|Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay | Published 25 September 2009|
One of the cool things about working at Fantasy Flight Games are all the great people I get to work with. Over the course of the design and development cycle of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, a lot of my fellow FFGers participated in a number of playtests, helping fine-tune the system – as well as having a lot of fun exploring the Old World.
Recently, a group of us started getting together over lunch, playing a series of one-hour sessions as part of early playtesting for our upcoming campaign set (code named Project Thunderbolt... did I just drop a spoiler?). The players decided to create new characters from scratch to tackle the campaign. This presented the perfect opportunity to walk folks through the character creation process in detail.
JR Godwin, FFG Marketing Coordinator, is one of the staffers participating in the campaign playtest. He’s a big Warhammer fan, and has participated in a number of playtests and game sessions for pretty much everything an FFGer has done that’s based on Warhammer fantasy, including one of my long-running WFRP campaigns. This designer diary walks through the character creation process for JR’s player character, Gurni Thorgrimson.
Step 1. Select Race
JR loves dwarfs in Warhammer. In fact, I have yet to see him choose to play something other than a dwarf if dwarfs are an option -- be it Warhammer: Invasion, WFRP, or the Warhammer table top game. So this was a no brainer. Before all the options had even been mentioned and explained to the players, JR selected a Karak Azgaraz Dwarf, and jotted that down on his character sheet, along with the Azgaraz Dwarf special abilities.
When it came time to draw careers, I added the extra careers from the Adventurer’s Toolkit to the careers included in the WFRP core set, giving my players a few more options. JR ended up drawing the Agent, Dockhand, and Smuggler. A very diverse selection of careers.
After seeing what the other players drew and talking a bit about the party composition, JR opted for the Dockhand (one of the careers featured in the Toolkit), and wrote that in on his sheet. He took the Dockhand career sheet and the Dockhand career ability card and placed them next to his character sheet.
Step 3. Invest Creation Points
After taking a quick look at the character creation tables, JR sees that Azgaraz Dwarfs start out with a slightly higher Strength and Toughness, and 20 creation points to spend on customising his character. Before he spends any of his points, his character receives an automatic upgrade to the two primary characteristics listed on his career – both of these characteristics start out 1 point higher than the default value listed for that race.
Looking at the Dockhand career sheet, Strength and Toughness are that career’s primary characteristics – which help improve upon his innate dwarf bonuses. So before he spends any of his creation points, JR’s dwarf Dockhand has the following starting characteristic ratings - Strength 4, Toughness 4, Agility 2, Intelligence 2, Willpower 2, and Fellowship 2.
JR now has 20 points to spend on improving his characteristics, as well as starting wealth, skills, talents, and special actions.
Improving Characteristics: Increasing a characteristic rating by one requires a number of creation points equal to the new rating. For example, increasing Strength 3 to Strength 4 requires four creation points. Increasing Strength 3 to Strength 5 would require nine creation points – four points to increase Strength 3 to Strength 4, and another five points to increase Strength 4 to Strength 5. During character creation, no single characteristic can begin higher than five.
Wealth, Skills, Talents, and Actions: Investing in wealth, skills, talents, and actions is slightly different than investing in characteristics. A player can choose to invest 0, 1, 2, or 3 creation points in each of these four categories. Using the table shown below, a player finds the appropriate value for his character by cross-referencing the category’s column with the creation point investment’s row.
JR has a slightly older, more experienced dwarf in mind, and already has a name – Gurni Thorgrimson (the older brother of a dwarf he played in one of my previous WFRP campaigns). Sadly, Gurni has recently fallen on hard times (reflecting the fact that he is now currently a lowly dockhand). He decides to increase his Strength to reflect a life of rigourous activity, and that the hard labour as a dockhand has kept him fit (raising Strength 4 to Strength 5 costs 5 creation points). A dockhand needs to keep his balance on slippery docks and ship decks, so he increases his Agility slightly (Agility 2 to Agility 3 for 3 creation points). JR also wants his character to be mentally tough – he’s been around a while and seen things – so he increases Gurni’s Willpower (Willpower 2 to Willpower 3 for 3 creation points).
JR has spent 11 of his 20 creation points. Before deciding if he wants to tinker with his characteristics further, JR takes a look at the different options available for wealth, skills, talents, and actions to see how he wants to spend his remaining points... though he is tempted to go back and possibly improve his Intelligence for 3 creation points.
Looking over the other investment options, JR decides that it doesn’t make much sense for Gurni to start out rich, but he at least wants a few things to call his own, so he invests 1 creation point in Wealth, indicating that Gurni is poor. A poor character begins play with a set of durable, comfortable clothes and a cloth rucksack. He may choose to start with a dagger, quarterstaff, light crossbow, or hand weapon, and has 50 silver coins. He opts for a hand weapon - a sturdy handaxe. That’s good enough for Gurni.
