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Review: Zweihander Grim & Perilous RPG by Tristram Evans (part 5)

Tristram Evans of RPGPub.com has embarked upon his lengthy review of Zweihander Grim & Perilous RPG. Buckle up, because this is a long one (and will span several weeks). Check it out at RPGPub.com or as below:

My starting trappings as a Knave include Antivenom, dark clothes, Folkbane (I don’t know what that is, poison? Anyways I’ve got three of it), a gaff bag, garish or second-hand attire (is “attire” different from clothing?), a holy symbol, lock picks, mantle, soft shoes, a stiletto, and my choice of blackjack, garotte, or flintlock pistol (maybe it’s the Mordheim in me, but I go with the pistol).

Incidentally, I’ve had a lifelong fascination with stilettos ever since reading Eye of the Needle among the collection of my Grandfather’s books as a wee lad. It was about a secret Nazi assassin/spy hiding out in England, known as ‘The Needle’ because of his use of a stiletto. There was even a pretty decent 1981 film adaption with Donald Sutherland.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, stuff. That is quite the haul for a Class that includes “Beggar” as a possible career. Speaking of, its now time for me to roll for my profession, so another d100…39. A gambler?

Hmm, no further info on gamblers just yet, as we are now on to Secondary Attributes.

Peril Threshold is basically a character’s stress level, determining “ how much anxiety and weariness they can withstand before suffering penalties to their Skill Tests.” The Peril Threshold track on the character sheet has four “steps”, based on a base score of a character’s Willpower Bonus + 3 and any modifiers for Talents, Traits, or Magick. In my case, that means “5,”, so my Peril Threshold is (5/11/17/23). I get the sense this is pretty much the equivalent of Zweihander’s Sanity mechanic.

Damage Threshold is presented in much the same manner, this time based on a character’s Brawn Bonus plus any armour’s Damage Threshold modifier. I don’t have any armour, so my Damage Threshold track is (3/9/15/21).

Encumbrance Limit (sigh) is 3 + Brawn Bonus, so in my case “6.” Apparently any point of Encumbrance above this limit is applied as a penalty to Initiative and Movement. “Initiative determines when you take your turn on the Initiative Ladder.” Okay. This one is based on Perception Bonus, so my Initiative is 5. Finally, Movement is based on a Character’s Agility Bonus, so mine is 6.

This section is where I’m starting to feel this game could be easily streamlined further. Do we need a Secondary Attribute for Initiative based on the Perception Bonus or for Movement based on the Agility Bonus when we could just use the Perception or Agility Bonus? Encumbrance made sense in Gygax’s conception of D&D as a resource management game of dungeon exploration, but what does it add to a Warhammer-esque setting? Maybe it’s my general aversion to very crunchy systems, and admittedly I may be a bit unusual in that any system crunchier than, say, West End Games’ D6 tends to cause groans. And the thing is, the original WFRP is not a very complex system overall. It seems as if Zweihander adds a ton of complications, and I question the value that actually adds to gameplay vs the extra OOC work. But there’s certainly far more complex systems that are very popular, so these sentiments may reflect nothing more than my laissez-faire attitude towards rules when GMing.

Step VI defines a character’s Background. We first roll D100 to determine the Character’s season of birth. OK, rolled a 61…so Autumn. Then D100 to determine the character’s “Dooming,” based on the season of birth. Rolling on the Autumn column I get 81…”Do Not Fold, Always Stay.” Hahahahaha! That is surprisingly appropriate!

Now d100 for Age Group. I roll a 53, which is “Adult.” This triggers an Effect: “you have one Distinguishing Mark.” Another D100 roll…40, “Glasgow Grin.” I actually have to google that one (which causes me a brief moment of shame as a Scot)…According to Wikipedia:”A Glasgow smile (also known as a Chelsea smile, or a Glasgow, Chelsea or Cheshire grin) is a wound caused by making a cut from the corners of a victim’s mouth up to the ears, leaving a scar in the shape of a smile.” So…lol, I’m the Joker.

Now to Build Type, the charts for which are divided by Race and Gender…um, so, forgot about that whole Sex having no mechanical effect and Transgender/Gender Identification thing already, huh? First roll for Build…33…”Slender,” which gives me a -10% price modifier to the cost for food, clothing, and armour.

Next, rolling on the chart for a male elf…69, so 6’2” and 138 lbs.

Another series of d100 rolls for Hair and Eye Colour…I roll an 88 for hair, “Smokey Grey”, and a 46 for eyes…”Molasses”? So I have grey hair and black eyes. That’s very…anime.

And a roll for upbringing …16, “Forgotten,” which means “you were raised outside of common society and had little opportunity to integrate until now.” This also gives me the Favoured Attribute – Agility, which means its cheaper to buy Ability-based Skills.

Now rolling for Social Class…woo! 99! That makes me..an Aristocrat! (Cue Gilbert Gottfried…). I’m not sure how that works with my Forgotten Upbringing yet, will have to think about that…But I do start the game with d10 + 1 gold crowns . Roll a… well a 3, so 4 Gold Crowns. Still not bad.

Languages thankfully don’t require a roll…

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