This is why the Snotling got you

This is why the Snotling got you

In yesterday’s post I talked about my desire to redesign the Warhammer Fantasy Role-playing 2nd Edition (WFRP 2) rules so that they are less punishing of PC actions, and introduced the problem of asymmetry in task resolution. Following on my list of principles for good RPG skill systems, I’d like to propose a simple reformation of the WFRP 2 skill resolution system that does the following:

  • Removes as much as possible the asymmetry in task resolution
  • Streamlines task resolution to make it quicker and easier
  • Works in and out of combat
  • Makes skills more likely to work
  • Gives flexibility to the GM in how hard they want to make their WFRP world
  • Doesn’t require any significant changes to the remainder of the system

Basically I want to propose a different dice + skill system that can be slotted into the existing WFRP2 system in such a way that pretty much everything stays the same and the books can be used as is. In the end I think my proposed skill system simply requires that you divide all attributes by 10 on character creation and make a couple of relatively trivial tweaks to the advance scheme for the PCs, which are sufficiently simple that you hardly need to think about them.

Some baseline ideas about how skills should work in Warhammer

The chart above shows the basic problem in resolving skills using the existing system. This chart shows the probability of succeeding in an opposed skill check for a person with a given stat value, against someone with the same stat value (I have divided stats by 10 for simplicity). Here you can see that the success rate peaks at 25% for a person with a stat of 50 against a person with a stat of 50. Bear in mind that for a person with a stat of 90, a standard unopposed action will be successful 90% of the time. I aim to reform the skill system so that:

  • When people with very high skills oppose other people with very high skills, the outcome should be a real lineball – so that if the task was repeated many times, the outcome would be largely 50/50. Think of two equally matched rugby teams with a long history of games – on average they should have a 50% success rate each
  • In general the difficulty of an opposed skill check should be conformal with some kind of objective standard of unopposed skill checks

I would further extend the first point to say that, for simplicity and playability, when a person of stat value X opposes someone of equal stat value, they should get a 50% chance of success (i.e. that figure should be flat). This may not reflect reality, but it’s important for players to be able to have some certainty in their skills. Also think of it like this: someone always wins at chess. When two equally terrible players play chess, someone wins, even if the game looks terrible.

The alternative system: Traveler-like 2d6 with scaled attributes

To achieve this, I propose a simple skill check based on attributes scaled by a factor of 10 and broadly similar to Traveler. In this revised system attributes range from 1 to 10, i.e. they are the original attributes divided by 10, and are on the same scale as Toughness. In this system the player initiating the skill check rolls 2d6 and adds their stat plus attribute plus modifiers, and compares the result against a target threshold number that is 8 + the opposing PC’s attribute. This means that an untrained PC testing a skill against an untrained PC with the same attribute always requires an 8 or more on 2d6 to get success, i.e. has a 41% chance of success.

For non-opposed actions, simply assign every action a difficulty from 0 to 10, and make the threshold for success equal to 8+difficulty. By setting the difficulty of a standard action to 4 you ensure that a person with a stat of 4 is able to successfully complete that action 40% of the time, just like in the standard WFRP 2 rules. A person with a stat of 3 would need to roll a 9 to get this standard action done, which is equivalent to a probability of completing this standard action of 28%, approximately the same as the WFRP 2 rules; for a person with a stat of 2 the probability becomes 17%, so still close. Thus the success curve for a standard action is consistent with the standard outcomes of skill checks in WFRP 2.

If you want to change the difficulty of all tasks, simply change the base for difficulty. If you want a heroic campaign, shift the base from 8 to 7; if you want grimdark, make it 9. If you want to change the relative difficulty of opposed vs. unopposed skill checks, simply either change the rating assigned to a standard task to 3 or 5; or increase the base, and reduce the difficulty of a standard task.

In WFRP 2 difficulty modifiers act as 10% bonuses or penalties to a PC’s attribute, and these are approximately mimicked (except in extreme cases) by a unit change in the difficulty of a task, or by a +1 or -1 on the roll. Training can be incorporated as a +1.

There are several advantages to this system:

  • Toughness bonus and strength bonus disappear, with strength and toughness attributes serving as their own bonuses
  • Magic attribute can be used directly for skill checks, including for magic
  • Movement allowance can be used for skill checks, and especially for defense against missile attacks
  • Difficulty of unopposed actions can be related directly to opposed skill checks
  • Early magic is easier, and later magic harder, than in the basic rules
  • It would be fairly easy to standardize difficulty checks for spells by arranging them into levels
  • The biggest and nastiest spells are only available to the highest level characters
  • Only one dice roll per check

This system also allows for the effect of the skill check to affect actions and attacks. For example, in the original system on the few occasions that one actually hits in combat, one has to roll d10 for damage and add it to the base weapon damage, which is usually strength bonus – 3 or something similar. In the revised system, instead of rolling that d10, one could simply add the effect of the roll to the PC’s strength and then apply the penalty. This enables PCs with very high attack bonuses to soon overwhelm their opponents, and removes the extreme element of randomness in current weapon damage. Thus for a pPC with a hand weapon and average strength (stat 4) attacking an opponent with the same weapon skill as themselves, they need an 8 to hit and so will do between 4 and 8 points of damage. Thus against a person with average toughness (stat 3 or 4) they will usually do some damage unless that person is wearing really heavy armour.

This effect can be applied fairly easily to lots of magic as well, if desired.

