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Alphonse Hercules de Gascoigne, Gnome Detective – by Andy Law

August 13, 2021 7 comments

The WFRP4 fan community has been in an uproar lately over a recent reprinting of a beloved NPC.

Clearly based on Agatha Christie’s fictional detective Hercule Poirot, the Bretonnian Gnome Alphonse Hercules de Gascoigne appeared in Carl Sargent’s adventure “With a Little Help from my Friends,” which was published in White Dwarf 105 (September 1988).

While he is not the only Gnome NPC to appear in a WFRP adventure, he is by far the best-loved. So when he appeared as a Halfling in that adventure’s 4th edition update in The Horned Rat Companion, there was a storm of protest from Gnome fans. The hashtag #SaveAlphonse was used in passionate appeals on Twitter and elsewhere.

While the effect of these appeals remains to be seen, I asked Andy Law, the creator of the Gnome rules from Rough Nights and Hard Days, to give us his version of the great Gnome detective. Here it is, along with some notes from Andy explaining his reasoning behind some key decisions.

Like everything WFRP on this blog, what follows is in no way official and should be considered a fan work. No challenge is intended to copyrights or trademarks held by Games Workshop, Cubicle 7, or anyone else.

Kev Walker’s portrait of Alphonse, from the original adventure.

Alphonse Hercules de Gascoigne

Background

A background for Alphonse is given in The Horned Rat Companion (p. 93), but here are a few extra details:

Originally born in the burrows of Cardinselles in the Massif Orcal to the Skues Clan, Alphonse has not used his given-name of ‘Albros’ since he left home at the tender age of 26. Cardinselles was sacked by Beastmen in 2463IC, so Alphonse has never had the heart to return to the shadowy halls of his birth. He has one surviving sister who lives in Montluc, Quenelles. He occasionally sends goods and coin her way.

Albros Skues – Detective – Silver 5

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Skills: Athletics 73, Bribery 87, Charm 102, Climb 72, Cool 106, Consume Alcohol 42, Dodge 98, Drive 73, Endurance 52, Entertain (Act 72, Jest 70), Evaluate 92, Gamble 87, Gossip 102, Haggle 77, Intuition 111, Language (Bretonnian – 102, Classical 87, Ghassily – Native, Guilder 82, Mootish 92, Reikspiel 92, Thieves’ Tongue 87, Wastelander 80), Leadership 77, Lore (Bretonnia 92, Empire 87, Engineer 87, Heraldry 82, History 87, Metallurgy 82, Law 82, Wasteland 82), Melee (Basic 59, Brawling 64), Navigation 82, Perception 116, Pick Lock 82, Ranged (Blackpowder 52, Engineering 47), Secret Signs (Thief) 97, Sleight of Hand 106, Stealth (Rural 78, Urban 103), Track 96, Trade (Engineer) 87

Talents: Acute Sense (Hearing, Sight, Smell 2, Taste 3), Alley Cat 2, Artistic, Beneath Notice 2, Blather 3, Break and Enter 2, Carouser, Craftsman (Engineer), Etiquette (Criminals 2, Guilder, Nobles 2, Scholars, Servants 3), Fast Hands 3, Flee!, Gregarious, Lip Reading, Mimic, Night Vision, Read/Write, Savvy, Sixth Sense 2, Shadow 3, Sharp, Speedreader, Suave, Tenacious, Tinker, Tower of Memories

Traits: Armour (Leathers) 1, Size (Small), Weapon (Dagger) +5
Trappings: 3 doses of Black Lotus, Engineering Gizmos (GM’s choice), Journal, Lockpicks, Magnifying Glass, Playing Cards (Marked), Quill and Ink, Ring of Belstaff, Ring of Subduction (tHRC, p93), Spyglass

Career Path: Prowler, Thief, Student Engineer, Engineer, Informer, Sleuth, Investigator, Master Investigator, Spy, Detective

The Ring of Belstaff

Created by the Bretonnian Wizard Marie-Celestine de Belstaff in thanks for some service (which Alphonse absolutely refuses to discuss), this ring gathers the wind of Chamon around its wearer, creating a field of dense energy that gives protection equal to 2 APs on all locations.

This protection is only effective if the ring’s wearer avoids metal armour, because a significant amount of metal in contact with the field interferes with the flow of Chamon.

