer to the elf if the advance XP costs rise exponentially.

But the human will never actually catch up to (=become the equal of) the elf in actual play, since no campaign will ever last so long that this theoretical state will come about.

(And even that ignores how the xp costs flatten - stop being exponential - at the top of the table)

But all of this misses the very crucial point that even so, the elf will still enjoy being vastly superior to the human during maybe 90% to 99% of the campaign's existence.

PS. The human-elf difference, as expressed in xp, amounts to thousands upon thousands of xp. The elf easily starts out with stats the human only reaches in her third career. And as stated elsewhere, for opposed tests (mainly combat) their advantage translates to something much bigger than what a number like "20% greater" can ever suggest).
CapnZapp
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makrellen wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 12:16 am
From a house rule point of view I think that is easier to work with - just changing the starting XP seems pretty simple to me. It is definitely harder to balance the races in 4th ed (if balance is something you care about - I am fully aware that many people don't).
The way I'm going to use is probably the simplest solution.

Just lower the racial bonuses of non-humans!

A bonus to Weapon Skill of +10% is plenty in 4E, assuming you're going to play a warrior that chooses to put a great starting value in WS and also chooses to invest further in that Characteristic.

And as we all know, to be of any good, any game balancing needs to take extremes into account.

Sure, that means that the civilian dwarf (the clokcmaker or whatever) might not actually be more handy with an axe than the human warrior... but that's (to me) an exceedingly small price to play to bring the game back in line when it comes to my actual characters:

I mean, my players aren't born yesterday. Of course the dwarf player chose pit fighter and quickly gained 60% skill.

I'm not saying he could have known how utterly unbalanced he would become. I mean, initially we all assumed that 20% better would work much like it did in 1E or 2E. That is "definitely better but still playing in the same league".

A dozen sessions later I can emphatically confirm this assumption is not accurate. (Which makes me suspect the C7 team didn't have time to playtest their rules, let alone write them).

As a civilian 4E human, just about the only value you have to the 4E dwarf is to negate the outnumbering rules. With an ally (even one that always misses) the dwarf can face three foes without them getting any outnumber bonuses. He is likely to kill or main one of them in each round while never taking any damage himself. So as long as he can make them attack him (and not the puny human) he will single-handledy off them all in three rounds.

Sure, the human does add a valuable contribution, but all of this misses the most basic question of all: is it fun?

No, it isn't fun.

To make the combat system of 4E fun, all heroes much be roughly on the same footing.

To honor some thirty year old notion that dwarfs should get plus this or that in Weapon Skill, and then unthinkingly just add that to your completely different system... well, that's just bad design.

Yes, reducing the dwarf weapon skill bonus to "only" will, on paper, look puny.

But believe me, if you focus on your warrior skill, you will quickly find that you have a definite edge on the humans that they will never catch up to.

And if you want to play an Engineer (or whatever) that +10% will nicely mean you will feel competent in a brawl without even trying.

Now, obviously that begs the question - but if I don't get these huuge bonuses, should I still get less Fate points?

But let's discuss that next :)
CapnZapp
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Having Fortune Points is great fun.

Having no Fortune Points is no fun.

There, I said it. The whole C7 idea of penalizing Elves and Dwarves with few "points" might seem logical... but it isn't more fun because it's logical.

So when I rein in racial (speciesial?) bonuses to Characteristics, I consider it a huge boon to be able to hand out more "points" to everyone.

---

Next issue: allowing humans to start with four or more Fate Points is madness.

I am a great supporter of the Fate Point mechanism, but even I have realized you need to have just a few. Having lots makes you feel invincible, which can utterly wreck a tense scenario.

So I'm maximizing fate points to 2. This means I must divorce Fortune Points from Fate Points.

Which is a change I love, btw - there's nothing that stings worse than having to pay a Fate Point and then also being punished with fewer fortune points. (We changed this already in 2E so you always got the same amount of Fortune Points no matter how many Fate Points you spent).

Why? Because the secret is that some character concepts are more likely to spend fate points than others! Play a front line fighter and you simply expect to lose your fate points sooner than if you play somebody sneaking around in shadow, or shooting enemies from a hundred yards, or as a spellcaster that actively avoids danger.

