News for September 2009
Meet Gurni Thorgrimson 56
A Step-by-Step Example of the WFRP Character Creation Process
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.

The Dockhand Career SheetStep 2. Draw 3 Careers, Keep 1

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.

Character Creation Starting Profile Table

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.

Character Creation Investments Table

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…

Samples of Talent Cards

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.

The Steely Gaze Action Card

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.

Gurni's Starting Stance Meter

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.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Character Sheet (web ready, 750 k)
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Character Sheet (hi rez, 5.3 MB)
Gurni Thorgrimson’s character sheet (web ready, 550 k)

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.

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Comments (56)

Published: 9/26/2009 2:58:54 AM

I also miss the BS and WS as a characteristics but let's see where this goes...

And after all I think Jay owes us a session demo video :-)


Published: 9/26/2009 2:57:58 AM

Mr Darkkami...

That's actually one of the better ideas Ive seen here in a really long time.

This system is really perfect for a World of Warcraft RPG!

Flashy dice and glossy boardgame components and rules adapted to a action packed slaughter fest.

I am actually one of those who still enjoy the WOW boardgame despite its immense downtime, and everything we seen in these 3:ed previews is really related to that boardgame anyway.

The HUGE problem Ive got with this new edition is that it rhymes extremely bad to the previous installments of Warhammer roleplay.

Warhammer is a dark and gritty tale of betrayal, religious fanaticism, cults and paranoia. Its misunderstandings, devious plots and hidden agendas. Its about unwilling heroes running away from the inquisition, corrupted officials and mislead commoners. All this baked together with a great measure cynical dark humor.

My aggression toward the new edition isn't that I believe that the mechanics and glossy gadgets we get necessarily stinks... but they are DEFINITELY NOT Warhammer.

For a fast phase action packed Word of Warcraft RPG is could actually be rather well adapted and good.

I found this idea actually deserved its own thread in the forums. =)

Published: 9/26/2009 2:19:35 AM

Yuck! Warhammer. FFG since this game is "obvious fail" and you also have Blizzard rights. Can you use this same system for a World of Warcraft Roleplaying Game? I don't want to here WoW has a worse background I already know its stolen mythology and not as deep, but some people prefer a twisted King Arthur tale or Cthulhu mythos influence, witha  dab of He-man like stories over ... chaos... and heretic hunting games... want a real challenge? play grimm or exalted or mage where you are "the heretics but are actually the good guys.

I am dead serious. No one (or not many) people here want this. Since White Wolf killed WoW RPG, can you make one?

I guess to answer your question Gnutten, Yes yes I do like this system. Fast character creation is totally fine with me so that I can get to the meat and potatoes and the fun by role playing. I come from the Storytelling based games from White Wolf, no minis, and very rarely do we roll. I guess the best way to describe it is we have our characters, we know what they can and can't do, we use that knowledge and the rules to sit around the table drafting up a  tale. It is prbably new to you "roleplayers" but we very rarely have combat. The games are more about creating a story session and saying "that was ****ing awesome idea man!" or " ****  that was a cool way of describing that action." Now I said rarely do we get in fights. That is mainly because it is us versus the world. Instead of trying to do epic things as demi gods or Superman, we have to play it safe and try to use our powerful god like status to help the world see the truth. But when trouble happens the fights are just as awesome (sometimes more so) than * favorite action scene from a  movie*.

Sorry but to me DnD, WHFRP, Decent, even Talsiman could become true "campfire like tales" but instead most use minis and a grid, or *GASP* pre made settings and adventures (I'm looking at you 2nd ed with your 15 adventures) so they all just look like board games int he end. 

I can't wait to see the flaming I get this time. BRING IT ON!!! Just know that you are fighting fire against the Human Torch. 

I support this game (prob won't buy it myself) I support those with open minds. I now know from person private messages how I come across as the "guy that thinks he is perfect" but for those that I have defended for supporting a new game concept or have to sit by and eat trash from 2nd edition players, well I will stand up and fire the fire for you guys. You just stay focused on making this game into what ever you want using the system and rules to improve upon or turn into your own game. Rember NO ONE demands you play the game rule for rule. In fact isn't there a chapter in every Warhammer table top rule book that explains what "house rules" are?

