Review of WFRP3

Posted: 5 January 2011 in Reviews

‬I got these rules as PDFs from RPGNow‭ (‬all‭ ‬245‭ ‬MB of them‭) ‬in preparation for a game my friend Rob has just started, after we finished his long-running WFRP2 campaign.


Expensive boardgame/RPG hybrid with lots of custom components‭; ‬rules favour co-ordinated parties working in harmony.


Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing 3rd edition‭ ‬costs about‭ ‬$100‭ (‬say‭ ‬£60‭) ‬and comes in a large box‭; ‬the PDFs alone are about a quarter the cost,‭ ‬but are an adjunct to the box,‭ ‬not an alternative to it.‭ ‬Fantasy Flight Games makes expensive boardgames with good production values,‭ ‬and this is no exception‭; ‬my immediate feeling on seeing Rob’s set of components was that there are a lot of them,‭ ‬but production quality is good.‭ ‬The‭ "‬trade dress‭" ‬looks a lot like D&D‭ ‬3rd Edition,‭ ‬with a colour scheme in brown tones and covers emulating a‭ ‬metal-bound mediaeval book.

The box contains four full-colour rulebooks,‭ ‬and enough components‭ (‬numerous types of cards,‭ ‬specialist dice,‭ ‬cardboard standee figures etc.‭) ‬for one GM and three players.‭ ‬Some say this was done to make the game difficult to copy‭ ‬-‭ ‬that might be so,‭ ‬but it also plays to FFG’s strengths‭; ‬makes it easy to add in new character classes etc. by expansion packs,‭ ‬since the statistics for those are on cards rather than in the main rulebooks‭; ‬and means you have everything you need for a group of four people to play,‭ ‬right there in the box.

Regardless of the reasoning,‭ ‬the rulebook PDFs on their own don’t give you enough to play the game.‭ ‬It says so on the webpage where you buy them.‭ ‬Believe it.‭ ‬Believe also that at about one megabyte per page of the rules,‭ ‬these are PDFs unencumbered by any snivelling notions about ink consumption or low-spec computers.

One touch I liked was that the interior art includes the covers for earlier editions of the RPG and the wargame,‭ ‬used as illustrations in various places.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬Rob’s regular group has six players plus the Game Master,‭ ‬so unless and until extra components are available or someone ponies up for another box,‭ ‬we’re sharing cards and dice.


This is the meat of the rules from the‭ ‬player’s perspective,‭ ‬and where I started.‭ ‬We have an introductory section,‭ ‬followed by chapters on Characteristics‭ & ‬Abilities,‭ ‬Player Character Races,‭ ‬Character Creation,‭ ‬Experience‭ & ‬Advancement,‭ ‬Playing the Game,‭ ‬Actions‭ & ‬Manoeuvres,‭ ‬Combat Damage‭ & ‬Healing,‭ ‬Conditions‭ & ‬Effects,‭ ‬Economy‭ & ‬Equipment,‭ ‬and The Empire,‭ ‬followed by an appendix of maps.

Introduction‭ (‬12‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬This provides your standard what-is-a-roleplaying-game stuff‭ ‬-‭ ‬that’s in every game so I won’t go into it in detail here‭ ‬-‭ ‬and also explains the components,‭ ‬giving a quick overview of the nine different types of cards,‭ ‬the career sheets,‭ ‬the character and party sheets,‭ ‬the four different types of tokens,‭ ‬the standees,‭ ‬the stance and progress tracker pieces,‭ ‬the character boxes where‭ ‬you keep all of the above between games,‭ ‬and the seven different types of custom dice.‭ ‬If you’ll forgive me,‭ ‬I won’t go into them all in detail.

