News for November 2009
Combat Training 103: Putting it all together 68
A step by step combat example for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay | Published 04 November 2009

In previous designer diaries, I provided readers with a look at several different combat topics. Combat Training 101 introduced the initiative rules used in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Combat Training 102 provided an in-depth look at the turn structure during a round of combat.

Now that the individual elements of combat task resolution have been discussed, it is time to look at an example that incorporates all of the information. This designer diary walks you through one entire player turn during a combat.

A Chance Encounter

Mellerion the Wood ElfThis example walks through an entire character turn for Mellerion, a wood elf hunter who has stumbled across a foul beastman trespassing in his sacred forest home.

The GM describes how at the beginning of the encounter, the two stare at each other for a moment, surprised to find the other in this part of the forest.

Then, since the order in which the participants act is important to a combat situation, the GM asks Mellerion’s player to make an initiative check for the wood elf while the GM rolls for the beastman. Mellerion generates 4 successes, while the beastman manages only 1 success. The GM sets up the initiative track with a hero token on the 4th space and the beastman token on space 1.

Since a hero marker is the top-most token on the initiative track, Mellerion gets to act first. Mellerion’s player becomes the active player and starts his turn.

Beginning of Turn Phase

During the Beginning of Turn Phase, Mellerion’s player decides to move Mellerion toward a conservative stance, to take best advantage of his Accurate Shot Ranged Attack action card. He moves Mellerion’s stance activation token from the neutral space (where it began the encounter) to the first space on the conservative side of the stance meter.

To get the most out of the action, the active player decides it is worth it for Mellerion to suffer one stress to move another space along the conservative track. To reflect this, the active player places a stress token next to Mellerion’s character sheet, and puts the activation token on the second space along the conservative side of the stance meter.

Character Turn

Accurate ShotMellerion is now ready to act. Caught unprepared, however, he does not have his longbow in hand. He performs a manoeuvre to ready his longbow. Easy enough – a character can perform one manouevre for free each turn.

To show how other factors may contribute to the turn, let's assume that one of the requirements for Accurate Shot was "preparation" -- a special type of manoeuvre. It is not one of the requirements on the conversative side of this card, but preparation is a fairly common requirement for more complex or time-consuming actions. 

Since Mellerion has already performed one free manoeuvre this turn (used to draw his longbow), he must suffer one fatigue to perform a second manoeuvre for preparation. The active player places a fatigue token next to Mellerion’s character sheet and declares that Mellerion is preparing for the Accurate Shot, taking a deep breath and lining up his shot against the beastman.

Mellerion is now ready to attack the beastman. The active player places the Accurate Shot action card next to Mellerion’s character sheet, with the conservative side face up. Based on the card’s special rules, he decides to have Mellerion suffer 2 stress to add 2 extra fortune dice to the attack’s dice pool. He assembles the dice pool for the action. Accurate Shot requires a Ballistics Skill check, which is based on Agility. Mellerion has Agility 5 and Ballistic Skill trained. He converts 2 of his 5 characteristic dice into conservative stance dice.

The GM indicates that the beastman is in medium range, and determines that this will be an easy check, which adds one challenge die to the dice pool. This particular beastman has a Defence of 1 for its thick, leathery hide, which adds one misfortune dice to the pool.

The GM describes how the dark, forboding shadows cloak the beastmen, but that Mellerion’s keen eyesight and experience in the forest allows him to ignore the shadows (which the GM deems would otherwise complicate the check and introduce several misfortune dice to the check).

There are no other environmental or situational modifiers to the task, so the current dice pool is comprised of:

  • 3 characteristic dice (blue d8)
  • 2 green conservative dice (green d10)
  • 1 expertise dice (yellow d6)
  • 2 fortune dice (white d6)
  • 1 challenge die (purple d8)
  • 1 misfortune dice (black d6)

Mellerion’s player rolls the entire dice pool, generating the following results:

Mellerion's Dice Pool


Narrating the Results

The dice pool has results across a wide range of different dice. Since the end result is at least one net success, the action is successful. However, the GM notes that no more than one success appears on any one type of die – Mellerion succeeded with a balanced approach, relying equally on his innate Agility, a cautious approach, and benefitted from having fate shining upon him. Further, the player mentions how Mellerion’s long practiced marksmanship skills allowed him to time the action perfectly, as the Sigmar’s Comet provides the player with several options.

