Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, or WFRP for short, is a roleplaying game based on the universe of the Warhammer wargame, by Games Workshop. It features a grim high fantasy setting where corruption, mutants and the forces of Chaos lurk everywhere, and in which only few heroes (or anti‐heroes!rpar; dare to face them.
Characters in WFRP start their careers as regular people who, for whatever reason, end up involved in plots, adventures and conspiracies. Starting characters are rather weak when you compare them to other heroic roleplaying games.
Four races are available in the core book: humans, elves, dwarfs and halflings. Each character has a Career, which works a bit like Classes in other games. A Career defines what the character was doing before getting into adventuring. Hence, your average starting character could be a Soldier, a Student or even a Rat Catcher! The Career of the character determines what he is good at and what sort of advancements he can buy with experience points as he accomplishes objectives during the game.
The Career system is one of the most outstanding features of WFRP because it allows more character customization than old school class based RPG (such as OD&D), but it is less vulnerable to min/maxing than character systems that offer more options (such as OpenD6). Each Career has a set of advancements that the character can buy with experience points in order to become more powerful and versatile. Once every advancement in the career has been bought, the character can be promoted to another more exciting class, with cooler advancements to buy. This is a very interesting thing because it blends very well for the campaign.
For example, if you are playing a Thief, you know you can be promoted to Tomb Robber, Fence and other bunch of interesting classes. If you have an idea of what you want to become once you have finished the Thief Career, you can start planning in‐game and taking steps to reach that goal. Do you want to become a Fence for all the cool advancements it has? Then you should start making contacts and founding sort of an organization so you become a real Fence in time for being promoted to the new Career. Careers are counted in hundreds, so it is easy to create mechanically unique characters under this system while keeping certain balance.
The Core Mechanic
The game is not rules light, but conflict resolution is fast and the main concepts are easy to pick up. The characters have primary attributes expressed as percentages. Most rolls are resolved rolling 1d100. If the result is under the value of the attribute, you make it. Usually, modifiers are applied to represent hard or easy tasks, clever use of tools or other factors involved. For example, if your halfling as a Strength of 25% and he is trying to take down a sturdy locked door, the GM would decreed that the halfling would need to roll his strength with a penalty of 20% because the door is hard to break. That means rolling under a meager 5% If your halfling was using a pry bar, he would apply a bonus.
One common critic on this system is that starting characters are very, very bad at accomplishing tasks. It is true. A starting character could easily have a 25%‐30% chance of beating a regular task. This is why starting characters should use clever strategies, tools and methods for obtaining bonuses to their rolls and improving their chances.
There are two main styles of magic: Divine magic and Arcane magic. The magic subsystem is easy to understand. The spell list of the core manual is not impressive but at least it is serviceable.
Spellcasters are not limited by spell points or by other hardcoded constructs. This means a spellcaster could be casting magic all the day if he wanted to. However, casting spells is risky because there is a chance for the spell to go really wrong and cause very, very nasty unexpected effects. The more powerful the spell, the more likely is something to go wrong. The approach is interesting because nobody is preventing you from taking the risks, and you as a player must decide if it is worthy to use magic to solve a problem, knowing that your death is a possible outcome of such a use.
There are rules for instant magic and ritual magic. Ritual magic is ridiculously powerful, but it is harder to cast, requires ingredients, time, and the consequences for failure are really, really bad. Rituals are obviously designed to be included as plot hooks and narrative devices.
The information on magic included in the core book suffices to get started, but if you have wizards or clerics in your campaign, you should consider getting Tome of Salvation and Realms of Sorcery, which greatly expand the list of available spells, add information about crafting magic items and describe ways for wizards to create their own rituals.
Combat in WFRP is very strategic. There is a list of maneuvers, attacks and defenses a character might attempt, but most of them don’t come up during play. Combat can be played with or without miniatures, and both approaches work well.
Each character has a Wound attribute that defines how much damage he can soak before things become ugly. Wounds are like Hit Points. Each time you take damage, it is subtracted from your Wounds score. Nothing really bad happens until your score reaches zero. Once your Wounds drop to zero, each additional damage you take causes a random effect of varying nastiness. These effects can be annoying, such as losing your weapon; they can be worrying, such as blood loss; they can be fatal, such as losing your head. Experience shows than once somebody is reduced to zero points, he dies quickly.
