News for September 2009
Adventure on the Move 36
A look at manoeuvres, ranges, and engagements in WFRP
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay | Published 15 September 2009

- Jay Little

Over the course of their careers, the characters in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay may find themselves in all sorts of exciting adventures. In addition to using their skills, talents, and actions to accomplish their goals, characters will also rely on several special mechanics to move around and interact with the story and their environment. This designer diary looks at a few of the game mechanics that help PCs move around and interact with the environment.

A Chaos Marauder on the MoveManoeuvres
There are a lot of things characters can do that are not governed by a specific skill, a clever stunt, or action card. Many of these undertakings do not even require a check. Collectively, the minor things that a character accomplishes on his turn are called manoeuvres.

Manoeuvres cover a broad range of minor, incidental, and often automatic achievements. During story mode (a more free-form, narrative mode of play, when timing and order of actions are less important), manoeuvres can usually be performed as often as required, and are generally assumed to occur as needed to advance the plot. During encounter mode (a “zoomed in” mode of play when timing and the order in which things occur can become more important), characters are limited in the number of manoeuvres they can perform within a given amount of time.

A character can perform one manoeuvre any time during his turn for free. Characters also have the option to perform additional manoeuvres on their turn. Each additional manoeuvre costs one fatigue. Fatigue is a measure of a character's current energy level and vigour. The character suffers one fatigue, then may perform one additional manoeuvre -- if he wants to perform two additional manoeuvres, he must suffer two fatigue, and so on. However, if a character accumulates too much fatigue, it can impact his physical characteristics, and if he exerts himself too greatly, he risks passing out!

There are a number of defined manoeuvres to choose from, but GMs should encourage their players’ creativity if they propose manoeuvres not listed in the main rulebook. Some special talents or abilities allow for manoeuvres to be used in even more ways. Here are just a few examples of what maneouvres can be used to accomplish:

  • Assist. Performing the assist manoeuvre allows an engaged ally to add a bonus fortune die to his next check. Several characters can use the assist manoeuvre to add more bonus fortune dice to the engaged ally’s next check. All awarded bonus dice must be used on the assisted character’s next turn, otherwise, they are discarded.
  • Interact with the Environment. Often a single manoeuvre is enough to interact with the environment around a character. This is a broad category of possible interactions, such as opening a door, climbing into a wagon, knocking over a table, ducking behind a counter, grabbing a torch from a nearby sconce, and so on.
  • Movement. Movement is accomplished by performing one of several different, but related types of manoeuvre, depending on the type of movement. The movement manoeuvres allow characters a lot of freedom and flexibility to move around the environment.

Sigmar's CometAbstract Measurements
One thing players will notice quickly about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is the lack of battlegrids or maps with squares. The game instead relies on broad terms used to describe ranges and distances. Rather than have a player’s attention focused on a grid or counting squares, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay uses more abstract means to represent position, distances, and ranges – letting the players focus on the action and the adventure.

The distance between two points – people, objects, or monsters – is defined by range categories. These range categories are used to determine how far a ranged attack can reach, how far apart two people are from each other, how much effort is needed to move between two places, and so on. The most common ranges are close, medium, long, and extreme range.

  • Close: Generally a matter of several paces between points. Many thrown weapons and firearms are most accurate at close range. Two people in close range can talk comfortably without raising their voice. If there are no obstacles or impairments, moving to another spot within close range is accomplished by performing a single movement manoeuvre.
  • Medium: Medium range is generally several dozen paces away. More reliable firearms can reach to medium range, as can crossbows. Two people in medium range of each other need to talk loudly to hear each other. Moving from close to medium range requires a bit more exertion.
  • Long: Long range is further than a few dozen paces. Longbows, Hochland long rifles and some spells can reach this far without too much trouble. Two people in long range of each other need to yell loudly to hear each other. Moving from medium to long range is more time consuming than moving between medium and close range.
  • Extreme: Extreme range is the farthest range at which two targets can interact. Two people at extreme range may not be able to hear each other even if they shout. Moving between long and extreme range can be time consuming and exerting. A few special ranged weapons can fire at targets at extreme range, but usually with a penalty.

