"A Grim World of Perilous Adventure"
Warhammer is set in a high fantasy world analogous to Europe in the high medieval period. Weapons and armor are well-developed and powerful militaries make use of both gunpowder and sorcery. At the heart of the Old World's turmoil is the everpresent threat of Chaos. Hordes of beastmen and mutants exhort the supremacy of the four Ruinous Powers, while secretive cults infiltrate every city in the land. At the heart of the setting is the Empire, founded by Sigmar, ruler and, later, deity.
The setting incorporates elements of swords-and-sorcery, "heavy metal" aesthetics, epic fantasy, and satire. Like Tolkien's Middle Earth, the world is vulnerable to the predations of a seemingly unstoppable evil power, and Warhammer pays homage to Tolkien's Middle-Earth and Dungeons & Dragons with its humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs, and trolls. The Empire resembles the Holy Roman Empire, flavored with Mithraism, pulp-inspired sorcery, and grim humor. Elements of Lankhmar, Discworld, Jabberwocky, and popular history can be found in the setting.
Warhammer uses a simple percentile roll-under for most mechanics. Damage in combat is rolled on a single die. Magic in First Edition used a different roll-under, while the Second Edition uses a special Magic characteristic.
Unlike many other games, which define generic classes, Warhammer includes dozens of Careers, including everything from the archetypal Rat Catcher to the craft Thief to the daring Apprentice Wizard. Advanced Careers offer paths for more experienced characters. Advancement chiefly takes the form of increasing primary attributes and acquiring new skills, then moving on to new Careers.
The Warhammer combat system is famously bloody, and characters can quickly be maimed, killed, or driven to retirement for injudicious choices. Insanity and mutation are other possible rewards for adventurers.
Publication History Edit
The original edition appeared in 1985.
The Second Edition appeared in 2005 under Black Industries. When BI closed its doors, the license went to Fast Forward. The new edition tweaked the advancement rules, improved the careers, and updated the setting to more closely reflect the current version of Warhammer Fantasy Battles and related spin-offs. Most significantly, it introduced a new magic system with the capricious danger of Tzeentch's Curse.