|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.
deion = Idea on
I'd like to see a designer diary that explains the anatomy of an action/talant card, perhaps with a deion of how often you can socket/unsocket a talant card. The information presented here is good stuff too though, I'm not complaining ;)
Really nice article, has shed a bright light on a lot of questions I had. Its really nice to see the entire process laid out.
Very illuminating report! Precisely the sort of stuff we've (at least I) have been clamoring for. Still, I need to go through this myself to really get a sense of it, but there were some points of interest in here... particular as to how skills/attributes are derived.
Man, I like Warhammer, but reading these previews sure makes me wish this game was for Middle-earth...
This is the first preview in quite some time I haven't hated. I even kind of like it. I just wish I could feel as positive about the rest of the game.
Excellent! Very meaty!
I like my job, but I like yours better Jay.