Characteristics‭ & ‬Abilities‭ (‬8‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬The characteristics and skills are standard fare‭ ‬-‭ ‬Strength,‭ ‬Toughness,‭ ‬Agility,‭ ‬Intelligence,‭ ‬Willpower and Fellowship for characteristics‭; ‬Ballistic Skill and Weapon Skill are treated as‭ (‬surprise‭) ‬skills,‭ ‬along with a number of other capabilities‭ ‬-‭ ‬no surprises here.‭ ‬The first change I noticed from‭ ‬2nd Edition is that rather than being percentage ratings,‭ ‬characteristics match the statlines in the tabletop wargame Warhammer Fantasy Battle‭ ‬-‭ ‬one has Strength‭ ‬3,‭ ‬for example,‭ ‬rather than Strength‭ ‬31,‭ ‬making it a doddle to convert monsters from the‭ (‬free‭) ‬WHFB quick reference sheets.‭ (‬This is because your characteristic rating is how many dice the characteristic places in your dice pool.‭ ‬But I get ahead of myself.‭)

Player Character Races‭ (‬5‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬Reikland humans,‭ ‬dwarves,‭ ‬high elves,‭ ‬wood elves.‭ ‬If you’ve read Tolkien or any of‭ ‬the Warhammer rules or fiction,‭ ‬you’ll be right at home here.‭ ‬The fact that humans are specified as Reiklanders suggests later supplements with more human types to follow.‭ ‬Your race affects how many points you have to spend in character generation,‭ ‬how many misfortune dice you roll when trying to do something in the dark,‭ ‬and what your starting hit points are.

Character Creation‭ (‬7‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬Now,‭ ‬this is a short section,‭ ‬but remember all the details of the actual careers are on cards,‭ ‬not in the rulebook.‭ ‬Be‭ ‬warned:‭ ‬This means you cannot create a character with the PDF files alone.

Character creation allows you to spend points to buy characteristics,‭ ‬skills,‭ ‬talents and wealth levels depending on your race‭ (‬which you choose‭) ‬and career.‭ ‬The default option for‭ ‬career selection is to select one career from three drawn at random‭ ‬-‭ ‬however,‭ ‬once player A has chosen a career,‭ ‬the career deck is reshuffled and player B chooses from what remains,‭ ‬then player C,‭ ‬and so on‭ ‬-‭ ‬so normally,‭ ‬a party will not have multiple‭ ‬instances of the same career‭; ‬you could have a ratcatcher,‭ ‬a barber-surgeon and a hunter,‭ ‬for instance,‭ ‬but not two ratcatchers and a hunter.‭ ‬From reading only,‭ ‬I’d guess beginning characters would have‭ ‬3-4‭ ‬in their characteristics,‭ ‬a couple of skills,‭ ‬a couple of talents,‭ ‬and a couple of actions‭; ‬but I’m not sure I’ve fully understood the point buy system,‭ ‬and I can’t experiment without the career sheets.

The thing that interests me most here are the Talents.‭ ‬These are similar to feats in D&D,‭ ‬advantages in GURPS,‭ ‬or edges in Savage Worlds‭; ‬they give your character an advantage under certain circumstances.‭ ‬This is standard in RPGs and wargames,‭ ‬but the innovation in WFRP3‭ ‬is the talent sockets on the character and party cards.‭ ‬Each character will have a number of talents,‭ ‬but can only have a couple active‭ ("‬socketed‭") ‬at any one time.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬he can also plug talents into the party sheet,‭ ‬in which case all party members receive the benefit‭ ‬-‭ ‬this represents his leadership,‭ ‬shouted instructions,‭ ‬going first‭ ‬or whatever.

The party sheet itself is another innovation.‭ ‬The players collectively choose a party sheet which defines how the group sees itself,‭ ‬and how and the wider world sees them,‭ ‬for example‭ "‬Servants of Justice‭" ‬or‭ "‬Gang of Thugs‭"; ‬each party type has a special ability,‭ ‬a place to store fortune points‭ (‬which gradually refresh themselves throughout the session‭)‬,‭ ‬and a tension track,‭ ‬which I can see being entertaining in play‭; ‬when things go wrong for the party,‭ ‬the GM moves a token along the tension track,‭ ‬and when it reaches specific points the friction and stress within the party causes Bad Things to happen‭ ‬-‭ ‬which bad things,‭ ‬and when,‭ ‬depends on the party type.

