News for September 2009
Tale Telling Tools 47
A look at the Progress Tracker tool used in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay | Published 18 September 2009

For the Emperor!

The player fulfilling the role of the Game Master – or GM – has a lot of important responsibilities. The GM develops adventures and story hooks for the other players’ characters, manages long-term campaigns and plot development, settles rules conflicts or questions, and helps narrate the outcome of different tasks and actions performed by the story’s participants – both the player characters and non player characters (NPCs) populating the world.

One of the versatile tools provided for GMs in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is the progress tracker. This tool can be used to keep track of various events during the game. The progress tracker is built by assembling the puzzle-fit pieces included in the core set, similar to building a character’s stance meter. The neutral centre pieces form event spaces on the tracker, while the coloured stance pieces form progress spaces.

Progress Track Pieces

The progress tracker manages a lot of the bookkeeping that traditional note-taking accomplishes, in a flexible and re-usable format that provides information to the GM in a quick glance. The GM might track food during a wilderness adventure, or trade goods spoiling over a long journey while travelling with a trade caravan, or how many torches the group has left during a long underground adventure. The progress tracker can also be used for a lot more than just material goods. Virtually anything with a clear goal or possible outcome can be managed using the tool. For example, progress tracks can be assembled to show how quickly certain events take to resolve, when the weather starts to worsen, how close the Skaven are to locating the party.

One Tool, Many Uses

The progress tracker is generally used in one of two ways – tracking the progress of a single event or occurence, or tracking competition between multiple parties.

Starting at one end and moving toward the other end with one token suggests something will happen, it’s just a question of how soon. For example, a storm is brewing on the horizon. The thunderstorm will break sooner or later. However, the characters want to try and reach the safety of the village before the storm arrives. The track could represent the number of hours before the storm breaks, and the GM moves the counter along the track based on how long it takes for the characters to travel and resolve encounters. Once the marker reaches the event space at the end of the track, the storm erupts.

Using two or more tokens on the track can represent multiple parties’ interests being resolved. If the party is chasing a cabal of Chaos cultists, they have very different goals! The party wants to catch the cultists, and the cultists want to escape. By having two tokens that advance along the track based on different circumstances, the GM can determine which party achieves its goal first. If the party token reaches the event space at the end of the track first, they’ve caught up to the cultists. If the cult token reaches the event space at the end first, they’ve managed to escape.

One benefit of the progress tracker is that it provides a consistent design starting point for GMs to help develop their own encounter ideas. It also allows a GM to quickly evaluate and understand pre-built encounters that feature progress trackers in published adventures. By quickly scanning the progress tracker information, and any effects that may advance a tracking token further down the track, the GM is armed with a lot of information he can apply to the game session.

Following are a few examples of how progress trackers can be used to help manage a wide variety of different situations.

A Bored NobleEnhancing Social Encounters

A variety of social encounters can use a progress tracker to indicate how close the party is to convincing their target to undertake some desired action. This can be as simple as a 10-space track, with each compelling roleplaying encounter or successful social action advancing the party’s tracking token along the track depending on how well they accomplish their goals. When the token reaches the end of the track, the target gives in or the PCs have fulfilled their agenda.

The progress tracker can be used to model more complex social encounters, as well. By adding an opposing token “competing” with the party’s tracking token, the encounter gains a risk of failure. This competing token may represent the arguments of an NPC in the encounter, the wearing away of the baron’s patience, or limited available time before something occurs. By adding an event space to the track, the timbre of the encounter can be shifted at the midpoint – perhaps the baron summons his advisors and the party’s arguments become more difficult, or perhaps a priest of Sigmar lends his support to the party, assisting their cause.

Tracking Resources

Here's a quick example of how the GM could manage food supplies on a long journey without having everyone keeping detailed notes on their rations. First, the GM could determine how many days worth of supplies the party is carrying. Then, he creates a tracker with one space per day of supplies and an event space on the final day. Finally, he might add several more spaces after the event space, perhaps equal to the highest Toughness rating in the party. Each day that the party consumes supplies, advance the progress tracker one space. When the party resupplies (or supplements their diet by hunting, for example), the GM moves the tracking token back a space or two.

