FAL Interview: James Wallis, publisher extra-ordinaire

I got back into WFRP during the late nineties, after a break while I worked at a paper mill outside of London. What brought me back was the fact that the game was picked up by a small outfit called Hogshead Publishing, who started issuing reprints and new material. The head of this outfit was James Wallis, and over the years he carried the banner of WFRP fans all over the world

Then suddenly it was all over, and James Wallis faded from the roleplaying scene. Well, faded is maybe the wrong way of putting it … he left. Dramatically and entertainingly, as I think many had come to expect of him. But that was then, and this is now. James Wallis is back, and I hope it will be with a vengeance.

The Altdorf Correspondent (TAC): Thanks for doing this, and thanks for the picture of you with the adorable little troll on your back. That’s the first time I’ve seen a picture of you, actually. Tell the readers a bit about yourself.

James Wallis (JW): I’m the guy who used to run Hogshead Publishing, the company that published Warhammer FRP between 1995 and 2003. I’m British, I live in London, and I’ve been writing and publishing things about RPGs since I was 14. My best-known games are the card-game Once Upon a Time, which has sold a quarter of a million copies now, and The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen which is about to come out in a new edition from Mongoose Publishing. I used to hold the Guinness World Record for marathon AD&D playing. I think of myself as “tall, dark and handsome”, except I’m not very dark, or handsome.

TAC: What have you been up to after your exit from the scene? Burnt any more barges?

JW: I wrote a couple of Warhammer novels for the Black Library (Mark of Damnation and Mark Of Heresy), then went to work in the film industry for a bit where I scripted some documentaries and got to write dialogue for Anthony Daniels in two short films about Star Wars. More recently I helped UK ARG supremos the Hon Brothers to set up their company Six to Start, and I’m now jointly running Spaaace, a games-consultancy that works with TV companies, film companies, government agencies and other businesses to show them how to implement games as part of what they do or sell, and Magnum Opus Press which is my new publishing company. I have not burnt any barges, or bridges.

TAC: What prompted you to come back?

JW: Steve Jackson kicked my ass. Seriously. He asked me if Steve Jackson Games could release a digital version of Baron Munchausen, and I said there were some things I wanted to fix in the basic game so I’d take a couple of weeks to update the manuscript. That was two years ago. Steve never let up. The game is now twice as long as it was before, with a variant set of rules and a version for “children, the inbred and the very drunk”. And as I was doing that my friend Dave Morris and I were discussing how he could get his fantasy RPG Dragon Warriors, which had been a big hit in the UK in the 1980s, back into print; and I discovered I still had all the artwork for my own aborted fantasy-parody game Frup. It looked like there was an opportunity to make some money.

TAC: What has the reception been to the new company, Magnum Opus Press?

JW: Reaction has been good. We’ve only launched two books so far, but the first one–Game Night by Jonny Nexus, a very funny novel about an RPG played by the gods–was nominated for an ENnie award. And a lot of people are looking forward to seeing the new Munchausen and the revised Dragon Warriors.

TAC: What’s your relationship to WFRP now? Do you play the game?

JW: I don’t do any tabletop role-playing these days. I’m married with a year-old daughter, which has eaten a lot of my time. I do run an excellent World of Warcraft guild and we have a lot of fun.

TAC: What was it that primarily attracted you to WFRP as a license?

JW: Mostly it was the fact the licence was available. I wasn’t a Warhammer or WFRP player. I knew the game had a strong fanbase, and I was looking for a commercial property that would give Hogshead visibility and commercial security. I’d been writing RPG material professionally for ten years, I’d seen any number of UK companies start up and go bust because they believed that having a good game was the same as having a commercial game. Back in the day starting an RPG company in the UK was incredibly hard because the UK market wasn’t large enough to sustain it, and it took a lot to get the US – still the largest market for RPGs in the world – to sit up and pay attention. So I knew I needed a big name with a lot of recognition, and when a friend mentioned that the WFRP licence was available, I knew that was what I’d been looking for.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP book (any edition)?

JW: Marienburg. Anthony Ragan wrote a fantastic living, breathing city, the artists brought it to life, and I think it’s a terrific piece of work.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP fan material (any edition)?

JW: Warpstone. From its earliest days it’s produced material of a quality that would put a lot of actual games publishers to shame.

