Paid Campaign & Using Unconventional Systems

Hi, thought I’d make this post long-form instead of having a faster discussion on Discord, so I’m writing this here.
I am preparing to run an in-person paid campaign, the Enemy Within, for my game store after a miscommunication caused the campaign books to fall into the store’s hands (which I unfortunately do not feel will sell on their own, considering the full set is over $400 MSRP). To recoup this cost and then some, I’m planning on using the books for that paid campaign.
Unfortunately, as ATellingEllipsis has enlightened me, Warhammer Fantasy 4th Edition couldn’t be much further from what I’d want to run for such an extended campaign. So, the question I present to you all is thus:

If you put yourself in the shoes of a prospective player, much less involved in RPGs and RPG theory as you are now, would you mind a different system?

Really, what I’d love to do is use something like Kriegsmesser for the system, but am afraid I wouldn’t get interested players if I did. Another option I’m considering is hacking WFRP 4e to be stripped down, or maybe just run it in a more FKR style where I simply ignore as many rules as possible. But, if the intent of doing that is to run it how I’d want to run it and have the label of WFRP 4e, it just seems… dishonest. Like, if I was running 5e today, I would run it similarly, in that I’d ignore most of the rules. That’s within my power, but at the end of the day I can’t really tell people that I’m running 5e, at least, how they expect it to be run. I don’t really expect to encounter people experienced with 4e, since I where I live and where the store is in a rural area, but I can’t shrug the feeling that either (a) people will be disinterested in something not “official” or (b) people will drop out because it doesn’t align with their expectations of mechanical roleplay.

Any advice under the sun is appreciated. I’ll also make a thread on the NSR Cauldron for short-form discussion.

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I could see myself running that with Mork Borg, a somewhat well-known light system, and then just toning down the comedy of MB. I think people at a store do expect it the system to be something they can buy. I can see that doing fairly okay at a local store in my area, but mainly because I’ve run MB there before. I do a good bit of public play, but don’t have experience with paid GMing, so it’s hard for me to imagine specifics beyond that.

I can see a charismatic person “selling” the experience of doing WoDu or Kriegsmesser, and convincing people to play for free, but as a paid experience, I dunno.

Do you mind sharing what the customers would be paying to play in the live games?

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I don’t mind! I’m currently thinking $20 per person per 4 hour session or $15 per person per 3 hour session. That is going off of standard metrics of paid GMing, though predominantly 5e.

Yeah, I dunno either. It’s too uncertain. So, that said, what do you think regarding my other options? Would you agree that it’s dishonest?

I think you’d need to state “house rules” pretty plainly on the advertisement, and include a handout and more detailed explanation for people who show up.

I’ve gotten away with something similar in a recent Vaesen game (non-paid, online), and it was fun and easier to sell than I thought (two people had played the regular game with regular rules). But then again Year Zero isn’t quite as complex as Warhammer. It let me do a light hack the game, without making any alterations to the normal character sheets.

So, maybe? If it was me, I might test on some people for free and see how that feels?

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I’ve found that changing the rules system is of no issue when it is communicated (overly) clearly. Players do not like these kinda ‘gotcha’ moments where they think a rule works in some way and in a critical moment turns out it does not. So as above, making clear ‘errata’ type document stating all the changes is very helpful and/or sharing a pdf document of the rules where you have annotated the changes is a good idea.

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There are a bunch of lightweight Warhammer likes around that could fit the bill. As others have said, clear communication is important. Enemy Within is one of the most known campaigns for Warhammer, which could produce expectations in prospective players. Depends a lot on the clientele.

As for systems, I have used Streets of Marienburg as well as BareBones Fantasy and of course Shadow of the Demon Lord to run Warhammer with great success.

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Warlock! was specifically written to run Enemy Within with a lighter ruleset iirc

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I’d be interested in trying to find lighter systems which the shop also might stock to see it that worked as another way to support the endeavour. Mörk Borg has already been mentioned and has some of the muddy quality which makes WFRP so appealing. Electric Bastionland also has a very WFRP feel in the failed careers and the way the packages in Into the Odd feels similar if less clear. Troika feel mechanically similar, replacing the D100 with D66 and admittedly losing all the grounding of the Warhammer setting.

That said I would also be interested in seeing what the rules in the WFRP starter set look like. At its core WFRP a pretty straightforward roll under system. With a little reframing of the basic roll in the vein of FitD positioning it could be played pretty fast and loose I’d imagine.