“This won’t hurt a bit. Before I start, though, you may want to bite down on this leather strop.”
—Anonymous Barber-Surgeon[2a]

Barber-Surgeons provide painful but effective healing to the common folk of the Empire. They are not as learned as Physicians, which is why Physicians maintain a separate guild, but they know quite a lot about anatomy. While they do cut hair and shave, they are more noted for their bleedings, surgeries, and amputations. Barber-Surgeons carry a variety of razor-sharp blades, from small scalpels to enormous bone saws. They have even more sinister looking tools for the most hated of their avocations: dentistry. Many large ships have a dedicated Barber-Surgeon as part of the crew; they are also common in towns and cities.[1a]


“Come to Neuber for all your limb removals! I’ll ’ave your arm off in seconds! I’ll suture it a’fore you even wake up. My work’s so fine you’ll never miss it!”
—Gotthard Neuber, Barber-Surgeon[3a]

Barbers do much more than cut hair. Barbers are surgeons, doctors, and general physicians. If you have an ingrown toenail, you’d see the barber to cut it out. If you need a stump cauterized, a barber is your man. Skilled barbers become Physicians, one of the most esteemed citizens in any city.[4a]

Barber-Surgeons are closely regulated by their guilds, that are, in turn, regulated by the local authorities. When you consider that Barber-Surgeons hold razors to the throats of honest citizens on a daily basis, this is easy to understand. In many places, practising as a Barber-Surgeon without guild authorisation counts as assault with a weapon, a crime that often carries the death penalty. This makes expulsion from the surgeons guild a very serious threat for its members.[2a]

In most areas, the surgeon's guild is tightly controlled by a small group of families who carefully control admission into their circle. Some are primarily interested in keeping competition down, and thus admit very few new members. Others require ordinary members to pay a very large portion of their income to the guild, and ultimately to the controlling masters. Still others require members to pass on information they hear while shaving, or the details of the injuries they are asked to treat. Guilds that gather information may pass it on to the authorities, organised crime, Chaos cults, or all of the above.[2a]

The guild conditions mean that there is almost always demand for the services of unguilded Barber-Surgeons. They might be cheaper, or better able to keep a secret. Guilds are active in hunting down these blacklegs and turning them over to the authorities for punishment. However, in some cases they might offer to allow them to continue operating, in return for information.[2a]

Barber-Surgeons must either deal with the guilds' unreasonable demands, or make sure that the guilds never discover them.[2a]

Little Known Facts

According to an Imperial decree of the time of Magnus the Pious, any alleged physical mutation should be examined by an accredited Barber-Surgeon or Physician, to confirm that it is not natural, before the mutant is executed. The decree has never been repealed, but it is almost always ignored, as the unnatural nature of most mutations is obvious. Executing a mutant without an inspection is, however, still technically illegal.[2a]

Most Barber-Surgeons refuse to work when Morrslieb is full, saying that the razor slips far too often when the Chaos Moon looks down.[2a]

Notable Barber-Surgeons

  • Markus Geissler – Markus grew up in Nuln, the third son of a rich merchant family. In his youth, Markus's doting parents denied him nothing. His elder brothers were expected to take over the family business and join the military, respectively. In turn, his duty was to join the priesthood. It didn’t take. Faith, so easily grasped by His fellow Initiates, seemed a bitter yoke to Markus. The life of a priest was not for him. His family, disgusted by his refusal, abandoned him to his own devices. Markus had turned his sharp mind and his wide education towards his new trades: part time physician, part time adventurer. So far, neither had really paid off, but they certainly hadn't been boring.[5a]
  • Thick Wilhelm – Legend has it that Wilhelm’s huge girth makes Morr unwilling to carry him off, explaining why he survived so many grisly wounds on the battlefront among the Emperor’s Pistoliers. He spent so much time in the wound tent that he soon became a student of the head surgeon, and subsequently left the dangerous world of combat behind to treat wounds rather than cause them. When the war ended he returned to his hometown to set up shop, and had already gained a name for being fast and thorough with the saw. Wilhelm’s hands may be as thick as the rest of him, but they were well regarded for their healing skills, and his number of customers now rivaled the richer, less common physicians in town, a fact that was making them increasingly incensed.[6a]


  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Core Rulebook (2nd Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 32
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Career Compendium (2nd Edition)
    • 2a: pg. 26
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Core Rulebook (4th Edition)
    • 3a: pg. 57
  • 4: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Old World Armoury (2nd Edition)
    • 4a: pg. 94
  • 5: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Realms of Sorcery (2nd Edition)
    • 5a: pg. 247
  • 6: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The WFRP Companion (2nd Edition)
    • 6a: pg. 60

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