Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, typically referred to simply as Warhammer, is a Role-playing Game set in the Warhammer Fantasy setting.
To many players, the story or background of Warhammer is just as important as games and miniatures. Alongside Dungeons & Dragons' Greyhawk setting, Warhammer is among the oldest of commercial fantasy worlds, a direct descendant of both that game and Tolkien's Middle-earth though the 1st edition cited Robert E Howard (Conan) alongside Moorcock and Tolkien as influencing fantasy table top games. What is currently recognizable as the Warhammer World began with the first edition of the game, but took off as its own setting with the release of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the 3rd edition in 1987.
Warhammer has developed a very recognizable stylistic image set which has influenced other works, like Warcraft. Skulls feature prominently, as well as gothic architecture, absurdly large weapons and shoulder-armor, and bizarre imagery reminiscent of director Terry Gilliam's work, as well as a strong dose of black comedy. From its inspiration from Michael Moorcock's novels, the Warhammer World is centred around the classic Man vs. Himself literary theme. The Chaos Gods are the flaws of humankind personified; the inner literal daemons of living things come back through a magic medium to torment and kill. The ultimate victory of these forces is often hinted at, highlighting a strong assumption that sentient beings are fundamentally flawed and will eventually bring about their own destruction via the forces of Chaos. This is especially tragic in light of the outside, non-Chaotic forces that threaten civilized beings; rampaging Orcs, political strife, and general warfare.
Chaos was introduced into the Warhammer World by the "Old Ones"; star-travelling gods responsible for the creation of most of the setting's sentient races. These Old Ones were brought low by the daemonic forces inadvertently unleashed by the collapse of their Warp Gates (one at either pole), leaving their creations to fend for themselves. This backstory also provides an easy explanation for the variety of familiar fantasy races, and provides a logical framework for them to fit in. Ogres and Halflings, for example, are closely related. Both are resistant to the mutating effects of Chaos energies (fuelled by hearty appetites and efficient metabolisms), but have opposite physical templates.
The Warhammer world borrows considerably from historical events and other fantasy fiction settings. The Old World is recognisably Europe approximating to the Renaissance period - the Empire being set over what is modern Germany. Many events are lifted and modified directly from real-world history, including the Black Plague and the Moorish invasion of Spain, and others from original fantasy sources. Like Middle-earth, Warhammer's Elves are declining in population, and a Great Necromancer is reborn after defeats in his Southern stronghold.
Of the races that inhabit the world, Rick Priestley identified their origins as being based on British themes, the dwarfs like blunt-spoken Yorkshire men, Elves having a touch of Southern England and received pronunciation about them, the Orcs speaking with a working class London accent.
First & Second EditionEdit
The set of numbers describing a character's abilities in early editions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was very closely based on early versions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. The same basic array of characteristics was employed for both games, with some traits rated 1-10 in WFB being rated 1-100 in WFRP. In second edition, all primary attributes are ranked 1-100, though in such a way that the tens digit of these value will still correspond to WFB trait values. Attributes are tested using percentile dice, with penalties or bonuses applied to the roll or the target in response to various favorable and unfavorable circumstances.
Action Resolution SystemEdit
Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) introduces a brand new resolution mechanism, with their take of this classic game, that relies on dice pools rather than a percentile or D20 system. The dice that are included are also unique to this game (similar to how Blood Bowl dice are unique to Blood Bowl). There are seven types of dice in total; Characteristic, Fortune, Misfortune, Specialization, Challenge, Conservative and Reckless. Which dice you roll will depend on what task you are attempting to accomplish and, based on the situation, what positive and negative factors (read: dice) are added. Some of the dice have only neutral or positive results, some only neutral or negative and some with all of the above. Once the dice are rolled, positive and negative effects are tallied up to determine the number of successes (or lack there of). If there is at least one success at the end, the task succeeds. If not, it fails. Multiple successes have the potential for further positive effects based on the situation. There are also boons and banes that have additional effects regardless of whether the task succeeds or fails.
This edition also introduces a new mechanic that focuses on party cohesion. There are multiple "Party Sheets" that are included in the core set, and four additional ones are included with the Adventurer's Toolkit. At the beginning of the game, the players decide which party sheet they would like to use. These party sheets allow characters to share a talent (an ability or power that the character posses) with the party, so that anyone in the party can use it. This represents that characters expertise being used to guide the party out of a certain situation. In addition to sharing talents, the party sheet provides a specific bonus ability that the party can use. There are also negative effects provided by this party sheet. For example, a tension meeter (0-10) is on each party sheet and provides consequences as tension between party members increases (generally at 5 and 10 on the counter; after 10, it resets to 0 again).
Adding to the, already, robust components of the party sheet, is the use of fortune tokens. Each player begins with three at the start of a session. The players can spend these to add fortune dice to an important dice roll or spend them to remove counters from a talent that is on cool down, etcetera. The GM can then reward the players (for good roleplay, accomplishing a difficult task or whatever they choose) by adding a fortune token to the "Fortune Pool" on the party sheet. Once the number of fortune tokens in the fortune pool matches the number of players, their fortune tokens "Refresh". This means that they may take one fortune token from the pool if they have fewer than their starting allotment. If they don't have fewer, they may spend one directly from the pool instead.
FFG provides online resources for their version of the game (available in PDF format) that include a living index, FAQ, errata, quick reference dice sheet, character sheets, card list, component list, and a demo scenario. These resources can be found within the support section of the Fantasy Flight Games WFRP page: here.
The first edition of Warhammer spawned a well-known and highly praised campaign known as The Enemy Within. These five episodes were variously bound and collected. The first three episodes generally received the most praise; a rewritten version of the last episode, Empire in Flames, was to be issued by Hogshead Publishing under the title Empire in Chaos, but never saw the light of day.
For the second edition another campaign entitled Paths of the Damned has been followed by standalone adventures, such as Barony of the Damned and Terror in Talabheim, as well as shorter adventures in country sourcebooks (for example Ill Tidings, from Knights of the Grail, the Bretonnia supplement) as well as rules supplements (for example A Brutal Finish, from Realms of Sorcery, the arcane magic supplement).
Fantasy Flight Games released a new edition in November of 2009. This game was a substantial change to the system with almost no mechanics of the original system being retained. In this edition, the Storm of Chaos - where the Empire is invaded - is about to happen, rather than having already been repulsed as in second edition. This means the setting takes place a year before the time period of the second edition.
However, the most notable variant would be Warhammer 40,000, which is set in a futuristic version of the normal setting. More recently, a online game within the setting, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, has been released.
Chapters that PlayEdit
The following chapters are know to play, previously played, or open to playing the game: