June 1, 2011 by lloyd
Fantasy Flight Games released the 3rd edition of Warhamer Fantasy Roleplay in late 2009 to mixed reviews. One of the first thing you will notice when you pick up WHFRP the 3rd edition’s core set, is the sheer size and weight of the box .
This behemoth of a Core Set includes over 400 cards which help to create as little rules look up during play as possible. These cards cover a variety of roles and come in three main sizes: mini American (1-5/8” x 2-1/2”), American standard (2-1/4” x 3-1/2”), and sheet size (4” x 5”).
Nearly all of the player relevant information is located on these finely detailed cards. The Careers that players take, the Talents and Actions they learn along the way and the Wounds, Insanities, and Conditions they’ll suffer from, are all conveniently located on these fantastic cards.
All of the other bits (and there are many) come printed on high quality, extremely durable, cardstock. These bits help the players and game master track information quickly and also provide the beautifully illustrated stand-ups that represent characters and monsters (I like to substitute my miniatures for this purpose but the cutouts work just fine).
One of the community’s biggest concerns with this new format is that the cards and bits, many say, make the game feel like a board game. I think this couldn’t be further from the truth and in fact the streamlined rules take away many of the problems that RPG’s have suffered from over the years.
This is a game based heavily on narrative play, many things are abstracted to allow for a more story oriented experience, like combat movement, which can often confuse some wargamers. However this is precisely what an RPG should be. There are lots of miniature wargames out there, but very few true roleplaying games. WHFRP 3e is definitely a true roleplaying game.
The core box also comes with four lavishly illustrated, full color plated rulebooks, totaling just shy of 300 pages. The Main Rulebook covers everything from character creation and equipment, all the way to combat, healing, and insanity. There is also a chapter that gives a bit of detail on the setting of Warhammer itself.
Next we have the Tome of Adventure, which acts as a Game Master’s guide and is full of interesting ideas on how to get the most out of the components and rules included in the box. Then there are the books that detail Magic and Religion and the basic rules for playing Wizards and Priests. I found this to be a bit unnecessary and would have preferred all the player relevant information to be included in one book. However I feel that this was done to give a hint as to the expansion structure that has followed the release of the core set. I’ll discuss these expansions further in other reviews.
The three things I find that really make this game stand out from the rest (besides the cards and bits) are the Dice Pool Mechanics, the Stance Meter and the inclusion of Fatigue and Stress. The dice are colorful and custom, coming in seven different varieties and really harken back to HeroQuest. These dice are built to help bring the story to life and actually have narrative aides developed directly into them. They are absolutely brilliant.
The stance meter is something brand new to most RPG’s, it’s role is to measure how a character goes about a certain task. A Slayer is much more Reckless than say a Scout who in turn is more Conservative. This stance helps visualize the situation and also creates an opportunity to “upgrade” some of the dice in your dice pool. A Reckless stance represents high risk, high reward while a Conservative one is more low risk, low reward.
As for the Fatigue and Stress mechanics, they fit seamlessly in with the rules and really add a depth of experience that very few other RPG’s on the market offer.
This game has truly rekindled my love of RPG’s and is well worth the investment. It does a great job of capturing the dark and gritty feel of the Old World and has already seen many expansions, with many more looming on the horizon!
So prepare yourselves for epic adventure by checking out Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay 3rd edition by Fantasy Flight Games, you won’t regret it!
If you would like to read more of Lester’s reveiws
You can catch more of his work
here in BoWand on his blog Strolling Bones…
or on the Reckless Dice podcast.