I got the starter set for the 4th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay a while ago and gave it a read at the time, but there is nothing like using the materials to actually get a good idea of how good they are and what they contain. Having now run most of the main adventures from the Adventure Book using a mix of pregen and rolled up PCs, and I have also started using the Ubersreik material to plan out a sandbox campaign, so I now have a good enough understanding to provide a reasonable review for others.
What’s in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set?
First let’s see what you actually get! This is from Cubicle7’s site:
With over a hundred pages of adventures, rules, and setting, as well as maps, handouts, custom dice from Q WORKSHOP, Advantage tokens, rules references, ready-made Characters, a simple GM Screen, and more, this boxed set is the perfect starting point for anyone interested in WFRP.
The Adventure Book invites players of all experience levels into the rich, roleplaying playground of Ubersreik. For beginners, the starter adventure, Making the Rounds, introduces the harsh realities of life in the troubled fortress-town and takes you step-by-step through the rules. For more experienced hands, there are 10 scenarios aimed to expand your WFRP games, offering new locations, new characters, and new horrors to uncover. Coming in at 40 pages, The Adventure Book is the ideal launching point for any new campaign, and can keep your WFRP group busy for several months.
The 64-page A Guide to Ubersreik highlights the bloody history and recent invasion of Ubersreik, examines more than 70 locations in the troubled town, details the surrounding fiefdoms, and introduces a wide array of antagonist cults at large in the area. In addition, each entry comes with two adventure hooks, meaning every location, character, and political pitfall the book presents has examples of how to use them on your games of WFRP.
The quality of the materials is great. The dice are very useful and well designed, and the punch out Advantage Tokens are a must for this game. You can also use the box lids as a makeshift GMs screen – they have a map and some basic rules on the inside. Also there are some useful handouts for players: rumours, basic info on how to play, information about the Empire, which is good if players are new to Warhammer, and also a players and GMs map of Ubersreik and the surrounding area.
The Adventure Book
The Adventure Book contains introductory adventures to get your party started if you are new to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, or roleplaying in general. The first part of it involves the PCs getting involved in a big fight, which provides a great way to introduce some of the basic combat rules. They are then accused of a crime they did not commit (in true WFRP fashion!) and are press-ganged into joining the Ubersreik Watch. After that a number of adventures are presented that the PCs can get involved in. There’s no particular order to these, but the idea is to start of with some fairly minor events and then gradually increase the complexity and threat. There’s quite a lot of opportunity for GMs to treat this as a sandbox. I was a little disappointed with this as I would have thought that a new GM might want something a bit more structured. I thought that with the intriguing political situation, the PCs would be thrust into a thrilling conflict of intrigue, but it’s not like that. You could though use the information in The Guide to Ubersreik booklet to introduce such a campaign.
The adventures included are OK in my opinion. There’s some interesting NPCs there and situations, but I didn’t feel that any of them really grabbed my attention. Maybe it’s my failing as a GM, but I felt that they could have been a bit better. Some of the extra adventures presented near the end might prove to be more attending – the littlest Waarghh! looks fun for instance.
The Guide to Ubersreik
For me this is the more useful resource in the medium to long term. I doubt I would run the adventures again, but the background material for Ubersreik is very rich and contains loads of plot hooks – perfect in fact for the sandbox campaign that I have planned out and am about to start soon. There is some great detail on the political situation, which hints at what is happening more and prompts some ideas for a GM. To me it feels like this was designed to give GMs ideas for their own campaigns – which has been the result for me at least.
I was a bit disappointed not to see the political situation in Ubersreik developed further in the adventures provided, perhaps a missed opportunity to provide an opening campaign, but I can see why the writers perhaps didn’t want to inhibit a GMs own plans either. I have also heard that there is some link with the wider Enemy Within campaign as well with regards to the Emperor taking over Ubersreik – so maybe that will make things clearer.
A Note on the Pregen Characters
For my group we used two of the pregen characters, while the other player rolled their own. Unfortunately, as released it’s not clear how much starting XP and advances the pregens have. They’re not full character sheets and miss off some skills. This has now been rectified with an update to the PDF. But that update was some time after I had started running the adventure. I did guess though that the pregens were quite overpowered, so allowed the other PC some extra XP.
Upping the level of the pregens feels like a curious decision. I would have expected them to be starting characters, but they’re actually a bit overpowered. The lack of explanation also makes them hard to run if you have the full rules or are thinking of taking the adventure further.
On a positive note the pregens do come with a load of back story and also ways to link them with other members of the party, which I liked. The gatefold character sheets look very good as well. There are even mini-adventures in the Adventure booklet for each of the pregens as well,
For your money the Starter Set is a great resource. Although I think you would need to get the main rulebook pretty soon after if you liked the game. The biggest negative is the lack of detail on XP and advances for the pregens. The main positives are the great background material for Ubersreik and all the plot hooks.
Great value for money in my opinion.
I hope you enjoyed my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set Review!