After only 45 minutes of technical wrangling, we had everyone on Skype, connected to the Maptools server and basically playing. A new record for a first session!
Thank you Hamachi for that.
Playing ended up being pretty smooth, thanks to the very good Maptools Warhammer 2e Campaign template I downloaded. We still had some rules lookups, but compared to the first session in other games, it seemed to go pretty well.
The party consists of:
Otto Delschaft (James) - Human Protagonist. All I could think of when I read the character sheet was "Lucius Vorenus". James seemed to agree, although a critical success on a fellowship roll allowed his crude advances to be interpreted as lovable gruffness. I'm not convinced, though.
Elise Reitsmann (Russ) - Human Bounty Hunter. Handy with a crossbow and pretty lucky. Her father sent her out into the world with the immortal advice "try not to get killed, and if you become a whore, don't come back to town." Nice guy, her Dad.
Felix Pallenburg (Mark) - Human Barber/Surgeon. Drives the wagon, swings a mean club, and may possibly be able to patch you up if you are hurt.
Gotrek Durginson (Perry) - Dwarf Rat Catcher. Seems to think he's a warrior, but appears to be a thief on paper. Owns small vicious dog named "Rat". Possible latent death wish.
Flacwise (Greg) - Halfling Layabout - proficient with sling. Not martially inclined but sneaky and seems knowledgeable. In stark contrast to Elise, his Mom sent him out into the world with a pat on the head and a bag full of pies.
While spending another uneventful evening in the farming village of Gattenburg (population: who cares?) by propping up the local bar with their heads, something interesting actually happens.
A mysterious elven woman named Talline arrived at the inn and informed the shocked innkeeper that the Road was once again open.
Jorg, the innkeeper at the Two Stones, seemed impressed and excited, and explained to the party that his Uncle used to be a trader on the ancient road passing through town that goes to.. other places. He explained that the road had been closed or broken for many years, but that it used to bring strange travelers and wealth to the village.
He explains that Talline needs an escort to the end of the road, and that he's also very interested in reopening trade and exploration. He offers to provide some supplies and equipment, in exchange for information about the road and the right to resell anything that the party brings back.
Rather than enjoy life in Gattenburg, the group agrees. Jorg supplies them with a wagon, some supplies and a couple of draft horses and in the morning they set off down the road with Talline.
A long day's travel sees them across the river and entering the forest. With night falling, they elect to press on, finally reaching the standing stones that mark the end of what Talline calls "This section of the road" by midnight.
When they arrive, Talline explains that there are several ways to open the gates and shows the party a magical ritual which seems to transform the space between the stone pillars into a rippling horizontal pool of water. Before the group can pass though, they are interrupted by a horseman who comes out of the woods.
The armed and armored Elf seems to know Talline, explaining that he's been looking for her. After a brief exchange which confirms that they are brother and sister, Talline invokes some kind of protection agreement, seemingly based on the fact that she is travelling with the party, who are travelling on the road. It seems flimsy, but it appears to work - her brother grudgingly agrees that he cannot attack her directly. He then disappears into the forest, but seems to summon a host of staggering zombie bandits as he vanishes.
Lumbering forward, the zombies encounter a hail of sling and crossbow fire from the party, felling several of them, but the rest press on, led by a massive, hulking specimen. Gotrek and Otto form a battle line, and Felix defends the wagon, with Elise and Flac falling back to continue firing. Talline stands by - seemingly paralyzed by fright.
After a close battle which sees Gotrek, Otto and Flac injured and more zombies emerging from the woods on both sides, Talline begins hurling magical missiles and the party manages to destroy the undead.
Talline thanks the party for their assistance and explains that she is going to use a more powerful spell to temporarily link the gate to a different location than usual - someplace called the "White Palace". She gives the party a reward of 50 gold coins and a scroll with details about the magical ritual used to open the gates. She also explains that each gate opens on a particular stretch of road - usually an area that is visually spectacular or which contains an isolated town or inn that travellers can use.
With that, Talline steps through the gate and disappears, leaving a slightly battered party in the woods at night, staring into a magical gate.
On the Game System:
Pretty straightforward. One of the advantages of WHFRP is that it's pretty simple. Russ did take the time to read the rules, so things like Fortune Points, parrying and reload times were brought up. It's the first time any of us have played that system, but the Maptools Campaign template I downloaded from http://www.gitzmansgallery.com made things a lot easier.
I did forget to make fear checks when everyone was fighting the zombies - that would have probably made a difference. Also, for speed of play I didn't bother with critical hits for monsters - 0 wounds meant dead. I may adjust that in the future. No players got crit'ed, but if they had, this tool is really neat: http://gonensworld.com/crits/wimp/index.php?t=Bullet.
On the Technology:
Skype had a lot of feedback - maybe we'll try Googe+ hangout next time. Maptools worked pretty well when combined with Hamachi. The port forwarding is a pain in the ass otherwise. I went so far as to spend 20$ for a 32-person license for Hamachi, as the free 5-person one wouldn't work for our 6-person setup. As I mentioned above, the Maptools template was great, and the monster pack with stats that I also got from the Gitzman's site made DMing a ton easier because I didn't have to look up monster stats.
Overall: Good session - bit of role-playing and setup, bit of wilderness travel, bit of combat. I think WHFRP 2e is a good choice for the game I want to run.