To reflect a more seasoned and experienced dwarf, JR decides to invest 3 creation points in both Skills and Actions – he wants Gurni to be well-rounded and be able to contribute to a variety of game situations. JR feels the benefits of these investments are well worth giving up the opportunity to raise his Intelligence from 2 to 3 (which would also cost 3 creation points).
His 3 point investment in Skills allows him to train 4 skills and start with 2 specialisations. His dwarf racial ability Children of Grungni also allows him to train a skill relied on in dwarf culture. JR decides to use the Children of Grungni ability to train Resilience (he’s a tough ol’ dwarf), then selects four skills from the Dockhand career to train, choosing Athletics, Coordination, Intimidate, and Guile. For specialisations, JR decides that Gurni has worked hard to make the most out of being a Dockhand, and selects Swimming and Excellent Balance as specialisations – choices that have a natural connection to his career (and definitely making Gurni a distinct dwarf).
With 2 points invested in Talents, JR chooses to select one Reputation talent and one Focus talent – that way he can either take advantage of both of the Dockhand’s talent slots, or contribute different talents to the group’s party sheet they acquire later. After looking through the Reputation and Focus talents, JR chooses two that sound like a good match to Gurni’s backstory: Strong Willed and I’ve Seen Worse…
Finally, a 3 point investment in Actions allows JR to select four special action cards for Gurni.
Step 4. Acquire Action Cards
Each character starts out with access to each of the following actions he meets the requirements for: Assess the Situation, Block (for characters with Toughness 3+), Dodge (for characters with Agility 3+), Guarded Position, Melee Attack, Parry (For characters with Strength 3+), Perform a Stunt, and Ranged Attack. Since JR invested 3 points in actions, he gets to select four additional actions for Gurni to begin play with.
To reflect a veteran dwarf background, JR decides to select a few combat actions – Grapple, Setup Strike, and Reckless Cleave. But Gurni’s also a stern dwarf, quick to cast a baleful glare around when the young whippersnappers act up, so JR selects the social action Steely Gaze.
Step 5. Determine Stances
Looking at the Dockhand career sheet, JR sees that the Dockhand starts out balanced between Conservative and Reckless approaches. He builds a stance track with two green and two red pieces, with a neutral piece in the middle.
While the other players work on their characters, JR takes a moment to purchase some equipment. He decides to purchase a net, deciding it’s going to be a sturdy, reliable old fishing net he’s owned for a long time, and keeps mending rather than throw away whenever it tears. He’s also got a hand axe, a simple but effective set of leather armour, and a tankard.
As he adds a few final touches, the other players wrap up their character creation – then they start talking about how this eclectic group of characters (an impetuous wood elf wardancer, a Reikland mercenary with an extremely high Fellowship but little in the way of combat skills, and an old dwarf dockhand) ended up together. And why they decided to travel together and follow the clues that lead them to a backwater town shrouded by rain and thunderstorms…
Downloadable Character Sheets
The official WFRP character sheet is available for download as a PDF. Also available is a filled out version showing Gurni’s character sheet after the character creation process.
You can also download the double-sided Dockhand Career Sheet (web ready, 500 k)
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.
This is a handy document. I also suggest looking at the pre-generated characters in Liber Fanatica 7. There are 44 of them in there. There is also a completion of the characters at RPGGeek for Liber Fanatica 7.
I'll have to disagree with Peacekeeper -
If I've seen anything in the present trend of new gamers and DMs, and what they want, it's a card and dice driven combo in RPG systems. They want less to write down stats on pieces of paper and roll the same four dice over and over again. New gamers want simplicity through physical representation of abilities, etc.
If anything, developers go with gaming trends. 4e is an example of a successfully growing RPG trend. If GW and FFG want to grow the fanbase, they have to stay current with the trend.
I also like what I have seen, so far. Its going to be popular with non RPG Gamers, willing to dabble. This sort of hybrid is sadly the new face of RPG. Thanks to the WOW & Magic Generation.
I stull buck the system by being old & crazy enough to play D&D First edition & Rolemaster2, most people would know who or what they are these days. Thats fine. I am ok with that.
Lets see some awsome mega quests with bite & its goning to be a hoot. (D&D1E Slavers Series)
Before I say anything else, I want people to like the games they like. I have no problem with other people looking forward to this game even thought Im not. I just contend that there isnt yet to be anything new or original or unique about this new game that makes me think 2E had to be replaced with a totaly different game.