Resolving the Action

A Fearsome BeastmanThe pool generates three successes and one challenge, which is a net result of two successes – the attack succeeds! This is enough to generate the single success line on the Accurate Shot action card. If Mellerion had generated just one more success, he could use the three success line on the action card.

Looking at the other symbols, the dice pool generated no boons and two banes, for a final result of two banes. The Accurate Shot card lists a penalty for two banes: the attack will inflict one less point of damage.
Two other symbols have an effect on the action. The delay symbol allows the GM to move the hero marker on the initiative track down a space or place 2 recharge tokens on one of Mellerion’s action cards. The GM chooses to add two recharge tokens to Mellerion’s Dodge action card, explaining how the extra aim and time to draw a bead on the beastman potentially leaves him exposed to the creature’s retaliation.

Luckily, the other symbol, Sigmar’s Comet, is a good omen. It allows Mellerion to trigger a specific effect from either the action card, or based on the skill used during the check. The Accurate Shot has a Sigmar’s Comet effect allowing Mellerion to inflict 2 extra damage for each stress he suffered before taking the shot. Since Mellerion suffered 2 stress, that grants 4 extra damage!

Mellerion could also choose to trigger the longbow’s critical effect, and inflict critical damage. Finally, he has the option to use the Sigmar’s Comet as a success, which would let him trigger the three success line on the card. Weighing his options, he chooses to trigger the Sigmar’s Comet effect from the Accurate Shot card to inflict the extra damage.

Since the attack was successful, damage is calculated to see if the beastman suffers any wounds. The single success line of the Accurate Shot action card indicates the attack inflicts normal damage. Based on all the contributing factors, Mellerion’s damage potential is 12. This is based on hi Agility 5 + the longbow’s Damage Rating of 4 + 4 bonus damage from the Sigmar’s Comet effect - 1 damage from the bane result. This beastman’s Soak Value is 6 (his Toughness 4 + Soak Value of 2 from his monster entry). Subtracting the soak value from the damage potential shows how much damage gets through – the attack inflicts six wounds!

The action Accurate Shot has a recharge rating of six. After successfully performing the action, Mellerion’s player places six recharge tokens on the card. He won’t be able to use this particular action again while it is recharging.
Since Mellerion knows he won’t be able to dodge for a while, his player chooses to suffer one more fatigue to perform a final manoeuvre, drawing his longsword so he can at least attempt to parry. The active player places another fatigue token next to Mellerion’s character sheet.

The active player decides he has no further actions and does not want to perform any additional manoeuvres. He proceeds to the End of Turn Phase.

End of Turn Phase

Mellerion is not under the effect of any brief or dependent conditions, so the active player does not need to manage any condition cards. Mellerion does have action cards currently recharging. He removes one recharge token from his Dodge card (which received recharge tokens due to his delay result) and one recharge token from the Accurate Shot card (which acquired recharge token equal to its recharge rating after the action was successfully performed).

Now that Mellerion is done with his turn, the active player flips the activation token on his stance meter to indicate Mellerion has acted this round.

It is now time for the next initiative to resolve. In this situation, it would become the beastman’s turn, with the GM as the active player performing the beastman’s actions.

And that concludes our little walkthrough of Mellerion’s turn… I hope that helps answer some of the questions readers have had about how all these different steps work together.

Emperor’s Decree Update

It has been a busy week, indeed. A shipment of more than 200 copies of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay core set arrived Monday morning. The marketing team and I quickly went to work, unloading the shipment, breaking open the cartons to set up all the core sets for our production line, then feverishly building pre-release kits for the stores participating in the Emperor’s Decree Pre-Release Event for WFRP.

The event is coming up quickly, and I’m very excited. Stores should be getting their kits very soon. If you’re a player interested in trying out a demo, be sure to check out the stores that will be hosting the Emperor’s Decree, and contact them to learn more details about when their demos will be running, or to sign up to participate.

For those of you participating in the Emperor’s Decree event – either running the demo for your local store or playing in the Day Late, Shilling Short demo scenario – be sure to stop by the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay forums and share your experience.

