News for September 2009
The Bad, The Worse, and the Ugly 41
A look at handling enemies & adversaries in WFRP
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay | Published 29 September 2009

Over the course of their adventures, characters are likely to face a variety of enemies. From brutish orcs to cunning cultists, numerous adversaries will rise to oppose the heroes. In the Tome of Adventures included in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay core set, the GM will learn how to manage enemies during encounters. A number of potential enemies are also presented, with background information and game statistics, providing GMs with everything they need to use these adversaries during the game.

Creatures and adversaries are more than just a set of numbers, and they can provide a wide range of potential plot twists and complications. To make the most out of encounters with enemies, the GM has a variety of tools at his disposal.

The Tome of Adventures provides GMs with lots of information on creating memorable adversaries and interesting encounters. Suggestions are provided for creating distinct personality traits, developing connections between key adversaries and the characters, and how different bad guys may use tactics to their advantage.

An Angry GiantManaging Enemies

In addition to creating interesting and engaging bad guys from a flavour or setting standpoint, the GM is also responsible for managing adversaries from the mechanical standpoint. The Tome of Adventures provides numerous tips on managing enemies and NPCs, whether it’s a battle of wits with a nefarious nemesis or a battle with dozens of greenskins. From tracking the use of any special abilities, to managing the health and morale of a group of combatants, the GM has a variety of tools at his disposal.

Henchmen, Lackeys & Underlings

One of the tools GMs have access to are the use of henchmen NPCs. In addition to stout, hearty members of an individual NPC or monster entry, there are also weaker, less powerful members that fill out the ranks. These lower tier NPCs are collectively referred to as henchmen. Henchmen are a great option that allow GMs to introduce larger numbers of enemies or create more complex encounters without necessarily overwhelming the party.

Henchmen have a few special qualities to allow the GM to easily manage larger groups of enemies in the thick of the action.

Henchmen Work Together
Henchmen act in concert. Rather than each individual henchman acting on its own, they act together in groups. Henchmen of the same type are broken up into smaller groups based on the number of characters in the player’s party.

When activated during initiative, a single group of henchmen generally performs the same action, working together. For example, a group of snotling henchmen would usually attack the same target. In this case, only a single henchman from the group attempts the related check. Each additional henchman adds a fortune die to the action’s dice pool.

Henchmen Withstand Fewer Wounds
Rather than use the wounds threshold listed for a standard member of that creature entry, each henchman can only withstand a number of wounds equal to its Toughness rating. For example, a standard gor beastman has 12 wounds, while a henchman gor beastman would only be able to withstand 5 wounds (its Toughness) before being defeated.

Henchmen Share Health
Henchmen of the same type share a common pool of health. Individual henchmen do not have their own unique wound thresholds. Instead, all henchmen of a same type share a pool of health. Wounds inflicted to a henchman are dealt to the common pool of health shared by all henchmen of that type. Individual henchmen are defeated when enough wounds are inflicted to defeat one member of the group.

Henchmen Do Not Suffer Critical Wounds
Henchmen do not suffer from critical wounds the way characters or standard creatures do. When an attack or an effect would inflict a critical wound to a henchman, a critical wound card is drawn as normal. However, rather than being afflicted by the effect listed on the critical wound, the henchmen suffer a number of additional wounds equal to the critical wound’s severity rating.

A Fearsome Chaos WarriorEnemy Statistics
Enemies in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay have a diverse range of abilities. Many of the same elements apply to enemies as to player characters – for example, enemies and PCs both have characteristics, wound thresholds, and an assortment of actions they can perform. There are some important differences, however, to help the GM track information and manage large numbers or varied foes more easily.

Download a sample adversary spread from the Tome of Adventure’s Bestiary. (PDF 1.8 MB)

Aggression, Cunning, and Expertise
In addition to their characteristic ratings, monsters and NPCs are rated in three attributes – Aggression, Cunning, and Expertise. These ratings are abbreviated A/C/E in the statistic entries. These attributes make it easier to read and evaluate monster entries by broadly defining the physical and mental abilities beyond their characteristics, without listing skills or talents that may not come into play during an encounter.

