The Facts of Life
Purpose of this ArticleThis article seeks to prepare new players for the nature of the world their characters live in and what they can expect to have to deal with during their adventure. The first thing that players need to be aware of is that not everything in this world revolves around your character and their adventure. The Old World is populated by millions of others who are non-player characters (NPCs) and they also have lives to live and personal goals they wish to achieve. Therefore, players need to understand that not everyone they meet will be there to help or hinder them. Most NPC's are just going about their daily business and trying to survive. So, players should not assume that everyone that their character bumps into is a quest giver or a plot hook. Fragile Alliances is intended to be a living world, not an MMO.
Know your placeUnlike many computer RPG's and MMO's the NPCs that your characters are going to meet during this adventure will react to your character in different ways depending on who your character is, who they are, and how they are treated. You need to be aware of how and where your character fits into society, and how other members of that society view them as this will affect how each NPC reacts when they meet. You can change the way your character is treated by others through the reputation and social standing system built into the game. But in general, if you try to ignore or over-ride the accepted social conventions of your characters community then your character will suffer accordingly. As an extreme example of this concept in action. If you decide that your character is going to murder an NPC, then your character will become a murderer and will be subject to the same laws as any other member of the local community who commits such an act.
RaceThe first and arguably the most important differentiator will be your character's race. There are a number of different races living in The Old World, and, in theory, all of them are playable. However, traditionally only four races are considered suitable for normal gameplay. These are:
- Wood Elf
Class and Social StandingEven within your characters own race, you will find that bigotry and prejudice are commonplace. Your character will almost certainly meet others from a different social class, or social standing than their own. You will be able to judge this to some extent by the design and quality of their clothing. Professional classes typically dress in a different way to labourers, and you will find that some styles of clothing and colours are illegal for your class of character. Be careful of how your character approaches others from a higher class. They will expect certain standards of social etiquette to be observed. Likewise, when dealing with the lower classes do not expect them to accept you as a friend. Even within your characters own social class, not all characters are equal. Within every social group and trade, there will be a pecking order based on experience, wealth, and reputation that must be observed if your character wants to avoid causing offence. e.g. if you are an apprentice, your boss is your boss and should be treated as such. So be aware of your characters relative status and relationship with the NPC's around them and act accordingly.
Religion, Cults, Guilds and OrdersDuring your characters travels you are likely to meet NPC's who belong to various social groups. In fact, your character may already belong to one or more of these social groups as a consequence of the career choices you made for them during character creation. Generally speaking characters will be more co-operative and supportive to members of the same social group. For example, people who worship the same god will tend to get along better together than those who worship different gods. Particularly if those gods are opposed to each other.
Religion and Religious Beliefs.The first and most important thing to note about The Old World is that its Gods really exist. So, do not expect to find any atheists on your travels. Most of the people you meet will worship at least one god, and usually several. That doesn't mean that you have to play a religious character, but it does mean that if your character chooses to ignore the gods then they do so at their own peril. If your character is lucky then the gods may choose to reciprocate by ignoring your character. However, not all gods like to be ignored, and if your character actually does something to annoy or disrespect a god they may find themselves the focus of some unexpected divine retribution.
Cults and other Social GroupsMost religions have at least one cult associated with their worship, and some have many. However, the nature of a cult can vary enormously. The larger cults are usually focussed upon the worship of a specific god and will consist of clerics or acolytes, and various levels of priesthood. You will normally recognise them by their clothing and the religious symbols they wear. So, for example, the Cult of Sigmar is led by Grand Theogonist Yorri XV in Altdorf and consists of two Arch-Lectors and number of Lectors and numerous priests and cultists. Sigmarite cultists can usually be identified by their dark robes, shaven heads and symbols of Sigmars Hammer. However, not all cults are dedicated to worship. Many are more akin to activist groups or social clubs. They exist primarily to further the aims of their god or just to celebrate and encourage his support. Some of these social groups are dedicated to a particular trade or profession supported by that god. So, for example, there are numerous Thieves Guilds across The Old World that manage and regulate criminal activity in a specified area and who also worship Ranald the god of thieves. Others are established as Military Orders dedicated to enforcing the interests of their chosen god, or protecting his temples and followers. So, for example, the Order of the Raven Knights is a Templar Order dedicated to protections of places venerated by Morr the God of Death, and to the eradication of all forms of Necromancy and the undead, who are an affront to Morr's teachings.
Fighting and CombatIt might seem odd and perhaps a little disappointing to be told that in general, it's best to avoid fighting in this game. In most roleplaying games fighting is the main activity and roleplay is something that sometimes happens between fights. WFRP has always been more focussed on roleplay than fighting, and fights tend to be more dangerous in WFRP than other RPG's, and so need to be taken more seriously if you want your characters to survive. There are several reasons why you need to be careful about fighting in this game. Your character is NOT a super-hero (at least not yet). Most of the characters, animals and beasts you encounter are likely to be as strong and tough as your character and probably tougher. The only advantage you have is that your characters have Fate Points and they probably don't. But fate points won't help your character win a fight, they only give you a second chance to avoid the death of your character, and even then you may find your character is severely injured or disabled as a result. Also, it is unlikely at the start of your adventure that your character will be properly equipped for combat. Once again your character is NOT a super-hero. The chances are that it is only wearing very basic armour, and only carrying very basic weaponry (if any). Your character will meet many NPC's who are both more skilled and better equipped than your character. Even a simple soldier from the Town Watch is likely to have been supplied with better weapons and armour than your character has, and some of the richer or more specialised NPC's will have far superior equipment to anything your character can afford. Finally, this particular game uses an alternative set of combat rules that make fighting even more dangerous than usual. So you need to take this into account when considering the odds of winning a fight and whether it is worth the risk. These alternative rules ignore the toughness of your character when working out how much injury is inflicted by being hit. So, getting hit by just about anything is going to hurt. Not only that but if your character does get hurt, there is a possibility that it will collapse from the pain and shock depending on how tough it happens to be. In some cases, this might actually save your characters life, in that it will be knocked unconscious lose the fight and come round a few minutes or hours later in need of some patching up but otherwise alive. However, this is not always the case and in some situations getting knocked out is pretty much as bad as being killed. Its just going to take your character longer to die. So, my advice is to use violence as a last resort, and if your character must fight then Don't Get Hit.
ConclusionThese are the most important facts of life in The Old World, a grim and perilous place of adventure. Bear them in mind as you enjoy the game and your character should survive to the end. Getting it wrong can have serious consequences.
Not everything in this world revolves around your character.
Ignore the accepted social conventions and your character will suffer accordingly.
The social impact of Race should be considered when creating a character.
Know your characters place in society and behave accordingly.
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