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)

Published: 10/25/2009 9:49:02 AM

I didn't like the idea of power cards in 4E, but I like it here because the system looks like it will make people grasp the game faster.  Whereas 4E, the cards are just there for quicker usage, and can do without.  It isn't as integrated as this game, so far as I can tell.

Looking forward to it, but too bad I live in Canada, and won't see that event.

Japan Gamer
Published: 10/25/2009 1:44:41 AM

 Shadowspawn, I do get it and you just supported my point.  You, personally, liked the way the old system worked (card and accessory free).  The game has taken a completely new direction and sometimes a game's most hardcore fans are the ones to feel the most left out.  FFG feels cards and accessories can expand their current customer base and demographic of who plays.  Guess what they are probably right.  And I am sure they were aware before they made this changes of the squeals that would come from their most "hardcore" purists.  I agree with FFG and I also happen to like cards and accessories in  my game.

Also let me match your anecdote with mine... I have noticed nothing but increased speed and player's in-game awareness using 4E power cards.  Funny that, you don't like cards and they slow down the game for you and I do like cards and they enhance my gaming experience.... could it be a matter of personal preference and play style?

Published: 10/25/2009 12:35:27 AM

Given the cards have only a reckless or conservative state how does one determine the results if you are in neither state (ie the middle of the stance meter)?

Published: 10/24/2009 8:25:17 PM

 JapanGamer.. you really don't get it. A game that people have played and enjoyed for quite some time has been changed drastically, and to many of us this new style of game represents something that we just don't like, so we have every right to post our views, even if it means those opinions don't agree with yours.  

Many of us have played the game for over two decades in it's past incarnations and we liked the direction the system and the game was going, until FFG took over. 

Even then, if this was a new system for a new game world, I wouldn't like it. I've seen the issues and delays that the 4E power cards can cause, with the addition of all of these cards, these effects, these counters, the dice.. these all serve to get in the way of an rpg,not to speed it along and make it faster. 

Japan Gamer
Published: 10/24/2009 6:57:57 PM


The post below was intended for the previous designer diary.

Japan Gamer
Published: 10/24/2009 5:59:14 PM

 I wish posters who don't like cards, table aids and tokens would admit it is their personal opinion/preference and not act like that the inclusion of such is an empirical truth of bad game design.

I like such goodies, but I know that is just how i like to play.  So lucky for me.  But I don't go bananas when games don't have cards and such and say this game is so going to be crap because of it.

Published: 10/24/2009 4:38:20 AM

Again: just how many copies of these cards will come in a game set??? With a large game group (8 in mine) how many people will have to be without ?

I guess you will to buy +5 addons. Having a big group in Warhammer 3rd is like having alot of kids. :) But for a player who has a normal job this is surely not the problem. The problem is not the price, its this tedious system.

After reading all the previews I am glad that I use Savage Worlds for my Warhammer games. This is simple, fast and great system which supports miniatures and I have not to tinker around with all the mountains of tokens and cards of 3rd ed. (...shudder)  I hope they bring on some useful source material or modules (hint: an elven sourcebook!) which I can use as reference, so that they get at least a little bit of my money. :)

Published: 10/24/2009 3:29:16 AM

This clears a lot, i found many usefull anwsers here. Can't wait to try it! can't wait to buy it!

I hope that in few days we will see the demo adventure as a pdf for download from the support page.

Please, Jay - publish the demo adventure on the site! Pretty please!

Published: 10/23/2009 10:59:22 PM

Again: just how many copies of these cards will come in a game set??? With a large game group (8 in mine) how many people will have to be without ? 

Published: 10/23/2009 9:09:43 PM

That answered a lot of questions. Thanks.

Published: 10/23/2009 7:19:56 PM

Can't wait for this to come out!  :D  Looks fantastic.

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