The attribute ratings indicate how many bonus dice the GM can use for the NPCs during encounters for certain actions. The type of dice and actions relating to each attribute is explained below. These ratings give the GM a “budget” of dice to add to checks, allowing NPCs and monsters to have a lot of variety and some tricks up their sleeves. Generally, once all the dice for a particular attribute have been used, no more dice are available for that purpose for the remainder of the current encounter.

  • Aggression: The Aggression rating indicates the number of fortune dice the GM can use when the NPC is performing physical tasks, such as climbing and swimming, as well as a many combat-focused actions. Any number of these fortune dice can be used for a single check. Aggression is a general indicator of an enemy’s physical prowess, boldness, and vigour. An Orc and a Flesh Hound of Khorne are examples of adversaries with a high Aggression rating.
  • Cunning: The Cunning rating indicates the number of fortune dice the GM can use when the NPC is performing social actions or other mental tasks. Any number of these fortune dice can be used for a single check. Cunning is a general indicator of an enemy’s mental acuity, instincts, and creativity. A Cult Leader and a Skaven Gutter Runner are examples of adversaries with a high Cunning rating.
  • Expertise: The Expertise rating indicates the number of expertise dice the GM can apply to any checks he wishes for that NPC. No more than a one expertise die can be added to any one check. Expertise is a general indicator of an enemy’s training, potency, resourcefulness, and aptitude. A Chaos Warrior and a Giant Spider are examples of two very different types of adversaries that have fairly high Expertise ratings.

Damage, Soak, and Defence
In parentheses after each entry’s three physical characteristics are Damage, Soak, and Defence values for that type of NPC or monster. The number after the Strength rating is the Damage Rating. The number after the Toughness rating is its Soak value. The number after the Agility rating is the Defence value.

These values serve the same function as they do for standard weapons and armour the characters may wield. They represent the default values assuming that the NPC or creature listed is outfitted with typical gear or trappings. If the GM wishes to customise the encounter and provide specific equipment or other gear, replace the numbers in parentheses with the replacement equipment’s actual values.

Wound Thresholds
Each creature entry has a wound threshold listed, indicating the maximum number of wounds a standard creature of that type can withstand before being defeated. Most enemies do not suffer stress or fatigue the way player characters do. An effect that would force an enemy to suffer stress or fatigue inflicts an equal number of wounds instead.

A Feral Wild BoarStance
Like player characters, many NPCs take advantage of stances. Unlike the PCs, an NPC’s stance position is often fixed. The stance rating listed with the NPC’s statistics indicate what stance that NPC always uses. Conservative is abbreviated with a green coloured C and Reckless is abbreviated with a red coloured R. The number next to the letter indicates how many dice are converted into stance dice. So a Stance rating of C2 indicates the NPC uses two conservative dice when performing actions.

Enemy Threat Level
Each monster entry has a threat level rating listed with its description. This rating is represented by a number of skulls – the more skulls listed, the greater the threat posed by one standard creature of that type. It is important to note that this threat level rating compares monsters to other monsters, not to player characters. This rating helps establish a rough “pecking order” among the creatures of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

The GM can use this information to adjust encounters by evaluating how a particular group of characters fares against creatures of a certain threat level. If the group struggles, the GM may consider using creatures with a lower threat level. If the group finds little challenge with a particular type of creature, the GM can consider using creatures of a higher threat level.

In addition to adjusting encounters based on creatures’ threat levels, the GM has a number of other options to help tailor encounters to his group’s preferences and power level, which are outlined in the Tome of Adventure.

Download a sample adversary spread from the Tome of Adventure’s Bestiary. (PDF 1.8 MB)


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 (41)

Liam Kelly
Published: 10/2/2009 4:47:09 PM

As already mentioned, it's not a new concept, Feng Shui has it's mooks, 7th Sea has brute squads, Witch Hunter has minions. It does make the pc's more heroic, if that's what you want in your game fine

Japan Gamer
Published: 10/1/2009 9:39:06 PM

This edition isn't REPLACING your old editions.  Your 1st and 2nd edition books will not magically dissolve.

