News for October 2009
Getting Things Done 59
A closer look at actions and action cards in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay | Published 23 October 2009

In the first installment of this two-part designer diary, Behind the Scenes, I discussed the design philosophy and approach behind the use of cards in the new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I’d recommend reading that article first – it may help put some of this information into context.

In this installment of the two-part designer diary, I discuss several of the different elements that make up an action card, go into more detail on how recharge affects various actions, and provide a look at the anatomy of an action card.

Card Elements

Download the Action Card referenceThe cards convey a lot of information. In addition to descriptive text, some of the information is conveyed through the use of icons or graphics representing different game elements. A few of the game elements are described below. Be sure to download the Action Card Analysis reference (PDF, 800k) to see all the information made available through the action cards.

Difficulty Modifier: Any modifiers to the action’s difficulty are shown in the upper left corner of the card, below the icon denoting the type of action. Some actions are inherently more difficult than others, most often represented by a number of additional misfortune or challenge dice added to the dice pool when attempting the action.

It’s important to note that these are additional dice added to the pool, and some actions may have special guidelines that add or remove difficulty if certain conditions are met.

Recharge Rating: Some action cards require more effort or energy than others, and are not as easy to consistently perform over and over again. These action cards have a recharge rating listed in the blue circle in the upper right hand corner. After an action with a recharge rating has been successfully performed, the active player places a number of tracking tokens onto the card equal to the action’s recharge rating card. If a card has a ! listed as its recharge rating, the exact number of recharge tokens to place on the card may vary based on a special condition for the card. An action card is unavailable while there are any tracking tokens on it.

It is important to note that action cards do not acquire any recharge tokens if the check to perform the action failed – recharge tokens are only placed on the card after it is successfully used. Several different abilities, talents, or special situations may adjust the recharge rate of cards.

Fortune points are one method available to the players to speed up the rate at which their characters’ cards recharge. A player may spend one fortune point to remove one tracking token from any of his recharging cards. This fortune point can be spent from his personal supply, or spent from the party sheet when fortune refreshes. Multiple fortune points may be spent at the same time, allowing cards to recharge much faster.

Assess the SituationIn addition to its main function, the Assess the Situation basic action provides an opportunity for a character to remove recharge tokens from his own cards. In a similar vein, the Guarded Position basic action has a chance to allow nearby allies to remove recharge tokens from their cards.

Side Effect Triggers: On the bottom half of each action card are a variety of possible side effects that can be triggered based on the symbols appearing in the dice pool results. Most cards have at least one possible boon effect and one possible bane effect. These are in addition to any other results that may be available based on relevant talents, conditions, critical wounds, or possibly even the location where the action is taking place. Some cards feature multiple boon or bane effects. Some cards also feature special side effects for Sigmar’s Comet or Chaos Star results generated during a check.

Each individual effect can only be triggered once during any given action. However, with enough banes or boons, several different effects (possibly from different sources) may be triggered by the same pool of results. And since boon and bane symbols cancel each other out, only one of those two types of effects occur during any given action.

The acting player chooses which effects are triggered by boons he generates during checks. If banes are generated, the GM chooses which bane effects are triggered.

Action Cards & Stances

Honeyed WordsSince the action cards are double-sided, it is easy for a player to arrange his cards with one side face up, and flip his entire action deck over when he changes stance. This allows the player to easily view his cards from the appropriate stance side when making his decisions.

Many actions offer a variety of different results based on whether they are performed in a conservative versus a reckless stance. Sometimes the difference is subtle – the reckless side of an attack may inflict a little bit more damage, while the conservative side provides a chance to bypass the target’s armour or inflicts some sort of impairment. With other actions, the differences between the two stances can be quite significant.

Only cards in the player’s action deck (the cards available and ready for use) are affected by a change in stance. After a player uses an action card with a recharge rating, the card is placed face up on the table based on the stance in which that action was performed. If his character later changes stances while that action is still recharging, the recharging card is not flipped over – it is still recharging, and only returns to the player’s action deck when there are no more recharge tokens on the card.

Success & Failure

When attempting to use an action card, the task succeeds if one or more success symbols remain after challenge symbols have cancelled out an equal number of success symbols. If more than one success symbol remains, the player may be able to select from among several different options.

If an action card has more than one success line, the player may choose to trigger any one success line requiring a number of success symbols equal to or less than the number generated by the dice pool. Rolling more successes than the highest success line on a card has no additional effect – although the GM may decide that action succeeds in a manner even better than expected.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is a roleplaying game that sets unlikely heroes on the road to perilous adventure, in the grim setting of Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy world. 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 (59)

Japan Gamer
Published: 10/26/2009 11:36:28 PM

I don't think that is true as an FFG staffer came in on a different diary and said that the 2nd edition section of their website would be shut down after this edition was released. 

Also, you are acting like the current edition is a mistake.  Something that needs a rememdy.  It's not. It just isn't for you.  Sounds like you have an edition you enjoy.  That is great.  Go play it and don't try to mess up things for those of us who are looking forward to this new incarnation.

