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: 9/16/2009 5:53:19 AM

The idea of special dice and cards isnt the problem (i like this kind of thing) i have with the 3rd edition its the seemingly generic fnatasy nature of the the game juding by the PCs avalible all 10 classes of them.

Published: 9/16/2009 4:47:50 AM

This range bands idea is A LOT like the rules from the Grimm rpg (not the D20 version).

I think it works pretty well in that game and does certainly get away from the grid mentality of some other games.

I think I like this....

Published: 9/16/2009 3:32:49 AM

This is basically a quantified version of what I already do.  I hadn't heard of an RPG with "range bands" until now.  I describe how far away things are in terms such as: two turns movement, medium bow shot, one charge move, etc. 

I find that without a battle map, players are more likely to use terrain and the environment more creatively.  When describing what's going on, a player is more likely to think about an actual tree, climbing up it, or swinging off a branch or the like.  When a tree is on the grid, it is just an LOS blocker, because the player's paradigm is now locked to the grid.

Published: 9/16/2009 2:17:52 AM

What it seems this new edition is a way to get all the stuff that IS in the rulebook OUT of the rulebook and I must say that is one thing I LIKE! Mostly because the rulebook is usually ONE and so when you have two+ players all needing to check what skill X or spell Y does, you lose a lot of time as they go through the book.

Now, with the cards, they have ALL a little piece of rulebook in their hands ALL THE TIME! And it is just the piece that is relevant to them! No more losing of time for that. Now the range system seems to continue on that way, with an easy to use and abstract system that prolly most gm already used in a way or the other (I know I did...)

The cut outs? well, there is no need to use them now, is there? Only for more complex fights, but hey, having MORE stuff is better than LESS stuff and this is true for the rest as well. I'm sure all those talents and spells are described in the book as well and if they aren't, it is easy to just write them down in a word document if you want to keep the "book" feeling and not use the props.


Published: 9/16/2009 1:32:24 AM

It look great, very interesting and easy to use. Great work Jay!


Every day a Desirners Dairy about WFRP 3, that would be great!

I got a question will we see a demo adventure or some preview of the coming books included in core set? My players and I  would like to know more abuot spells, wizards and priests too.

Still can't wait too buy it, when will the game be available? I want it, sooner then better!

Published: 9/16/2009 1:04:07 AM

 To be honest Shadowspawn, I get what your saying about how much stuff seems to go with this game. However, for me the range counters and standups are the first cast iron example of an element that can be easily taken out of the game if you want.  The effect of the counters is easily replaced by the GM simply saying what range opponents are at.

I expect the standups won't make it into our games as I think the table is full enough already. !)

I'm not unhappy with this mechanic at all (it's a close approximation of what I already do with V2) but the thing that was occupying my mind while I was reading was Jay's use of the term 'clever stunts'.  Amongst all the good stuff it's little things like that which chill my heart...

Published: 9/16/2009 12:45:16 AM

D-Man wrote: "But this thing with ranges... Why bother with the standups or figures if you're not gonna use a battle map or grid?"

I don't know if you like my answer but here it goes: I've playe more than a hand full of RPGs that use a Range Band system for maneuvering in combat. And even though it is true that the idea behind it is easy and simple enough it can get rather boggy after a while to remember what goblin is at what band vis-avi your character, and every one elses character. You can easily end up in situations with ultiple combatants trying to out manuever eachother and it gets hard to follow fast without tokens to help out.

Honestly... even thoug I like the general idea with Range Bands, I'm not sure an actual grid is that bad. it certainly makes things easier to follow that's for sure.

I personaly like the Range Bands becuase a Grid makes everyone look at the grid and base their "minds eye" image on what they see. Soon you'll have floor plans and miniature scenes and painted minis etc. I like all that, don't get me wrong, but I think that a Range Band system allows players immagination to work more freely. (Even if I do think the administration of it is a little trickier.)

So again...  they talk anout "dynamic" and "simple" and "streamlined" etc. I don't buy that at all.

It's something else. And I like it.



Published: 9/16/2009 12:40:21 AM

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

4E does the same thing with markers and power cards and they are distracting, I can't imagine how all of these additional things wouldn't creation a distraction from the story and the pace of the game.  It takes time to fiddle with these things. In fairness it does take time to fool with miniatures, but usually miniatures are the only things on thet able to worry about.   

I've said before, I show all of these updates to me group and discuss them, and the reaction each time has been one of disappointment. We just don't see a need for any of those.  I've talked to more than one person that had NOT labeled this as being too boardgame-like that now do think it has gone too far in that direction. My group has been gaming together in some form for over twenty years, we are die hard roleplayers and enjoy tactical aspects as well, so its not like we are new to RPGs or easily distracted. 

I think they've got some good ideas working here, I just think they are going too far. At first I vocally opposed the idea of this game, then I decided to give it a chance, now after seeing more I just don't like what I see. 



Published: 9/15/2009 11:07:20 PM

"I still think that the addition of all these various dice, tokens, counters and cards will serve to distract the player much more than a character sheet and a miniature would."

I guess some RPGers may have better attention spans than others. I know quite a few that won't be distracted from their roleplaying by the various components. YMMV

Published: 9/15/2009 10:43:56 PM

I still think that the addition of all these various dice, tokens, counters and cards will serve to distract the player much more than a character sheet and a miniature would. From what I've read one of the reasons for moving in this direction was to immerse the player in the story and setting, by giving so many little things to keep up with, they are defeating that objective. It looks like too much of a good thing. 

Published: 9/15/2009 9:52:53 PM

 Are you guys going to post anything about cool social interaction rules or are we going to get the typical "roll your social skill and that is it" mechanic?

Japan Gamer
Published: 9/15/2009 9:23:33 PM

Very nice indeed!  I get more and more excited with each sneak peak.  Now if we only new a street date. (^_^)

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