Published: 10/1/2009 2:34:58 PM

The concept of "Henchemen groups" is already in 2nd edition: it's called Narrative Combat... where a few dice rolls are made, multiple underlings are wounded and sliced up, thier moral fails and they bolt... the GM weaves it all together in a fancifull way.  This seems to me like it will bog everything down with rules-lawyering and rules layering... keeping track of "recharging" powers and stuff like that... but I guess the time it takes the GM to keep all those records, move his toy sliders, and wot-not will let the PC's oogle their full color pictures and toys laid out in front of them...

Another 2 thumbs down.

Published: 10/1/2009 12:44:39 PM

And about this preview then

There had been some discussions about the scope and tone in this edition, often formulated as “what is Warhammer and what isn’t”.

For me this development is closely related to when someone found it a cunning idea to translate the classic RPG Call of Cthulhu to D20. We talked a horror and investigation RPG translated to a rule set designed for killing kobolds. Well personally I think the D20 actually has some merits… but it’s not at all an appropriate system for the sort of this game (AAARGH killing Nyarlathotep with my +5 machine gun DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA). A big difference in this case is that CoC D20 existed alongside with the old rpg… it wasn’t REPLACING it.

Some have discussed if Warhammer have developed to a more high fantasy monster mach aka D&D 4:ed. The first warning was when Jay showed us the first view of a typical group in 3:ed… a Trollslayer happily trotting along with a Waywatcher… BRRRR. Personally I think that this henchman rule are another step in that direction.

Warhammer combat should be gritty, grim and bloody dangerous. To halve the wound of the mobs and have some sort collective wound pot isn’t an appealing mechanism for that. If I had a character speeding into 40 Gors I wouldn’t be nice and trim away half their health to speed up the game. I would simply tell him that the mob beat the living crap out of him and claim a Fate point or that they ripped his head off if he’s out of Fate. THAT’S speeding up the game.. .








Published: 10/1/2009 11:58:22 AM

Well I suppose I should thank Japan Gamer for perfectly exemplify the point with forum attitudes in my post.

This “hate the game because of career sketches” is taken out of context and its plain silly to imply that that alone is a reason to openly loathe everything about a game. . It’s from a post about character creation in 3:ed with I found simplified and a bit railroad. Personally I missed some space for background, age, appearance, personality, goals, etc etc on the character sheet since I think that’s vital parts on defining a CHARACTER. Surly a lot of players (those who cares about these things anyway) usually writes some sort of background on a separate paper, but I like to have them on the sheet for reference.

And my opinion on that matter is when the career cards are designed to be placed alongside your character sheet (and some puzzle elements and skill cards etc etc sigh… we discussed that already) I would surely think that this flashy full colour sailor dominating the centre of my personal gaming area (hmm… got a official term of this system of cards and token each player should have before them in this non boardgame??) would be rather annoying if my character was a Dwarf of (ghasp) female. Don’t get me wrong here, I like nice graphics, but those class illustrations are a bit misleading. And SURE… I could make my own card, and don’t have to use them, make your own sheet blah blah blah… but why should you pay for them then? Release the books separate for 50 bucks and then have all the cards, dice and toys in a box for another 50 bucks.

Sigh… this wasn’t where this item would be discussed… but it was here I was described as a depressing maniac so it was here the answer went.

And if someone like Japan Gamer don’t want to read anything on these forum that even remotely questions the game development well no none is forcing them to.



Published: 10/1/2009 9:21:23 AM

If you really want to accredit the Henchman rules to a previous RPG, Spycraft and Crafty Games developed it before 4e.

And this game is very not-Descent. The only thing that looks similar is the special dice. Other than that, the mechanics are very different in design.

