Pistol Inventions for Warhammer Fantasy 4e

A long while ago a discussion on the WFRP Ratcatcher Discord mentioned a great invention or customisation that characters might like – a blocked-muzzle pistol (from the Witch Hunter’s Handbook), which started my mind thinking about other tweaks a character might want for their black-powder weapons. Here are a few ideas to add some grit and sizzle to the back-powder weapons.

Bayonet: A simple and well used addition to any long rifle, which allows the wielder to use their rifle in melee combat as a polearm, or a pistol as a dagger. A very simple addition to a weapon, which could be added after initial construction.

  • Pistol Bayonet – Melee Basic, Cost: 1GC, Enc: 0, Availability: Scarce,  Reach: Very Short, Dam: +SB+2, Qualities & Flaws: None
  • Rifle Bayonet – Melee Polearm, Cost: 2GC, Enc: 0, Availability: Scarce,  Reach: Long, Dam: +SB+3, Qualities & Flaws: Impale

Blocked-muzzle pistol & rifle: A small lever on the seals the weapon’s barrel. This causes the weapon to explode, inflicting damage to the holder. If used, treat this as a successful hit to the holder’s arm. This would be a complex change, more likely required to be built into the weapon when it is constructed and would add complexity.

Gun-Sword: A wholesale new weapon rather than addition, and somewhat strange hybrid short blade with a small pistol mounted along the blade. This item must be custom built, and include the Durable quality.

  • Gun-Sword – Melee Basic, Cost: 10GC, Enc: 1, Availability: Special,  Reach: Short, Dam: +SB+3, Qualities & Flaws: None.
  • Pistol stats used as normal, with damage reduced from +8 to +7.

Hidden Compartment: a small well hidden chamber, likely in the stock. A few coins, a small vial, etc.

  • Simple complexity, and may be retrofit to many weapons.

Long Barrel pistol: Dramatically increases the range of the pistol, however is now more difficult to use in melee, which removes the Pistol quality.

  • Increase pistol range from 20 to 30 yards, and remove Pistol quality.

Snub Nose Barrel: Greatly reduces the maximum range of the pistol, however any Critical also now inflict spray damage to wider targets.

  • Reduce pistol range from 20 to 10 yards, and add the Blast (1) quality.

Tooth and Claw Pistol: A one inch long blade mounted forward and below the barrel of the pistol, a sharp edge atop, and a spiked knuckle guard in front of the stock – combine to provide a simple weapon to strike opponents. The weapon must be built with the Durable quality.

  • Tooth and Claw Pistol – Melee Basic, Cost: 2GC, Enc: 0, Availability: Rare,  Reach: Very Short, Dam: +SB+3, Qualities & Flaws: None

Trigger Safety: A small level located near the thumb position which prohibits the trigger from being pulled. This would be a  moderately complex change, optionally added to an existing weapon.

Warhammer 4e Magic is ok, but not great … by design

A recent Reddit thread asked about Magic in 4th edition WFRP – and its worth a read if you area WFRP fan with a magical bent. Posting my comments on that discussion as a hook…

The question as asked:

I was looking into 4th edition looking for a system to play some whfrp. I first checked out the magic section as historically that is the most fragged up part of every WHF game. And first it didn’t seemed terrible looking at the spells, but than looking at the fire spells I fund there are only one direct damaging spell which is ridiculous for the most destructive wind.

But what really shocked me was that it was a difficulty of 10 which if I understood correctly means for casting it you should achieve 10 degree of success, basically meaning -100 on the test in a % based system. And looking at other magic difficulties it seems that magic is totally unusable, nearly impossible in every case to cast anything but the tiniest of spells. Also they seem weak.

Which begs the question why would anyone use magic in such a system knowing the risks?


Have I totally misunderstood the system or just the usual WHF curse took root again?

It’s not an invalid point, however that is be design. I say that as the design is so fixed and constrained that it must have been a choice rather than a mistake. In more detail my post comment was:

They are not great but it’s not a simple cause.

4e magic needs some tweaks to be better, however fundamentally it is still a magic system designed to be punitive and dangerous. That is appropriate to the setting. I hope I’m not telling you how to suck eggs, however the Warhammer setting has magic as directly sourced from Chaos and the massively unpredictable winds of magic – so your goal as a wizard is to see how you die with a particular botch. Expect to die horribly.

Wizards are also almost always glass cannon characters, so a good soldier in melee range will cripple them quickly. This is also by design.

Those basics aside it would be great to have more depth in the spell lists and broader application of smaller magical effects, and I agree with your criticism of the combat magic spells. Uninspired.

At lower xp levels a wizard isn’t “good” at all, but I think they become amazing at high levels.

Also a pre-2500 xp Wizard is needs to be either highly optimised to be effective, or will be disappointing.

At 6000xp and higher I think an ex-Witch who is now a Wizard is one of the best power choices because they can learn spells outside their Wind. Or an Elf Wizard. Amazing at high xp. (A shadow death and fire Elf would be very hard to stop)

A few house rules to consider:

  • a caster can channel and stop at whatever number of CN they choose. This means that a caster can try to cast even if they haven’t got their full CN channeled.
  • during the Talent learning Endeavour all Careers can take Talents from previous career levels without rolling. It still takes an endeavour and costs money, but there is no failure rate. This allows wizards to not stockpile Aethryic attunement early in their careers. Which is basically mandatory if your wizard intends to cast the powerful CN:8+ effects later.
  • I’d lower the CN by 1/4 rounding up on each spell. It makes higher end spells worth taking and still requires them to be cast over a few combat rounds, but means the wizard will cast more than one spell per battle.
  • Petty spells should still benefit from the Career Wind choice, but I think currently they do not. Changing that makes Dart very useful, and reduces the need to sink huge Xp into channelling as well as Language Magick.
  • If you are seeking a range dps class then look to the bow using hunter and ranger types. Solid dps every round at range with no real failure rate. Especially powerful at later career levels.
(Just adding to my previous comment) I’m playing a Wizard now, and at less than 2000 xp he would have been poor. At 3500 xp he can do some things well, but still isn’t as good as a soldier/duelist with a range weapon. I’m hoping that it gets amazing at post 5000 xp.
  • It is still very much a glass cannon, and still very slow in play (channel, cast.. or channel, channel, channel, cast) for almost all combats. Also Wizards spend 2-4 rounds “getting prep’d” so they don’t die instantly, so seem to do very little in short fights.
  • My advice is to play the Wizard because you want to play a character with knowledges and arcane feel. Playing a wizard because you like killing things in combat games will be disappointing imo.

More thoughts about WFRP 4th

Following up my post on initial WFRP 4e thoughts – I’ve been playing for a few months now and also starting to get into the online communities. I’ve decided that while I think my first thought and feedback was right – I’m loving the tabletop game I’m playing in because of the player/character personalities. That’s good praise for the team I’m playing with, and despite some of the mechanics of WFRP which are designed to be punitive over time. These observations are primarily about the mechanics of character progression.

Your character is (eventually) dead. The fate points and general avoidance of issues will carry a character through a number of scenarios, however I feel like eventually the deadliness of the game setting will catch-up to them all. That is a major thematic point in the setting, but it is also a feature which causes players like myself to not really get inside their character’s heads, because you are only a few bad rolls or unavoidable shit-shows away from wanting to re-roll.

You will die, so how will it happen? (see the doomed trait)

Go wide then deep.  As the RAW restricts skills and talents in careers, my suss is to pick-up as many broadening skills and talents as you can, before going deep. This is because having a skill (especially a rare skill like some lore or language skills) is very handy. Characters should prioritise getting at least one advance in every skill they can. Then all the talents you need, then raise your stats, then specialise into areas that are suited to your character vision, and lastly tangential talents.

e.g. A single advance in Heal grants a major addition to the skills the character offers the party. Likewise languages, lores, and many other skills which cannot be used untrained.

The reason to get skills before talents is due to the cost difference; as a skill may only cost 10 xp however each talent costs 100 xp. You will get a broader start from 10 xp spent in 10 ways than one talent.

I feel the way I advanced in the early stages of my current character’s development didn’t work well, because I took to raising a few skills which wee used regularly (often combat related) and now think some of the talents and other skills might have been better in the long run.

You cannot have everything. As a counter to the point above, I am finding that it is unlikely that any one character will be able to survive long enough to really fill out every aspect of a career pathway. Thus wide skills are handy, but it pays to pick themes.

The mechanical interaction of stats with skills supports this. A melee combat character will probably only have 1-2 combat skills they are really useful with. The rest might be good for emergencies, but deep is better. More importantly being thematic is really important. The game does not support a  character concept that has deep knowledge in each weapon types, and also useful talents and skills. That means that NPCs and PCs should be designed to go deep in a few areas.

