Thursday, 1 February 2018

"WFRP Weird" in 3 Steps

As you may know, I love WFRP. It's no great secret. I've been running it for years - coming up on a third of my life, actually...which is concerning.

In that time, I've developed two super-simple methods for prepping content. This is the first one: How to make encounters "WFRP Weird" in 3 steps.

What is "WFRP Weird?" You know... Smelling colours. Tasting anxiety. Hearing the itch of recognition pass between two people who've never met. Witnessing the echo of horrors past.

"WFRP Weird" is how you know something has gone WRONG in WFRP. It's how you know Chaos is afoot. It's how you know, without even looking at the sky, if it's Geheimnisnacht or not.

So, what are the 3 steps?


Step #1 - Think of something that would normally happen

E.g. A man walking down the road. This is as vanilla as it gets, folks. Literally nothing weird or even remotely interesting about this.

This step is best done when you think of something boring-as-hell. Think of the most mundane thing you can. The terror of the uncanny comes about when it should be fine, but it isn't.

Step #2 - Put it in a situation where it normally wouldn't be

E.g. In the dead of night, shrouded in mist, along the haunted cobblestone streets of Praag, far to the north. Ok, this is a little weird. Folks don't go walking around Praag at night - ESPECIALLY not alone.

For this step, try to think of a situation where the thing could happen, but if it occurred to you in the real world, you'd be unnerved, or at least, on edge.

Step #3 - Subvert some expectation about what would normally happen, in a way that couldn't exist

E.g. No matter how much the man walks away from you, or towards you, he never gets closer. No matter how much you approach him, or walk away from him, he never gets further away. No amount of light shone on him seems to illuminate him beyond a simple silhouette, out on the darkened street...

For this step, I like to think of the common methods we would use in the real world to dispel our fear or anxiety over the situation. We see some weird dude on the street. Our instincts would be to a) approach him to get a better look, b) walk away so we don't have to deal with him, or c) try to get more information about him from where we are, so we can make a better decision.

Next, make all (or many) of them impossible, or have them yield even more uncanny results.

And that's it! A simple way to add uncanny and "WFRP Weird" encounters to your game.

Note that the examples are heavily inspired by an encounter in Realm of the Ice Queen's Praag section, written by Steve Dee. I used this exact encounter many times during my own Praag campaign, Shadows Within Shadows. I think my players are still scared of The Man, Darkly.