Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd edition acquired after much internal debate

probably no dwarf wizards

I’ve been looking at this version of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay from afar for a few years now and had a gift certificate that just had to be used. Holy fuck is it a huge box filled with goodies.  I’m about halfway through the rules and it reminds me a bit of Cortex (Marvel Super Heroes base engine) with it’s dice pools but still absolutely has the feel of Warhammer up inside.  While I have played the game before, I haven’t had a chance to really go through the components much and I tell you, this shit is IMPRESSIVE.  Fantasy Flight is boss at using little counters and chits for stuff, sometimes a bit overboard, but all of the components make sense and from what I’ve played and read, make the game flow really well.

What I’m looking to solve with this version is the common problem with First and Second edition: whiffing.  The last time I ran 2nd edition (back in 2006) combat was fun but very long– very long with three players against a small group of skaven….and that ain’t right.  Let’s look at an example from Second edition.  Human has an axe vs a Human with a sword and shield.  Axman has a WS of 35% (pretty good) and the Sword and Shield guy has a WS of 30%.   2/3rds of the time, these guys are going to miss when they attack.  In the case of the Axman, not only does he miss 2/3rds of the time, but the sword and shield guy can parry 1/3rd of the time giving him about 11% chance of hitting every swing.  That’s bad.  That’s very, very boring.  As much as we loved the critical hit charts and all that, it’s tough to get through a large combat in WRFP 1st and 2nd edition, not because there is so much going on (ala Exalted or Champions) but because it’s a WHIFF FEST.  No one is hitting anyone.  Is that realistic?  Maybe.  Is it interesting and make for fun combat?  No.  Unlike Exalted, where ALL hits except the killing blow miss, there is not interesting powers or economy of motes in Warhammer 1st and 2nd edition– it’s just a percentile roll followed possibly by a parry or block roll mostly leading to whiffing.

Third edition completely solves this both by giving players choices of improving their own chances at a cost (like Exalted) and making sure SOMETHING happens whenever there is an exchange of blows, whether it’s pants falling down, weapons breaking or just something happening that effects the fight.  While each attack is appreciably slower to determine action and dicepool in third edition, each attack MATTERS, so if you have to spend a few minutes determining your pool, that’s OK.

Character creation looks like a bitch, but if I remember from last year, it was fairly straightforward overall.   Career advancement, at least from reading, gets rid of the Career exit paths that we knew and loved from first and second edition– you can go to any career after your initial one (or even during) but it costs a lot more to go to once that is dissimilar.  The determination of similarity is sort of odd and I’ll likely have to re read it.

One point of confusion about the system is what to get OTHER than the giant box set.  You need pieces for another player if you want to play with 4+, but where do you get them?  What’s the best module?  How do you get access to more careers to choose from?   Since everything is very component driven, there are some limits as to how much stuff will be out for the game.  A career isn’t just something on a sheet of paper photocopied from White Dwarf circa 1990, it’s a set of cards and chits as well. This makes it tough to JUST own the base set.  Some of the modules have more careers (ouch), and since they came out with books by themselves, FF released component sets that can be purchased without getting the base set…

Otherwise, I’m looking forward to digging into this.  A buddy of mine has had a campaign going for almost a year now and they play every week so here goes!

One thought on “Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd edition acquired after much internal debate”

  1. I agree that the constant whiffing in WFRP was an issue of frustration. I think that having a meaningful hit land at the rate any hit would occur would have been fine. Maybe if your hit rates were more around 55-60% and then once you roll a hit wackiness could have ensued. Make the hit effect roll and its result do no damage (block, deflect, fumble, etc.), do normal damage or do critical damage. It could have at least kept a sense of action and success going on even though it really didn’t increase the successes at all.

    I’m looking forward to the holiday RPG fun and trying out the new system to see how this gets handled.

    As a side nerd note, I think you made a minor math error or grammar type in explaining the reduced hit chance from the block. If the guy hits about 1/3 of the time and the other guy blocks 1/3 of the successes, it means the guy blocks 1/3 * 1/3 = 1/9 of the time, which means the guy hits successfully about 1/3 – 1/9 = 2/9 of the time. Using your percentages (35% to hit, 33% to block)), the guy would have hit and not been blocked about 35% – 11% = 24% of the time. Stupid math distractions!

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