News for August 2009
The Role You Play 36
A look at the character creation process in WFRP
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay | Published 28 August 2009

by Jay Little

One of the key elements in any roleplaying experiences are the characters the gameplay focus on; the heroes and personalities that interact with the GM and the setting to tell interesting and engaging stories. The player characters are an important part of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, as well. A PC in Warhammer is not just defined by his race or his characteristics. His career, wealth, talents, and skills all play a part in describing who he is and the role he plays within the setting. This designer diary take a look at the steps in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay character creation process.

Step 1: Select a Race
When creating a character for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the basic character concept can be strongly influenced by the character’s background and race. There are four races available in the core set – Reikland humans, dwarfs hailing from Karak Azgaraz, high elves, and wood elves. Each race has its own rich history, distinct flavour, strengths, and special abilities.

In addition to background information about each race, and that race’s impact and involvement in the Empire, there are a number of special abilities associated with each race. Player characters of a certain race share these special race abilities in addition to any other abilities they may have from their career or training. Alternatively, if players wish to randomly determine their PCs races, a table is provided.

Step 2: Draw 3 Careers
The next step in the character creation process is to determine the starting career for the character. The character’s career influences his available skills, talents, the advancement options after earning experience, as well as describes the character’s social function and role within the Old World.

Click to see which careers you've drawn

To determine the character’s starting career, the player shuffles together all the basic career sheets and draws three careers at random. He checks to see if his character’s race is eligible for the careers drawn. If any of the careers are not compatible, the player draws until he has three valid careers. He then chooses which of those three careers he wishes his character to start with.

Step 3: Invest Creation Points
Each player has a number of creation points available to invest in the customisation of his character. The number of creation points available is based on the character’s race. Creation points are spent by the player to invest in his PC’s characteristics, as well as starting wealth and other advancements to improve a character’s starting skills and abilities. Any creation points not spent during character creation are lost – so the players need to invest wisely!

For example, if a player chooses to invest zero creation points in his character’s starting wealth, then the player character starts out broke. A broke character begins play with the clothes on his back (probably old and tattered), a dagger or quarterstaff, and has 5 brass coins.

Step 4: Acquire Action Cards
A character’s action cards provide a broad range of options during gameplay. All characters begin play with a few “basic” action cards. Several of the basic action cards have a minimum characteristic requirement. If a character does not begin play with the required characteristic rating, he does not begin with that basic action card. However, if he later raises his characteristics to meet these requirements, he can choose to acquire these actions later in his career.

Certain careers may have access to other basic actions. For example, wizard careers start the game with a number of petty magic spells, which are considered basic spell actions, and Channel Power, which allows them to generate the power needed to fuel their spells. Priest careers start the game with a number of minor blessings, which are considered basic blessing actions, and the Curry Favour action, which allows them to generate the favour needed to activate their blessings.

Step 5: Determine Stances
The player is now ready to determine his character’s starting stances. The character’s career sheet indicates the default number of conservative and reckless pieces for that character’s stance meter, which can be augmented over time by investing in additional pieces. The player then takes a number of puzzle-fit stance pieces based on the character’s stance makeup. One neutral stance piece is placed in the centre. A number of green pieces are attached to the left equal to the character’s conservative stance rating, and a number of red pieces are attached to the right equal to the character’s reckless stance rating.

Step 6: Select a Party Sheet
Once the individual players have created their characters, they work together to determine what sort of relationship their characters have with each other. Developing a back story or concept of why these characters are working together provides motivation for the characters, as well as potential plot hooks and adventure ideas for the GM.

The players should look through the available party sheets and decide which party sheet best reflects the play style and type of party they want their characters to be in. Each party sheet offers different options to the group. If the group cannot decide, they may wish to randomly draw a party sheet and discuss how their character fits into the concept presented by the sheet.

Finishing Touches
To get the most out of a roleplaying experience, players are encouraged to consider their characters and develop a sense for who they are and how they fit into the setting. What are the character’s motivations? What drives him to action? Who are the important people in his life? What inspired him to take up a life of adventure? Does he have any long-term goals or aspirations?

Is the soldier a battle weary veteran grudgingly forced to take up his sword again when beastmen threaten his home? Or is he an avaricious man, who seeks fame and fortune with his swordarm? Is the initiate of Sigmar a devout and pious man, never questioning the doctrine of his faith? Or is he on a personal quest of redemption to answer the questions burning a hole in his very soul?

By spending a few minutes thinking about a character’s background, motivations, and personality, players can enjoy a much richer, more fulfilling game experience. If a player is not sure how to answer these questions right away, that’s fine, too! One of the exciting thigs about roleplaying games is playing a character who develops and grows over time. And as players become more familiar with the game system, the setting, and their character, more ideas to flesh out their personal stories will emerge.

Set in the grim world of Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy universe, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is a roleplaying game that sets unlikely heroes on the road to perilous adventure. Players will venture into the dark corners of the Empire, guided by luck and Fate, and challenge the threats that others cannot or will not face.

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Comments (36)

Published: 8/29/2009 3:22:06 AM

Finally some real info on the mechanics of the game. We still need the info on an actual a session, a video where a group creates characters and plays would be nice.

I agree with the guys asking for female and male cards. And the question about playing a party of Witch hunters, but on the 'Group with the same careers issue' I hope that FFG will accept people to make copies of the sheets to do this.


Published: 8/29/2009 2:51:38 AM

As one of the "whiners", I'm quite concerned about this way of creating a starting career.
When WRFP2 introduced one Starting Career Table only, with which the dice roll would be compared, I already thought WTF. In WRFP1 you had at least some minor way of influencing in which direction your character would go - Warrior, Ranger, Thug or Academic.
Then FFG got the licence and published the Career Compendium, in which alternate charts are presented. Again, players could choose to roll on tables for Warriors, Criminals, Commoners, Rangers and Academics.
But now, with the new WRFP3, players have to choose from three sheets they draw, out of the lot. It's like the beginning of WRFP2 again, only worse.