When the token reaches the event space, the party is out of food. Every day they go without food, move the token one space further. For each space beyond the event space the token reaches, each member of the party suffers 1 fatigue and 1 stress that cannot be recovered until they are able to eat. Once the party begins to pass out from hunger, it might be time to change tactics.

Cowardly GoblinsWavering Morale

When dealing with a large group of basically cowardly enemies (goblins and skaven are good examples), the GM may want to have morale and cowardice influence when the encounter ends. A progress tracker can be used to indicate enemy morale; when the token reaches the end of the track, the villains break and run. The GM could advance the morale tracking token for each enemy defeated, successful Intimidate checks, a gruesome display of martial prowess or magical might, or for a variety of other narrative reasons.

Some encounters featuring cowardly combatants may revolve around a single powerful leader, such as an orc leading a gang of goblins. In these cases, the morale track can be heavily influenced by how the leader fares, in addition to the fate of the rank-and-file. For example, if there are 10 goblins lead by a single orc, the tracking token may advance once for each goblin defeated, but it advances three spaces if the orc falls in combat. When the track reaches the end of the track, the remaining goblins turn and flee!

Managing the Party’s Reputation

When a strange party first arrives in a new town, they are likely to be greeted with suspicion and mistrust. Only by proving themselves to the local populace can they be accepted. A progress tracker can be one means of monitoring their success or failure at this endeavour.

The GM could build a track, starting the party’s tracking token somewhere in the middle. Each time they do something rude, suspicious, or frightening, the GM moves the token to the left, reflecting a poor perception or reputation. Each time they do something kind, honest, or heroic, the GM moves the token to the right to represent a more favourable reputation. If the token reaches the end of the left side of the track, the local law (or possibly a lynch mob) ejects them from the town. If the token reaches the end along the right side of the track, the town accepts them as one of their own.

This sort of track could also be sprinkled with event spaces. Perhaps a local merchant offers a discount if the party becomes well-respected enough, or the local law enforcement starts watching them closely if they make a bad impression.

An Extended ExampleClick to view the Progress Tracker Example PDF

Be sure to download the progress tracker PDF to see an extended example of a progress tracker used during play.

--

Set in the grim world of Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy universe, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is a roleplaying game that sets unlikely heroes on the road to perilous adventure. Players will venture into the dark corners of the Empire, guided by luck and Fate, and challenge the threats that others cannot or will not face.
 

Write Comments     
More News [+]
Comments (47)

doc_cthulhu
Published: 9/22/2009 1:51:07 PM
#47

 Me neither. All other stuff looks good and new (and shiny) enough for me to be lured to by this game. This whole "puzzle pieces"-thing just isn't for me (if I'm reading it right). But I'll promise to try it before I spit it out. ^_^

Wytefang
Published: 9/22/2009 1:37:21 PM
#46

Too much negativity in this threads - this upcoming RPG is looking really cool.  I like the board game elements as they help me lure in non-RPG players more easily.  Can't wait for this to come out!!

mac40k
Published: 9/21/2009 5:24:06 PM
#45

I'm not sold on the use of this tool in every situation, but it's a handy tool to have in the kit. For stuff that is as simple as the party needing 10 successes, I think I can make tick marks on scratch paper and not deal with the hassle of assembling a track. Tracking supplies is a hassle in any system. I'm not sure this will make it any easier, but it is a visual reminder that could come in handy, especially for remembering to have players add negative modifiers once supplies run out. For chases, it may come in handy. Savage Worlds chase rules have you lay out 10 markers of some kind to denote distance intervals and use tokens of some kind to track relative positions of the individuals involved in the chase. This is no different, it just uses components already provided (and provided for other purposes as well) rather than asking you grab coins, stones, counters or whatever you may have lying around.