Experience‭ & ‬Advancement‭ (‬5‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬Each adventure session garners you one or two experience points.‭ ‬Each experience point gives you one advance‭ ‬-‭ ‬you spend advances to buy more talents,‭ ‬skills etc,‭ ‬but your experience points are not affected by this,‭ ‬they are used to track your overall‭ "‬rank‭" ‬or power‭ ‬-‭ ‬D&D players would think of this as your‭ "‬level‭"‬.‭ ‬The game is structured so that you can improve your character a little after every session,‭ ‬or save up for a bigger improvement.‭ ‬As your rank increases,‭ ‬this unlocks access to higher-level improvements.

Once you have acquired the ten standard improvements for your career,‭ ‬it can teach you no more and you move on by paying a number of advances.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬you can leave earlier if you wish,‭ ‬and return later to finish it,‭ ‬or not,‭ ‬as you prefer.‭ ‬Changing careers is easier than in WFRP2‭ ‬-‭ ‬you can move from any career to any other,‭ ‬but the cost of doing so is lower for similar careers.‭ ‬The cost of a change is also affected by your race and whether you have completed the earlier career.‭ ‬The advantage to finishing a career before moving on is that you get to keep its special ability as a permanent addition to your character’s array of capabilities,‭ ‬move earlier and you lose that power.‭ ‬You can also buy improvements which aren’t related to your career,‭ ‬but that is more expensive,‭ ‬so your character’s powers will grow more quickly if you focus on the career at hand.

Note that each career’s advances are checked on a separate character sheet.‭ ‬Since they are double-sided,‭ ‬I’m not sure how convenient or awkward this will be in play‭; ‬character sheets are something else not in the PDF version of the rules.

Playing the Game‭ (‬9‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬Most of this is about dice pools,‭ ‬common in indie RPGs for some years now but less so in‭ "‬mainstream‭" ‬games.‭ ‬When you want to do something,‭ ‬you assemble a pool of dice‭; ‬so many blue d8‭ ‬for‭ ‬your character’s capabilities,‭ ‬perhaps a yellow d6‭ ‬for his expertise,‭ ‬so many purple d8‭ ‬for how hard the task is,‭ ‬white and black d6‭ ‬according to good or bad circumstances,‭ ‬so many red or green d10‭ ‬according to your character’s‭ "‬stance‭" (‬how cautious or reckless he is being‭)‬.‭ ‬You roll the dice‭ (‬typically‭ ‬5-10‭ ‬of them‭) ‬and look at the symbols.‭ ‬If there are more warhammers‭ (‬successes‭) ‬than crossed swords‭ (‬failures‭)‬,‭ ‬you succeed.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬there are several other symbols as well,‭ ‬which trigger good things‭ ("‬boons‭") ‬or bad‭ ("‬banes‭") ‬-‭ ‬the array of cards in front of you will show what things happen depending on the combination of symbols you rolled.‭ ‬Particularly interesting is that good things can happen even if you fail,‭ ‬and bad things can happen even if you succeed.

Actions‭ & ‬Manoeuvres‭ (‬6‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬The difference between the two is that actions are on cards,‭ ‬and manoeuvres are in the rulebook.‭ ‬Actions are things your character can do,‭ ‬similar to the powers in D&D‭ ‬4th Edition‭; ‬manoeuvres are things like mount a horse or ready a weapon,‭ ‬which most games call‭ "‬actions‭"‬.‭ ‬Some WFRP3‭ ‬actions are double-sided cards,‭ ‬whose effects change depending on whether your character has a conservative‭ (‬cautious‭)‬,‭ ‬neutral or reckless stance‭ ‬-‭ ‬which stances you can select,‭ ‬and to what extreme,‭ ‬are defined by your career,‭ ‬although you can modify that in play by spending advances.

