Burning WFRP - setting up a campaign in the Warhammer universe

At some point soon(ish), I’m going to have to run another Burning WFRP game. (WFRP: see end).

I’ve had good success with that! 1 full-on campaign that went into triple-digits sessions, 2 online games and an intense 1-to-1 game.

I would like the input of the Burning Wheel Hive Mind into what minimal changes you’d recommend for my next time out.

The plan is to start off with some form of variant on The Enemy Within campaign, and see where the PCs go.

With that in mind, someone is totally getting the Character Trait Castor Lieberung / Kirsten Lieberung, to get us off on the right (wrong) foot.

Current changes:

  • The difference between high elves (Citadel) / wood elves (Wilder) and “dark elves” (Spite) is political, and, as such is not obvious. “Dark elves” are just elves who have turned to Spite.

  • Corruption is on, and will also be connected to casting magic.

  • Enchantment is on.

As for changes, specifically, I’m looking at 4 main parts:

  • What cultural Traits would you give to the various WFRP countries (the Empire, Bretonnia, Estalia, Tilea, Kislev, etc. etc.)?

  • Given WFRP’s grudge-focused dwarves, would you angle for some sort of Grudge-keeper for all dwarves?

  • How would you handle Halflings? In WFRP, are they just Mannish stock with different cultural traits?

  • Is there any “iconic” lifepath from WFRP that we cannot find in BWG?

In some of the previous games, we had the following cultural traits:

The Empire (Mannish Stock):

  • Patriotic
  • Superstitious
  • Intolerant

Tilea (Mannish Stock):

  • Flamboyant
  • Money Talks
  • Shrewd

Any thoughts, lovely people?

WFRP: Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay is an old RPG, based on Games Workshop’s “Warhammer Fantasy Battles”, etc. set in a grim pseudo-1600s Germany, complete with cults, fanatics, terrible mutations, corruption, monsters, fear and oppression.

I cannot now source the quote to describe the game, but it was something like:

“Do you see that pikeman in that rag-tag unit? 3rd row, 4th in, the dirty one with the limp? Well, I want to play his drunken no good ratcatcher brother on the streets of Altdorf!”

I do love me some WFRP, with our gutter-trash characters who are the only ones brave and foolish enough to stand up to the inequities and threats of the harsh and unfair WFRP world.

Also? Pun names, dark humour, in-jokes, and the art of Ian Miller and John Blanche.


I was trying to get a Warharmmer version going though scheduling seems to have put that into limbo.

The system supports it pretty well. I was dividing sorcery spells into some “generic can be reskinned to any colour” and “specific to a college” categories to give some more flavour. It think it’s also been noted that allowing “any mix-matching” of sorcerer spells can be over powerful.

It think the best description of the warhammer game vibe is “the game where players think they’re playing D&D but really are playing Call of Cthulhu”.


Oh and halfings are essentially Field Roden from the Codex down to sheriffs etc. (this has been observed by others before).


Oh wow! I hadn’t thought of Halflings-as-Field-Roden.

That’s… brilliant.

I’m also going to have to dig deeper on that front, and see whether the rest of the Roden paths might fit for (some of) the Halflings…

As it is, I’m likely to use all the Roden paths for the Skaven, as I love the Field vs. Society thing, and it would allow me to play against some of the default expectations. Of course, the “main” Skaven are likely to be the Society-style Roden, but I’m much happier with more complex and nuanced approaches to these various peoples.

Thank you, @RobH!

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Hrm. The more look at “Halflings use Roden lifepaths”, the more I love it.

Also, that totally means that I’m going to look to tie Halflings and Skaven more tightly together.

Are Skaven effectively mutated Halflings (à la Orcs vs. Elves)?

Do “Halflings” have some sort of enchantment that makes them all look more human than rat?

Do Halflings spend a lot of time on finely crafty human-seeming masks?

Oh! Decisions, decisions!

… and decisions made. Thank you again, @RobH!


Skaven are Halflings who followed a false prophet into the depths of the earth, so hidden Skaven / Halfling legends tell….

They were warped into the True/Corrupt ratty forms (delete as appropriate) by the mystical power and warpstone that they pursued.

Keep the Field vs. Below vs. Society

  • Field = Halflings
  • Society = Skaven
  • Below = mostly Skaven (some Halflings cross-over, especially for city-dwellers)
  • Exile = transition states (mostly Halflings)

When a Halfling moves into the Society sub-setting (Initiate Lifepath), the process turns them into a Skaven. The general Skaven approach is to treat them like any other Skaven. Sometimes, they are held up as a (literally) glowing example of Skaven philosophy.

When a Skaven moves into the Field setting (or Halfling-side of the Below setting), the general Halfling approach is to be supportive and protective of them (and be prepared to hide them from prying outsiders).

The Halfling elders know a ritual that will magically disguise a Skaven as a (hairy) Halfling (except by the light of the Chaos Moon, Morrslieb).

Setting change: use the Roden (tweaked to remove/alter pure Ratty-stuff)

  • Aecer’s Likeness / Halfling (DT)
  • Coat Of Fur / Hardy constitution (C-O)
  • Communal (DT)
  • Enlarged Incisors / [remove]
  • Tail / [remove? or do Halflings cut off their tails at a young age?]
  • Large Ears (DT)
  • Skittish (DT)

Halfling view: cities are inherently risky places, where young Field Halflings can be tempted into Below, and then into the Society itself.

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I think out of the box BW supports most of the campaigns I would like to play in the warhamer universe wonderfully.

I think some of the more “dungeon run” and “high level sorcery” is somewhere you might have to do alot of redesign.

  • Healing can be a problem in base BW if you’re in the middle of nowhere and going into a goblin mine, but aslong as the plot can stand long waits I think that’s fine.
  • Also I think magic is fine the way it is, but it might have too few spells to support more than one sorceror in your campaign (to reflect different colleges of magic etc).

I really love the cultural traits in BW, and how much effect it has in coloring a society in the way that you want it. I think I would alter the cutural traits based on where the campaign is set and what it’s about, so in a small village in Averland about to face the fiercest winter in a hundred years, would be very different, than a game based on Tilean Politics

Bretonnia cultural traits could be very different if your campaign is based in Bretonnia or if it’s in Kemperbad.


Welcome back to the forum, @OlavBB!

YES! Cultural traits as being set by the scale / setting is something that I should consider more often.

Having a set of traits for, say, Nuln vs. Wurstheim would really focus in on the differences in a fascinating way.

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You may be interested in some Warhammer lifepaths that I created: https://takeonrules.com/2018/10/10/burning-wheel-lifepaths-inspired-by-warhammer-fantasy/


Oooh! Awesome.

Thanks @TakeOnRules! That’s going to be looked at much more closely.

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