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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:

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Twitter: @RookeryP

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