Published: 10/26/2009 10:16:59 PM

I avoided commenting on these WHFRP updates mainly because most of the conversations lately have turned into angry fistfights. I commend HedgeWizard and psun2 for turning this one around (also McClaud, Kryyst, and Ludlov for the very civil posts they've made in the past). If we truly want to be heard, we have to stop arguing over the same issues and post ideas on how to make things better for both the new players that are looking with interest at the world of Warhammer Fantasy for the first time and for the seasoned loyalists that have loved the setting for decades. FFG does listen. Many people saw that with the Arkham Horror miniature cancellation. The more we come up with constructive options, the better chance we have of making an impact.

The unfortunate truth is this core set product is set in stone. It's at the printers. The demo copies are already on a boat. What's in it and the price can't change. As a company, FFG would take a huge hit if they changed the price. But (and this is the most important part) all of this doesn't mean that we have to give up on the situation. There are plenty of options for the future.

One thing I noticed early on was that the diaries kept referring to this product as Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition. There was uproar about it because when something is labeled as the new edition, it usually means the edition you had is dead and buried. I might be wrong (and please correct me if I am) but I haven't seen a 3rd Edition used in one of the diaries for a while now. In FFG's catalog it isn't listed with a 3rd Edition. It may seem trivial but I think this is because they want to include the established fan base for this game. They just need some help figuring out how.

Published: 10/26/2009 8:25:18 PM

 Hi Dr Phibes,

Fair enough comments.  Glad to see some input from someone outside the usual rpg crowd.  I find it interesting that you feel this version of the game more accessible than previous versions.  Is it just that this feels more board-game like to you that it might make it more accessible?  Just wondering as I think it would shed some light on an outside point of view to hear why...if you don't mind telling us that is...

Also, I guess I'm one of the abstract players you're talking about, as I tend to aim for speed of combat in order to get on with the more interesting (for me and my players anyway) character, investigation and storyline elements.  I may be misreading previous diaries but it seems to me the direction of the card based system lends itself more to action oriented games than it does character interaction.  Which is fine, if that's you're interest.  I'm just not sure it's going to suit my gameplay much.  Of course, hoping to be proven wrong on that count so...


Dr Phibes
Published: 10/26/2009 6:21:50 PM

A Non RPG player take on things.


For what it's worth RPG is where me and my friend started about 17 years ago, we were sucked in by the imagery of warhammer and the popularity of D&D. We both played with varying degrees of success, the D&D (Red Box) system and probably more enthusiastically the Paladium megaverse games such as TMNT, Heroes unlimited, beyond the super ntural etc. Now i can speak for my friend but personally the abstract nature of RPG ment i spent more time book reading and art appreciating than actually playing which eventually drew me to RPG themed boardgames which these days FF excel in just like GW used to do back in the day.

In a nut shell personally this new card driven direction opens up the rpg genre to me but in my opinion doesnt close it off to the already established abstract players.

Published: 10/26/2009 6:10:39 PM

The thing that really irks me about the tone of the conversation is the lack of tolerance for criticism that is posted here. If you like the game, I'm fine with that.. in fact it appears that most people are fine with it.. though I have seem the term fan boy thrown around more often than it should.

However, there seems to be a certain level of intolerance for people's issues with the game, whether it be price, the high number of accessories, or the general theme of the game in relation to previous editions.  People become insulting and completely dismissive of actual problems that people have with the game. Said issues are often ignored in favor of snarky remarks and attacks that do little to actually shed light on issues or make others understand the issue at hand.

 Within this very thread it was questioned why I even bother to post about the game since I have no intention of playing it. Well, I've played this game in one form or another for over twenty years. I've bought every supplement produced for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, for both editions.  I think that gives me the right to render an opinion on the subject without having my motives questioned, insulted or having some arbitary label assigned. . Too many people here try to create their own rules for what should be posted and what shouldn't.

Published: 10/26/2009 5:47:09 PM

Hey Hedgewizard,

You've made a bunch of perfectly valid points regarding the price discussion. However some people are getting a bit huffy about the fact it has come up.  Offended was probably the wrong word.  How does eaxasperated grab you? : )

In any event that wasn't the point I was trying to make in the first place.  The point about pricing came up because I believe it to be expensive to get a game just to see if you like it.  The emphasis I was trying to make is that more information would be VERY helpful to remove some of the conjecture going on here and give those of us with concerns about the game a better look at what is on offer.  I particularly like the video of gameplay idea, and hope the demo material is made available as a pdf so at the very least I can read about the gameplay (there don't seem to be any demo sessions running in Australia...).  Unfortunately this got lost in all the toing and froing about pricing people out of the market.

As for whether or not you make House Rules with an RPG book, the point is that a single rpg book (which is all you've ever actually needed to play 1st and 2nd eds - and which also came much cheaper on amazon etc.) is still considerably cheaper than this set, which has integrated puzzle pieces, special dice, fate pools and the like that are adding to the price.  If you don't use them because they don't work for you fine, but it's an awful lot of extra money spent in the process.  For some of us that's an issue.