Next take the example of Morale. Some systems may have a simple statement that the Goblins flee once the PCs kill half their number. Now if that is all there is to it, you don't need a track; again just make tick marks on scratch paper.  The Tracker lets you go beyond that and take into account other factors such as successful Intimidate checks, killing multiple opponents with a single attack, etc. You could still do this with tick marks, but the tracker allows you to also easily add positive modifiers that would require erasing tick marks on your scratch paper. A PC going down might be an example of something that increases the Goblins' Morale. Other systems might have you make a morale check for the Goblins by rolling dice and adding a modifier for each Goblin slain. In such a system you could add modifiers for other things like successful Intimidate checks and positive modifiers as well, but then you are making a Morale check each round as well as calculating all the relavant modifiers. The cumulative modifiers mean that at some point the Goblins can't pass a Morale check and the only thing making a roll does is present the possibility that they break and run sooner than you (as GM) might like. This tool takes the randomness out of it along with the need to calculate modifiers and roll dice every round, but achieves the same goal; that of reducing the Goblins' Morale due to a variety of factors that if reduced far enough will cause them to flee.

We assume there is no GM Screen, but I suppose it is possible to have some Trackers visible to players while others are not. Putting a supplies tracker out in plain view makes sense since it is a visual reminder to the players that the PCs supplies are running low and they can help remember to advance it. You may on the other hand choose to hide the Goblin Morale Tracker if you think that the PCs lack the ability to assess how close they are to breaking.

Again, I'm not saying that the Tracker Tool is necessary or even desirable for every situation, but it's a handy tool to have in the GM's kit. What is particular interesting is the line that it gives GMs a consistent design starting point to help develop their own encounter ideas and allows them to quickly evaluate and understand pre-built encounters that feature progress trackers in published adventures. I'm confident that FFG has thought this out thoroughly and the published adventures will feature some neat adaptations of the Tracker tool. I'm sure after seeing it used creatively a couple of different ways, the GM's own creativity kicks in and he starts thinking of plenty of uses beyond the couple of examples we've been shown here.

Armrek
Published: 9/21/2009 8:10:21 AM
#44

We don't really know how this will work before we try. But you can spit the pizza out if you don't like it, at least give it a try. IT still seems to be a good helper for a GM - an addition to pen and paper monitoring...

And after all I think Jay owes us a session demo video !

 

doc_cthulhu
Published: 9/21/2009 7:02:59 AM
#43

 

This is the most useless thing I've ever seen in a rpg. At least if I'm reading it right. Is this a way for players to play without GM or what? Why would GM need a "tracker" to indicate anything. Having read quite a few good news about this new version of a good rpg this just makes me more nervous about what's to come...

jhaelen
Published: 9/21/2009 5:28:21 AM
#42

Well, I dunno. I'm completely neutral about this. I have no idea if it will turn out a useful tool or not.

My impression regarding WFRP 3 in general is this:

They've been brainstorming to come up with ideas on how to improve gameplay. Some of these ideas may turn out to be good ideas and really will improve gameplay (for at least _some_ game groups) others will fail to improve it.

How is there going to be improvement if you never try anything new? Nothing is so  perfect it couldn't be  improved. Of course it's going to be hit and miss first, but eventually, looking back, I'm confident some of these ideas will catch and become standard for rpgs everywhere.

Some of the critical voices here sound like the enemies of progress everywhere at any time. Consider this:

- What would I need an abacus for? I can perfectly well calculate using my fingers only!

- What's the point of a pocket calculator when I can perfectly well calculate in my head / with my abacus / using a piece of scratch paper / etc.

- What's the point of a computer if I have this excellent calculator?

- etc., etc. ad nauseam.

 

Of course I do not follow the philosphy that everything that is new is good. But it's just as wrong to dismiss everything new just because it's new.

Keep an open mind, try it out, judge it objectively and then let others know what you think about it. That's what the lost art of constructive criticism is about.

magius74
Published: 9/21/2009 2:59:00 AM
#41

I tell you this product is really sounding great. For someone like me and my gaming group, who don't have a lot of time to handle all the bookkeeping of a traditional RPG and a lack ofexperience with them, all these material aids really are giving as the confidence to finally move on from just board and card games and venture into this type of gaming. We tried with D&D 4th edition but there is just not enough there to help new players. It sounds like this core set will have everything we need, and for that I will gladly pay $100.

I do have so questions though. I would like to see an example of how to run a published adventure. Since I will be the GM I would like to get an idea of how hard or easy it would be for me, with my limited experience as a DM. Also pre-made published adventures have be mentioned on this site but I have yet to see any such products announced. Due to limited time I am only interested in pre-made adventures and I would not purchase the core set unless I knew it would be strongly supported in this regard. Will it be?