Rewarding that fighter for his service with fewer fortune point seemed like a needlessly raw deal. So we changed it.

Now back to 4E. When we started out I relized I could not do that fate and fortune separation - since the mechanism seemed like a thoughtful and balanced balancing factor between humans and demi-humans.

Luckily, now that I've realized all that was hogwash, I can reduce racial bonuses, and this in turn means I can get rid of the fate - fortune connection. :)

I'll report back with the actual numbers; what the different races/species end up getting. Both Characteristics and Fate Points & Co.
CapnZapp
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No crit negation. I have seldom seen a more wonky implementation!

First off, they can appear at almost any time. Despite that, they're extremely complicated and fiddly.

But wait, if you have armour, you're effectively invincible and can't get critted. (So why then have all those rules, when they never come into play?)

A much simpler - and better - game is one where random effects are simple and quickly resolved: "you drop your weapon", "you stumble" or some such.

Since these random crits no longer cripple you, you don't need crit negation. Which in turn makes armour much more reasonable, as in you don't absolutely have to have it!

If you take a huge hit and fall deep into negative Wounds, that's where the crippling crits we all know and love "blood showers yourself and your opponent..." should apply, since if the enemy isn't important enough to resolve the fiddly bits you can just say "he's dead".

So.

Sorting criticals into three categories: minor, regular and major.

(Sure this is a fair amount of work, but not really. I'm printing out the crit tables and assigning each one a group. A B or C as it were. Then I can copypasta them into three new tables for each hit location)

And "random" crits aren't criticals at all, they're special results: they don't cripple you, and they are fast to resolve (no details)

The more complicated and crippling criticals still have a place in Warhammer, but as combat enders. For NPCs you can simply read the description and say "you're out".

Already the game is much improved, speeded up and more playable :-)
CapnZapp
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Next up: Magic.

Again, short and simple: the 4E system sucks.

The idea that a wizard should spend entire rounds channeling is... boring as fuck.

I've already credited 4E for making combat faster, at least as measured in the number of rounds. So the cost of spending even a single round of channelling is often too large. Asking wizards to wait until they're ubergods of magic before they can cast a "real" spell in combat is... just wrong.

Let's try a different tack. I haven't got feedback from my wizard player on this yet, so any comments are welcome.

How about if wizards got magic points that worked like advantage for the purpose of getting rid of penalties? :)

(Wild idea, I know. Let's see if it works)

If a spell has a CN of 4, that means it's at -40%, a crippling penalty unless you're a late-stage fourth career caster.

But if you spent 4 Magic Points, you could suddenly cast it at no penalty.

(If the casting fails, you always spend 1 MP, no more, no less. Unless you're out of MPs, of course - you can't pay what you do not have.)

Also, you can't spend 6 MPs to cast the spell at +20%. MPs negate penalties, they don't give bonuses.

Also, you can only spend as many MPs as you have WPB. (So no spending all 12 MPs straight away ;) )

You would have as many Magic Points as you have Wounds (my initial very simple suggestion).

This means that a Wizard could already in her second career cast (attempt to cast) three CN 4 spells in one day. (Most starting characters have 12 Wounds and thus 12 Magic Points).

It would also instantly mean the very generous counterspelling (dispelling) rules makes much more sense, since now they reduce a character of actual power, rather than reducing an already weak character.

Characters could still cast spells even after running out of magic points. In fact then things would work exactly as today.

Casting a petty spell with CN 0 would cost zero Magic Points if you are successful in casting the spell, and would cost 1 MP if you fail (per the rule above), so sticking to "cheap" spells doesn't necessarily mean your effort can't be taxing for you.

This suggestion is obviously a much wilder suggestion than many others. But since it would mean "my" chaos sorcerers and cultists can actually hope to get off a spell before they die, I would be happy ;)
mormegil
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Concering MPs, you could just count them in a similar way as Wounds, ex 2xIntB+WPB
CapnZapp
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mormegil wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:52 am
Concering MPs, you could just count them in a similar way as Wounds, ex 2xIntB+WPB
Yes, something like that.

To keep a connection between magic and physicality, my first bid (to my players) will be the same expression as Wounds. That is SB + (TB x 2) + WPB.

