The Role You Play

A look at the character creation process in WFRP


by Jay Little

One of the key elements in any roleplaying experiences are the characters the gameplay focus on; the heroes and personalities that interact with the GM and the setting to tell interesting and engaging stories. The player characters are an important part of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, as well. A PC in Warhammer is not just defined by his race or his characteristics. His career, wealth, talents, and skills all play a part in describing who he is and the role he plays within the setting. This designer diary take a look at the steps in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay character creation process.

Step 1: Select a Race When creating a character for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the basic character concept can be strongly influenced by the character’s background and race. There are four races available in the core set – Reikland humans, dwarfs hailing from Karak Azgaraz, high elves, and wood elves. Each race has its own rich history, distinct flavour, strengths, and special abilities.

In addition to background information about each race, and that race’s impact and involvement in the Empire, there are a number of special abilities associated with each race. Player characters of a certain race share these special race abilities in addition to any other abilities they may have from their career or training. Alternatively, if players wish to randomly determine their PCs races, a table is provided.

Step 2: Draw 3 Careers The next step in the character creation process is to determine the starting career for the character. The character’s career influences his available skills, talents, the advancement options after earning experience, as well as describes the character’s social function and role within the Old World.

          Click to see which careers you've drawn  

To determine the character’s starting career, the player shuffles together all the basic career sheets and draws three careers at random. He checks to see if his character’s race is eligible for the careers drawn. If any of the careers are not compatible, the player draws until he has three valid careers. He then chooses which of those three careers he wishes his character to start with.

Step 3: Invest Creation Points Each player has a number of creation points available to invest in the customisation of his character. The number of creation points available is based on the character’s race. Creation points are spent by the player to invest in his PC’s characteristics, as well as starting wealth and other advancements to improve a character’s starting skills and abilities. Any creation points not spent during character creation are lost – so the players need to invest wisely!

For example, if a player chooses to invest zero creation points in his character’s starting wealth, then the player character starts out broke. A broke character begins play with the clothes on his back (probably old and tattered), a dagger or quarterstaff, and has 5 brass coins.

Step 4: Acquire Action Cards A character’s action cards provide a broad range of options during gameplay. All characters begin play with a few “basic” action cards. Several of the basic action cards have a minimum characteristic requirement. If a character does not begin play with the required characteristic rating, he does not begin with that basic action card. However, if he later raises his characteristics to meet these requirements, he can choose to acquire these actions later in his career.

Certain careers may have access to other basic actions. For example, wizard careers start the game with a number of petty magic spells, which are considered basic spell actions, and Channel Power, which allows them to generate the power needed to fuel their spells. Priest careers start the game with a number of minor blessings, which are considered basic blessing actions, and the Curry Favour action, which allows them to generate the favour needed to activate their blessings.

Step 5: Determine Stances The player is now ready to determine his character’s starting stances. The character’s career sheet indicates the default number of conservative and reckless pieces for that character’s stance meter, which can be augmented over time by investing in additional pieces. The player then takes a number of puzzle-fit stance pieces based on the character’s stance makeup. One neutral stance piece is placed in the centre. A number of green pieces are attached to the left equal to the character’s conservative stance rating, and a number of red pieces are attached to the right equal to the character’s reckless stance rating.

Step 6: Select a Party Sheet Once the individual players have created their characters, they work together to determine what sort of relationship their characters have with each other. Developing a back story or concept of why these characters are working together provides motivation for the characters, as well as potential plot hooks and adventure ideas for the GM.

The players should look through the available party sheets and decide which party sheet best reflects the play style and type of party they want their characters to be in. Each party sheet offers different options to the group. If the group cannot decide, they may wish to randomly draw a party sheet and discuss how their character fits into the concept presented by the sheet.

Finishing Touches To get the most out of a roleplaying experience, players are encouraged to consider their characters and develop a sense for who they are and how they fit into the setting. What are the character’s motivations? What drives him to action? Who are the important people in his life? What inspired him to take up a life of adventure? Does he have any long-term goals or aspirations?

Is the soldier a battle weary veteran grudgingly forced to take up his sword again when beastmen threaten his home? Or is he an avaricious man, who seeks fame and fortune with his swordarm? Is the initiate of Sigmar a devout and pious man, never questioning the doctrine of his faith? Or is he on a personal quest of redemption to answer the questions burning a hole in his very soul?

By spending a few minutes thinking about a character’s background, motivations, and personality, players can enjoy a much richer, more fulfilling game experience. If a player is not sure how to answer these questions right away, that’s fine, too! One of the exciting thigs about roleplaying games is playing a character who develops and grows over time. And as players become more familiar with the game system, the setting, and their character, more ideas to flesh out their personal stories will emerge.

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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