Games

Ashes of Middenheim

WHFRPDM: Andy Wright

Synopsis: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay shares the same Germanic, doom-laden background as the Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB) wargame from which it originates. Since it is a game devoted to individual characters rather than to entire armies, WFRP depicts the setting in much closer detail than its wargame counterpart. This change of focus also transforms WFRP into a more grim and perilous game than WFB.

The primary setting of WFRP is the Empire, a region of the Old World based loosely on the Holy Roman Empire, with a number of baronies, counties and dukedoms fashioned after the fiefs of elector counts and dukes. Other prominent regions include Bretonnia, based on medieval France with strong Arthurian mythology themes; Kislev, based on medieval Poland and Imperial Russia; and the Wasteland, whose sole city of Marienburg is based on the Low Countries. Other lands not explored as thoroughly but still frequently mentioned include the fragmented lands of Estalia and Tilea, fashioned after Spain and the city-states of Renaissance Italy respectively, and Araby, a mixture of Arabic Caliphate and Persia. Other lands with real-life analogies include Cathay (China), Ind (India), Naggaroth (northern North America), Ulthuan (Atlantis), Lustria (Mesoamerica), Norsca (Scandinavia) and the island of Albion (British Isles); however, very little official information has been released for these locales.

While the setting of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay shares traits, such as the existence of elves and goblins, with other popular fantasy settings, it is chronologically slightly later than that of most fantasy games – close to the early Renaissance era in terms of technology and society. Firearms are readily available, though expensive and unreliable, and a growing mercantile middle class challenges the supremacy of the nobility.

One of the most identifiable features of the Warhammer setting is Chaos. While the forces of Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy Battle are depicted primarily in the form of marauding dark knights and beastmen, Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is an insidious force gnawing at the fabric of society. Secret cults abound among all strata of society, seeking to overthrow the social order or to further their own power. Mutants lurk in the forests outside the great cities, while the Skaven (a race of rats) tunnel beneath them.

Magic is widely feared and reviled, and not without reason. Magic is derived from – and thus corrupted by – Chaos, and its practitioners tread a fine line between death or corruption and relative safety.