Saturday, March 27, 2010
Warhammer Fantasy RPG GM's Toolkit Review
post for more information on my storage solution), but I'm hoping they'll fit well enough. I had hoped before that the box would be good so I can just grab it if needed in addition to the binder, but a lot of its components will fit for sure.
Back to the heft of the thing - you really get quite the complete package. When you factor in how many little GM tools and tricks you can now pull as well as the huge variety of locations you can represent and pull out on the fly to add to a game - it's a lot of bang for your buck. I'll go through each component separately.
The Game Master's Toolkit book is broken into several chapters: Nemesis NPC's & Organizations, Episode Templates, Making Progress, Enjoying the Journey, Advancement Insights, Setting the Scene, Rewards & Incentives, and Optional rules (including expanded aggression & cunning options, preparing for actions, sacrificing actions, risking against recharge, fortunate circumstances, mutually exclusive character options, rank-based casing & invocation, and higher lethality). There is also a 4 page master index and glossary included as well. The book also explains the contents of the Toolkit at large. I really lik how this is set up so you can just pick a chapter to read and come back to in the future if you need to look something else up. The whole book packs a lot of crunch and inspiration for GM's that matches a lot of other great GM books on the market now - of course with the WHFRPG tinge of flavor to it. It's 46 pages of content with two pages of ads in the back. It's also a little smaller than the other main books in the core set (closer to the magic/religion books in size really). It'll fit in very well with the budding collection of books available for the game.
Next up we have the cards that are included in the Toolkit. Because this product focuses on GM's as opposed to players, the cards have an emphasis on answering the GM's needs. One of the things I love about the new edition of Warhammer are the location cards. You got a good batch in the core set, but the Toolkit provides you with an additional 12 locations you can pull out for your players on the fly or plan a night's adventure around. My particular favorites are the Hidden Shrine, Treasure Vault, Burning Building, and Abandoned Mine.
Don't get me wrong though, the players are not left out. Included is also 10 item cards. We haven't seen much in the form of item cards yet (I believe there's only really three out there so far), so this adds a lot of options above what we already have. There are several items aimed at making players more awesome like the Bow of Athel Loren and Enchanted Shield. I feel the real value however, comes from all the GM items. You get things like Profane Artefact, Forbidden Tome, Mysterious Flask, and Locked Chest and this GM's mind just starts racing with how to include these in an adventure. Are they entirely needed as physical objects? Not at all, but it certainly adds a sense of cool to the specific item. It also makes it clear that the object is mysterious with rules like "If you drink or touch the contents of the flask, refer to your GM for further instructions" on the Mysterious Flask that's going to make some of your players run wild with eagerness to try it out to see what the GM has planned. A very cool little inclusion to the Toolkit. I'm guessing in the future we're going to get some neat campaign-specific item cards in releases like The Gathering Storm. I could also see FFG release tiny little expansions consisting of 50 or so item cards.
A new mechanic included in the GM's Toolkit is the Nemesis/Organization sheets. These remind me most of the party sheets used for players... only evil. You get eight of them in the Toolkit including The Lurking Threat, The Eldritch Circle, Brotherhood of Blades, The Unholy Crusade, The Savage Warband, The Criminal Empire, The Knight's Templar, and The Power Mongers. You can see by the titles that they are mostly generic types of organizations (like the party sheets) so you can tweak them to your heart's content and make them work for your own campaign. These cards have sockets just like the party sheets as well for focus, reputation, or tactic. It's a nice addition that'll help the GM keep track of his big bad organization always out to get the players.
We're also treated with some nice new punchouts to add to the collection. We've got some doubles of stuff we already have (which is actually a nice inclusion) like the skaven and goblins as well as some new ones. It's a good mix and should cover most of the bases for the standard game of Warhammer when combined with the core set. My favorite punch out they included was the prebuilt progress track. It looks like the puzzle pieces used in the core set but it one solid chunk. An obvious, but useful item to include. The spaces missing in the counters section were punched out in the bag before I even opened the box up or popped out in my minimal handling of the bag. It's not a big deal as the pieces were in there - it just shows that they're not difficult to punch out at all. I consider this to be a positive.
You're going to have to forgive me for posting a lot of pictures as I believe this is the cornerstone component of the product. To the left you can see just how thick each section of the GM screen is. I know there are some reports of not being entirely happy with the information included on the GM screen.
My favorite part of the GM screen is how much they integrated all the components of the game into it. On the far left side you've got an "Adversary Dice Budget Workspace" on the bottom border to keep track of two different groups of adversaries and which dice you still have left to use.
So would I say this thing is worth it? I paid 25 bucks for it via Noble Knight Games (again - click the banner above to check out their products and support The Hopeless Gamer!) and do not regret even a bit of it. The screen itself should retail for $15.00 alone. When you add in the little GM's guide, extra cards, nemesis sheets, and extra punch outs, I'd say you get a ton of value for the extra 10 bucks. While I liked the Adventurer's Toolkit, it doesn't even compare to the value you get from the GM's Toolkit.