Advice for getting the WFRP tone right for scenarios?

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TomPleasant
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I think it’s safe to assume we all know a WFRP scenario from a D&D one when we see it. WFRP, especially 1st Ed, has a certain tone and humour.

Has anyone ever written any advice for creating WFRP scenarios that will hit that tone? I’m a GM veteran and absolutely know how to write scenarios in general, but was wondering whether anyone had compiled a list of common WFRP tropes, or something similar.

Yes, I can reread all the old published scenarios again to refresh my inspiration, but a reference document would be really helpful!

If not, advice is gratefully appreciated.
Last edited by TomPleasant on Sat Sep 18, 2021 10:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Orin J.
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the most important thing is that the setting is mud'n'blood, with a healthy dollop of college student humor about historical and fantasy tropes. if you get TOO serious you need to inject some stupid humor into what's going on, be it a character or foot chace for a small pet dog with a deadly maguffin in their mouth while the fat lady that owns it shrieks ar you to be gentle.

the next is that the players aren't supposed to BE big time heroes. they're the little guys, saving the world in the cracks.

and finally, if your pressed for a session, making everyone get dragged through something stupid because of one player's personal progress is always a fun way to put everyone at each other's throats in a friendly way.
[note: none of my advice should be trusted. ever. any comment i make is for my own amusement and the advice should be assumed suspect no matter how good it looks on paper]
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Wyrmslayer
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Something comes to mind but can't remember who was explaining it, is the perspective. How the WFB and WFRP both engage with the same world, but where WFB has a top down view of the setting, dealing with the powerful characters that can sway battles. WFRP has a bottom up view. From the gutter.

We see the ramifications of those Lords, the fallout. Our characters need not be total plebs, some can be in the noble career or respected priests, but even they are tiers below the pecking order of the policy makers of WFB perspective. But even as we're down amongst the lower tiers there's something remarkable about our characters, there has to be, as the normal reaction to encountering injustice or Chaotic gribblies would be to scarper, we have to inject something into our characters to buy in to the necessity of an RPG. It might be that retreat is regarded as personally shameful, or that no-one else is going to deal with it and we have to to protect what little we have.
Zisse
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This may be obvious, but there should not be a dungeon in a WFRP adventure. You can have a mine or sewers or a dungeon in the sense of a jail. But you must not have a D&D dungeon in a WFRP scenario.

Another thing are monsters. Just use the classic ones from the old world. Don't extend into an infinite amount of different species.
Theo
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Zisse wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 12:34 pm
This may be obvious, but there should not be a dungeon in a WFRP adventure. You can have a mine or sewers or a dungeon in the sense of a jail. But you must not have a D&D dungeon in a WFRP scenario.

Another thing are monsters. Just use the classic ones from the old world. Don't extend into an infinite amount of different species.
Then again, several adventures in The Enemy Within prominently feature dungeons of various sorts. Dungeons can be plenty WFRP-y.

I'd qualify this statement to say that a dungeon in WFRP should have its own character and justification. It shouldn't be just a "generic dungeon".
Zisse
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Exactly that's what I meant.
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Overlord
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Depends what You call a dungeon. In Descent Journeys into the Dark (a tabletop game) - dungeons were dungeons as per say but later on in Descent Road to Legend the dungeons were more like encounter. Your "Dungeon" could be a haunted mansion by vampire or spoiled lady who sold her soul to Slaneesh or even forest full of Khorne Berserkes after defeat in Storm of Chaos. All Dungeon Masters, Overlords, Game Masters ect. are same. Want using D&D mechanics for Warhammer settings? Be my guest (settings of 1st edition of WFRP was better than 2nd edition in my opinion, Chaos was hidden, mutants were very rare, You could sense the danger but not see it, i loved that atmosphere btw.). But in general for me Warhammer is dark fantasy where D&D is high fantasy. Its the matter of perspective really.
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Zisse
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Agreed, my point is that I understand a dungeon in the D&D context as something like the tomb of annihilation or the dungeon of the mad mage. That's something I would not recommend for a WFRP scenario. Actually, currently playing ToA I don't even recommend it for a D&D scenario.

Something like Bögenhafen's sewers or a mine in the reikland is fine. Key for me is that it has an in-game day-to-day purpose and that it is handled within one session.
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Gideon
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Try folk horror meets kitchen-sink drama with a touch of Monty Python.