Notes

Rather than go with Watchman to match Hercule Poirot (whose backstory made him a former Belgian policeman), I went with Thief to match the character presented in With A Little Help From My Friends. I also put him through some Engineer to match his 1E description, and some Spy to match the 1E career. It suggests he’s had quite the life! I mentioned the little sister in Montluc as a light reference to Poirot, whose younger sister is mentioned in passing.


Thanks, Andy!

If you don’t already know about it, you should check out Andy’s Lawhammer blog for more WFRP goodness.

Also, I gave a brief history of Gnomes in WFRP (before 4th edition was published) in this post from a while ago

…and another blogger makes some interesting observations here.

Rookery Publications

Andy and I are two-fifths of Rookery Publications, a new indie TTRPG studio producing system-agnostic adventures and supplements designed to be usable with any game and setting. You can find out more about the Rookery here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RookeryPublications

Twitter: @RookeryP

Discord: https://discord.gg/awjDfSpH

Gnomevember

November 13, 2014 20 comments

Wfrp_logo

Gnomes have never been a big part of the Warhammer mythos, but they were in WFRP 1st edition, and in the first couple of editions of Warhammer itself. To celebrate the month of Gnomevember, here is a roundup of their brief history in Warhammer and WFRP.

Images of early Citadel Gnomes are hard to come by. The Book of Battalions included some information on Gnomes.

Images of early Citadel Gnomes are hard to come by. The Book of Battalions included some information on Gnomes.

Back in 1986, Citadel did have a few Gnome miniatures in its catalogue, so I included stats for them in the WFRP1 Bestiary. I’ve written before about how I tried to include stats for every miniature Citadel had ever made.

Gnomes weren’t included in the rulebook as a player race, even though they had been a PC race in D&D for some time. We were quite happy with Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. Even Halflings didn’t convince everyone, but at the time we felt they needed to be in the book: somehow, in the 80s, you just couldn’t have a fantasy RPG without Halflings. Since then the Halflings, too, have vanished from both Warhammer and WFRP. But back to Gnomes.

"Out of the Garden" appeared in WD86 and was reprinted (as "Gnome PCs") in Apocrypha Now.

“Out of the Garden” first appeared in WD86 and was reprinted (as “Gnome PCs”) in Apocrypha Now.

Phil Gallagher wrote “Out of the Garden” in White Dwarf 86 (reprinted in Hogshead’s Apocrypha Now), which gave Gnomes a culture and a place in the Warhammer world, as well as PC rules for WFRP, a patron deity, and a unique career of their own, the Gnome Jester.
The article also included a plethora of Gnome puns, possibly inspired by David Bowie’s novelty record The Laughing Gnome.

A gnome character starred in Carl Sargent’s Poirot-inspired adventure “With a Little Help from My Friends,” which was published in White Dwarf 105 and reprinted in the Warhammer Companion.

Alphonse Hercules de Gascoigne, the Gnome detective from "With a Little Help from My Friends."

Alphonse Hercules de Gascoigne, the Gnome detective from “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

And that was it. Like Halflings, Gnomes just weren’t fearsome enough to make a good Warhammer force, and Citadel stopped making Gnome miniatures. Actually, I think they had already stopped by the time WFRP was published, but perhaps someone from the Oldhammer community can correct me if I’m wrong.

It didn’t help that these two articles were jokey even by WFRP1 standards: somehow we just couldn’t take Gnomes seriously enough to incorporate any grimdark horror along with the jokes. We probably thought it couldn’t be done, although some 20 years later my erstwhile colleague Keith Baker did a very good job with the Gnomes in his pulp-inspired Eberron setting for D&D.

Anyway, it was only a matter of time before Gnomes disappeared from WFRP as they had from Warhammer. By 2nd edition they were gone, and a Gnome thief in my adventure “A Rough Night at the Three Feathers” was changed to a Halfling for the 2nd edition reprint in Plundered Vaults.

But as with so many things, WFRP fans weren’t ready to let go of Gnomes. The Strike to Stun forums include various discussions of Gnomes, some with links to fan-created Gnome rules for WFRP2. And now, the final issue of the excellent Warpstone fanzine includes no less than three articles on Gnomes.

Gnomes return to WFRP in Warpstone #30.

Gnomes return to WFRP in Warpstone #30.

And appropriately enough it appeared this month: Gnomevember!