An iconic PC in need of upgrade

An iconic PC in need of upgrade

Changing career advances

The career advance sheet can be used basically as it is, with a 10% advance counting as a single advance for the character. Having scaled all attributes by a factor of 10, there are no longer 5% increments in attribute[1], which means that these advances need to be dropped, rounded up or combined into a single attribute. Advancing in units rather than 5% advances means that the advancement process does not take as long – 6 to 7 steps rather than 10 – but I don’t think this is a bad thing, because:

  • The career system is one of WFRP 2’s best aspects, and advancing up it rapidly and going through many careers is a great idea
  • One principle of the system is that you start off in a nothing career and advance, and if you’re going to adhere to that principle it seems a good idea to make the advancement fairly rapid

As an example, let’s consider the Camp Follower, whose advance scheme is depicted above. She has three 5% advance limits and two 10% advance limits, and a total of 9 advances. I would revise this character so that she gets a single advance for Agility, two advances for Fellowship, and one advance on Toughness, Intelligence OR Willpower, then two wound advances, for a total of 6 advances. So the 7th advance can be spent on one of her career exits, some of which might actually be useful.

This might seem a little short (7 advances to change career) but I think it enables a story arc that is just impossible in the original game. There is a tale to be told about this Camp Follower: how she was recruited from the camps to become a Spy, and from there became a Scholar of buried languages, hunting the ruins of the old empire for rare texts; but her lust for knowledge led her to forbidden knowledge, enabling her to become an Apprentice Wizard; from there she rose up through Journeyman and Master Wizard to become Wizard Lord, eventually finding the general that led her original army to ruin and destroying him with her most vicious spells. In the original rules this would require a total of 33 advances to get to Apprentice Wizard, and another 33 to Wizard Lord. In the revised scheme it would be between 18 and 21 each. In my experience it’s really hard for adult gamers to keep a campaign together that long, and if we’re going to fully explore the career pathways that the game makes available we will need to be able to a) enjoy some degree of success in our starting career and b) move through careers relatively quickly. So shortening the advance process doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me.


I think it is possible to implement a smoother, improved system of skill resolution that barely changes the structure of the remainder of the game, doesn’t change the atmosphere of the system, but significantly improves the playability of the game. I don’t think this system changes the problem of asymmetricity in skill checks but it does reduce its impact. I also think that the reformation of the character advance system to match the skill resolution changes actually improves the ability of the game to achieve its original goal of building a story in which PCs elevate themselves from very basic starting careers to heroes, while enabling them to enjoy this journey rather than just desperately hoping to survive and get to a functioning career – especially given that the way the system is constructed, no career will ever be functional.

I aim to test this system soon and will report on the results when I do. Comments and additions (especially from experienced WFRP 2 players) are appreciated.

fn1: You could scale everything by 5, and use 2d12 for skill resolution, which would make for some very nice probability gradients but would probably be annoying



These guys should never win!

These guys should never win!

Today I’ve been thinking about ways to remodel Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2 (WFRP 2) to make it more user friendly and less punishing, and in the process of thinking through the system’s underlying probabilities I have run up against a problem with the reference frame for skill tests that I think is common for many systems. The problem is a simple one that afflicts opposed skill checks: depending on who is considered to be the active initiator of the skill check, the same skill check can give different probabilities of an outcome. This situation is particularly stark in WFRP 2, though I think it might afflict other systems too. Here is a brief explanation of the problem and how it can (and can’t be) solved. I wonder if this problem is part of the reason that people get so frustrated with the WFRP 2 system and always feel like they’re failing …

The WFRP 2 opposed skill system

WFRP 2 uses a stat-based skill system to resolve skill checks. Stats range from 0 to 100 and an unopposed skill check is resolved by rolling d100 and trying to get under your stat. So e.g. if your agility is 40 then you will succeed in a basic agility check 40% of the time. There are modifications of course (skill training, etc.) but this is the basic process. For an opposed skill check, each person involved in the skill check makes their roll, the person initiating the check starting and then their target rolling under the opposing skill. For example in combat the attacker rolls for Weapon Skill and then the defender rolls their Weapon Skill or Agility in order to parry or dodge. In an opposed skill check your chance of success is always lower than your base stat: it is stat * (1 – opposing stat). This creates a punishing probability curve, incidentally: a person with a stat of 50 up against a target with a stat of 50 has only a 25% chance of success, and perversely this is the best in the game. If you have stat 90 and you are up against someone with stat 90 your chance of success is 9%. But this is only part of the reason that WFRP 2 punishes players.

How reference frame affects outcome

Consider the following example. Bob the Hapless needs to sneak into a tavern to steal one last drink, so he first needs to get past the guard at the door. He has Agility 40 and the guard has Intelligence 40, so it’s an opposed skill check, Bob’s 40 vs. the guard’s 40. Bob rolls, the guard rolls, and fortunately Bob rolls a 01 and the guard a 41, so Bob gets through. His chance of success here was 40*60=24%, not so great; this means, note, that the guard’s chance of spotting him was 76%.

Now Bob the Hapless is near the bar, but he doesn’t realize that a skaven assassin is in the room, and is sneaking up on him. So now Bob the Hapless needs to do an observation check to notice the skaven assassin if he wants to avoid being ambushed. The assassin has a stealth of 40 and Bob has an intelligence of 40, so they roll. Now Bob’s chance of success is 40*60=24%; this means that the skaven had a 76% chance of sneaking up on him.

Unsurprisingly, Bob’s chance of continually beating 24% odds is not good, and he fails the second roll – he rolls a 39 but the skaven rolls a 7. Bob is ambushed and, as one might expect, soon becomes ratfood. This is because he got rat-fucked by the system. When he had to make a stealth check with agility 40 vs. intelligence 40, he had a 25% chance of success; but when the skaven had to make a stealth check with agility 40 vs. intelligence 40, it had a 76% chance of success. For the same check!

