ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous Guideline to Character Creation

(In PDF for your convenience)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG is a strange product. Its author claims it to be part of the OSR, because he thinks being a retro-clone of another, older game, qualifies as OSR; but while OSR games are based on the idea of simplicity (few and flexible rules, among other things), Zweihänder takes the opposite approach: many and very complex rules. Unnecessarily complex, in my opinion.

One example of this complexity is the character creation, which begins on page 27 and ends on page 73 (for fuck’s sake!) The problem is, in these 50 pages there are not only the steps to follow for the creation of a character, there are also many of the rules that govern most of the elements that make up a character.

What the book lacks is a streamlined guideline to character creation. You need to read big chunks of watered-down text, more akin to a McDonald’s or Coca-Cola ad than to a grim & perilous roleplaying game, when you want to make a new character. So I made this guideline, although I ultimately decided I would not gamemaster this game. Oh, well. Maybe someone will find it useful.

  1. Write Basic Tier on Character Sheet.
  2. Roll 3d10+25 for each Primary Attribute.
    1. Optional: Replace any Primary Attribute with 42% or Swap Either now or at the end of Character Creation.
  3. Choose your Sex and select Human, or roll Ancestry (Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling or Ogre.)
    1. Adjust Ancestral Modifiers
    2. Roll 1d100 for Ancestral Trait
  4. Roll 1d100 for Archetype and 1d100 for Profession.
    1. Record starting Trappings
  5. Calculate Secondary Attributes.
    1. Peril Threshold is 3+[WB]/+6/+12/+18
    2. Damage Threshold is Armour+[BB]/ +6/+12/+18
    3. Encumbrance is 3+[BB]
    4. Initiative is 3+[PB]
    5. Movement is 3+[AB]
  6. Determine your Background.
    1. Roll 1d100 for Season of Birth
    2. Determine your Dooming rolling 1d100 under your Season
    3. Roll 1d100 for your Age Group
    4. Roll 1d100 one, two or three times for Distinguishing Marks (except Young Age)
    5. Roll 1d100 for your Complexion
    6. Roll 1d100 for your Build Type
    7. Roll 1d100 for your Height & Weight
    8. Roll 1d100 for your Hair Color
    9. Roll 1d100 for your Eye Color
    10. Roll 1d100 for your Upbringing and note Favored Primary Attribute
    11. Roll 1d100 for your Social Class and Cash
    12. Record your Language under Background; additional languages you can learn are equal to your [FB]
    13. Optional: Roll 1d100 for your Drawback
  7. Write your Fate Points: 1 normally, or 2 if you selected a Drawback.
  8. Roll 1d100 for both your Order & Chaos Alignment (or roll 1d100 for each).
  9. Build Your Profession.
    1. Write 1,000 Reward Points on your sheet
    2. Spend 100 Reward Points to purchase your first Professional Trait
    3. Write one Iconic Trapping for your Profession
    4. Spend remaining 900 RP in the Basic Tier
  10. Optional: Replace any Primary Attribute with 42% or Swap Either now or during Step 2.

The Village and the Witch | A Review

The Village and the Witch is a supplement written by Davide Pignedoli (Black Dogs) to be used with Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and any OSR. It’s what we usually call a supplement. (Those are affiliate links, friends.)

What is it about? The introduction to the supplement says:

This module is designed to generate a Village, a Witch, and some additional weirdness: two pages with die-drop tables to outline the village (map and content), and two pages with a series of random tables to generate a Witch and its connection to the village. The rest of the module contains some instructions, random or less random NPCs and other weirdness, some digression about alignment and so forth. All this material may very well be used in different scenarios; a village where to play one of your adventures, or a witch to insert in one of your plots, or NPCs and other stuff.

And it’s true. It’s not a written adventure but a series of tables and die-drop tables to make an adventure on the fly, or more specificly, to design a situation. There are many tables to create a witch, a village, the witch’s enemies and allies, recent events perhaps linked to the witch.

One basic principle of good game design it exactly that, you don’t write stories, you write situations for the player characters to interact with as they see fit, or not at all. Situations than will resolve themselves without the PCs getting involved. And this supplement offers plenty of useful and interesting ideas to do that.

Sometimes the witch will be good, sometimes, evil, and sometimes, neither. The same goes for his or her sex. The dice can say the witch is male, female, both or none. Make of that what you will. I will follow the rules and see what I come up with.

The supplement makes an excellent use of public domain images, the layout is clear with no fancy background or fonts, simple white backgrounds and white/grey tables. Only the cover is awful! But one should not judge a book by its cover, now, ain’t it?

After giving a nice list of NPCs that function as enemies or allies of the witch, it gives a table about “stories”:

You need stories more than numbers for NPCs. These stories should not provide a distraction, but make the village feel alive and help characters get involved with NPCs.

This makes sense, the supplement doesn’t provide full stories or backgrounds for these NPCs, instead it provides a random table with 12 results (“Revenge against power,” “Arranged marriage,” “Orphans and drunks,” and others). The author suggest rolling once a day of adventure time, and useing the result to escalate tension between the inhabitants of the village, but id doesn’t provide a way to do that. It’s not a big deal, a referee with some experience should be able to use the results or adding his own, but a couple examples or a little explanation would have been good.

Finally, it ends with an insightful essay about alignment, explaining the author’s view on Neutrality, Law and Chaos, as well as Good and Evil. To illustrate his point, Lawful aims to order and a bigger purpose than one’s own life, and therefore is usually seen as Good; Chaos is everything that is non-human: sorcery, nature, elves. Neutrality is simply the statu quo, a will to be part of the current order of things. Dwarfs and halflings are usually neutral; the author doesn’t explain this, but it can be inferred that they are not chaotic even when their are not human because they are too similar to humans, while elves are too alien and weird to actually relate to them.

So, for three dollars, this supplement is more than worth it! It doesn’t have any important flaws or downsides, it reads well and looks good, and offers good option for any campaign. It’s perfect for LotFP but it can be used without any problem in any vanilla fantasy game, and with a little conversion, it can be used in practically any system. I will no doubt use it in my own LotFP campaign, and, if the stars are right and I can finally finish reading Zweihänder and start a game, I will use it there.