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)

Published: 9/30/2009 2:00:37 PM

I don't know about everyone else but this system does seem very much like a warhammer game to me. Warhammer has always been filled with gory battles that are brutal and savage. I strongly believe that the henchmen rules can not only create a more interesting fight but can also help speed up combat. I remember one time when I ran a combat that took a half hour to resolve and the PC was only fighting one beastman. Now with this new system I could just make that beastman a henchman and the combat would be short and sweet.

Published: 9/30/2009 1:18:05 PM


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?

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'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.

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

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.

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?

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?

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


Published: 9/30/2009 1:00:37 PM



even if Superklaus isn't a prophet (and I'm with him), you are a very fun reading!


Oh, you are on the aggressive stance right now ...

Published: 9/30/2009 12:13:16 PM

Now my 3 word in this:

 - I like the dice system

- love what they did in  charakter creation proces

- price isn't too high when You compare it to what You will get

- the layout and graphic is a very high quality

- the mechanics and cards is for me a nice suprise but I would still love to see a sesion video to see how it all works


To Superkalus:

you;re not a prophet and when You would read all the thing that people say about WFRP 3ed You would see that many of them want to see it, want to buy it and love it. And every day there is more fans that want this system.




Published: 9/30/2009 12:06:52 PM

I like the idea of a Bestiary Deck. Get in to a fight and need to keep track of who can do what? all you need is one or two cards and a piece of paper to keep track of HP.

Im not sure about the idea for stances with animal type creatures OR creatures with very low intelligence. Instinct tends to tell animals "fight or flight". "Careful reasoned fight" once the fight is engagued feels contrary to instinct. Wolves may plan when they hunt as a pack but once they attack they attack full on. Does this mean that wolves should get extra dice because of the way they attack? I dont know but it would be interesting to see how a game plays out.

Published: 9/30/2009 10:17:11 AM

I always try to be open, but superclaus has some points here. It all looks nice and flashy with cards and stuff, my worry is that the mechanics might be slightly over engineered, but we don't know before we see and actual video session...

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

Hauer Glaeken
Published: 9/30/2009 10:01:56 AM

Superklaus said :

So is it warhammer? No not at all. Its World of Warcraft with a Warhammer graphic style. So for all those blinded by the pretty graphics and excellent layout and all those who think they really need a progressometer, group goal cards for their shiny heroic PCs and zillions of munchkin power cards on their desk, play it! I am sure you will regret it soon.

Excuse me but who died and made you a prophet ? Warhammer is STILL dark and gritty since we can play before The Storm of Chaos. Consider that the players will live these dramatic events (Reiklander citizens will see their family who lived in the north wiped out, The Empire will be changed geopolitically : A noble can lose his lands, A mobster can see his interests in geopardy because of the invasion, a mercenary will sell his sword to the most offering putting his feelings aside, a ratcatcher will try to survive amdist the garbages and so on....). I play with Warhammer RPG since 1990 and I just hope that FFG 3rd edition will be a hit. Why ?

Simply because they have shown some ambition with the license. They want to create new narrative tools which can help the beginner of course (but not only them) and more importantly, they want to expand the universe, give us some new elements, new informations about the Old World ! Consequently, I wish them good luck and I will certainly give the 3rd edition a try. Semper Fidelis as we said in Tilea ! ^^

And I worship Leone too... Greatest director of all time with Stanley Kubrick !!!

Ludlov Thadwin of Sevenpiecks
Published: 9/30/2009 9:51:42 AM

Well, Superklaus, I suppose it's all a matter of personal tastes and preferences but I would still like to react to some of your fears:


  • -dice pool and cards (I hate myriards of dice and cards in a game)

    I can't really say much more to that than simply stating that I do love special dice and lots of cards and I'm sure there are other players out there like me. I guess you can't please everyone.
  • -no mini support (I refuse to play rpgs which offer no mini supportl)

    I don't see what's to stop you from using your miniatures in this game. I plan on doing so. The system is simply made so you are not required to use them and you don't actually have to worry about exact distances. I'm pretty sure there is nothing to stop you from putting an entire diorama on the tabletop to represent action scenes if you want.
  • -too many senseless tools (eg. all those which have to use a tension meter to evaluate group aggressions should take a gaming break or some tutoring in their GM skills...)