Why this happens

In WFRP 2 there is an initiator and a defender of any opposed skill check. The initiator needs a specific chain of outcomes: her own success and her opponent’s failure. But the defender doesn’t need a specific chain of outcomes: they only need either a failure or a success. Essentially once the initiator fails the defender doesn’t need to roll, but if the initiator succeeds the defender gets a second chance to dodge the outcome. Success for the initiator is a conditional probability (on the defender failing); whereas success for the defender is a marginal probability of either the defender succeeding or the initiator failing.

This might not be a problem except that GMs tend to try to make the player the active participant in a skill challenge: if the player is stalking, then the player makes a stealth check against which the GM defends; if the player is being stalked the player makes an observation check against which the GM defends. But this desire to make the player the active participant of their own adventure massively reduces their chance of success; and until they reach a stat of about 50 this effect is punishing – and becomes punishing again after stat 50!

Does this happen in other systems?

I think this doesn’t happen in systems with dice roll vs. DC systems, because usually if the skills/stats are balanced then they cancel each other out and only the probability distribution of a single die roll matters. Shadowrun has an opposed skill check system where each player rolls a dice pool, but in this case the outcome is determined slightly differently: the defender’s roll sets a target that the initiator has to beat, effectively ensuring that if the initiator rolls well above a threshold they’re likely to win (see below for how this can affect WFRP2). I remember playing Talislanta or Aria (not sure which) and finding the same problem, that you could never hit anyone in combat, and I think it had the same underlying mechanic. I think this mechanic is used in quite a few systems, though I haven’t played them all obviously. I don’t think WFRP 3 has it because the difficulty of skill checks is set by the opponent’s attribute and this is asymmetric: in the above example everyone would have the same dice pools in all situations.

I think this problem is merely particularly noticeable in WFRP 2 because all the PCs start off so terrible that you really feel the problem.

How to fix this problem

There are a couple of simple solutions to this problem. The first and most obvious is to design a better system. A partial solution would be to require the defending character to roll under the number obtained by the initiating character and under their own skill. So in the above example, when Bob rolled 01 for his stealth check there was no way the guard could see him; but when he rolled a 39 on the second check there was a big chance that the skaven could roll under his result (which it did). This only partially fixes the problem, since if the player rolls near their stat, the number the defender needs is effectively only constrained by the upper bound of their own attribute. It also doesn’t work when one player’s attribute is much lower than another’s. I think Dark Heresy (the Warhammer 40,000 game) has a modified version of the mechanic that uses a version of this system based on degrees of success that may partly solve the problem.

The best solution is to define active and passive skills, so that for example Observation is always a defender skill and stealth always an attacker skill. This solution has two problems though: attacker skills (like hitting people and sneaking past people) will always be much, much harder than defender skills, which will encourage people to develop characters and gameplay styles based around not doing these things; but more importantly, RPGs should put players at the heart of the action so that wherever possible they initiate skills rather than defending against them. Setting up a system of skills where some are always initiated and some are always defended will mean that some players will be very good at what they do, but will never be put in the active position in doing what they do. I think this doesn’t match the ethos of gaming that most players enjoy.

Basically, skill tests should always be resolved by a single, simple dice roll that is in the hands of the player as much as possible.

Can WFRP 2 be fixed?

I just completed a follow-up session to the Slaves of Destiny adventure I did a while back, again using WFRP 3. It was a lot of fun but this time around we had a large gang of skaven slavers to fight (report to come) and it was just impossible for me to properly follow the rules – or even anything like them – when GMing all those monsters. I didn’t even have table space for the cards! I like the system but in the absence of thoroughly stripping it down and making it much simpler, it’s a good way for PCs to operate but a terrible system for the GM. I would like to be able to use the WFRP 2 rules, because all the surrounding material is great and the game has such a strong feeling, but I just hate them. However, I think with a few tweaks to the central mechanic [well, a complete change] the stat blocks, career system and everything else could be retained in their entirety, and the game become an enjoyable and frustration-free romp through a really great world. In many ways WFRP 2 is an almost perfect combination of world-setting, atmosphere, writing, art and game system: except its fundamental mechanic is broken. I think that mechanic can be fixed by dividing all attributes by 10 and employing a 2d6, Traveler-like mechanic. I will come back to this soon I hope, to describe how to do it – and maybe also test it with some of my players.

If I could find a way to enjoy playing WFRP 2 I would be a very, very happy GM …

The final session continued where the previous session left off, with our heroes standing on a pile of corpses… again.Having looted their victims, but none the wiser as to the purpose of the rat-catchers’ guild they were so efficiently destroying, they decided to go back to the start of the sewer complex and explore every room. Amongst the pile of recently-dead they found a map of the sewers in full detail, though it didn’t tell them that a nest of giant spiders was waiting for them near the entrance, or that the warehouse for normal sewer workers was situated perilously close to a Giant Toad’s lair, but inevitably they would deal with these obstacles in the time-honoured fashion. They returned to the entrance from the safe-house above, and set about exploring the remaining spaces in the sewers.

The Giant Spiders

Some distance from the rat-catchers they had previously killed the PCs stumbled into a room containing 4 giant spiders. The spiders’ attempt at a stealthy ambush was only partially successful, and in the ensuing battle three of them died very quickly. Several of the PCs were bitten, but no venomous effects ensued, and the remaining spider panicked and fled. The PCs discovered that its lair hid an entrance to an ancient jeweller’s workshop, and looted it accordingly[1]. This old gem cutters room seemed to have been long forgotten by the sewer’s other denizens, and the last person to stumble into this room was now enshrouded in webs, his last healing potion unused and free for the PCs to take. They marked the location of the remaining spider, and retreated to the main causeway.


