WFRP – If Looks Could Kill

by Andy Law, Dave Allen, Ben Scerri
Cubicle 7
Beginning Players

Legends claim the Beast of Ortschlamm stalked the marshes near Ubersreik for centuries. But few believe it… When the adventurers agree to help Rutger Reuter, a charismatic, young merchant from Ubersreik, little do they realise what’s in store. What starts as a simple job guarding building supplies, soon turns to tragedy, horror, and murder. The Characters will not only need their wits about them to negotiate the double-dealing camp of Reuter and his business partners, but also the Beast they have unwittingly stirred…

This 28 page introductory adventure has the party as camp guards during a mill construction. A couple of good design ideas do nothing for an adventure that is meant to be read instead of played. Even among bloat/obfuscation adventures this one ranks high.

You start on a river barge and meet the dude that hired you. The barge overturns and a giant fish attacks. You go to a construction camp, meet the two other co-partners in the venture, and are asked to dig up some standing stones. The dude turns up dead and you’re tasked with following monster tracks in to the swamp. There you meet three villagers who killed the dude & faked a monster attack … being attacked by a real basilisk. Coming back to camp one of the co-partners has stolen the paybox and the other was behind hiring the crooked villagers to kill the dude. IE: two fights and a little roleplay.

This is published in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Product Identity Style. Which means a shitty font that’s too small and lots of italics for read-aloud. I can do without the font with legibility issues, the tony font, and the italics. All three make you feel like you are fighting the adventure to pull content out of it.

This is exacerbated by the FUCKING AWFUL organization of the text. Long paragraphs with details buried in them and seemingly endless number of them. It is CLEARLY laid out to be read and not to be used at the table. Bullets, whitespace, headers, organization, things to draw the DM’s attention to them while scanning … all are missing. It’s just one big text blob.

The NPC are organized like shit, two pages for the opening scene with your new employer, the co=partners mixed in later in their own shitty long text paragraphs. It is, essentially, a linear adventure with a couple of roleplay scenes separated by a couple of combat scenes. I don’t find that format particularly compelling and wish it would have taken a more open ended approach

It does do a decent job of presenting some dialog in the NPC’s voices, although better NOC formatting would have made this much more additive to their personalities.

It also does something pretty interesting with a skill check to find some treasure. An astounding success gets you the treasure. All other successes get you the treasure also, but with increasing difficulties. This ranges from rumors around the camp, or a pickpocket, or your employer showing up and watching you like a hawk. Turning the roll in to an opportunity to roleplay and add roleplay complications is quite good design.

It’s too bad this is so shittily organized/written to be read instead of played. The double/triple cross stuff with the partners is interesting, as is the digging up of the standing stone and some of the roleplay possibilities with the workers, the swamp villager crooks, etc. While a small and simple adventure those elements really elevate it. It’s just SOOOOO hard to wade through the text. At this point the product identity is just mimicking shitty cost-based choices form the 80’s and is not a detriment to the line.

This is free on DriveThru. The preview is four pages. The last page is the best example of whats to come. The italics, wall of text, etc.–If-Looks-Could-Kill?affiliate_id=1892600

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7 Responses to WFRP – If Looks Could Kill

  1. I didn’t imagine WFRP was among your interests.

    Is the new edition any good?

    • Shuffling Wombat says:

      It seems to have taken 1E WFRP as its inspiration, and gone in a slightly different direction to 2E. The publicity campaign couid have been more successful in explaining why certain design choices were made, and their likely consequences. Combat seems to be a more tactical affair, with it being important to stop tough enemies gaining advantage. (Roughly speaking, you gain advantage from winning opposed rolls in combat.) Broadly 1E and 2E compatible, different from 3E.

    • Tamás Illés says:

      Yep, we had a lot of fun with what was thrown at us! I found it to be a good beginning adventure to play for several reasons, which I explained in my post. I didn’t ready it yet though, but being bloated and badly organized isn’t too surprising – it’s kind of tradition for WFRP adventures.

  2. Bigby's Affirmative Consent Lubed Fist says:

    What starts as a simple job guarding building supplies, soon turns to tragedy, horror, and murder.

    I don’t play these games to be reminded of my day job…

  3. Shuffling Wombat says:

    I think this review is a little harsh, and seems to be judging a WFRP adventure as though it was written for D+D. The basic points about word bloat, organisation and linearity are fair; however in WFRP the PCs are definitely going to talk with the major NPCs (so some extra detail/prepared dialogue is appropriate); moreover this is an introductory adventure, so some linearity is forgivable. The author (experienced at writing WFRP adventures) has avoided the usual introductory themes of mutants, cultists and beastmen. One plus point is that it is up to the PCs how they deal with the partner who hired the killers, and the vengeful dwarf who legs it with the money. One of the earliest WFRP adventures, Night of Blood, has been given WFRP 4E statistics and some new artwork. (Personally I loved the WFRP 1E art.) Do people feel that one is easier to run and more tightly written?

  4. WhereIsMyWizardHat says:

    I got much the same impression from the adventure bundled with the WFRP 4e starter set: one long railroad.

    Get mixed up in a riot, get blamed for it, get pushed into the city guard (or be hanged), get stuck in some combats, get told you can leave the railroad if you assist escorting a prisoner to the gallows, get attacked, make a choice and get gotcha’d.

    There are some smaller, less railroaded adventures in the back of the book, but there’s only a few nuggets of good in there versus a bunch of sidequests that are the least interesting versions of themselves.

    In actuality, the City Book is a better adventure resource, because it has piles of characters and statlines that you can actually use.

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