My conclusions from my BOSR Zeitgeist tweets might be relevant:

"#BOSR Zeitgeist

What characteristics of the cultural milieu stand out from these tweets? I would point to:

Dystopianism
Moral ambiguity
Horror and violence
British history (eg historic monuments and buildings, the Second World War, colonialism)
British folklore
Occultism
Gritty realism
Anti-authority attitude
Social class
Down-to-earth protagonists
Thoughtful protagonists, rather than action heroes
Anti-heroes
Surreal humour
Satire
Parody
Mocking the absurdity of everyday life
Puns
Sexual innuendo
National stereotypes
Silly accents
Catchphrases
Slapstick
Interaction with British video games
And perhaps the comparative unimportance of pulp fiction, superheroes, and westerns"

These ideas were based on British gaming culture of the 1980s in general, rather than WFRP specifically, but there's considerable overlap.
Whymme
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Some other points:

IMHO combat is less important than in your typical D&D scenario. There should be a way to solve the problem without combat.

The antagonist, the final opponent is often not a big monster, but a human or a group of humans.

Try to get some silly puns or jokes in there.
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TomPleasant
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Gideon wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 11:53 pm
...What characteristics of the cultural milieu stand out from these tweets? I would point to:

Dystopianism
Moral ambiguity
Horror and violence
British history (eg historic monuments and buildings, the Second World War, colonialism)
British folklore...
Yes, exactly. This sort of thing. And I'm coming more from 1st ed than the later ones, not that that's better, just what I prefer.

The Dying Earth RPG from Pelgrane Press has a great checklist of tropes from the Jack Vance novels to include in your scenarios. They are:
1. Odd Customs
2. Crafty Swindles
3. Heated Protests and Presumptuous Claims
4. Casual Cruelty
5. Weird Magic
6. Strange Vistas
7. Ruined Wonders
8. Exotic Food
9. Foppish Apparel

It goes on to describe these in more detail and if you've read the books you know exactly what the list is referring to. I've gone on to use similar lists in other games, such as Fading Suns and others, to maintain the right tone.

If I was to choose 10 of the most iconic from your list, my own and that of Joseph Manola, I'd go for:
1. From above, the future is great, but from the bottom it's terrifying.
2. Plentiful nods and winks to plots and characters from other media and real life, but always played straight.
3. The PCs are the people on the margins who can see the world as it is.
4. Peculiar festivals and cruel entertainment.
5. The threat of chaos is systematically underestimated.
6. Adventures take place in the shadows.
7. The upper classes are arses, but so is everyone else.
8. Every plot has more than one faction stirring the pot.
9. Tragical farce, often involving idiots or drunkards ruining complicated plans.
10. Bloody, terrible violence.

Obviously, those would need to be condensed into pithier idioms, but then there's plenty of discussion to be had about what should or shouldn't be in that list.

Any got any suggestions?
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Hyarion
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I'm not sure about "Adventures take place in the shadows" While some (possibly even the majority) do, there are some that by necessity are either not in the Shadows or involve major characters supplanting each other and therefore definitionally "not in the shadows".
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TomPleasant
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Hyarion wrote:
Sat Oct 09, 2021 1:16 pm
I'm not sure about "Adventures take place in the shadows" While some (possibly even the majority) do, there are some that by necessity are either not in the Shadows or involve major characters supplanting each other and therefore definitionally "not in the shadows".
The list isn't there to make sure every entry is in every scenario, but that if you get most of them in there, it should be hitting the tone of a lot of 1st ed scenarios.
TTRPGer, journalist, editor, and international man of mystery. He/him. The Right, TERFS, racists and bigots are, as the Welsh say, 'dim gwerth rhech dafad'.
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dry_erase
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TomPleasant wrote:
Sat Oct 09, 2021 2:17 pm
Hyarion wrote:
Sat Oct 09, 2021 1:16 pm
I'm not sure about "Adventures take place in the shadows" While some (possibly even the majority) do, there are some that by necessity are either not in the Shadows or involve major characters supplanting each other and therefore definitionally "not in the shadows".
The list isn't there to make sure every entry is in every scenario, but that if you get most of them in there, it should be hitting the tone of a lot of 1st ed scenarios.
It's a good list. Perhaps an addition might be something like "There is heroism and high fantasy, but it happens off-camera"? The Warhammer world has always had spectacular events happening in distant lands or the storied past. Meanwhile, the party are slogging through a sewer or dealing with dodgy nobles in a grubby town.

I wonder whether there's a way to add humour as an essential ingredient? It's arguably the most consistent factor in 1st edition and the hallmark of every good Warhammer release since.
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