Just giving a heads up =)      Although I am very glad to see many people realizing to every good their is a bad. Which was the point of my post. Nothing is perfect sadly and neither is anyone person. 

I am starting to lean more toward the side that opposes this game. Not because it will "fail" I just don't think the Warhammer world of survival NEEDS all these mechanics. Warhammer 2nd didn't fit either. I think the system for warhammer needs to be like Grimm or something else. Very simple dice system. The way they present Warhammer FRP is how its a game of survival and discovery. You are not going to find "phat lootsz" in this game and you won't be taking on a dragon ever.

But what is done is done so all we can do is wait for reviews and then decide yay or nay.

I think you guys are smart enough to be able to filter through my valid points amongst the blatant sarcasm, irony, and hypocrisy.

For those that can't or don't want to read my wall of text.

1. This and the 2nd system don't work well for the game. This system would be awesome for World of Warcraft RPG.

2. Keep in mind people have certain likes and dislikes and even have those likes and dislikes fluxuating. Sometimes people are actually in the modd for simple he-man like settings or cliche settings over unground spying and diplomacy.

3. Try to keep the flames directed at "morons" like me rather than trying to upset your fellow gamers. 

4. Try playing a Storytelling RPG (Exalted, Werewolf, Vampire, Changeling, Grimm, Mage) before concidering yourself a "true or expert roleplayer".

5. The rules are their to be used, how you use them and for what purpose is all depending on the game your group wants to play. Each player's group will cater the rules to fit a specific feel. For instance I have manipulated the character creation process for many games to fit my genre or system I use with house ruling parts of the game's system.

In all seriousness do try to flame my post it only fuels me more and keeps the other gamers focused. I can't wait to see some one respond without reading the part where I say I am only messing around. Those are always great.

Published: 9/26/2009 1:48:51 AM

Nice, well balaced system. I LOVE IT!

A little more like board game but still great. I'm looling forward what will be in the next preview., can't wait. :)

I hope that in the future there will be an expansion so You can play not only Reiklander and dwarf from Karak Azgaraz but from all over the Empire.

To Jay LIttle and all his team members and playtesters:


Published: 9/26/2009 12:43:17 AM

with you 100% Gnutten. its soulless and really does not feel at all like warhammer fantasy ROLEplay.

Published: 9/25/2009 8:13:46 PM

Some interesting points in the comments here. I agree with Gnutten that it would be good to have a bit more space on the character sheet to note down details of character appearance, although I disagree with everything else he wrote.

Kryyst - The influence of raw attributes in combat resolution is also a good observation. I think it is worth pointing out though that the attribute dice and the training / expertise dice used in a roll are different. Lacking precise info on exactly what appears on the faces of these dice, the impression I get is that the training / expertise dice give potentially better results than the attribute dice. I think the expertise die is the only one with the hammer+ symbol on it, and no negative effects.

What this means is that I suppose it is still possible to be a good fighter based on expertise rather than strength (although obviously having both would be the best).

The concern I have is whether the races are balanced. It appears as though all the demi-humans have the equivalent of an extra 6 creation points in their attributes, but the human only gets an extra 5 creation points - is he being short-changed? Do the racial abilities compensate for this, or is it the price the human pays for being more flexible? IMO, humans should be as attractive as possible to players to reflect the fact that humans are the preeminent race in the Warhammer world, and adventuring parties should contain more humans than non-humans.

Published: 9/25/2009 4:55:45 PM

I like it so far.

My only problem is humans only start out with stats at 2. This makes human only average in most stats and slightly less than average in a couple stats. In my personal opinion a 1 in a character creation stat should be an option. This way you can show things like (1 fellowship) dwarfs general grumpyness or (1 toughness) for elfs lower constitution.