They crossed from the main causeway back past the entry to the sewers, to another causeway that placed them roughly diametrically opposite the location of the spiders. Here the causeway flowed deeper into the sewers, but first it passed a storage room for sewer workers, the stairs from which led up to a perfectly normal city building, such as sewer workers might occasionally use to prepare for their work. This room contained nothing of interest, but at one end there was a closed door, which the characters wanted to enter. Next to it a rough note had been scrawled on the wall:

Be careful of Frogs

Assuming this to be a warning against some kind of giant beast, the PCs girded themselves and opened the door. They passed through into a large cave-like room, the floor of which was flooded with stagnant water. One of them threw a rock into the middle of the pool but nothing happened. They decided to what PCs throughout time and space always do in this situation, and press forward. Sure enough, as soon as they were into the pool, a massive toad lunged from the water and struck out with its tongue, which wrapped up Heinze the soldier and started dragging him into the pool. This toad was big enough to eat a grumpy Reikland soldier whole[2], so everyone charged recklessly into the fray. The wizard, unfortunately, had to pause to draw power, and Suzette the Disciple was also somewhat under powered. While Aruson the thief fired arrows into the toad’s repulsive, warty hide, Suzette grabbed its tongue and tried to help Heinze free his sword arm. She offered him just enough assistance to be able to get in one good strike, and he managed to stick his spear right through the toad’s mouth and out one eye. It gargled horribly and died. The PCs continued through the room to a rough-hewn tunnel on the other side, and stumbled on the secret they had been searching for.

The Rat-catchers’ Secret

Beyond the abode of the hungry toad was a dark corridor, at the end of which was perhaps a vague light. Aruson crept forward and found himself facing an opening into a larger cave, guarded by two rat-catcher sewer guards. He couldn’t pass them easily into the room and couldn’t see inside, but voices inside the room carried easily to his hiding place. He listened to a conversation between a frightened-sounding man and a strange, sibilant voice that was surely not human:

  • [Sibilant Monster]: Have you opened the entrance?
  • [Frightened Man]:Yes, it has been opened. Since we kidnapped the nobleman’s daughter he has been very helpful in teaching us how to open it. He still believes his daughter will be returned after we execute the plan.
  • [Sibilant Monster]: Good… but, recently your activities have been discovered, have they not?
  • [Frightened Man]: I’m sorry to say that we have been discovered by some new adventurers
  • [Sibilant Monster]: Do you think they’re servants of the nobleman?
  • [Frightened Man]: I don’t think that’s the case. The nobleman is too scared of losing his daughter to employ any adventurers. We don’t know why these adventurers have become involved. We’re moving against them, but the task has consumed many of my rat-catchers
  • [Sibilant Monster]: I don’t care to hear the excuses for your failure. If your organization is no longer convenient to me I don’t need you, and if evidence of your relationship to me is discovered before the attack, I will have to remove all evidence of it. Do you understand me?
  • [Frightened Man]: I understand. We will resolve this problem with the adventurers soon. Then my remaining rat-catchers will help you in the attack.
  • [Sibilant Monster]: That would be best. Your assistance in this plan has made it easier to carry out, but if you fail your organization will no longer be useful to me.
  • [Frightened Man]: (gulps)
  • [Sibilant Monster]: Okay, I’m returning. I leave this in your hands. Don’t fail me.
  • [Frightened Man]: We will put all our efforts in!

This was followed by the sound of light footsteps, and a door being opened and closed. The Frightened man began calling in guards from other parts of the cave system, and the PCs realized it was time to act. Aruson picked off the two guards nearest to the PCs with a single volley of shots, and the group charged into the main cave. Here they found the boss of the rat-catchers’ guild, a bodyguard and 6 sewer guards. The battle that followed was brief and brutal, but soon finished with minimal injury to the PCs. They took the sewer lord captive, and offered him a simple choice – tell them everything or spend the last few hours of his life in the spider’s lair.

With this option before him, and looking at the bodies of the last 8 members of his organization, the rat-catcher leader realized that his only safety lay in betraying his monstrous master, and he told the PCs everything. His rat-catcher’s guild was working as spies for a group of monsters that lived below the city, and had been doing their bidding for a little while. Most members of the guild didn’t know about these monsters and believed they were doing the bidding of a local nobleman. In fact the nobleman in question was doing what the rat-catchers told him, because they had abducted his daughter and were holding her prisoner as security against his good behaviour. In fact, his good behaviour was essential to the monster’s plan. They had uncovered an ancient entrance from the sewers to the Temple of Sigmar, but the door could only be opened by a specific key – a key that was a long forgotten heirloom for an Ubersreik noble family. This nobleman was from that family, and had found the key for the rat-catchers. Now they were biding their time, clearing out the area around the door and preparing for a large force of the monsters to attack Sigmar’s Temple from the sewers. Apparently there was something in the temple that they wanted, and they intended to slay all of Sigmar’s servants while they sought it. They knew that the High Priest of Sigmar would be away in Altdorf within a month, and so they were going to attack then, when she and her strongest bodyguards were away.

The rat-catcher the PCs had found all those weeks ago when travelling to Ubersreik had been on a mission for the monsters. Apparently these monsters had been having difficulty with an orc tribe whose territory abutted their own somewhere underground, and had asked the rat-catchers to send a spy aboveground to find out if the orc tribe were connected to any other tribes or groups that would make it dangerous to attack. He had somehow failed, and the Orcs had been trying to dump his body in a way that hid their presence in the area when the PCs found him. It was purely through happenstance that the PCs had become entangled in the rat-catchers’ plans at all.

When asked to describe the monsters, the sewer lord told them that they were a kind of twisted, monstrous hybrid of rats and humans.