Apologies if I'm belabouring the point but the attitude of some is that it is not a valid argument because FFG have to attract new gamers to the market with flashy gameplay, or people already spend as much (if not more) on video games (even though I don't actually play video games - partly because the price is prohibitive...hehe).

Published: 10/26/2009 4:57:38 PM

I meant to finish with: It's already pretty clear that price on v3 core set is a concern for many.  WHY continue to belabor the point?

Published: 10/26/2009 4:55:09 PM

 Psun2 - I hardly think anyone is offended that some people are raising a price concern. There are three propositions here:

  1. "The price is too high for what *I* am willing to spend."   This is a fine argument, there really is no rebuttal and I haven't seen one.
  2. "The price point is too high for what I think it is worth."  The counter argument seems to be that you get a lot of stuff for your money, and a lot of folks debate the usefullness of that stuff.  Nothing terribly offensive there.
  3. A related proposition to #2 is: "I am interested in the new system, but I don't want to pay what I see as a premium for cards and counters that I don't want to use."  I've seen a lot of "well don't use them then" responded to with "but I don't want to pay for them if I don't want to use them." One could argue this argument holds true of any game RPG or otherwise. Afterall, there may be rules you don't particularly like and so you houserule them. But you still buy that core book; the issue here then is scope. And the same answers apply: if you think it is worth your money, spend it. If you don't, then don't buy it. 

None of that seems terribly offensive to me; tired perhaps...

Published: 10/26/2009 4:14:38 PM

I also can't understand why some people seem to be offended by the fact that some people are concerned with the price.

While that was not the point I was making, why is it such a problem that some people don't necessarily have the kind of money required to buy this game? Why is it that these people can't express their opinion on the price when it will be a key factor in whether or not they get the game?

To those who have the disposable cash to buy whatever RPGs they want (or multiple copies, or whatever), more power to you. But don't begrudge those who consider the price prohibitive for them.

Published: 10/26/2009 3:49:21 PM

 Price is a barrier.  The people that $70 on a video game are not the ones that have that kind of barrier.  For some $70 is too much to spend on any manner of game.

A D&D4E GM does need to spend $100+ on books etc.  However, each player only needs to spend $30 on the PHB.

Of course most people spend more on games, but that does not mean that price does not prevent some people from playing ... it does.  Even worse - it drives some to illegal downloads.

Published: 10/26/2009 3:40:39 PM

Sasquatch - My point wasn't about retail vs. online pricing. This game can be had for about the same price as a new video game (which for whatever reason, cannot be bought online at a discount, so it is the same price regardless of where you buy it). People routinely spend $60 on new video games. Why is spending that much on an RPG, which will give you far more hours of entertainment than a video game, so outrageous?

It is only in comparison to traditional RPGs, that are a book only, that WFRP might seem expensive. Yes it does contain a lot of bits and cards, which accounts for some of that increased cost. Whether or not you think the design philosophy that calls for all the bits and cards is your cup of tea is again, each individual's opinion, although we still don't know enough yet to make definitive statements like, it will slow the game down, be less immersive, or too much like a board game. However, if you don't think you'll like (what you think is) this style of play, then price is irrelavant. If you are interested in the game and only concerned that it costs so much more than other RPGs, well this isn't like other RPGs now is it? Whether or not it is better or more enjoyable than other RPGs remains to be seen (and will be a different answer for different people), but this is a new take on an RPG that has higher production costs, so the end price to the consumer has to be higher. 

It is a valid point is that some people, that might otherwise be interested in the game, might not be willing to spend this much on this game. However, my point was that people this kind of cash on video games all the time. The price alone shouldn't be as big a barrier as some people want to make it out to be.

Published: 10/26/2009 3:25:13 PM

Just to clear up a point mac40k, I DON'T feel I'm entitled to anything.  I never said I wanted a game at 1980s prices and I am aware that you can pre-order the game for less than the FFG asking price on amazon (that's where I bought my copy of Rogue Trader after all).  What I WAS saying is that the price is rather prohibitive in terms of taking a look at the 'radical new system', as some people seemed to be suggesting. It is a big ask for some people to check out a game this expensive, sight unseen, just to see if they like it.

I also never said that the production values of FFG games were not excellent. Anyone with half a brain can see that they are. But if all you are doing is buying these things for the pretty pictures then you may consider the price worth it. I am not buying these things for the pretty pictures, I would be buying it for great game mechanics, excellent setting and interesting stories to tell.

I also feel that, as an equally long-time player of the first and second editions, if I have concerns about the new system then I can voice them without being accused of things I never said.  I have no illusions that the game will be scrapped just because I'm unsure about it. I believe I already said I hope it is better than it currently looks to me. I hope it does VERY well and gives D&D a good run for its money whether I buy it or not BECAUSE I am a fan of Warhammer.  What I'm after is more information than a few Designer Diaries and a lot of conjecture from all of us posting here. INFORMATION, not a scrapping of the game, which no-one would think to be able to accomplish by having a simple forum conversation.

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