FAL General: Whither WFRP?

As the winter is approaching, and my working hours are loosing their cloying grip of me, I begin to ponder the future of WFRP once again. The most interesting and terrifying event is of course the release of third edition WFRP. But in its shadow there are many other developments, both alarming and comforting.
Alarming, although no longer news, is of course the closure of Warpstone magazine. John Foody has done a remarkable job at the helm of a publication that I rank as one of the best efforts in the history of roleplaying games. If there were a WFRP Hall of Fame, John Foody should be inducted, only shortly after Graeme Davis, Jim Bambra, Phil Gallagher and James Wallis.
Although John has denied it, I will play the unusual role of conspiracy herald; Warpstone closes at issue 30. The last issue will be published after Fantasy Flight Games published edition 3 of WFRP. Coincidence? John says so, and who am I to contradict a future WFRP Hall of Fame inductee?
After Warpstone, the shining star of fan publications have been Liber Fanatica. I’m not sure what that gang is up to, but I’ve got some e-mails to send out to find out. Stay tuned! I’m sure they have some splendid news, or maybe apocalyptic tidings, to dole out. All in all it should be interesting.
And the latest news regarding the frolics of the Games Workshop legal department don’t bode well for fan sites and said fans’ relations with and attitude towards GW and by extension FFG. Grim news of the potential closure of the Dark Reign web site reached me last week, but those fans are rallying and complying with the “Cease and Desist” letter sent from GW legal. I can’t be alone in thinking that GW have picked up too much inspiration from their admittedly splendid Judge Dredd RPG from 1985. Maybe a new motto would be pertinent:
“Games Workshop. We are the law!”
Truth be told, I’m not too worried about that. Apparently GW are going after sites that use their own texts and images, and if for example I myself do refrain from cribbing from GW I should be ok. We’ll see … until a C&D explodes in my mailbox, The Altdorf Correspondent is here to stay … albeit intermittently, I must admit.
Well, you might be thinking about what on Earth I find comforting with the current situation for WFRP.
Well, one comforting thing that has happened is that fans of WFRPv1 and WFRPv2 have now found more common ground than ever before. What seemed like gargantuan issues of rules incompatibilities only a year ago, now seems like trifles that a smattering of house rules will set right, at least when compared to the new enemy: WFRPv3.
And even WFRPv3 makes concessions to the demands of the fan base: apparently the campaign date is set before the Storm of Chaos. Which would have pleased a lot of WFRP players if that had been the case for WFRPv2 as well. I’m happy about it, although to be frank I mostly ignored the SoC in my own writings and my own campaign. I even figured that it could be used creatively and in the spirit of WFRP, something a few fans were adamant in telling me I was wrong about. Well, it seems GW and FFG thought the same thing (that I was wrong) and now WFRP is pre-SoC. Whether SoC ever happened … or “happens”, actually … is still up for discussion.
“Games Workshop. Retconning For The Greater Good!”
Yeah, well it does pose a little dilemma for me, since my writings so far have factored in SoC … ah, what the hell. I’ll just roll back the whole thing and go with the current timeline. It’s not like angry fans of SoC in WFRP are going to storm my front door demanding I stay with the WFRPv2 timeline.
And finally, one comforting thing is the fact that WFRPv3 finally comes out. And it’s in a box, which I’ve been clamouring for for ages and ages. RPG’s came in boxes when I was a lad, so that’s clearly the best way to publish an RPG! If WFRPv1 had been packaged in a box, I would have loved it even more … if such a thing is possible.


WFRP: Speaking out of turn a.k.a. WFRP 3 confirmed?

Well, I’m not fond of rumours. In fact, I thought that the the rumours of the impending release of WFRPv3 were a load of hogwash, especially now that FFG has started releasing the WFRPv2 books in PDF format. I was planning a post where I made the case that WFRPv2 was going strong … well, at least not dying, based on the PDF release news.

But then this little mortar bounced into my vicintity:

Blog entry revealing playtest of WFRPv3

The important bit is the following:

A coupe (sic) of weeks ago, our regular roleplaying group was privileged enough to playtest 3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

Normally, that wouldn’t fly with me, but Graham McNeill is a writer for the Black Library, so it makes the source more legit than what is normally the case in these situations. And mr. McNeill will probably get a rather sharply worded e-mail from FFG. Jeez man, that’s one way to spill the beans, I guess.

Read the entry. I am not happy with what I’m reading, but I will reserve judgment until I hear more detail from the horse’s mouth. It could be that the game described could be just what WFRP needs to break into the mainstream. My adoption will depend largely on if this hypothetical game is compatible with WFRPv2 or not …

Nah, who am I kidding? If it’s got “Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay” on it, I’ll play it.


WFRP: State of the Game (1)

It’s been an exhilarating few weeks for the WFRP fan community. First Games Workshop closed down Black Industries and cancelled WFRP and WH40kRP, creating a buzz among the fans trying to get to grips with what this meant for WFRP and the fan support the game is known and loved for. Would people continue with the second edition or would first edition prove to be the choice of those who continued producing fan material? Or had the second edition fractured fandom into two opposing factions, where the editions would branch out from each other and never again be the one true game? Did the cancellation of BI herald a new dark age for the game and for the fans?
As discussions raged back and forth, GW dropped another bomb. Fantasy Flight Games had licensed the boardgames of GW, and also the roleplaying games of BI. Confusion reigned. What did this mean to the game? How much would it be supported? Who were FFG? And what were their plans? Was the dark age averted? Now some time has passed. We have recieved a little more info, but lots of questions remain. Also given the history of the game and its handling by GW, nothing can be said for sure regarding the future of WFRP.

My own speculation, based on nothing more than gut feeling at the moment, is that FFG will begin by focusing on WH40kRP. It is, after all the King of New Games at the moment, and the momentum it enjoys must be harnessed into profitability for FFG. WFRP will therefore receive less attention, and we’re probably looking more to a consolidation of the game line, with a rerelease of the core rules and selected supplements to keep the line active.

I believe that FFG will keep much the same policy regarding fan material that BI did, mostly because it’s easier to maintain a status quo, and partly because it really is GW who will be interested in fan usage of their IP. I don’t think FFG really cares, unless it directly hurts their releases but then again I think it will be GW who handles the axe, should any matter arise.

So basically, the state of the game is that WFRP is one of the strongest roleplaying brands out there at the moment, with a solid reputation for high quality, award-winning supplements. It is often described as fast and fun and second to none when it comes to online support. Given the strategy of Wizards of the Coast in regards to Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, it is possible that WFRP will be able to pick up some of those who feel that D&D is becoming way to focused on minis and battlemats and who are looking for a more rules light roleplaying experience. Make no mistake, D&D will still be the juggernaut, but WFRP is often mentioned as an alternative on various message boards, so some new recruits are bound to show up from there.

Within a month or two we will hear about who’s going to be the WFRP developer. His or her first priority will be to get The Thousand Thrones out the door, and then look into a publishing strategy, which will involve a reprinting of the core rules. Expect FFG to keep their plans regarding WFRP secret for another month or two, with the possible exception of a release of The Thousand Thrones. By GenCon 2008, I’m sure we will be told more about what’s going to happen.

Online support for the game will come from fans rather than from the publisher, as I believe that FFG as a company is not ready to embrace the same strategy as BI when it comes to the Internet. This will make fan support even more important for the game line, and hopefully FFG can make some provision for this on their official WFRP web site. Among fandom, not much will change. The lines have been drawn in the sand, and with continued support from FFG most attention will be given to second edition material. The large body of existing first edition fan writings will remain relevant to the game, but I see little movement to add significantly to it from any party, with a few notable exceptions.