Why worse? Let me explain.

In WRFP1 it was possible to play an all-academic group. Moreover, if you rolled respectively, or decided to not roll but just to choose your starting profession, it was possible to play an all-wizard's apprentice group. Quite rare, and quite a stretch for the GM. Especially, since most adventures wouldn't work. But still, it was possible to have fun in such a constellation.

Then along came WRFP2, and players had to roll on an all-out chart. That way people who would never touch a warrior's career (like myself) would suddenly have no choice if the dice went against them. Or someone who liked a more hands-on approach would be stuck in an academic's job. 
Of course, players still could just choose their careers, thereby circumnavigating problems with career choice. But FFG did them one better and presented optional starting career tables in the compendium. 

Now FFG releases WRFP3, and not only do players have to roll on one chart to rule them all. No, they have to draw from the mass of character sheets. Which basically means there can only be one envoy, one trollslayer, one mercenary, one whatnot in the group. Because (and this is guesswork, but hte only thing that makes sense) there is bound to be only one chart per career in the lot...
Where is the creativity, the freedom in choice in THAT??

Okay, I guess you could get more than one of these charts. Obviously not by buying add-ons and packs, since they will most probably only improve the number of available options. But by buying several starting packs...

Well, now several people could say that it's ONLY the starting career. But this career is what ultimately defines who the character is, and who he will be during game. And to a certain extent who he will become...
...become. That reminds me, there is bound to be only one sheet for each follow-up career, too...

The more I see, the more I am sure that the days of buying and using WRFP products comes to an end for me. What's more, I will advise people to think for themselves, what they want out of a game of WRFP. Which basically mean I will advise people NOT to buy it.

Which is really sad, because I am a huge fan of FFG boardgame products, and of Grimm (the RPG). But that's free will, free speech and free market to you...


Published: 8/29/2009 2:24:16 AM

Its never too late my dear Watson.

Published: 8/28/2009 11:42:33 PM

 It's probably way too late - perhaps it could be made available as a PDF download - but I would love to see some instructions for converting characters from V2 to the new V3. I'm sure a lot of people, including myself, have long-running campaigns and would like a way to carry over their player characters to the new system.

Published: 8/28/2009 10:56:24 PM

Woah I just noticed that this game takes the best parts from a lot of others. It takes the Career system from Warhammer FRP. Uses a stats system like White Wolf's lines. Has a reference card system like Battlelore. The stnace metter reminds me of Arkhams sliders. It puts the focus on teamwork and story like Grimm. And many more.

I actually like this stance meter thing. If you have ever played metal gear solid it represents the calm meter. It takes a while for certain careers to get back to a calm stance. At the same time now that I look at it, I believe the GM will be able to use it for example. If my character stubs his toe the meter may rise more to the reckless side. Now I have to take time to calm down. At least I hope that will be how it's used. Maybe certain careers will have a way to raise their meter to the reckless side instantly. That could be cool in combat but what if a diplomatic situation you have a raging character that has to try and calm down or risk messing up the talks.

Published: 8/28/2009 10:15:37 PM

 Steamdriven you really need to look up th new grimm roleplaying syste, It imo is one of the better RPGs printed in the last four years. And its also an FFG RPG, system for it is FFGs also. Look it up before claiming FFG needs to learn how to make RPGs.

Published: 8/28/2009 8:07:57 PM

The whole stance thing is actually what keeps me from liking this game. It just seems hokey and gamist to me. 

Published: 8/28/2009 7:20:52 PM

I hope you have a career cards with on of each sex(male and female). I look silly play a female but the picture  male.

David Spangler
Published: 8/28/2009 7:18:35 PM

By the way, that barber-surgeon looks positively creepy-wouldn't want him cutting my hair!

David Spangler
Published: 8/28/2009 7:16:49 PM

This sounds interesting,and I'm more than willing to give FFG the benefit of the doubt here and read the information as it comes before jumping to conclusions.  So far it seems interesting and innovative.  I admit to doubts about the career card idea; I've never been fond of games in which I'm locked into an "avatar" of some kind, a pre-programmed or designer-developed career, and I agree with the poster who asked about the limits the illustrations create.  I don't like anything that limits my creativity and imagination in creating a charcter.  But this may just be a quibble.  I look forward to more information.

Published: 8/28/2009 6:20:28 PM

no, no, and nnoooo! its still a board game at heart, FFG make some of the best board games on the planet but need to learn how to make RPG'S. for the love of gork, mork, and loads of other gods I hope this is a dream and i'll wake up soon.



Published: 8/28/2009 3:26:50 PM


From what we know so far, I think it works like this.... you're performing an action, let's say, swinging at a cultist of the purple hand.   You'd normally roll some blue dice because of your skills and some purple dice because of your attributes.  Before you roll, you look at your stance metter.  If you are currently being very cautious, let's say, on the second green counter to the left,  you'd add two green "cautious" dice to your pool.  Green dice don't have any skulls (which are bad), but they do have some hourglasses (which make your action take longer).  If you are being reckless and are on a red space, you'd add red dice to your pool.  Red dice have some double successes on them (which are good) but also have some skulls (which are bad) because you're taking a higher risk for the chance at a higher reward.  Once you have your pool built you roll them and match up the symbols to the chart on your action card to see how much damage you do and any other effects.  Of course, this should all be taken with a grain of salt until some more detailed info comes out...

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