And I'm tired of people saying that 3e of WHFR is "not Warhammer" just because of the mechanics. Warhammer is a setting, and if they stick to the core of the setting, it is still Warhammer. Which kind of dice I roll or what kind of character sheet I use has nothing to do with staving off the forces of Chaos, killing greenskins, exploring Old World Mountains, avoiding corruption and maneuvering through the intricate politcal games of the nations. If they went and changed the setting to high fantasy with joval elves and happy dwarves, then I'd say it's not Warhammer.

Until then, stop being contrite because your precious d100 system is no longer the preferred system of the developers.

Published: 10/1/2009 6:44:39 AM

Ok kind of interesting, how about giving us some cool wallpapers maybe like the box artwork, so I can put it on my IMac 20' Some shots of the contents would be nice?

Published: 9/30/2009 5:32:11 PM

the designer of 2e says pretty much the same thing.  look at the comments after his blog post.

Published: 9/30/2009 5:08:36 PM

I want to totally squash the notions that this is 4e influenced.  Descent was out way before 4e, and 4e actually has some very descent like mechanics( saves).  This is a child of Descent inspired mechanics, with some WFRP concepts and fluff mixed in.  DESCENT CAME FIRST.  it has cards very similar to this game instead of lightning bolts it has 3-4 more things going on.   4e is the child of  WOW and  exception based rules of Magic the Gathering.  I like Descent and I have no problems with that system influenceing this game.  But I know my game design history, and this is not 4e.

Japan Gamer
Published: 9/30/2009 4:37:41 PM

 GNUTTEN!!!  You are priceless!  With your frickin' frackin' it's Descent, 4E touched, not a "real" roleplaying act!  Good stuff... 

Anyway, let's first dispense with some capital N nonsense... every player handbook since the dawn of RPGs has included a character sketch next to the career, class or race that is being described... do you feel that is the only visual option for that character type that you can play?  I doubt it.   So why would you get all crazy about career portraits is WHRP? You don't have to answer.  We know why already.

Next up,  Gnutten, these times they are a changing.  Players like yourself made it necessary.  New players are scared away from huge tomes of rules and a frothing player base.  The traditional model of RPG sales is not working and not profitable.  So FFG who has had quite a bit of success in the boardgame market and knows a thing or two about RPGs has decided to create something shiny and new.  Something that will create some crossover and draw in new roleplayers while exciting existing roleplayers.  Of course, some roleplayers won't like the new direction but there are a plethora of other games out there for them. Which brings us to...

What we wonder at is why are you hanging around here with your sandwich board of doom strung around your neck?  You say that we are ignoring all of you naysayers and your cries of foul... and we are.  We know what you think; we have been told over and over and we just aren't interested.  We are excited about a new edition and the possibilities that it will bring.  So why are you here still trying to pee pee on the parade? But again you don't have to answer that, we know already.


Published: 9/30/2009 3:32:42 PM

To some complaining that the henchmen rules suddenly make this game less Warhammery. It seems like most of you are flashing off without thinking clearly, all rant and no rational.

The henchmen rules allow for another play option for those that want to use it.  If you want to make your warhammer world a much more dangerous place to live in don't use the henchmen rule.   It's that simple.  If however you want your game to play out with characters being more heroic then the henchmen rule adds in another dynamic to the game play.  One that some people may welcome.  Of all the things worth complaining about in this edition this one shouldn't even make the list.  It's completely transparent and there only if you want it.

I like the condensed monster stat block, it's really no different then most stat blocks that you get in any canned books with the exception that soak and the effects of default equipment are put into the stat block for quicker reference.

It's already been covered, But special monster attacks have been party of 2e for sometime.   Nothing new here at all.   Increasing the flavor and variety of those attacks adds more depth to the monsters.  It can help stylizing the tactics of attacking a boar vs attacking a goblin.  It's not only the stat values that can make a beast different but how they act as well.   It's been with us since 2nd edition this version is just more developed and as long as the information is all easily accessible then I'm good with it.  If the PDF preview is any example of that I'm even happy.  I can't think of how many times I was pulling up a monster or an NPC and then had to flip to some other point in a book to find out what some special talent actually did. 