The Rat Ogre

The PCs demanded he take them to the nobleman’s daughter to free her, and he duly did, leading them down a long, dark tunnel. He didn’t mention, however, that the room at the end was guarded by a rat ogre. The PCs almost blundered straight into this beast’s grasp but were sensible enough to scout ahead. When they saw it they roughed up their captive a bit, then set out to ambush the Rat Ogre. Though fearsome in aspect, this thing fell quickly and easily to their combined forces, and they were able to rescue the girl from her captivity at the edge of the room. From there, having eliminated the rat-catchers’ guild, caught its leader, looted its possessions and uncovered its plans, there was nothing for it but to go to the Temple of Sigmar and explain the situation.

Resolution and Rewards

The High Priest of Sigmar was very interested in this news, and together they set a trap. The sewer lord was put under a geas and forced to return to the skaven and tell them that he had destroyed the adventurers, and that rumours abroad in town suggested the High Priest was moving a dangerous and evil item to Altdorf within days. The skaven would have to attack sooner than expected. This he did, and the Priests and soldiers of the town set a trap for them in the basement of the temple. A force of maybe 50 Skaven emerged from the sewers a few days later, and were set upon in a vicious battle that claimed many lives. The skaven quickly withdrew, but were unable to take all their dead with them, and so the town of Ubersreik were able to find physical evidence of those beasts that were previously only an evil rumour. The High Priest quickly took these bodies and their possessions away, “to do research in Altdorf,” and all that remained of the battle in Ubersreik was rumour and hearsay. The PCs were able to find out that the Skaven had entered the temple to steal a piece of warpstone that was being held there under guard while the Priests of Sigmar sought ways to destroy it.

As a reward for their efforts, the PCs were given some money, and a deed of land title over Black Rock Keep, in nearby Heideldorf, where recently they had vanquished some mutants and uncovered a cannibalism ring. None of the players viewed this as a particularly good reward…


Because of my sudden move to Tokyo this campaign had to be wrapped up quicker than expected, so the truth of the guild and the skaven had to be revealed in a sudden ending rather than dripping out piece by piece. In my next post I will give some final thoughts about Warhammer 3, GMing in Japanese, and Skaven.

fn1: In case you know it, I’m using an entry from the One-Page Dungeon for this adventure’s map…

fn2: If you’re wondering how a toad that big can hide in a pond, try visiting an Australian crocodile farm sometime. In those places, beasts big enough to be dinosaurs can hide from view in a foot of water. They are truly loathsome beasts…



  • 組合は、1ヶ月以内に、大きい事件を期待している
  • PC達が組合メンバーの人数を減らしたから、組合はPC達について心配していて、PC達を扱うために8人の傭兵を契約した
  • 明日、組合の大尉はPC達と連絡して、貴族としてものまねしながら狂言冒険の契約を提案する。PC達は、この狂言冒険を従ったら、傭兵に伏せられて、殺される
  • PC達が見つけたアジトの下にある下水の地図がある
  • 組合の人数は20人+上士メンバー








Having finished their activities in the town of Heideldorf (which the PCs refer to as “Sausageville”), the PCs were given minor rewards by the (rapidly) departing nobles. These rewards added up in total to 160 Silver Shillings, which upon their return to Ubersreik the PCs immediately spent on healing and healing potions, leaving them a mere 10 Silver Shillings better off than they were when they were last in Ubersreik. “At last I can give up this life of crime…”

Having attended to some basic housekeeping, the PCs received a note from the rat-catcher who had wisely decided to work as a spy for them in the mysterious rat-catchers’ guild of Ubersreik. They met him in the park north of the castle, and he told them some useful information about the situation within the rat-catchers’ guild:

  • The guild was expecting some kind of big “event” within a month
  • The PCs had significantly reduced the guild’s numbers, and so they were beginning to worry about the PCs. To this end they had hired 8 mercenaries to deal with the PCs
  • Tomorrow, a senior figure in the guild would meet the PCs disguised as a noble, and offer them a fake adventure, an adventure which would end with them being ambushed by the mercenaries and slaughtered
  • He had a map of the sewers underneath the safe house the PCs had found previously
  • About 20 rat-catchers remained in the guild, plus senior leaders

So, now the PCs knew what to do … they would catch this “senior figure,” and administer some “enhanced interrogation” until he coughed up everything they needed to know. Then they would break into the safe house and kill everyone until they got an answer to the question “what are you lot up to?”

Captain Rat-catcher’s End

The meeting with the captain was due to take place in the Sad Shield, the rat-catcher guild’s tame local pub, where any trouble would go unreported. They were to meet the captain and his two bodyguards in a private room. The PCs didn’t mess around here; as soon as they entered the room they launched to the attack, with Aruson the thief unleashing a volley of arrows into the captain, Heinze letting fly with his magic dart, and Suzette unleashing weakening curses on all present. After battle was joined a group of 4 rat-catcher sewer guards burst in from a rear door, and the Captain leapt onto the table, drawing his rapier and laying about him with gleeful abandon; but after perhaps 4 or 5 rounds the entire squad were subdued by Heinze’s lightning bolt spell, which suffused the entire room in a ball of lightning that wiped out the entire rat-catcher squad. The PCs quickly looted the bodies, then dragged the unconscious and badly injured captain out the back door and away to their safe house.

Here they interrogated him for a few hours, but nothing they did would work. He wasn’t willing to disclose any information, so they abandoned him – in a possibly not very clearly-stated manner – and set off to pursue their next line of inquiry. They would infiltrate the sewers beneath the rat-catcher’s safe house and kill the remaining 14 members in their quest to uncover the truth of the Guild’s plans.