    Some tools may seem senseless to one group and look like a gift from heaven to another. Personally, I think the party sheet is going to be a terrific tool to get players to think outside of the box of simply their own character and rather look at the party as a whole. It will add a lot of character, of that I'm sure. The tension meter may or may not function depending on your group, but where it can be put to good use is in situations where players start going out of line and threatening to derail the game. I've never experienced anything like that myself, but I suppose it happens. Personally, I don't care too much about the tension meter.
  • -too complex and too abstract for even the most basic tasks like climbing

    I have rather the opposite impression. This system is clearly inspired by Descent. I've recently started playing that game and I love how the dice tell you everything in a single roll. I think WFRP3 is going for the same thing: one roll using symbols rather than numbers. It eliminates some of the math-feel that inevitably comes with many RPGs and allows (again, allows instead of forces) the GM to say more about how and why things succeed or fail without having to think in numbers like degrees of success (as far as I'm concerned, the less number crunching, the better).
  • -only a limited ion of characters during chargen

    I've noticed that the FFG forum eliminates some parts of words so I'm not sure whether you mean d-e-s-c-r-i-p-tion or s-e-l-e-c-tion :-) Anyway, you still get four races and a whole bunch of careers to choose from and they're actually much more customizable than they were in the previous edition. So I really don't see the complaint here, except the fact that Halflings are missing.
  • -Warhammer 1st and 2nd is gritty and dirty. 3rd portray PCs as heroes with rules for minions etc. This is maybe the biggest flaw!

    There is absolutely nothing that I can see that diminished the grittiness of Warhammer. Only smoother rules with more options. All the rest is a matter of lore and storytelling, at least I think so.



Published: 9/30/2009 8:49:56 AM

Yes of course, WE WANT MORE CARDS!!! Forget maps! :)

I like nothing in these FFG previews. In the beginning I was angered about the nay-sayers and anti 3rd edition crusaders which arised shortly after the announcement. I thought it was a hyperbolic behaviour. But now after the FFG previews I become more and more one myself. Looks like a type of rpg I usually absolute hate and try to avoid like hell.

So whats bad about it?

-dice pool and cards (I hate myriards of dice and cards in a game)

-no mini support (I refuse to play rpgs which offer no mini supportl)

-too many senseless tools (eg. all those which have to use a tension meter to evaluate group aggressions should take a gaming break or some tutoring in their GM skills...)

-too complex and too abstract for even the most basic tasks like climbing

-only a limited ion of characters during chargen

-Warhammer 1st and 2nd is gritty and dirty. 3rd portray PCs as heroes with rules for minions etc. This is maybe the biggest flaw!


So is it warhammer? No not at all. Its World of Warcraft with a Warhammer graphic style. So for all those blinded by the pretty graphics and excellent layout and all those who think they really need a progressometer, group goal cards for their shiny heroic PCs and zillions of munchkin power cards on their desk, play it! I am sure you will regret it soon. I will not buy and play this game and hope there is so little player response with 3rd that there is soon a new (4th) edition which looks (and probably play) not like a proprietary boardgame. So much energy and ressources wasted, its a shame.


Ludlov Thadwin of Sevenpiecks
Published: 9/30/2009 7:40:42 AM

Amketch is right, I also hope there are "bestiary cards" or whatever you would call them :)

Published: 9/30/2009 7:00:26 AM

Like the idea of being able to handle larger groups of adversaries as groups, with the main threats still being individuals.

Not so impressed if the stats and special abilities only appear in the book, I would have like these to have been card based as well. The main plus point for the system for me was you did not have to refer to the books during play.

Published: 9/30/2009 5:31:03 AM

Mal, have you even palyed 2E? I wouldnt wrestle a bear in 2E, with the bearhug rules and Strike Mighty Blow its adding +4 to damage, for a total of 1D10+9, thats pretty scary. And the Artois Boar does have special rules for tusks, while charging they have Impact.

Special rules for monsters and creatures and what no exist in 2E. Unstoppable Blows, Natural Weapons, Impact, Scales, Flier and othes are all there to be used. The only difference, from what I can see, is that in general each of these talents/traits are the same for everyone using them. In 3E it looks like you have to consult a (gasp) chart that is different for each critter.

Looks like that may slow down play, unless each monster is also on a card. Going to start sucking when cards come up missing. Or you will have to flip through the book.

So again, Im still waiting to see something new and innovative about this system that makes it worth killing 2E for a 3E and charging $100.

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