An Initiate of ShallyaEngaged
To reflect two or more targets close enough to interact directly with each other, there is a special status called engaged. Two characters engaged with each other are in very close proximity. A soldier needs to be engaged with a target to hit him with his sword. A barber-surgeon needs to be engaged with his patient to tend to a wound. A group of people engaged with each other is called an engagement.

Being engaged is also used to indicate that a person is close enough to an item to use it. A thief needs to be engaged with a locked chest to attempt to pick the lock. A coachman needs to be engaged with the carriage to climb aboard. A hunter needs to be engaged with the tree if he wants to hide behind it for cover while firing his bow. The engaged status simply indicates that two things are close enough to each other to directly interact.

With the engaged status and the range bands, the GM is free to describe things dynamically and set scenes without having to worry about exact distances. The goblins can start out within medium range of the party – he doesn’t need to worry about positioning each goblin 20 squares from a character, or 12 inches from the cavern mouth. The details and adventure come first, creating a vivid picture for the players, while allowing the GM to quickly provide the mechanical information players need to start developing their strategies and planning their actions.

Download the Reference PDFResolving Movement & Positioning
The manoeuvre systm, range categories, and movement work together to help create dynamic scenes and allow the GM to resolve action quickly. By using the colour standups and plastic bases, the players can have a unique standup to represent their characters, and the GM can use the included standups for various NPCS, enemies, or monsters.

Positioning these on the table creates a quick visual reference on where things are in relation to each other. Standups or figures in base contact with each other are engaged. The further apart the standups are, the greater the range between them. The GM can even place tracking tokens -- a handy set of components used to track a variety of conditions and effects during gameplay -- between individual standups or engagements to indicate how far apart from each other those two elements are.

The location cards provided in the game add even more context to the environment in which an encounter takes place. The location card can be placed on the table to indicate roughly where that feature or element is positioned. Standups placed on or touching the card are engaged with that location or terrain feature, and may be affected by any special rules or effects that location has, and so on.

Be sure to download the WFRP Movement & Engagement PDF summary (600 k) for a closer look.


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: 9/22/2009 5:44:45 AM

 "The good story teller doesn't need the toys."

I should have put that in quotes as it was the last sentence of the post by Waazdog that I was responding too.


Published: 9/20/2009 6:40:37 PM

"The good story teller doesn't need the toys."

Shouldn't that be: a good story teller uses what tools they have available to their best effect? Sure, a good story teller doesn't need those tools (in fact no story teller does, even a bad one), but if they are available then they can be put to good use. That's what seperates RPGing from merely playing pretend.

Published: 9/18/2009 7:24:43 AM

 The good story teller doesn't need the toys.  You can easily just say that the orc is at long range while the chaos cultists are at medium and heading your way.  But for the more complex battles, where the players are separated and there are multiple groups of opponents who doesn't sometimes get out the minis and start laying out stuff on the table so the players and GM don't get confused?  That's when the little range markers and stand ups come in useful.  And there is nothing wrong with abstract range mechanic itself.  This I think will speed up combat and mean there is less attention to counting off yards and charge distances and more on the dynamics of the fight and the story.

Same goes for the stance meter, wound cards and spell cards etc.  If you want just get the players to note this on their character sheets and not bother with the jigsaw pieces and counters.

I think a lot of the divide between people posting here is based on whether think they are being gouged for components they are not going to use or whether they like the idea of the counters.  Are all these pieces pushing up the price?

Whether this is the case is going to be based on the page count of those 4 rulebooks and how dense text is (ie is there a lot of mechanics in there or is large swathes of the books taken up with 'white' space and pictures).  Assuming the PDFs we've seen are from the rulebooks the density of text (and hence rules mechanics) is I think on the lighter side but not excessively so.

