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24 March 2015 @ 09:52 am
The Oldenhaller Contract  
I realized recently that while I write a lot about RPGs I want to run, or RPGs I'm tinkering with, I write very little about RPGs I'm actually running or playing. Other than the Flight of the Phoenix AP posts I did and a single post on Fallout, I can't think of any. But I just finished running my Warhammer FRP group through The Oldenhaller Contract (PDF warning) the last two game sessions, and that's at least worth a post.

"The Oldenhaller Contract" was the adventure included in the first edition of WFRP, and has a somewhat mixed place among WFRP fans because it's a basically a dungeon crawl against cultists and a lot of people like WFRP for its tendency to deal with creeping horror and intrigue. "The Oldenhaller Contract" has a mine cart ride fleeing from swarms of ravenous rats, a three-sided gang war, a cult of the Lord of the Flies, and a sewer level. Not exactly subtle.

But I think it all went pretty well! The PCs managed to avoid the worst of the gang war, showing up after the aftermath. They successfully bluffed their way past the surviving gang and followed the trail of blood left by the murdered leader, leapt onto the mine cart and escaped the rats, arrived at the area where the cult ritual was taking place under Middenheim, killed the cult leader with a couple well-placed arrows, avoided getting hit by the summoned daemon, killed most of the rest of the cult in melee combat after scaring the daemon away with their torch (there was a note in its stats that fire causes fear, and despite a high Willpower it failed its roll when they beat it around the head and shoulders with a torch), then shot the daemon from a distance with arrows as it advanced on them again and banished it back to the realm of Chaos. softlykarou is playing an apprentice wood elf treesinger, so she managed to notice the aura of corruption around the gem they were sent to retrieve, preventing the other characters from handling it too much and thus contracting Neiglish Rot. Also, one of the PCs suffered the first PC-side critical hit in the game...and it was a "stunned for 1d10 rounds" against someone who had the Iron Jaw Talent, so it only ended up being a one-round stun.

Overall, the PCs got really lucky. Even the Arabyan duelist poet, who kept failing all his attacks against the daemon or the cultists, still made almost all his defenses successfully. I could easily have seen a couple Fate Points being needed if even a couple more attacks had landed on the PCs, or if the daemon had hit them at all. But they got away easy. This time!

I had to modify the beginning of the adventure from the one listed in the book, due to moving it from Nuln to Middenheim and due to the PCs being given the hook by a mysterious hooded old man in an inn. It was cliche, but I justified it by making the man a Bright Wizard trying to stop a threat to the city in the wake of the Storm of Chaos and having him seek them out specifically because I'm pretty sure they've bragged about their exploits to all and sundry in every single tavern they've been to so far in the game.  photo emot-smug.gif

If I were to run it again, I'd probably tone down the daemon. As written, it's nearly a TPK situation--it has a permanently Toughness-reducing aura (which I didn't notice until after they had killed it, so I didn't retroactively apply it), has a chance to cause Neiglish Rot on every single attack (effectively Save or Die), and has as much damage reduction as a dwarf in full plate. Several of the PCs attacks did no damage at all, and coupled with being outnumbered by six cultists I'm kind of amazed the PCs did as well as they did. They were saved by that well-timed failed Willpower roll, by me ruling that having all cultists fight to the death is idiotic and making some of them flee, and by the elf having a Ballistic Skill of 48 and hitting with every single arrow she shot. I think the smart choice is to run if the cultists successfully summon the daemon, but nearly everyone I've ever run for or played with views running as equivalent to defeat and will fight to the death against overwhelming odds, so that was pretty unlikely. The arrows banished the daemon right as the two PCs with zero Wounds remaining were running back into combat with it, as an example.

Next up is a heavily-modified version of Ashes of Middenheim with almost all the silliness I complain about there stripped out and it turned into a more mundane power struggle. Or is it? I haven't actually done much reworking yet, so I guess I'll find out!
 
 
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