Getting Things Done

A closer look at actions and action cards in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay


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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