I wonder if the system can handle a little flexibility in starting stat generation. say ... 1D4 +1. You could end up with 5 in all stats (if the dice gods are with you)  Or a 2 in all stats (if they are not particularly nice that day :P )

The system allows for flexibility in character individuality. If you want high stats and fewer skills you have that option. If you want more and more vaired skils / talents you have that option too. I can see myself asking my Gm for more skill points. (I wouldn't try to bribe him with cookies and brownies ... oh no,not me :P )

On a side note ... Since the character was a dwarf he did not mention starting spells. I wonder if you are limited to 2 or 3 petty spells or can you buy as many spells as you have skill points to spend?

Published: 9/25/2009 4:16:04 PM

 You make a good point Kryyst. I agree with you completely.

FOr myself, although I don't dislike this character creation system the lack of a truly random element is the bit of Warhammer I'll miss.  I've read all the discussions that point out that 'hardened' roleplayers prefer points-based creation, but there are some of us who like the properly random generation of V1 and V2.  Odd combos and freak rolls actually helped the character creation process and added to the humour of the setting.

I think a couple of my players will struggle to avoid the temptation of min/maxing (I honestly know I would) and sadly we're kissing goodbye to superfluous equipment (it was never the SBVD that was was the D6 dead rats) that players never got around to dumping (exploring Castle Wittgenstein distributing revolutionary pamphlets as we go).

Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that I'm not seeing any humour: High Elves are in, Halflings are out(ish); randomness is sidelined; silly trappings have been scrapped.  I think the system will work, and will probably sell well but I'm concerned about it being a bit po-faced.

Published: 9/25/2009 4:10:36 PM

 Kryyst makes a very good point, one I never explicitly recognized before: the distinction between strength and weapon skill from having separate stats. It allowed someone to be a lithe, accurate swordsman over being a brute fighter. The latter is the standard RPG archtype warrior where combat effectiveness is based on Strength alone. 

My question then is: what is the impact of having trained skills again? Would that obviate this concern? E.g. a character with middling strength but highly trained in WS - would that swing the favor back?  

Published: 9/25/2009 3:49:17 PM

In every preview article so far there seems to be something I like about the new edition and something I don't.

This time around it's turning WS & BS into skills. While many people always found it weird that Warhammer had WS and BS as stats and not skills I actually thought it was a clever idea and here's why. In most games Strength and Agility determine your offensive capabilities or at least set the base line. While they certainly play a factor I always liked that in Warhammer they were separate.

You could be a great sword fighter without needing to be strong or agile, not being strong or agile certainly has other detractors but I always thought that they alone shouldn't form the basis for your ability to fight. More importantly though it meant that the fastest and strongest character wasn't then by default the best fighter.

So now with this current version we seem to have lost that, the strongest or fastest characters will likely be your best fighters/archers. It also means that all fighters are probably going to be maxing those same stats again losing some individuality. It's also another one of those iconic WFRP things that has been lost.

Published: 9/25/2009 3:45:59 PM

Pick a race!

All humans are from Reikland, all dvarves from Karak Azgaraz, all Elves from Ulthuan and the other elves are from Athel Loren.
You don't need any personal history, we made that for you.

All your stats are 2... nonhumans have two stats set to 3, but you don't have to choose, we made that for you.

Pull 3 cards and choose one of them for your profession.
Increase two stats directed from this card. Now you got a background! Your character cheet doesnt have any information for gender, hair, weight or any form of deion of you appearance, and why should it? You got a pre made portrait on you profession card, so I guess your gender is directed from your profession!

Now you got 20 or 25 points to spend! Max up your strength to 5, spend 1 point om wealth so you get a weapon and finally get some skills.

Finally we get a group sheet!

Whooza! Group ready to go in 5 minutes!


Am I the only one that thinks that this stink railroad adventure group?

The next step is actually to pull one card and have a pre made complete character ready to go... like ehh... Descent... and there were back at the boardgames discussion again.

Published: 9/25/2009 2:51:04 PM

Thank Khorne for 'dwarfs'. I love it, and so does the Blood God.

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