Encounters are not played out on a battlemat or grid,‭ ‬but on a semi-abstract battlefield which reminds me of Classic Traveller‭; ‬distances are measured in range bands as in CT,‭ ‬but this is two-dimensional rather than one-dimensional.‭ ‬Groups of standees or terrain markers are placed next to each other to show that they are physically close,‭ ‬with tokens between groups to indicate range bands‭; ‬it looks like the number of tokens is how many manoeuvres it takes you to get from one group to the other.‭ ‬This is neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat,‭ ‬and I’ll have to play it a few times to see whether it has the best or the worst of both worlds.

Combat,‭ ‬Damage‭ & ‬Healing‭ ‬(11‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬On the face of it,‭ ‬this is the usual determine initiative,‭ ‬select an action card and play it to act in initiative order,‭ ‬get hurt and/or smack the bad guys around,‭ ‬get healed.‭ ‬Again,‭ ‬though,‭ ‬there are innovations.‭ ‬Firstly,‭ ‬while each player character generates their initiative,‭ ‬these are just slots in the initiative order‭ ‬-‭ ‬the party as a whole decides who will use each slot.‭ ‬In effect,‭ ‬players can trade initiative scores with each other to decide what the sequence of action is.‭ ‬This encourages‭ ‬tactical party play and I approve.‭ ‬You could apply this in any game with initiative and I’m tempted to deploy it in my Savage Worlds sessions,‭ ‬perhaps as something the party leader can do with a successful Knowledge‭ (‬Battle‭) ‬roll.

Characters can also choose to suffer stress or fatigue to gain extra movement or bonuses to their actions‭; ‬however,‭ ‬this adds misfortune dice to the pool,‭ ‬and if carried to extremes can result in unconsciousness.

Wounds are represented by cards drawn from the wound deck‭; ‬they are‭ ‬all much of a muchness as normal wounds,‭ ‬but should you be critically wounded,‭ ‬you turn the card over and suffer the special effect on the other side.‭ ‬If you are knocked out,‭ ‬and the number of critical wounds exceeds your Toughness‭ (‬which is probably only‭ ‬3-4,‭ ‬remember‭) ‬you die.‭ ‬Can’t say much more without the cards,‭ ‬which are‭ (‬all together now‭) ‬not in the PDF files.

Conditions‭ & ‬Effects‭ (‬4‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬This is mostly about fear,‭ ‬terror and insanity,‭ ‬your constant companions in the grim,‭ ‬dark world of WFRP.‭ ‬It’s not all bad‭; ‬being insane is one of the prerequisites for becoming a Witch Hunter.‭ ‬If you see something scary enough,‭ ‬you have to make a saving throw‭; ‬fail,‭ ‬and you draw an insanity card which explains to you in what way you’ve become deranged.‭ ‬At certain points during the game‭ ("‬the end of an Act‭") ‬you make another saving roll‭; ‬fail,‭ ‬and you get to keep your new insanity permanently‭; ‬collect enough permanent insanities and your character is retired from play.‭ ‬Each insanity card has a severity number on it,‭ ‬showing how hard it is to treat.

Note that if you are fatigued or stressed,‭ ‬it is easier to go mad,‭ ‬because the stress and fatigue apply penalties to the saving throws.

There are other conditions such as‭ "‬Staggered‭" ‬which affect your character in other ways,‭ ‬for example adjusting your stance for you involuntarily.

