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Ostrich and olive sausages are quite possibly the finest sausages known to mankind.

The Game: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
The Publisher: Black Industries (this time)
Degree of familiarity: Not much
Books Required: The corebook alone

Oh, WHFRP. What a tangled history you've had. Published for a short while by Games Workshop, you initially had a pointlessly convoluted system because all games of the time did. Of course, roleplaying games don't sell miniatures. For a company that refocused itself on miniatures sales to the point of 400% price increases over just four years, you were a loss. Especially when they had to put extra pages in other books for you. They sold you on to Flame Publications, but even that couldn't save you from the legacy of GW's hatred for products that don't sell little lead men like a dealer when Keith Richards comes to town..

Eventually, you ended up in the caring hands of Hogshead Publishing, who revised you and published material that fans had waited fifteen years to see you. While it was a beautiful friendship, Hogshead dissolved and the rights returned to the monolith. GW sat on you for a while longer, then farmed you out to their niche publishing arm, where you got a second edition. That lasted only two and a half years, before GW closed down that department (right after releasing your WH40K companion, Dark Heresy) for not being profitable enough. Fantasy Flight Games picked up your license, but only time will tell if they'll be another Hogshead or another Flame Publications.

Yeah, that's a convoluted history. Worse, that's not the half of it.

GW's never loved WHFRP, and that shows. but through a combination of fans who prefer the dark and grimy fantasy over shiny happy D&D and a need to expand on their made up world mean that they can't fully let it die. Admittedly, the mothership demands ultimate control over every aspect of the game to make sure that it conforms to the current state of play for the toy soldier crowd. When the game left Hogshead's hands, GW released a whole new edition with a vastly improved system. Unfortunately, they updated the fluff. Something called a "Storm of Chaos" had just fucked the world. As someone who used to enjoy the Warhammer setting during his teenage years, they left me dangling—despite having a whole shitload of old WHFRP adventures and tie-in novels, none of them are relevant to the setting any more. And of course I've forgotten all but the broadest details of the world in the meantime, just enough that the new world feels wrong.

For purposes of this character creation, I'm using the setting as it used to be; the setting of Beasts in Velvet and Konrad and Zaragoz and Ignorant Armies and all the trashy Warhammer novels that I used to devour at a prodigious rate in my teenage years, even though I found the faux-German names to be painful even at 14 years old.

At several points, I've got to roll for things. A few others are roll-or-choose, and if I can't be fucked to choose I'm going to grab a bulk load of high-grade non-weaponised entropy from random.org. Saying this now means that I don't pimp them every time I make a roll. Note that I am not in any way affiliated with random.org, I just think they're rather brill.

1) Choose Race
Yup. We start by choosing a race. None of this "concept" malarkey, WHFRP embraces the real essence of random generation: you're making a random schmuck, ultimately the same as any random schmuck and only differentiated once the game begins by the actions that the player takes. In some games it's a bastard to have that happen, but those tend to be games where you can roll someone too useless to be allowed to live (d20, I'm looking at you). WHFRP makes characters of roughly the same competence, then allows them to become whatever the player wants in the course of play through the wonderfully flexible Career system.

So yeah, first thing to do is to pick a race. I've got four to choose from: Human, elf, dwarf, and halfling. I'll stick with a human so far.

2) Generate Characteristics
Characteristics are usually 2d10 plus a bonus, in a human's case that's 20. After rolling, I can change one to the average, as if I'd rolled 11. I can do that once and once only. Eight characteristics on the main profile, so eight rolls of 2d10. The whole "fate decides for you" means you don't even get to choose where the scores go, so it's a good idea to get used to the idea that you could be playing anyone.

In order, I roll WS 9, BS 8, S 10, T 13, A 6, I 12, WP 8, Fel 17. Full trait names are on the character sheet below.

Fuck me, that's awful. Only three characteristics that are above average, and some that are really crap. Worse, all I'm actually good at is talking to people. Ballistic Skill, Agility, and Willpower all really suck. I would normally just use the Mercy call on Agility, but instead I'm going to wait and see for now. On the secondary profile, most things are pre-set. Only Wounds and Fate Points to roll for. Only 10 wounds, but 3 Fate Points. I decide to go for it: this character is sucking painfully at anything physical, and so to redress that balance I set Willpower to the average of 31. Might as well see if I can't be the party's thinker.

3) Record Racial Features
Humans get shafted for racial features. In addition to Common Knowledge (The Empire), itself a skill covering only the basics of the setting, I get Gossip and Speak Language as free skills, and two utterly random talents.

Oh, cock.

41 and 66 turn out to be... Mimic and Savvy. The former is fucking useless, quite frankly. I get a flat +10% bonus on all rolls involving vocal mimicry, though unless I pick up a career that gives me those skills, I'm pretty much buggered. Savvy is much nicer, giving as it does a permanent +5 to Int. One roll's gone my way so far.

4) Determine Personal Details
This is all the bits that define the character. In other words, there's quite a lot of tables. I'll abstract the die rolls where I make them, and just list what I get. As a male human, I'm 5'4"+1d10", or 5'9". 170 lbs, or 12 stone 2 in real measurements. Dark brown hair, blue eyes. He's got a badly-set broken nose that people remember him by. 4 siblings, 3 brothers and 1 sister (though it gives a flat 50% chance of either gender, it doesn't mention determining how old each is). He was born under the Sign of the Drummer, a mark of drunks and hedonists. Because I can, I even roll up an age: 23 years old.