The Safe House and The Sewers

The PCs went straight to the warehouse that served as a safe house for the rat-catchers, and finding no one inside they went straight through the secret door and down into the sewers. Following the basic map they had been given, Aruson the thief snuck ahead to a guardroom near the entryway, and killed the two guards there in a surprise attack. Rather than wade through the main causeways to the rat-catchers’ nest, the PCs took a narrow, not-quite-so-smelly side corridor that led to the same destination. In amongst the muck of this corridor Aruson managed to spot a fiendishly well-hidden wire trap that would have sprung an alarm, and the PCs were able to sneak up on the main body of rat-catchers undetected. Here they found 8 sewer guards, a rat-catcher captain and his bodyguard. They sequestered themselves in the entry to the corridor, and opened fire with magic, bow and pistol on the group of rat-catchers. The rat-catchers charged forward, and battle was joined.

During this battle, Heinze made heavy use of the prism he had found in Heideldorf, in order to bolster his powers. Unfortunately, he was unaware of its sinister curse, and before the end of the battle he had incurred Tzeentch’s wrath – his first mutation. His skin was changed so that it glowed with a faint and sickly white light, a clear sign to anyone viewing him that there was something wrong about him. Realizing that the prism was a dangerous curse, Heinze stopped using it, and so was able to contribute less to the battle. Nonetheless, the PCs prevailed with only minor injuries to themselves, their position in the mouth of the corridor guaranteeing that their missile weapon users were safe from attack and able to rain death on their opponents. They had defeated more than half of the remaining rat-catchers, and now were free to chase down the leader of the Guild without having to fight many of his underlings.

The secret of the Guild lies tantalizingly before them, and soon all its machinations must surely be revealed to them…












  • 怪しいネズミ捕り組合が存在する
  • 遺体の男性はその組合のメンバーだった
  • その組合が秘密な組合だし、彼女が秘密にするためにお金をあげた
  • 組合はたくさんお金を持っている





  • 組合はいる貴族の人の私設組合である
  • その貴族の悪い使命をする責任である:スパイ、暗殺など
  • 捕まったネズミ捕りの責任は基本的に、下水の警備
  • 組合の人数は30人くらい足す数人の上級メンバー
  • かれの同僚がシグマー祭殿に入って、何か神格なアイテムを結んだことがある
  • PC達が発見した巣から、他の組合の倉庫や巣に行ける。





NOTE: this post contains spoilers for the WFRP 1st Edition adventure Fear the Worst, so if you’re planning on playing it (which I recommend you badger your GM into doing) you should stop reading here.

We left our PCs in a state of near death, surrounded by the bodies of 7 vanquished mutants, with only the wizard Shultz still conscious, and himself close to death. They had been ambushed in the cellars of Black Rock Keep, and had to retreat to the stairs and fight a grim and bloody battle for their survival. Now, standing in the smoking and blood-soaked remains, Shultz had to somehow revive his fellows before reinforcements might arrive. He searched his unconscious foes and managed to find a healing potion, which he forced into Suzette; she, upon regaining consciousness, tended to Aruson, but was unable to revive the unconscious Roadwarden NPC. While they waited for her to regain consciousness they set about searching the bodies, finding nothing of interest. However, while searching they heard a small voice saying “Help me! Help me!” Further investigation revealed it was coming from inside the clothing of the pistolier mutant, Franz. They ripped his clothes off and found his mutation carefully hidden under layers of shirts: A tattoo carved on his chest, which appeared to be sentient and able to speak.

Interrogating Irezumi kun

The PCs found Irezumi kun (Master Tattoo) quite communicative, and he told them that he was not the soul of the body he occupied, but an additional thing that grew into Franz’s once normal tattoo after he mutated. Is Tzeentch’s blessing not wondrous? He never liked Franz, and would happily tell the PCs everything if they would help him gain control of the body he was carved onto. The PCs were leery of this scheme but when they realized they had no way of bargaining with a mere tattoo they agreed to his offer. Helping him gain control of the body was a gruesome task: he told them that if they chopped off its arms, legs and head, he would be able to regrow new ones that he himself controlled. Initially dubious, the PCs agreed. After some unpleasant butchery, Irezumi kun told them what they needed to know:

  • The mutants had come to the castle some years ago, after they made a deal with someone in the town of Heideldorf
  • The deal was that every year they would be sent a group of adventurers, who they would ambush and kill. They were to return the bodies and all their belongings to the town, and in exchange they would be protected from witch hunters and other rumours by the town elders
  • Occasionally they would be given additional assassination tasks
  • For example, two years ago they were not sent any adventurers, possibly because none came to Heideldorf. But they were told that two chaos mutants, old enemies of their contact in the town, were in the area and they should kill them instead
  • After they killed the mutants they ate the mutated parts of their victims bodies (out of respect for Tzeentch, of course) and became even more mutated. They sent the remainder of the bodies and the items to town
  • Their contact was angry with them for interfering with the bodies and made them promise never to eat another body
  • Irezumi kun was at all the meetings where deals were made, because Franz was the mutants’ negotiator
  • Irezumi kun never saw the people they dealt with, but would recognize their voices if he heard them

The PCs then got Aruson, who is a master of guile and mischief, to mimic the voice of Heinz Schiller the sausage maker, and a few other key figures in the town. Aruson couldn’t manage Dirk Moser but he did a good job of copying Schiller and the retired witch hunter Manfred, and Irezumi kun was able to confirm that yes, Schiller was one of the people at the meetings where they made deals.