If that doesn't fly I'm going to go with something along your post, where Strength is swapped for Intelligence: IB + (TB x 2) + WPB.

Only if they don't accept anything else will I have Toughness and Will Power trade places. IB + (WPB x 2) + TB.

The reason for this is that Will Power and especially Intelligence is already of paramount importance. Having the same stat be crucial in many different aspects of a spellcaster's power means that increasing the stat linearly increases your overall power exponentially. Increasing Intelligence by +10% would
* increase the likelyhood of casting your spell successfully
* increase the likelyhood of overcasting
and now
* increase your ability to negate the Casting Number

For a generic character with 30-something in all Characteristics there is of course no difference. But let's explore how many Magic Points a more developed character with Strength 30, Toughness 30, Will Power 50 and Intelligence 60 gets:

SB + (TB x 2) + WPB = 14 Magic Points

IB + (TB x 2) + WPB = 17

IB + (WPB x 2) + TB = 19

In each case, the character can spend up to 5 MPs in any one go.

I'll report back with which option our group settles on.
CapnZapp
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Oh, one smallish point.

As you can see from the above Winning and Gaining differs from Cubicle's Advantage in a pretty crucial manner: it only applies against the critter you're winning and gaining against. Like all logic suggests.

That is, not only do this rule change do away with having to keep track of whether you have 1 or 3 advantage (which for the player characters isn't particularly burdensome, but which I don't want to deal with for NPCs) - now Winning and Gaining is always +20%. (Or rather, it is "pushing your foe until he can't retreat no more, then you get +20%")

No, not only that. It is also: once you've done in that foe, you need to win in order to gain on the next foe. At best, your space has cleared up enough for you to charge your next foe. That is the only benefit that "carries over" from one duel to the next. (And of course, how I as GM might have enemies make a Will Power Test or break, if they see a killing machine eating up ally after ally)

In other words, you can't magically kill snotlings to build up a +100% to use against the Daemon or Giant King or whatever.

That idea might make sense in some ivory tower as "heroic energy", but what it meant in practical play is to encourage entirely nonsensical behaviour from the heroes - to always try to find the lowest hanging fruit, and generally acting in a videogamey meta manner. Besides, like the armour crit rules it conveys a feeling of WFRP characters as heroes destined to hack through scores of goblins rather than grubby low-lives that hunt for food in ditches. A shift in focus most unwelcome.

(It might not change that much in practical play, after all, the number of times you actually successfully pull something like this off are limited, but it does change player tactics, and besides, the mere thought of having such an alien mechanism in my game was unbearable)

Rant over :)
CapnZapp
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What remains here is to decide on how Winning and Gaining interacts with Magic.

The most straight-forward implementation is of course: if you use magic to deal more damage to X than you suffer yourself then you gain Winning and Gaining on X.

But what would it mean to "gain" or push someone using magic? (Plus, only looking at damage feels reductive and Fantasy Battle like. I ideally would like lots of kinds of magic to count towards winning and gaining on another mage, not just simple zap spells)

What I'm fishing after is, if there could be a better way to implement "magic duels" than the dull C7 implementation with free counterspelling (what the rules call dispelling). And then tie Winning and Gaining to that.

For instance, as soon as a spellcaster is "gathering the winds", that is taking either the Cast Spell action or the Channelling action, you can (or must†) contest that. Make a Channelling Test yourself, and resolve an Opposed Test. Your SLs against the other caster's SLs.

†) as you will see below, the Channelling action is redefined to include a "steal the winds" aspect. So while you could skip this opposed test if someone is "only" casting a spell, if you don't oppose a Channelling attempt, that means forfeiting in the same manner as if someone is waving an axe in your face and you don't even try to parry it. (Away from rulebook at this moment, but I seem to remember some rule or rule discussion that covers what happens when your opposed test isn't opposed)