Birthplace includes both province and type of settlement, in this case a fortified town in the Stirland. This is a good thing, as just about any career can have plenty of links in.

...there's a table for generating names. For the first time, I'm actually going to make a choice here, and screw the dice. Pieter is one of those names that doesn't make me think of a movie or a Marvel Comics villain.

5) Determine Starting Career
Roll or choose again. Given the crappy physical stats, choice is really tempting. I roll Norse Berserker. For a reasonably smart, reasonably easy going guy who doesn't know one end of a sword from another. No. Sod the dice.

WHFRP has an interesting attitude towards magic: it's very dangerous. Why not be an apprentice wizard, then, and play to my strengths?

6) Record Career Details
As an apprentice wizard, I get an advancement scheme (see sheet, below), showing where I can dump advances. I also get a fair few skills, mostly tied to attributes that are already pretty high. I get three more talents, though one includes the choice of Savvy. Which is all well and good, but I've already got Savvy. Despite being the sort of thing that would probably stack, I instead pick Very Resilient (like Savvy, but for Toughness) to avoid needless conflicts. Being more cerebral, I pick Aethyric Attunement as my other choice (though Fast Hands may come later if I move Pieter into a more combat-wizard role). Finally, I get some basic stuff for the career, which I note down along with the standard stuff all adventurers have.

7) Apply Free Advance
Worth noting that if I dump my first advance into the Magic stat, I can start casting petty magic spells right off the bat. Which would be neat, so that's what I do.

Pieter the Apprentice grew up in Krugenheim. His father was a ferryman who took the slow barges to Nuln, while his mother worked as a valet for the Baron. He never expected to amount to much; they couldn't afford any real schooling and Pieter wouldn't last long doing most jobs. Staring down a future as a rat-catcher or bone-picker his future would be a dishonour to his brothers and an embarrassment to his sister. Fortunately, the Baron had invited an old friend, a wizard of the Imperial colleges of magic, to stay. Seeing Pieter, the old man took a great interest in the boy. His parents were delighted at the chance to have one of their sons train as a wizard in the great colleges of magic, but he's yet to really apply his training and move on to practical study.

Name: Pieter
Race: Human

Main Profile
Weapon Skill 29
Ballistic Skill 28
Strength 30
Toughness 38
Agility 26 (+5)
Intelligence 37 (+10)
Willpower 31 (+15)
Fellowship 37 (+5)

Secondary Profile
Attacks 1
Wounds 10 (+2)
Strength Bonus 3
Toughness Bonus 3
Movement 4
Magic 1 (+1*)
Insanity Points 0
Fate Points 3

Academic Knowledge (Magic) (Int)
Channeling (WP+10)
Common Knowledge (Empire) (Int)
Gossip (Fel)
Magical Sense (WP+10)
Perception (Int)
Read/Write (Int)
Search (Int)
Speak Arcane Language (Magick) (Int)
Speak Language (Classical) (Int)
Speak Language (Reikspiel) (Int)

Aethyric Attunement
Petty Magic (Arcane)
Very Resilient

Personal Details
Height 5'9"
Weight 12st 2lb
Hair dark brown
Eyes blue
Distinguishing Features broken nose
Siblings 3 brothers 1 sister
Star Sign drummer
Age 23

Printed Book
Common clothing (shirt, breeches, worn boots)
Tattered cloak
Hand weapon
9 crowns


( 4 informants — We want information! )
Aug. 11th, 2008 07:47 am (UTC)
I swear, WFRP has the loveliest character gen system I have ever played. It feels so... appropriate, when fate guides your every step. Couple that with the amazing European-ness of the game, you've got the best dark mediaeval fantasy game I've played.

Now, tell me how you expect to pay for that wizard training?
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:54 am (UTC)
See, I don't like it. It reinforces the themes of the game (Fate's a fickle bastard at the best of times), but that theme gets in the way of my fun. I usually go into games with an idea of the sort of character that I want to play, an assumption of my own about roleplaying (that I have significant input into my own character) that WHFRP shits all over.
Aug. 11th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
Alright, I fully understand that point of view, and normally I too prefer to have total control over a character. I don't like rolling for stats in D&D, although I accept it when the GM demands it. It's just this one game that's the exception.

You can still have a goal for you character (assuming s/he lives that long), and if your career path really is right out, you can pay 200XP to change to a new base career.
Aug. 11th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
See, I fully understand why so many people love WHFRP's random generation, but in my mind it could be fixed by having a simple roll-all-then-allocate.

If I have to deal with random chargen, I'd rather have ORE's style (vide Reign) where all random characters are the same point value, just distributed differently. As it is, the stats I rolled meant I stand a chance of getting somewhere in a wizard, cleric, or scribe profession. If I as a player don't like the magic system (and I don't, as it goes from d100 roll low to nd10 roll high for no good reason; unified mechanics are a good thing as the last 30 years of game design has quite amply demonstrated), the game doesn't give a toss and forces me to take that route to have an effective character.

...I'm ranting. The three hours' sleep last night won't help.
( 4 informants — We want information! )



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