So, the PCs wrapped Irezumi kun’s torso in a cloak from upstairs, and explored the rest of the cellars. All that remained was the mutants’ cave, where they found a magical prism belonging to the wizard Pedro, along with his notes on the mutations that the mutants underwent after they ate other mutants. From this Shultz was able to do some quick research, and glean that if people were to eat sausages made with mutant meat, there would be some small risk that they would themselves become mutants. That’s bad news… time to go to town and see Schiller nailed to a wall…

Investigating Town

First, the PCs sent Aruson into town disguised as a juggler to find Manfred the witch hunter, who they rightly thought was not in on the conspiracy. They brought him to the woods and explained the situation, and he seemed to partially believe them but was unable or unwilling to comprehend the situation properly, so they returned him to town. They then set about finding the person who had sent them the warning of the traps in the cellars. Disguised as clowns by Aruson, they wandered into town and, while Suzette and Shultz distracted the old woman who managed the Boarding House Aruson stole her guestbook. Outside, they looked through the book and tried to match handwriting in the book to the handwriting on the map they had been sent. Fortunately for the group they had a wizard with the Education skill, i.e. someone who could read, and he was able to match the hand-writing to one Jeb Tallnose[1], whose name had written next to it the word “halfling.” They got his room number and went up to investigate…

Spies for Sigmar, and a small personal aside

The PCs knocked on the door of the room and were invited in, to find themselves being covered with a crossbow by a small and ferocious-looking halfling. Knowing how effective he was with that thing, they decided not to do anything rash. He was standing next to a giant of a man, over 7′ tall, who was regarding them very suspiciously. They introduced themselves and thanked Jeb for his help, and asked him who he was. He told them that he and his mate Abe were spies for the Church of Sigmar, in Heideldorf on top secret business to investigate an important matter connected to the mutants and the town, and they didn’t want the PCs killed, so thought they’d warn them of the lair so that the PCs could survive and kill the mutants. This solved one of the halfling’s problems, but left him still investigating this secret business. No, of course he couldn’t tell the PCs, but if he needed their help he would ask them.

The players seemed to believe this story, and at this point I broke one of the key rules for dealing with lies and illusions: I gave them an intuition check to notice he was lying. I wouldn’t usually do this, but a personal skill of mine is that I am very, very good at convincing people of things that aren’t true, and it didn’t seem fair to have the entire adventure’s outcome rest on my players not knowing about this bastard trait. Telling a lie like “this halfling and this dodgy giant are agents of Sigmar” is a doddle for a man who can tell the kinds of lies I have got away with[2]. So it seemed fair that I should give them a saving throw vs. GM-is-a-bastard. Two of them succeeded, and after they left the room they told Suzette of their suspicions. They tried talking to the halfling’s third accomplice in the market area (surrounded by sausage!) but he was untalkative, and a bit suspicious, so they left it be. Nonetheless, the fact remained that whoever these people were, they had helped the PCs against the townsfolk.

Accomplices and lies

After this the PCs went to the home of Wilf Shwarzhaus, whose pipe they had found at Black Rock Keep. They got him talking long enough for Irezumi kun to hear his voice, and once they had confirmed he was indeed one of the conspirators they broke into his house, tied him up, beat him, and tortured him a little. He quickly told them all he knew – he thought that Schiller’s conspiracy was simple robbery, and had been charged with the task of selling adventurers’ items through his contacts in Altdorf, while Schiller disposed of the bodies. He had no idea that the bodies were being disposed of via the sausage festival, and was horrified at the idea. They stuffed him in a cupboard, and tried to figure out what to do next…

The Sausage Factory

All that remained was to investigate the sausage factory. Under cover of nightfall the PCs headed to the factory, sending Aruson ahead in stealth mode to investigate. Aruson, who never fails stealth rolls, fumbled this most crucial roll, and was noticed on the road to the factory by its owner, Schiller. He then tried to talk to Schiller as if he were a clown, and immediately failed his disguise roll as well. The result: Schiller now knew that his adventurers had returned and wanted to look at his factory. He called over 4 mercenaries and instructed them to take Aruson back to the marketplace and “make sure he didn’t return.” The look in his eyes seemed to suggest “sausagize the elf,” and at this point the players panicked. Suzette emerged from the shadows under the terrifying shroud of a Fearsome Visage spell, and in the mercenaries’ moment of terror Aruson slipped their grip and fled to the nearby river. He managed to hide before they came searching for him and, in a panic, Schiller had his mercenaries return with him to the marketplace. It was now only a matter of time before he returned in force to the factory, and the PCs were in bad shape already, not really in the kind of condition for taking on four mercenaries. They realized they needed to break into the factory and get incriminating evidence quickly, so they dashed there immediately, leaving the Roadwarden on watch while they searched the building. They soon uncovered the secret doors leading to the secret sausage room, and found the remains of two human corpses, preserved from the year before, and a pile of meat waiting to be sausagized for the morning’s final, most spectacular batch. They also found four empty barrels, obviously prepared for 4 new corpses… They took the barrels of remains upstairs, and before Schiller could do anything they ran to the marketplace, where the evening’s partying was in full swing. The roadwarden and Aruson hurled the remains from the barrels onto the dining tables, while Suzette yelled

Heideldorf Sausage is People!

One pickled head landed in a champagne cooler amongst a group of 4 young noblewomen, one of its pickled eyes bursting out and flopping onto a hat. Screams erupted! Pandemonium! Amongst this, Shultz stood on a table and began yelling, demanding that a group of villagers come with them to the sausage factory to see the evidence for themselves before Schiller could clear it away.

Unfortunately, Shultz was still dressed as a clown. The crowd pointed at him and yelled “But you’re a clown!”