Economy‭ & ‬Equipment‭ (‬13‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬This opens with a nice atmospheric piece dividing the world into tiers‭ ‬-‭ ‬the nobles,‭ ‬who deal in gold‭; ‬the burghers,‭ ‬who deal in silver‭; ‬the commoners,‭ ‬who deal in brass‭; ‬and adventurers,‭ ‬who cross the boundaries between tiers,‭ ‬although they are never truly accepted in any of them.‭ ‬There are the usual lists of armour,‭ ‬weapons and general equipment,‭ ‬rules for haggling,‭ ‬and a statement that you don’t have to roleplay the haggling if you’d rather not.‭ ‬There are rules for encumbrance and penalties for being encumbered.

The Empire‭ (‬11‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬This describes the history,‭ ‬geography,‭ ‬friends and foes of the Empire,‭ ‬the main human state in the Old World,‭ ‬and the place adventurers occupy in it.

Maps‭ (‬3‭ ‬pages‭)‬:‭ ‬Zooming in,‭ ‬we have maps of the Old World,‭ ‬the Empire,‭ ‬and the Reikland,‭ ‬one per page.


This is the GM’s book,‭ ‬and covers Game Mastering‭ ‬101‭ (‬8‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how to be a GM‭)‬,‭ ‬Episodes‭ & ‬Acts‭ (‬7‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how to set up a scenario‭)‬,‭ ‬Game Master Resources‭ (‬5‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬the use of fortune points,‭ ‬experience points,‭ ‬wealth,‭ ‬party tension etc.‭ ‬to reward players and encourage certain play styles‭)‬,‭ ‬the Progress Tracker‭ (‬7‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬an innovation,‭ ‬so it gets its own paragraph below‭)‬,‭ ‬Campaign Play‭ (‬9‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how to set up and run a campaign‭)‬,‭ ‬Enemies‭ & ‬Adversaries‭ (‬5‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how to create and run memorable bad guys‭)‬,‭ ‬The Bestiary‭ (‬25‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬what it says on the tin‭)‬,‭ ‬and An Eye For An Eye‭ (‬26‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬the obligatory introductory scenario,‭ ‬a mixture of combat,‭ ‬diplomacy and investigation‭)‬.

The focus of WFRP3‭ ‬from the GM’s perspective is on the story.‭ ‬You’re encouraged to put your effort into episodes and their component acts rather than detailed maps‭ (‬hence the semi-abstract battlefields‭)‬,‭ ‬using the familiar three-act model.‭ ‬There is a formal Rally Step between acts where the flow of the game pauses for book-keeping,‭ ‬snacks and bathroom breaks,‭ ‬while the characters gather their wits and composure for the next scene,‭ ‬adjust socketed talents and so on.‭ ‬The book includes a number of example episodes to illustrate how things are done.‭ ‬The advice on adventures and campaigns is solid stuff‭ ‬-‭ ‬nothing especially new,‭ ‬but it’s presented in a clear and structured way.

I promised the progress tracker its own paragraph.‭ ‬It replaces many of the notes GMs normally take‭ ‬-‭ ‬it’s effectively a ladder whose steps can represent various things,‭ ‬for example how much food there is left,‭ ‬how long until the storm breaks,‭ ‬the current state of enemy morale,‭ ‬or‭ (‬with one token for the party and one for the villain‭) ‬it can adjudicate a criminal investigation,‭ ‬with events moving each token forwards or backwards along the track.‭ ‬Making the abstract concrete in this way is the innovation‭; ‬I normally use dice myself for most of these purposes.

It has become common to have weaker‭ "‬henchman‭" ‬or‭ "‬minion‭" ‬versions of opponents as well as the full strength boss monster model,‭ ‬and WFRP3‭ ‬adopts this,‭ ‬together with the ideas of hit point pools and ganging-up bonuses to hit.‭ ‬Mechanically,‭ ‬then,‭ ‬a group of minions is effectively one larger monster‭ ‬-‭ ‬since the group size equals the party size,‭ ‬larger parties automatically attract opposition with more hit points and better hit probabilities‭; ‬as damage is inflicted,‭ ‬the number‭ ‬of minions drops,‭ ‬reducing both hit points and hit probability.‭ ‬This is simple and elegant,‭ ‬and I like it.