The A/C/E pools are a great way to distinguish monsters during play and add some variability as well.  It's and elegant way to effectively give NPC's and Monsters skills without having to specify skill lists that aren't used 90% of the time.  It's enough to know that you can put in 3 bonus dice to a social situation should something come up.   Simple and done.  Plus then it allows for more GM flexibility.  You want to make a monster appear more capable without having to rethink the stat block or add new skills and talents like you'd currently have to do in 2e (think of the brute, champion, chief modified templates) you can just boost their A/C/E's.

Like 3e or not, that's one thing.  But there's nothing really detrimental in this preview.  It's all extensions of ideas already in use in 2e or extensions of ideas shown in the other ideas in 3e.    Of all the previews so far I've found this one to be the least shocking or mixing good and bad ideas.

I'm still on the fence overall but I can't say anything negative about this preview and I do see some positive things that I'd like to have seen included in 2e.


Published: 9/30/2009 2:21:24 PM

Hi Gnutten
Have responded to your comment; hope you can read this OK as the comments section is not setup for quoting. If you respond maybe best to start a topic in the forum.

Letting your group plow though 40 beastmen in a gory battle surely remind me of the good old WFRP... eh... or was it D&D?

Maybe not bestmen but I have had my PC engaged with a large number of low weapon skill opponents before and grouping such opponents would certainly speed things up.

That this game had great influences of D&D 4:ed was no secret before... and here we got another proof of that. This preview is an blatant copy of D&D 4:ed with different attacks powers and even the minion rules.
In this regard this preview was no surprise.

I agree there does seem to be that influence but I am still hopeful that these actions will be more related to the adversaries involved rather than the D&D powers which I think do have a spell like feel to them not related to the creatures involved.

I'm actually rather impressed that many of the posters here already have decided that 3:ed is the greatest game ever produced although they haven't played it. Well neither have I, but all these previews have clearly shown that the game have developed in a (in my opinion) uninteresting and sad way.

In my opinion it is an interesting and happy? way

Another interesting point is that everyone on these forums that doesn't get thrilled by these previews are considered dull and negative trolls.

I think you always find this more on company forums, by default you are going to have more fans of the company regularly visiting. I do think that some of the negative posters, unlike yourself, do not give any reasons, all we get each time a new preview is posted a sarcastic comment about dice pools.

Many doesn't seem to consider WHY a lot of people are complaining on these forums... is it really only an odd coincidence that a lot of shortsighted and negative people hang around on these forums and not on Rouge Traders forum??? Or maybe... everyone isn't happy with the rather odd path the developers are taking when they're mixing up an old favorite RPG with D&D 4:ed and Descent.

I think that is the fact that WFRP has a long history you have this effect, Rouge Trader does not have the long standing devotees who feel betrayed by the new direction WFRP has taken.

All energy that could be spend on developing the game world seems to be spent on developing flashy dice, cards and gadgets.
Well I surely hope that you will enjoy Word of Warcraft the RPG in Warhammer costume, but I pass.


And oh... Darkkami urged me to respond to his claim that I should open my mind up to creativeness.. well a bit funny actually. Do you really consider it more creative when you pull a card with a pre made player portrait?

Just because you have nice artwork does not mean that has to be your character, just like the little sketches you got with the careers in 1st edition they do not define the character. This is still done with the write up you do when you create the character. That said beginning rolepalyers can use the image for their character go from there.

This game have limited our options when were creating new character, and I suppose the main reason behind this is that the game doesn't include any proper dice... and that makes normal random tables impossible. And for the developers then it was easier to say that all Humans are Reiklanders and therefore didn't have to make up card for different human origins. And that's a better measurement of creativity?

You can play any human with the Reiklanders stats, I think this just gives options to develop regional humans in the future

Personally I hope that 2:ed will live on though its fan base and that WHFRP 4:ed will be a real RPG.

I think it very likely 2nd edition will live on, 1st edition survived for years with only fan support. I think 3rd edition is a real RPG, just very different from the previous editions.

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