While Shultz struggled to reveal his true magnificence as a wizard, and convince the crowd to come to the factory, the PCs realized Schiller would be rushing there to clean up the evidence. The roadwarden and Aruson dashed back to the factory, only to find two mercenaries standing at the front door. Aruson ran up to them and pointed out the uproar at the marketplace, suggesting they rush to help and implying grave danger for the town. The mercenaries hestitated, then called two more from inside and ran off to help. Thus freed from conflict, Aruson and the roadwarden jammed shut all the entrances to the factory and waited for Shultz and Suzette to arrive, which they eventually did with Dirk Moser, Manfred the witch-hunter, and a large group of angry townsfolk.

Sanity Checks All Around

At this point the PCs all drew an insanity card, but for some reason unfathomable to all but the gods of fate, they all succeeded their insanity checks. So hearty is this group of Brash Young Fools that even eating human meat, and the future possibility of becoming ghouls, does not deter them from their course! Still, they were quite exhausted and uninterested in further trouble, so they barricaded themselves inside Wilf’s house and slept until morning…

… which means they missed the events in the Dancing Dragon, and were woken at dawn by Dirk Moser, telling them that the innkeeper was missing and everyone in a state of panic.

The Mutant Frenzy

The characters agreed to help find the inkeeper, and soon discovered his body stuffed behind some barrels in the cellar of his own inn. He had been savaged by some animal, his throat ripped out and scratch marks left on his body by something with hands the size of … a halfling. The barrels he had been stuffed behind had been tampered with, and close inspection revealed some kind of powder residual around the wax seals, which had been broken. Investigating the breakfast foods revealed that they, too, had been tampered with. The PCs emerged to tell the entire assemblage of guests not to eat breakfast, because the food had been drugged, along with most of the tavern’s wine. At this point members of the crowd started pointing out that they had been drinking in the tavern until dawn, and had they drunk the poison?

The PCs soon discovered that yes, the worried punters had, as they began screaming, hallucinating and attacking each other. The PCs early intervention at breakfast had stopped the entire village from consuming the hallucinatory drug, and the few who had drunk late into the night were soon overpowered, though they still did some damage. While this was happening the PCs noticed the halfling, the giant and a third figure watching the whole affair from their room. They dashed up to the room and charged in, killing the halfling and the Giant immediately in a barrage of lightning, arrows and bullets. All that remained was a fantastically mutated human head, balanced on the windowsill on the remnants of its torso, and looking askance at them. Apparently able to speak telepathically, it offered them a huge amount of money in exchange for letting it go free, and revealed its history.

The head was once a crime boss in Altdorf, but two years ago he came to Heideldorf and ate the mutant-meat sausage served that year. He and his followers must have got an extra strong batch, because they subsequently all became chaos mutants. As his mutation progressed, the boss realized he was going to lose his former life and become a servant of Tzeentch. He and his followers decided to go to the Chaos Wastes to take on the short and brutal life of chaos mutants; but before they went, they would stop in Heideldorf and poison the town’s sausages with a specially-researched mutation powder, that would turn the entire village into mutants and cause them to destroy each other. This plot was foiled by the PCs, but then they decided to enact their fallback plan – putting a hallucinogenic drug in the party supplies and watching as everyone started killing each other. The simple reason: revenge. The crime boss wanted the entire village to be destroyed, and was willing to use the last of his mutant poison stock to do it. Then he would flee to the chaos wastes and live his life as a mutant.

He offered the PCs money to let him go. He had lots of money still in Altdorf, and contacts.

The PCs refused, and the Roadwarden shot the mutant head at point blank range, blowing it away. From outside they heard cries of rage and saw a gang of mutants cut and run – the mutant head had told the PCs the story merely as a diversion while he telepathically called his followers to his aid. The mutant head’s death gave the followers all the excuse they needed to flee and the PCs, exhausted and still badly injured, had no inclination to follow. They went downstairs and returned to the market to oversee the clean-up after the final battle, now over. They had saved the village not once but twice, killed 10 mutants, and nearly died into the bargain. A savage and gruelling adventure had drawn to its close.

Final Notes

This adventure could actually have been much more complex than is given here, with a whole additional sessions worth of supporting material to include. For reasons of real-world timelines I shortened it a little by leaving out a lot of stuff. The module is 56 pages of densely-packed, chaotic nasty, and well worth running if you want a realtively freeform and enjoyable but extremely unpleasant story to throw your players’ way. My players nearly failed the adventure thrice – they first thought of running away with the money once they survived the mutants; then they thought of sticking around to watch what happened for another day, in which case they would have seen the entire town mutate and turn on itself. They didn’t do this, but after they caught Schiller they nearly refused to search for the innkeeper, which would have had pretty much the same effect. So, one near TPK and three near failures in the main goal of the adventure – it’s a tough adventure, requiring a party with a good combat ability and excellent investigative powers, as well as a fairly solid commitment to catching evil plots. I think it offers a fairly solid challenge if run at a level to match the party.

Also, there’s a possibility that the PCs, the townsfolk or both will become ghouls in the future. What a great adventure!

fn1: This is a change of name from the original module, because in Japan a nose is said to be “tall,” not “long.”

fn2: These include convincing a friend whose brother lives in Japan that the Romans had extended their empire as far as Japan; convincing a student that in Beppu, Japan you can buy monkey sashimi (there are lots of monkeys here); convincing two students that I changed my hairstyle because in Australia there is a strict rule that every year men must change their hairstyle; and (this is the best!) convincing a friend of mine at a cherry-blossom-viewing party that one of the local hawks had carried off a small child, and we needed to get help. She was actually getting out her phone to call the emergency services before she realized that I was lying, and she only realized because my accomplice started laughing. I managed this particular deception despite having a reputation for this sort of thing.