The difference in SLs sets the stage for the impending battle. Possible mechanical implications:
* Having you enjoy the SL difference in actual spellcasting (if you won by 2, you get +2 SL and he gets -2 SLs) is probably too strong
* You could get a discount in Magic Points. This has the advantage of not actually impacting your actual casting tests, but instead draining your Magic Points if you're on the losing end of the duel. It also has the disadvantage of not impacting your casting, since this probably mostly impacts how many Magic Points you have left after the duel.
* Having the duel instead impact the number of magic points you can spend is both more and less impacting. More in that your ability to cast bigger spell is affected. Less in that you don't actually lose any MPs. If your Will Power Bonus is 5, and you lost the duel opposed roll by 2, that means you can only spend 3 Magic Points a round, while your opponent can now spend 7 (assuming he had the same WP score). I'm not sure I like the latter possibility. Getting to use up to 4 MPs feels fair since these spells doesn't really do much more than regular 0 CN zap spells. Getting to cast 7 CN or 9 CN spells at no penalty is much more of a game-ender, I think. Perhaps you have more experience casting these big boys?

I'm torn between these latter two options. Possibly even

* if you lose the duel, this lowers the number of magic points you can spend. Example: you can now spend only 3 MPs instead of 5 per round.
* if you win the duel, you instead get a rebate on the magic points you do spend. Example: when you spend your maximum of 5 MPs it actually only costs you 3 MPs.

This way I get to both eat the cake and still have it. Cakeism at its best :D

---

What to do if you feel you're losing the duel? That is, if you don't like the penalties for losing (as discussed just previously)

Why, spend your action to Channel of course, to wrestle yourself out of the hole you're put in.

Any channeling attempt not only amasses magical energy per the original rules (which we now can express as "you're gathering temporary Magic Points that can be used for your next casting only"), it also forces a new Opposed Test where you can reverse the fortunes if you rolled badly the last time.

The cost, of course, is that you aren't casting a spell this round.

The opponent does a (free) Casting Test, and you compare SLs just like before. From this moment on it is the new result that applies and not the old one.
Last edited by CapnZapp on Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
CapnZapp
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With this in mind, what then to do with "magical" Winning and Gaining?

Q1. First off, what advantage can mirror the ability to push a foe backwards, physically on a battlefield (sewer, tavern etc).
(Remember Winning and Gaining does not automatically give you +20%. You only gain that if the foe cannot or will not retreat)

Q2. Then, to what end to apply the +20% bonus?

I await your thoughts with interest :)
CapnZapp
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Feedback from my players (mind nothing is decided just yet):

Maybe simplify Advantage into always giving +20% but stopping there. (This would mean you get the bonus straight away, and can use it against other foes as well.)

The Magic Point idea was generally accepted. Especially once they understood the game with zero MPs is exactly like the game today. They did realize this helps NPCs more than PCs *heh*

...
magnus the flyest
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I actually think these are pretty good ideas btw. Anything to get combat moving along and have more interesting stuff happen is cool with me.

Any ideas for fixing shields?
Silke
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CapnZapp i like what your doing and hope you continue, keep up the good work :)
tkalamov
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I really like some of the things suggested here.

The comments about the race discrepancies and the Fortune Point overload really got me thinking, and I made some adjustments to character creation to try and balance things out. (of course, WFRP has never been about balance, but when the gap is as wide as it is here, I think it needs to be addressed)

Humans get an extra +10 to Initiative at chargen (was thinking of doing +10 to any characteristic, still am), while Dwarfs have -10 to their WS and Willpower. Elves have their WS and Initiative reduced by 10 also.

Concerning the Extra Points that can be allocated to their Fate or Resilience, I changed it to be only +2 Extra points for every race. This way, humans still have more than the rest, and I think this compensates quite nicely since the other races still have an edge in other characteristics.

Really like the idea about Magic Points too. I think if we can codify it a bit more, we can produce something quite serviceable and playable.

On Advantage, I quite enjoy the mechanic, but agree that uncapped it can go overboard. Hence, the max Advantage a PC can accumulate is equal to his Init Bonus, and it only pertains to the target he actually has an advantage over. If he switches his target, it is gone. This idea is still rough around the edges, and can be a bit fiddly, but I find it is a nice compromise. I do agree that just a +20% gain is much simpler, however.
CapnZapp
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Thank you. And yes, once my house rules document has settled, I'll be sure to post about it here.
magnus the flyest
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After some more thought, I'm not sure I like the magic points as much. While I agree it does make magic more fun for magic users, and I think the magic dueling idea also improves this, I'm a little worried that this is a buff for characters that were already more powerful than most other classes.
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