On another front I am curious about the standees for the characters & monsters. Are there standees for every character? More importantly, are the standees for every monster? Do larger monsters have larger standees? If new monsters are introduced in published adventures will new monster standees be included with the adventure? I ask because I personally favor more visual aids for running combat but understand that miniatures can be expensive. I feel that the cardboard standees with their awesome artwork is a good compromise.

I hope you guys keep it up with all these great player and DM aides, I'll be keeping a close eye on the progress of this product. Thank You.

Ravanov
Published: 9/21/2009 1:52:18 AM
#40

I share the same concerns as Armrek. In their video they were saying that the new system will be more orderly. Instead of having several books with markers in it, you now have a set of cards and tokens. Okay, every thing you need and want to know is right there on the table, but if it gets cluttered you are not making progress at all.

So maybe the tracker is a convenient tool, it also contributes to more chaos on the table. Probably the main reason for the box is to have a place to roll the dice.

By and large I'm stuck with the feeling they tried to make a cardboard version of Warhammer online.

RARodger
Published: 9/20/2009 4:39:47 PM
#39

Count Zero - that's fine. If the game may not be for you, or it may be too expensive or whatever (although it occurs to me most games cost over $100 for the core rules and those first two or three expansions that are really required for the game these days, anyway). It's not really my issue. Just don't go assuming that because you or your group don't use these sort of geegaws that no one does, which is what your post actually said. I may not do so for every game, but I "HONESTLY track things" like this in my games, so it has value to me. Your mileage clearly varies, but your annecdotal experience is not complete either.

chojun
Published: 9/20/2009 12:40:07 PM
#38

keep posting the designer diarys.  I like reading them.

Count Zero
Published: 9/20/2009 7:42:14 AM
#37

@RARodger -  I agree that they have their usefulness and I'd probably use them for something if I buy the game. I guess my ire comes from the fact that it seems to be the design goal to include enough proprietary components to justify a $100 box. I would have been happier with a $60 book along the lines of Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader.

My other fear is that, like D&D 4E, too much of the game will fall to mechanics rather than roleplaying. I don't want my group and I worrying too much about shifting tokens along cardboard all session. That would complicate the experience. I like rules, don't get me wrong, but I want them to be transparent and fall into the background.

Unknown
Published: 9/20/2009 4:37:03 AM
#36

 Hey Khatre,

Constructive criticism is criticism kindly meant that has a goal of improving some area of another’s person’s life or work. Often constructive criticism refers specifically to the critique of someone else’s written or artistic work, in perhaps a teacher/student setting, that would allow that person to further improve the work or to improve their approach to future endeavors. 

I read my post out loud to my gaming group before posting it. I was very aware what I was saying. Notice how I don't pick a side. I  just pointed out a few examples of what type of people actually do have a purpose for posting on this forum. You are the one that needs to read my whole posts before letting your blood boil. All I asked for was peace and unity among the forum of gamers (smart people with great minds and imaginations). Suggesting a middle ground. If you are suggesting that I am wrong to wish for that and commend the people that know how to properly criticize and article or product.... I will leave you to think. Hopefully you will eventually see my post had nothing hate related and was a completely neutral post. I was just asking people to not bring the same hate and infighting that is reported on news stations around the world everyday to a gaming community where people look to escape that kind of stuff and just relax.

Can't wait to see your next post for the NEXT article. I made my point with this one so I won't be returning to see your rebuttal. Sorry, wish I could, but I don't have time to keep this fight up. I still need to get my 2nd Ulthuan setting book done for play test to shut these 2nd players up or give them something else to criticize. 

Completely unrelated but I wonder if D day was considered a failed mission before it was launched. In either case I am glad they stayed on course.

Jay,

You should really stop leaking stuff. Just hype the game up like Blizzard does with a cool trailer and let the customer reviews sell the game for you. These articles are nothing compared to the grand picture. All they are doing is giving mixed signals.
 

 

© 2013 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Fantasy Flight Games and the FFG logo are ® of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact | User Support | Rules Questions | Help | RSS