Initial Thoughts on WFRP 4e

August 12th, 2018

The WFRP 4th edition preview has been out for a while now, and I have some thoughts!

First impressions: very good presentation, gorgeous artwork, intriguing new ideas, and an obvious knowledge of and devotion to WFRP history and what has gone before.

— The Old World. Having skipped 3e, it’s been a long time since I’ve ventured into the Old World and I’m really glad to have it back.
— Advantage in combat. On first glance this seems like a nice nod to “advantage” in 1e, where the winner of the previous round got a +10% WS bonus during the next round. It seems like it will speed combat up a bit in the later stages, as Success Levels keep adding up.
— Success Levels. My biggest complaint about 2e, the “whiffiness” of combat, should be gone. And making such direct use of SL’s opens up interesting possibilities, like rolling multiple dice over multiple rounds to build up enough SL’s to, say, pick a lock. Ingenious.
— No cards, tokens, special dice, or other board-game-derived fiddly bits. Having purchased the 3e rules and a few supplements on eBay over the past year, I finally see what they were trying to do here. And having heard some really positive things about the system and its supplements I think they succeeded. Those extra parts just always struck me as alien to WFRP, and I wasn’t ever able to get over that to actually give the system a fair shake.

— Advantage in combat. From what I’ve seen online, this doesn’t work in actual play as well as it reads in the book, making combat overly complicated and laborious to track. Since combat is my least favorite part of the game, I would hope that it is as streamlined as possible so we can get it over with quickly.
— Magic needs work. It seems nerfed from 2e. This is probably an intentional design choice to keep WFRP a “low-magic” system like 1st edition. But I have at least one PC who loves to play wizards, and spending most of combat standing in place, doing nothing but channeling until you get enough Success Levels to finally cast a spell sounds like a very boring time.
— On first read, the career path system seems too linear. It remains to be seen whether this is the case in actual play.
— XP advances seem very expensive. Even initial advances cost 125 XP compared to 2e’s 100 (or in terms of the 4e’s current advance scheme, 25 XP for a +1 advance compared to 2e’s 20), and it gets more and more expensive from there. And if we are truly going only by the 10s die to calculate Success Levels, the only +1 advance that matters — at all — is the one that moves your attribute or skill from a 9 to a 0.
— Monsters in the core book seem underpowered.

Overall, I’m definitely going to give the system a try and I’m optimistic to see how the new system runs in actual play. But personally I would prefer Cubicle 7 take some more time — 3 months, even 6 months if necessary — to playtest everything and take fan feedback into account, in order to make sure this game we all love so much runs as smoothly as humanly possible before releasing that hard copy core book.

5 comments to “Initial Thoughts on WFRP 4e”

  1. So the winds of Chaos are flowing again. 🙂 glad to see it. Keep good work

  2. They were clogged up for a long while but the plunging has worked!

  3. Everything I’ve read so far makes me think, “Huh, that’s pretty neat. I can just go ahead and incorporate that into 2nd edition.” And I get a sense that Cubicle 7 are a little… flaky? I hope that proves wrong, because #iliveonlyforwfrp 😉

  4. So I’ve just finished running the Adventure in the Starter set – Making the Rounds. Ubersreik is very well fleshed out and is a great adventure hub for a new campaign.

    The scenario itself kept us occupied for four sessions and would have been longer but my characters deftly steered the cart well off the rails and I didn’t have the time to improvise enough, so I dropped the last couple chapters and moved on to the finale.

    The Teufel Terror was fairly memorable as was the opening scene of the campaign. Most of the NPC’s were well fleshed out and easy to RP.

    I would have to say that although my players don’t seem to mind it, advantage drives me up the wall in terms of book-keeping and I really am not enjoying it

    I GM’ed a lot of WFRP2 and although the whiffiness was an issue I feel that Advantage has totally overdone it and often makes little sense with the rules as written.

    As for Magic, I very much hope for a supplement. The only spell caster in our party is a Hedgewitch who hasn’t bothered to use one of his under powered starter spells yet. Some of the Arcane list looks fun. I personally enjoy slightly upping the ‘low magic’ setting of WFRP. I guess 20 years with D&D makes it hard to give up on magic items and epic spell casting.

    We’ve only bothered to use the downtime events system once so far, but none of my players mind the fact that their money magically drains away, and there have been some good in game meta jokes about when the best time is to rob people… i.e. before they do their Money to Burn event.

    It will be interesting to see how things go with one of the other adventures that are out. I just don’t have time for home brewing anything so I’m desperate to see a lot of modules appear.

  5. We played a few months after it came out , then put it aside.

    While I can’t find much in 4e to say I ‘hate”, I will say the rules are horribly organized. I will add that I’m not really a fan of the new experience/advancement system, it just seems unnecessarily convoluted.

    I could mention a few other thinks I found clunky, but, most can be ignored.

    Once the new TEW is out we may try it again.

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