So if they are about 200+ pages each then $100 is worth the price and you are getting all the tokens and pieces for free.  Use them, don't use them.  Your choice.  Same with the talent and skill cards etc.  If you don't want to use them just get your players to remember the rules for their skills and write them into a character sheet.  4 200+ page rulebooks would sell for about $100 dollars anyway.

If however those rules books are quite short and maybe only total the length of normal core rulebook when taken altogether then the price is high and it seems you are being forced to extra money on components you might not want to use.  If they total about 400 pages for all 4 then you would probably only pony up $50 dollars for a single book.  In which case the components are doubling the price.

So FFG, any chance of getting a page count on those rulebooks?  And whether or not all the skill and spell cards etc are detailed in the them as well as on the cards?

Published: 9/18/2009 12:55:16 AM

Sounds like too many stupid toys on the table then necessary... dice, character sheet, and the ability of a storyteller to weave a good tale... no amount of props or toys will make up for an inept storyteller.  A good storyteller doesn't need the toys.

Published: 9/17/2009 9:22:52 PM

Great implementation of a good idea. Two-thumbs-up!

Count Zero
Published: 9/16/2009 8:29:19 PM

I must say, this is the first thing I've seen in this edition that i really like. I've seen it done in other systems effectively and it's refreshing to see such a non-miniatures based approach. Surprising, in fact. I'm moving slightly closer to cautiously optimistic.

Published: 9/16/2009 3:05:45 PM

"Not sure if that was some kind of subtle insult... this medium can easily be misintereprted, so I'll ignore the first sentence. "

No insult intended. I am just pointing out that your anecdotal evidence may not apply to everyone.


"4E does the same thing with markers and power cards and they are distracting..."

I have played 4e and I don't find these tools distracting. I know other RPGers that don't either.  As such, I think the level of distraction (if any) will largely depend upon the RPGer.

Published: 9/16/2009 12:45:55 PM

Love it! I never used a grid and always felt that I had to bend the rules a bit when gaming without a grid. No more! Thanks! Sure buy for me. :)

Christian Lindke
Published: 9/16/2009 12:07:16 PM

The range band system seems to be a nice middle ground between the abstract positioning of a game like DC Heroes, where characters often move fast enough to make a grid non-representative of the entire battle area, and games like D&D, GURPS, and Champions that are very grid dependant/friendly.

I haven't found the use of cards, counters, markers, etc. distracting in 4th edition D&D games, they have helped some of my more miniature wargame oriented players, but I can easily see how this system would appeal to both my "storytellers" and my "wargamers." 

As I wrote before, this seems to be a truly FFG system and that is a good thing.


Published: 9/16/2009 11:51:53 AM

people seem to be hating on the grid style rpg combat. The grid only sucks if you let it make you lazy if you just draw the grid and place monsters and dont give any deion before or during the combat of coarse your pcs focus will be on the grid. My group uses the grid and I give lots of narrative before and during the fight and it ends being just as good imagination wise if there was no grid. I like using the grid or some form of a battle mat so i dont have to keep track of every little detail. Dont let the fact that theres a grid suck out your narrative. With the grid you can still say the ogre charges you with club held high, mouth gaping open drooling with the anticipation of a good meal. People just usually get lazy with a grid and say oh he hit you for 10 damage.

Published: 9/16/2009 11:48:24 AM

Not sure what you're trying to say Mordante.

v3 has 40-50 careers (to start with).  Is this less than v2?  Yes.  I don't think that's necessarily the right question to ask.  I think the large number of careers in v2 was overkill, with many being very similar. A lot of the careers from v2 can quite easily be combined without losing anything in the setting.  If two careers had very similar increases, but one had a much more difficult equipment requirement, which one are people going to pick?

I think a better question is:  Does v3 have enough careers?  Does it present sufficient variety to represent a broad spectrum of people in the Old World?  We have a partial list, but we don't really know the answer yet.

It seems that a lot of people are addicted to the count though, so if they can't say, "Over 220!" they won't be happy.  They should try Rifts.

Published: 9/16/2009 7:24:19 AM

Fascinating: I've never heard of such a system before.

I like it! Can't wait to try it out!

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