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: 2/24/2013 11:41:40 AM

 We still use these posts.  I'm glad FFG put them up!

Published: 9/3/2009 11:34:02 AM

i usually dont like to give bad reviews of games, because each person has an opinion on what catches their interest.  But after stupidly buying the absurdly horrible dnd 4e core set when it came out, I am much more talkative.  WHFRP and Dark Heresy are wonderful rpgs, they are fast flowing and quickly cover just about any situation that comes up in a game.  Now if they had only just added time rules for doing skills slower and fatigue rules for doing skills quicker, that would have been enough.  I dont know about the rest of you, but a descent rpg game would have been a better idea.

Published: 9/2/2009 3:11:24 AM

Oh dear, a gamist game - what a horrible thought ;-)

Published: 9/1/2009 12:33:10 PM

I'm not sold on this new WHFRPG. I loved the 1st ed & have enjoyed the 2nd ed, but not really into this at the mo.

Published: 8/30/2009 8:37:44 PM

Firstly, apologies for the double post, but apparently it is an issue with the "refresh" button...  Fun.  Just noticed that the career cards lack any listing for Halflings. . .   Does that mean we need new and updated cards for each occupation when the halflings are released?  Whose idea was this?  I suggest you remedy that before it hits the printing press.  Better to have and not need than need and not have? 

Published: 8/30/2009 7:16:44 PM

I plan on buying it and then using it with Descent: Road to Legend as an advanced, Warhammer-themed boardgame.  Expensive, I know, but I think it will shine in that "role".  Thank you Mr. Little for this expensive Add-on to Descent.

Published: 8/30/2009 5:10:41 AM

Darkkami, you know I had forgotten about Grimm, I stand corrected and was worng shame they did not do with WFRP wot they did with grimm or just leave it the hell alone and reprint the books as they did with dark heresy.

but I still think this new game is a box of over priced shite


Published: 8/29/2009 8:48:57 AM

 This entire game just seems superfluous to me. Meters and tokens representing something that is easily handled via game mechanics in other games. 

 All of the focus on meters, tokens, icons and the drawing of cards, in my opinion, will detract from players being immersed in the game.  Too many things to fiddle with. Looking down at your percent chance to perform and action and havine the gamemaster determine a bonus or penalty depending on the situation is fast, easy and requires no litlte visual aids other than the character sheet itself. 

I keep coming back and reading the newly released tidbits to see if there is something I will like about the game, and every time I find more that I don't like. I "want" to like it.. but I just don't. It's not because I'm "mad" at FFG, it's not because I feel my 2E books are made obsolete.. its because I think this game does not look fun. 

I've shown every preview to my gaming group as well and discussed the content in depth. It's just not doing it for us. 


Published: 8/29/2009 7:26:34 AM


It seems like this system would be easier to do what you want to do than the charts in 2e or maybe even the choice/charts in 1e.   Want an all academic group?  Pull all the academic career cards out into their own stack, shuffle them, deal out a couple to each player, and let them pick one to play.   Having the careers on cards should be much more flexible than having them locked into a chart in the rulebook. 

Published: 8/29/2009 4:30:00 AM

I hope there are cards for everything from talents, to weapons and armor, and especially spell cards and blessing cards. No bookkiping at all!

Published: 8/29/2009 4:20:57 AM

I think that this character creation is very interesting process. The problem with my players always was that they didn't want to go through the character creation process in other games. It was the most boring part of the game. They always wanted to go right into action.

But now I think they will like the mechanics of this game, because there are the cards, the sheets and the dice and minimum bookkeeping, which I hate. I only hope that the caracter creation process won't be time consuming. The sooner it is completed, the better.


Published: 8/29/2009 4:02:45 AM

...I'm very sorry about this - somehow my browser did a new post every time I came back to this page...

Hopwfully someone can my surplus comments...

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