One of our favorite reviewers Prince of Nothing continues his take on the ‘brobdignagian’ proportions of ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG over at his website Age of Dusk. This is part six, To fight the abyss, one must know it…”:
At last we come to that most fundamental of activities in a grim and perilous world. The baying of men and the pig-like squealing of the maimed. Pitted Iron piercing yielding flesh. The dry crackling of splintering bone. The pleasing crimon spray of arterial blood. Let us speak of combat.
Welcome to another exciting installment of the epoch that is the Zweihänder review. This segment shall focus on Arcane Magick in Zweihänder (originally I set out to cover both divine, arcane and miscellanious magic in one post but considering the length I have decided to split them up).
Spellcasting in Zweihänder most resembles sorcery in 2e, by which I mean spellpoints can go fuck themselves and your sorcerous reserve is limitless but there is great risk in its utilization. The threshold number and magic ranks of the olden times have been cast aside. Utilizing magic is now a matter of a single skill roll (the Invocation skill, based on WP as usual) with a difficulty modified by type of Magick (Petty, Lesser and Greater). As a requirement for Lesser Magick, you need 2 ranks in Invocation and 3 ranks for greater. So far so good. The option of adding a little extra juice to your spells is also added by way of Channeling. If you Channel you forgo the normal safety precautions and tap deep into the Abyss (that’s the Warp with the serial numbers filed off) for more power, increasing your chances of success and making your magic harder to resist at the cost of corruption and a chance to trigger a Chaos Manifestation (similar to the Curse of Tzeentch) or Divine Displeasure if you are a Cleric. You can Channel at different degrees, a greater bonus giving more corruption and increasing the risk of a Chaos manifestation accordingly. I approve of this, and consider it a step up from the rather mundane spend half an action get a bonus method of the old game.
An additional risk/reward factor is added, unique for each spell, which I appreciate actually. If you critically succeed at a spell, its effect is magnified, in case of a critical failure the effects are usually reversed or turned upon the user. The price for critical failure can be, and often is, harsh, with damage being directed towards the caster, healing magic inflicting injury or disease and in case of extremely powerful sorcery, downright devastating (In case of high level Pyromancy, expect casualties in the dozens if not hundreds), driving home the point that Magick, while not inherently corrupt, is never to be used lightly.
Both Priests and Wizards must learn their spells from various sources (pilfered scrolls, accursed grimoires, tricked or blackmailed from unwilling tutors etc. etc.), at cost and with a risk of failure, certainly. While the number of Petty, Lesser and Greater Magicks a magick wielder can know is limited by their intelligence bonus, the number of available advances and the fact that magick users must specialize in either a single type of magick (or Wind if you want to be anally retentive) or worship a single deity ensures that this will have any affect on Petty Magick only. Learning spells costs XP (I mean reward points ahem), so Spellcasters do advance slower then normal characters, though they require nowhere near the massive amounts of xp from the old games.
Go back and re-read:
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. I; Introducing
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. II; The anatomy of grim heroics
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. III; A man needs an occupation
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. IV; Skullduggery and kicking people in the Face
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. V; Barbarism and Unrelenting Savagery
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. VI; To fight the abyss, one must know it…
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. VII; Other magical shit