The meat of this book is the bestiary.‭ ‬Here,‭ ‬the usual Warhammer tropes are advanced‭ ‬-‭ ‬beastmen,‭ ‬chaos cultists,‭ ‬greenskins and so forth.‭ ‬Rather than list individual skills and talents for each enemy,‭ ‬the GM is provided with the creature’s rating in Aggression,‭ ‬Cunning and Expertise‭ ‬-‭ ‬these represent dice the GM can add to appropriate pools without requiring more detail.‭ ‬This means that each‭ ‬beast can fit on one line,‭ ‬so the bestiary consists of a series of double-page spreads,‭ ‬each defining a related group of foes in terms of statline and special actions.‭ ‬The GM can thus run a group of opponents who would realistically work together without flipping pages constantly‭ ‬-‭ ‬I hate that,‭ ‬so this is a worthwhile innovation.‭ ‬Another benefit is that all the mundane NPCs fit on one spread,‭ ‬so you can run an entire town adventure with only that page open‭ ‬-‭ ‬this is an improvement on the usual approaches of‭ ‬either having many different types of NPC in alphabetical order,‭ ‬spread over many pages,‭ ‬or ignoring human NPCs altogether.‭ ‬This will probably be a valuable resource for me if my planned Savage Worlds campaign in the Old World ever actually starts,‭ ‬as it‭ ‬will make converting and running the monsters very easy indeed.


This covers priests and religion,‭ ‬and is mostly background information on the setting.‭ ‬It is divided into Faith in the Old World‭ (‬4‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬overviews of the ten principal‭ ‬human cults‭)‬,‭ ‬the Imperial Cults‭ (‬11‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬the structures and strictures of those cults in more detail‭)‬,‭ ‬Other Faiths‭ (‬6‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬the dwarven and elven gods,‭ ‬and superstitions and rituals of the common folk‭)‬,‭ ‬Corruption‭ & ‬Heresy‭ (‬7‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬the gods of chaos,‭ ‬their cults,‭ ‬and the witch hunters who oppose them‭)‬,‭ ‬Divine Rules‭ (‬5‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how to curry favour with the gods and use it to cast spells‭)‬,‭ ‬and Playing a Priest‭ (‬12‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how your character became a priest,‭ ‬which cult he should join and why,‭ ‬and what‭ ‬sort of missions he undertakes for his god‭)‬.‭ ‬Divine Rules is a short chapter since it has no spell list‭ ‬-‭ ‬the spells are on cards,‭ ‬which are not in the PDFs,‭ ‬so I can’t speak to them.


This is the wizard’s book,‭ ‬and the shortest of the four‭; ‬again,‭ ‬it is mostly setting material.‭ ‬It contains Magic Theories‭ (‬4‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how magic works in the setting,‭ ‬as opposed to the rules,‭ ‬and the history of human wizardry‭)‬,‭ ‬the Colleges of Magic‭ (‬9‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how an Imperial character becomes a wizard and rises in rank‭)‬,‭ ‬the Eight Orders‭ (‬11‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬specifics on how each Order operates and how you join it‭)‬,‭ ‬Forbidden Lore‭ (‬5‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬magic in other lands and chaos magic‭)‬,‭ ‬Magic Rules‭ (‬6‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬how to channel power and use it to cast spells‭)‬,‭ ‬and Playing a Wizard‭ (‬12‭ ‬pages‭ ‬-‭ ‬what being a wizard is like,‭ ‬which Order you should join and why,‭ ‬and how the rest of humanity react to you‭)‬.‭ ‬Again,‭ ‬one would expect the Rules chapter to be longer,‭ ‬but this is because the spells are on cards.