Emperor's Decree

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 (68)

Published: 11/4/2009 4:43:55 PM

I'm a little worried by the complexity of resolviing this one action, but I'm willing to give it a try and see how fast it gets with some practice. I'm actually on the other side when it comes to the effect of these roles on the RP aspect. I see the dice helping to define every hit. For some players, narrating the effects of every hit their character makes may be the norm, but all too often in the games I've played, combat slogs down into: "I hit for 5 points." "I hit for 6 points." While this new dice mechanic doesn't make it impossible for such rote combat narration to continue, it does seem to take some of the burden off the players in finding a way to make each swing of the sword sound interesting in its narration. (And it doesn't seem all that far off from games like Rolemaster or HARP where you consult tons of charts to dictate the effects of each hit. I'd rather interpret dice than flip through pages of charts.) Just my thoughts.

Published: 11/4/2009 4:40:44 PM

 I am always amused at people's first impressions of a game and heated arguments. They are either head over heals or have their noses high in the air in disgust. 

I personally don't find the rules overly complex or convoluted, but I do find them to be very different.  Not bad, not good. Different.  For those who are Warhammer 2nd Edition fans, your words sound very familiar to those of the D&D clan's when 2nd went to 3rd and then to 4th.  I believe the words, "the end of D&D were used".

Change is a bitter wind at times.  Best bundle up and either go inside or stay outside and enjoy the weather for what its worth, and nothing more.

Published: 11/4/2009 4:12:10 PM

with you 100% Retina, i'm staying with 2nd ed coz you can't polish a turd. FFG, you have put together some great games in the past and I'm a huge fan of them, wish I could get them all! :) but oh dear this really looks like a turkey and in time for christmas too :( hope I'm wrong and you do well ( you have a profit to make and folks don't work for free), fingers crossed folks x

Published: 11/4/2009 4:03:01 PM

This just keeps getting better. I think at first read it seems really complex but with a little bit of experience it should be pretty quick to read the dice and the alter the narration of what happened based on what factors caused either success of failure.

Can't wait to try it out.

Published: 11/4/2009 4:00:54 PM

First. I just wanted to say that this seems to be a very excellent example of combat. It's clear, distinct and provides for an interesting and fairly common situation. It really did a great job of folding in all the other previous elements so far. Thank you.

Now for the rest of my thoughts.

Yikes. I really like the concept of chunky components and pretty dice and even the cards, in concept. However that flow of combat is just completely not my style for a long term running game. All that work, all the time just doesn't appeal to me.

I know the argument of the more you use it the faster it gets. But there is simply much more going on and much more to think about and digest throughout the whole process. It's never going to be as fast or as intuitive as the current game.

However, I can certainly see how this would be fun in some situations. I can see myself scrapping a bunch of board games and using this in stead. I can see why they limit this initially to really catering to 4 players (3+1 gm) adding more then that things could quickly start to get unwieldy. This mechanic is an awesome mechanic for a general run of the mill board game style replacement romp. It looks a lot more fun then games like Runebound, Dungeoneer, World of Warcraft, Descent etc... Kewl things going on for a fun crunchy game. But as 'pure' RPG experience I just can't see myself using it.

Gut reaction, I really see this as D&D 4e being done correctly. It implements physical board game elements into a combat system that mimic's very strong board game play. I think this will be great for many players and groups. But it's definitely not for me, for my regular play.

I'm still thinking of picking this game up, but definitely not as a replacement to WFRP.

Published: 11/4/2009 3:58:46 PM

Thanks for finally posting what people have been asking for.

However, this does nothing to change my opinion that this new system is ridiculously convoluted. The "Narrating the Results" section shows again how you are totally bound by the die results with any so-called interpretation being simply choices already spelled out in the rules. The player may mention his characters "long practiced marksmanship skills" due to the comet result, however the comet doesn't represent freedom to define your own result, it's use is just as highly restricted as all the other results.

Then there's the record keeping. Wow, another mess. Nope, can't share that Dodge card as I have to keep two tokens on it since I can't use it for two turns. Same with the Accurate Shot. Oh well, so much for player choice in careers. Unless there's more than three copies of the cards in the set, this game gets super expensive for the average sized group which is 5-6 not 4.

I just can't see this game doing well. I really like FFG, but this one is a turd.

Published: 11/4/2009 3:52:11 PM

 Holy crap look at the size of that box!   If that's the size of the actual release box I'm gonna need to hit up IKEA for some new bookshelves...

Published: 11/4/2009 3:20:49 PM

Wow, they cleared out that section of the warehouse - looks different from when I was there.  Sniff! 

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