Hi All, this week we have an excellent blog post from WFRP Assistant Producer Ben Scerri. So, read on as Ben takes us through trappings. As always, we would love to hear what you think on our Facebook and Twitter pages!
We’ve talked before about how money makes the Old World go ‘round, but now it’s time to talk about what you’re spending your money on. Cost of living aside, money exists to be spent, and Chapter XI: The Consumers’ Guide in the core rulebook gives you lots of tasty options when going shopping… But not everything you purchase is for fun. You’ve got a job to do — a Career to follow — so it’s time we looked at Career Trappings. What are they, how do you use them, and when do they become important?
Let’s get stuck in!
Page 37 of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay outlines what a Character’s starting Trappings look like. Given how excited Amris is for our little outing, let’s use the Merchant (Trader) Career (page 65) as our example. Each Character receives all of the Trappings for their Class, and for their starting Career. In the case of a Trader belonging to the Burgher Class, we’ve got:
- Class: Cloak, Clothing, Dagger, Hat, Pouch, Sling Bag containing Lunch
- Career: Abacus, Mule and Cart, Canvas Tarpaulin, 3d10 Silver Shillings
Additionally, a Character begins with starting wealth depending on their Status. For a Trader, that’s Silver 2, or 2d10 Silver Shillings in addition to the 3d10 Silver Shillings granted by the Career.
This starting wealth can be used to purchase additional Trappings before play begins, and it’s wise for Players to have a discussion with their GM in regards to the type of campaign being run, at this stage. Would it help for all the Characters to be armed, or are weapons less important? Are the Characters expected to partake in courtly life, and require a change of clothes, or will travelling rags be sufficient?
How to Use Career Trappings
With your starting Trappings, you’re ready to hit the road and face down some grim and perilous adventures! If you’re lucky to survive a few, you’ll likely have stockpiled a nice bit of XP, and be ready to change Careers… But what do you do about Career Trappings?
For starters, Career Trappings are not mandatory before you can advance. They are, as stated, guidelines for a Career. They help a Character perform their Career, and to signal to other people in the Old World what your Character does.
But, given the fiction-first nature of Careers, this raises a conundrum: do I need a boat before I can call myself a Boatman, or can I call myself a Boatman and then go looking for a boat? What came first, the chicken or the egg? This comes down to group choice, and is intentionally left vague. The rulebook doesn’t demand that your Character has their Career Trappings, but it may not make sense for your Character to be considered their new Career without them.
Let’s look at three different ways you can use Career Trappings. Note that none of these methods are mutually exclusive, and will definitely come down to a case-by-case basis!
Prerequisites — Only as Good as their Tools
The first way to use Career Trappings is as a prerequisite. Some Careers just don’t work without their Trappings, like the Boatman example above. Another clear example is the Artisan who is famously only as good as their tools…
Let’s take the Merchant as an example. Are any of these Trappings vital to being a Merchant, rather than a Trader?
- Riverboat or 2 Wagons, Guild License, 20 GC
Honestly? Not really. None of these Trappings is necessary for a Character to (technically) become a Merchant (though legally is another matter entirely). However, all of them would make the job much easier. Here we see a curiosity in that, if Amris was entering the Merchant Career from a different Career, these Trappings would likely be vital: how is a Soldier, carrying only a Soldier’s wares, expected to become a Merchant without something to carry their goods, and a sizable chunk of money? But given Amris is already a Trader (with a Mule and Cart), it’s not impossible to imagine he just continues his business as is.
Status Symbols — You’ve Got to Look The Part
But the above brings us to a very interesting distinction! Whilst Amris could call himself a Merchant, despite only having a Mule and Cart, lacking in funds, and missing a Guild License, he might soon find he’s the only one who uses that term…
Career Trappings, as mentioned above, are a signal to the rest of the Old World about what a person does. Displaying the right trappings helps persuade people that you are what you say you are. Conversely, if you’re missing the trappings that people expect to see, they might take your words with a pinch of salt.
Sometimes, this is purely for show and posture: a Scion has Courtly Garb, whilst a Noble has Quality Courtly Garb; an Advisor has been given their master’s Livery, whilst a Chancellor has their own staff of Advisors in their own Livery! These Trappings help support a Character’s Status within a Career, and without them, they may find their Status dropping in the same way it would if they didn’t keep up with their Cost of Living.
Other times, this signalling is to the powers-that-be: a Wizard needs a Magical License to perform their duty legally; a Bounty Hunter has a ream of Warrant Papers. In these instances, lacking these Trappings could have more severe temporal repercussions: fines, lack of access, even imprisonment or a Witch Hunter’s pyre!
In Amris’s case, whilst he doesn’t need a Guild License, it will help greatly when dealing as a Merchant. After all, what good is a lone Merchant who cannot deal with others in their trade? And what kind of Merchant would sit back and do business with an unlicensed colleague? Additionally, Amris may find himself on the lower end of every deal if his contemporaries see him carting around with only a single Mule, with no boats or wagons to his name…
NPCs — One Rule for Us, One Rule for Them
The last method for using Career Trappings is as a creation tool for NPCs. As outlined in a previous blog post, NPCs can be built by combining a series of Careers, and when you do this, you can give the NPC all of the attached Trappings, as well.
Just as with the Player Characters, this should be done cleverly. Consider which Trappings are coming in, why an NPC might have them, and any not listed that they might need. Use them to inspire you to create interesting NPCs, with curious and memorable quirks. Perhaps your Merchant Prince NPC has so many warehouses that she forgets which one houses what goods, and she sends the PCs all over the city looking for a needle in a proverbial haystack!
Trappings, Not Traps
With all that said and done, I want to reiterate what I said at the beginning: Career Trappings are not mandatory. They are, intentionally, left vague — left up to individual groups to decide how they work at the table. This is because anything else wouldn’t make sense: it’s far too gamey for a Character to just receive new Trappings when they enter a Career, unless there is a fictional reason for it; conversely, it seems ridiculous that a Character is unable to advance unless they have absolutely every item on a shopping list ticked off.
Use the Career Trappings as guidelines, as a sign post to the Old World, that helps your Characters express themselves and tell stories. A Merchant with a Guild License is just as fascinating, interesting, and entertaining as one without… They’re just telling different stories.
Tell us how you use Career Trappings in your campaigns, and any curious stories that have arisen from Trapping oddities on our social media channels!
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