A lot of these new "innovations" could easily have been put into 2E or a revised version of 2E. I dont think it will bring in new players or GMs or anything. If anything, I think its a step backwards in approachability and availability for new players.
And yes, I resent they left the old tried and proved system (you know, the one in Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy for the most part). While I am pleased DH and RT went to FFG I so wish that WHFRP when to Green Ronin.
I'll just say that I'm waiting until the game comes out and I try it before I buy it.
While the game mechanics may not be new, they are sculpted to draw new players and - more importantly in my eyes - new GMs into WHFR. I am a bit ashamed of the naysayers who have been basically resisting this edition purely out of contempt for a new system. I'm even more disappointed that I've seen veteran people in the forums saying they don't care about the new people - it's all about THEIR enjoyment.
And I find what Japan Gamer says interesting.
Death From Above: Regarding your last comment - JR's dockhand clearly isn't a battle hardened mercenary. He's strong for a dwarf, yes, and tough (compared to a human), but he'll suck in a fight. I'd say that a standard starting mercenary character would cut him to pieces. He has no WS or any combat talents. This is not a combat character. His main contribution to the group would seem to be in some social and physical non-combat scenarios and as a supporting combat character (not the frontline guy, but someone who is good enough to watch his back).
Farin. You come from a DnD only background for RPing? And this is the best system you have seen? Of two systems you have seen (DnD and this) Yeah, not much of a voucher there. Enjoy the game, please do.
Its not a sad story, it is observation that there has not been any idea introduced here that could not have been added to the original or any other system. There is nothing unique or original or fantastic about any of this. Its a chargen system like any other Ive seen a thousand times in hundreds of other games. But one that allows for not only creating what you want to play but to allow that munchkin to build his HERO dude.
Personally, I hope to be proven wrong, but nothing thus far has led me to believe I will be. Perhaps if they would release a real teaser, and not just a write up of how to do something. Perhaps a few pages from the actual book, or the much requested demo. Or mayhaps a PDF adventure much like Shattered Hopes and Forsaken Bounty.
But till then it just Hercules and Xena the RPG (from West End Games) mixed with a few other RPG elements.
And I have the right to discuss this here, as that is what these forums are for. Not just a universal support system for the game. Anyway, this topic bores me now.
I come from a DnD only RPing background, and this game is the best system ive seen, i tried over systems but only really played DnD and ALL my guys are switching to this! WFRP is the best game system ive seen in a long time, and Japan Gamer im with you 100%! board game LIKE does not me its a board game and its nothing like Descent because the GM (not overlord) is not a Party killer, he/she is to make the game feel more like a ROLEplaying game and not like a hack and slash dungeon crawl game that DnD is now and lets face it, we all know that the cards that a great idea! the less time we spend in a book the better the game goes all you have to do is look down and you got your stats right there. the dice pools are awesome i love seeing non d20 games, very few systems work better then d20 and this is gana be great the GM will have a fun time discribing the near misses and what-have-you. Personally this game is gana take over DnD in my book, and if you dont like....we get it QUIT TELLING US THE SAME SAD STORY OVER AND OVER!!!!! you said what your think and we dont need to hear it 8 million times.....go play 2nd edition if you like it better no is making you switch over!
Delphicfist I never said it was an exact copy of descent.
Amketch be careful, you will be labeled a Troll for speaking your mind.
It seems strange to me that those who have branded 3rd edition a rollplaying game are the same those who are scared of their players min/maxing stats. I can tell you that in my roleplay group this will not be a problem. If I played in a rollplay group of course I could see it as a problem……
I disagree. It's not an exact copy of descent etc. It has elements of it so what? They made it all fit together and have new rules etc etc. They used their imagination in my eyes. If you disagree then that's fine with me.
Further, I never said I loved the game I said I'm excited about it. If it sucks I'll say so.
Lastly, I echo what Japan Gamer said. Great post and much more eloquent than I would have been.
An interesting question is:
we are creating a new party of 3 (no more that 3, not enough resources ...) humans.
The simply factor of choosing a human makes all three PC reiklander.
With the some starting stats and 25 points.
My friend extract three cards (why don't choose from all base careers... I can't guess) and one from them.
The second player, can't extract the some card?
And the third player? Is even more limited?
I hope that will not see cloned PC after the players comes to understand what stats play smarter and/or the most useful combination of skill/talents/wealth.
It seems relatively easy to maximize skill/talents/actions with useful stats.
Concluding with a comment on the example:
I can't help but visualize JR's dwarf as a battle hardened mercenary that (don't know why) has ended in the docks... LOL!