Pleasant surprises:‭

  • ‬It plays faster than I expected; once you’re used to the dice pool system, it’s as fast as any other rules set.‭
  • The dice pool system means that success isn’t a binary yes/no or a four-way critical/success/failure/fumble; it’s generally “yes, but” or “no, but”. This feels good in play, but I’m not sure the additional complexity is worth it.
  • ‬The spread of cards and tokens which form a character at the gaming table are actually not much bigger than an A4‭ ‬character sheet once you park the cards and tokens you hardly ever use in your character box‭ (‬or,‭ ‬in our case,‭ ziplock ‬plastic bag‭)‬.
  • For a player, tracking status, wounds etc. requires almost no note-taking during a session, because everything is tracked by tokens.

Changes we‭’‬re making:‭

  • Our campaign is set in historical Elizabethan times, so player characters are not permitted to know any spells. I just know some of the NPCs will, though.
  • The abstract combat locations have already been ditched in favour of our old standby,‭ ‬a hexgrid under plexiglass with whiteboard markers.

Cheat sheets:

  • There are some good ones here. Keep scrolling down, you’ll find ‘em.


Wow,‭ ‬that’s a long review‭! ‬Then again,‭ ‬it’s a large and complex product.‭

Firstly,‭ ‬this is an innovative game,‭ ‬although the innovation is more‭ ‬merging existing mechanics from other games into a coherent whole than creating anything wholly new‭ ‬-‭ ‬to be fair,‭ ‬after over‭ ‬30‭ ‬years of RPGs,‭ ‬the latter would be difficult by now.‭ ‬The game mechanics make it natural for parties to co-ordinate their actions,‭ ‬and reward their doing so.‭ ‬I especially like the concept of the party as a whole effectively being another character,‭ ‬with its own basic personality and talent slots.

You need a big table,‭ ‬without cats,‭ ‬small children,‭ ‬or strong breezes,‭ ‬to play this.‭ ‬Each character roll‭s ‬5-10‭ ‬dice of various shapes and colours for each action.‭ ‬Each player will have in front of him one or more character sheets‭ (‬you need one sheet per career you have had‭)‬,‭ ‬a card for his current career with a couple of smaller cards‭ "‬socketed‭" ‬into it,‭ ‬a fistful of cards for his possible actions,‭ ‬and something to represent fortune points.‭ ‬There will also be a party sheet,‭ ‬which will be much like a character sheet,‭ ‬and several trackers for the Game Master to keep track of things like Initiative.

It’s going to be too complex for my players,‭ ‬and the sheer number and variety of specialist components mean it’s not portable‭ ‬-‭ ‬I can play Savage Worlds or Castles‭ & ‬Crusades while on holiday so long as I throw the free test drive rules and a handful of dice in the suitcase,‭ ‬but WFRP3‭ ‬is best suited to a group which plays in the same spacious room each time and has somewhere to keep all the parts pre-sorted.

Finally,‭ ‬the PDFs are of very limited use without the card decks and dice in the box.‭ ‬From a marketing perspective this is a great idea‭; ‬from the player’s or GM’s perspective,‭ ‬it means you really need to buy the game instead of,‭ ‬or as well as,‭ ‬the PDFs‭ ‬-‭ ‬they are an accessory to the box,‭ ‬not a replacement for it.‭ ‬It would have been possible to have another file with the cards in it,‭ ‬and a statement of how many symbols of each type are on each die‭ ‬-‭ ‬it would be impractical to play the game with standard dice.‭ ‬None of this bothers me,‭ ‬partly because I don’t plan to GM the game,‭ ‬and partly because if I did I would buy both anyway‭; ‬but if it would bother you,‭ ‬now you know.

  1. Jesse Burke says:

    Excellent review of WFRP3. Those who are interested may find the following useful:

    Reckless Dice Podcast ( – Dedicated to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition
    Gitzman’s Gallery ( – WFRP3 resources, maps and tools.

  2. […] reviewed WFRP3 before, so I’ll stick to highlights of changes this time; the core game engine hasn’t changed, […]

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