Weapons have interesting properties. A short sword and a spear do the same damage, but spears have the Fast quality. A short sword and a two‐handed warhammer cause the same damage, but a two‐handed warhammer has the Impact and Slow qualities. Qualities are a way to reflect that weapons have different advantages and disadvantages mechanically and in an easy manner.
Critical hits are absolutely devastating. Combat in WFRP is more dangerous than in other roleplaying games because a random critical hit from a weak goblin has the potential to dust you. In fact, one of the features of the system is that a kid with a crossbow is dangerous even if you are a mighty knight in full plate. Violence is a dangerous thing to be involved in and this system simulates that. It is not the most lethal system out there, but characters are far from being unstoppable damage soaking machines as 4E D&D heroes are.
Player characters have Fate points that they can use to save themselves. They work like extra lives. If a dragon bites your head off, you can spend a Fate point, and the Game Master will rewrite the story and say you were hit in the head and left unconscious instead. The end result is that player characters are harder to kill but combats are still thrilling because losing Fate points is not hard.
Combat is not number crunchy but it is not really fast when you compare it to really fast systems. I’d say it sits in the middle ground.
The most criticizable point is weapon balance, in my opinion. There are weapons that can be used without training that beat weapons that need training. Also, the list of weapons that don’t need training is dumb. Any character can get a regular bow and pierce mutants away. The bow itself is probably the best weapon of the game, yet it does not require any training. However, hand‐crossbows and rapiers, which are lame in comparison, require the characters to invest in specialized training. It is not really troublesome during the game, but it is weird and causes many specialist weapons to never come into play because some cheap generalist weapons are just better objectively.
The setting is the same as its namesake wargame. It is rich in nations, civilizations, races, and it has a mature storyline. The forces of Chaos come from the north with the objective of destroying the world, the undead rise from their graves obeying vampire masters with dark agendas. Corruption is everywhere and authorities cannot be trusted. Secret societies plague society. It is a shame the core book includes not much information about the setting, which is in turn scattered across many supplements. The material included in the main book is enough for getting started, but the Old World is a setting with many years of developing and maturity, and great depth, and the introductory material does not make it justice.
WFRP 2nd Edition is an end‐of‐life publication. It has been superseded by a Third Edition, which is radically different.
Many supplements were published for WFRP 2nd, many of which were of great quality. The core book has all you need for playing, but magic and the setting are not described in depth, so if you want to make most of the gaming experience, you should consider buying some additional material. I recommend to buy, at the very least, The Old World Bestiary, and a supplement for antagonists (such as Tome of Corruption, or Night’s Dark Masters) If you want to use magic intensively, Tome of Salvation and Realms of Magic are a must. Specially the latter.
WFPR 2nd Edition is a roleplaying game were it is easy to customize characters due to the Career system. Rules are quick to pick up but the game itself is not rules light, without being rules‐heavy either. Combat is dangerous, magic is dangerous, and the setting makes clear that trusting NPC is dangerous.
The game setting is rich but you will need additional material to enjoy it. There are also some minor flaws, such as lack of balance in the weapon system, which can be overcome but just don’t feel right.
The game is obviously oriented towards adventuring and fighting creatures of Chaos. Many Careers are obviously focused in doing just that. However, the Career system is flexible enough for creating non‐warrior characters if you want to run other sort of campaign. One of my most successful campaigns featured a Fence, a Slaanesh Cultist and a Scout. That means there was a real warrior, a character specialized in social interaction and information gathering and other experienced in dark knowledge. We ran many sessions about mystery solving, with a lot of investigation, clue obtainment and just a few fights.
With all its flaws, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd is my favorite roleplaying game.
I have set a Gopher site, which can be reached at gopher://richardfalken.no-ip.org. Gopher is a pre-http document transfer protocol. It is not particularly useful today, as http has taken its place, but Gopher is still a very clean way of distributing information. It is very low on bandwidth usage, Gopher sites don't abuse Java Script or markup, and we can say Gopher sites are generally cleaner.
The obvious disadvantage Gopher has is browser support. Some browsers that support this protocol are:
I know that using a no-ip domain for the site is a bit clumsy, but resources are scarce. It works well, though.
I have updated the website in order to bring it up to the 21st Century. It is still a very basic design but it is very functional.
Many old contents have been dumped, and the contact information has been updated. I plan to switch all my sites and pages to English and keep Spanish just as a secondary language.
Social media integration has dissappeared. I don't think it will show back anytime soon.