Read the lore. I can’t stress enough how much lore and material is around for WFRP. It is actually daunting to consider that some players have been reading this material for 25 years and have that body of knowledge to work form. As such, I’ve found a little reading does provide hooks into the published scenarios.

For example a character’s family in the Drachenfels novel is the same (or is almost the same) as an NPC in one of the 4th edition published adventures. That’s darn good.

Thoughts about WFRP 4th

4th edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was launched recently by Cubicle7 and I’ve recently joined an in-progress game. Learning a new-ish set of rules while playing isn’t ideal. It is darn enjoyable. This post is initial thoughts and grumbles.

TLDR = The complexity in the system is hurting it, and it needs to be streamlined; or given more streamlining options for when quick play is more important than the rolls.

For example the complexity in picking/assigning by race, then mechanics of use in fate/fortune and resilience/whatever points is daft. The points are present to allow a player character to help control the outcomes and fake-out their risks.

Why does this need two sets of points with two separate caps, with different choices for races, and choices to make at character creation on where points should go?

This design choice in 4th edition demonstrates how the mechanics of 2e were reworked from the inside of the system to create 4e, not rewritten holistically.

That’s a strength and a weakness in the system – depending on what crunch you like and how flexible the group is.

I’ll report many months from now when I’ve more than a handful of sessions done, however these are my first impressions:

  • Far better all round than WFRP 3rd edition, which I think was a misguided edition – much like D&D 4e we can pretend it didn’t really happen.
  • Better than 1st edition, which was great for its time but hasn’t aged well.
  • Better than 2nd edition, for now. If this edition does not get the love, support, and books that 2e has, then I think 2e will surpass 4e. I’m worried that Age of Sigmar is already distracting the product owners from more 4e content.

As a product the art style and polish in the graphics is excellent. Every career grouping has an illustration, and you really know you are reading a Warhammer product. I felt the same about the art and material presented by FFG for Deathwatch too – high quality presentation.

The audience of the new edition is certainly the players of 2nd and 1st, which is good and bad in terms of styles of game I tend to play. Many players are solid fans and I think they will like this. The challenge will be growing the playerbase with a better offering vs keeping the existing fans engaged.

The grim dirty and painful setting is present, and very palatable through the core book. However I think there is a missed opportunity to make WFRP more than just a 2e re-vamp – which is what it feels like to me. Everyone is a dirt eating scrub, again. Rare are the knights and heroes, especially when a class is recommended as a random roll. The system offers more flexible movement between classes of character, and seems to lean into letting players choose once play has started.

The system also lets a player choose, and gives a minor xp bump to those who take the random choices. This reflects the previous editions but I don’t think it makes sense as the default way to start a game because several randomly rolled classes has a lower probability of forming a useful group of characters, especially if group makeup will make a difference to the story.

Most “modules” assume the group has a mix of skills and talents, and rolling randomly won’t suit that. So why make that the default? Because early editions liked to make this selection random to reflect how shite life is for the PCs. If you like that then 4th will be ok too.

When generating my character to join the existing group I re-rolled on the random class table three times, as each choice didn’t suit the group. That shows how doing it randomly only suits some games, probably shorter ones. It certainly makes no sense to have attributes for a group’s motivation, when they are forced together without a story premise.

I know too the line – “if you don’t like it, then don’t use it”, yeah well that’s always true. What does the random choice say about the setting and mechanics? It’s a tribute to earlier editions. AD&D had a table for random classes back in the day, and I don’t think players who liked role playing used them often. IMHO.

I’m a fan of keeping the lore, going heavy into setting, and telling stories across those themes, however a huge issue I saw in all editions of Warhammer is the juxtaposition of character mortality vs campaign style games. Some people like playing unskilled peasants (I guess?), but I don’t feel like that is a way to build a long campaign, especially when the characters have very little to keep them from suffering terrible wounds and permanent disasters.

The characters should have the option to play or act heroically, however all the mechanics indicate that failure and pain will result from anything remotely risky, and nobody actually wants to be a hero in the setting. You’ll die. The message appears to be max out your combat skills, avoid combat, and be happy eating dirt and earning pennies. Grumble.

That’s really dull. If I wanted to play a boring scrub I’d play with excel spreadsheets. At present 4e feels like edition 2.5+e. It’s good, but if the GM had said “we play 2nd ed” I’d be just as pleased with my character, and would have had almost the same options in-play.

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