TAC: A catchphrase of WFRP is “Grim’n Gritty”. What does this mean to you, and how does this influence your game?

JW: Well, as I said I don’t actually play WFRP. The decision to publish it was a commercial one. But in game-style fantasy, for me “grim and gritty” means realistic. I can’t believe in worlds filled with treasure-seeking paladins or wizards who are basically walking flamethrowers. In games, ‘grim and gritty’ tends to mean that stuff like falls and poison will kill you, instead of leaving you with an easy saving-throw and often no damage at all. If I wanted to play a superhero game, I’d play a superhero game.

I know I said I play World of Warcraft. That’s different. I play it for the game. I hate the background and the characters. I don’t know anyone who gives a damn about the background of WoW. The Warhammer world has a depth and richness that isn’t just fun, it’s also believable.

TAC: What’s the iconic WFRP career for you?

JW: Either Witch-hunter or Rat-catcher.

TAC: What’s the iconic WFRP opponent for you?

JW: Chaos in all its forms. There’s a lot talked about Warhammer’s debt to Michael Moorcock, but in terms of visual imagery the Games Workshop vision of Chaos is completely original, utterly distinctive, and still terrifying. And the idea of a force of Chaos that isn’t balanced by an equivalent force of Law is wonderfully bleak. The idea that the inhabitants of the Warhammer world are basically fighting a rearguard action, that Chaos will eventually win and will destroy the world, and that’s inevitable… I love that kind of fatalism.

TAC: So … Dragon Warriors. What’s that all about?

JW: Dragon Warriors is a bit like WFRP, really. It’s a 1980s game with a post-D&D ruleset, based in a world that’s recognisably modelled on a historical version of Europe. The difference is that Dragon Warriors is a simpler, faster game with fewer character classes, and the background isn’t pre-Renaissance, it’s post-Crusades, so there are a lot of unemployed knights wandering the land looking for a fight.

The other difference is that the world of Dragon Warriors is very folkloric. Superstition and myth play an incredibly important part in people’s lives, and that gives the setting a flavour and depth that I’ve not found in many other fantasy games.

TAC: What prompted the rerelease of Dragon Warriors?

JW: Dragon Warriors was written in the 1980s by my friends Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson, and I’ve talked to them off and on about reissuing it. I didn’t do it at Hogshead because I felt the game was too close to Warhammer FRP and they’d have caused some confusion in the market. Once I decided that I missed publishing and thought about getting back into it, it seemed like a natural choice.

TAC: What are your publishing plans? Any supplements coming? Adventures?

JW: Dragon Warriors was originally issued as a series of six paperback-sized books, each one with some mechanics, a new character class, some new monsters and some adventures. We’re reformatting it so all the classes and rules are in one book, and then there will be a separate Bestiary and three campaign-length adventures–nothing as epic as The Enemy Within, but still pretty cool. Beyond that, we’re talking to several established games writers, including some old names from the Hogshead days of WFRP, about expanding the game in different directions. I can’t announce anything yet, but there are many plans afoot.

TAC: What would a WFRP fan find of interest in the Dragon Warriors game?

I think they’d enjoy the setting a lot. The tone, the sense of darkness and the fact that most of the world is unknown, unknowable and probably able to kick your ass… that’s all quite similar. There are no mighty armies marching across the landscape, no legendary heroes, and the world is much less organised than in WFRP – no elector-counts or anything like that, but the feudal system of lords and barons is in place, and much of the currency isn’t about gold, it’s about debts of honour or fealty. It’d probably be quite simple to drop the WFRP system straight onto the DW background, it would fit well and a lot of the careers would translate straight across.

TAC: What do you think about the future of WFRP?

JW: I think it’s a huge shame that Games Workshop lost faith in it and cancelled the second edition, but Fantasy Flight is one of the powerhouses of the games industry these days and the game couldn’t have found a better home. I look forward to seeing what they do with it, and which direction they take it. The existence of Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, the forthcoming MMORPG set in the Old World, can only be a good thing for the potential market of a tabletop version.

TAC: What do you think about the future of roleplaying games in general?

JW: Ah… I’ve been doing this rant for years, it’s the reason I left the industry in the first place back in 2003. There is a future for RPGs, but the games industry as a whole is not interested in following it. RPGs and video-games had their infancy at about the same time. In video-games, the state of the art is World of Warcraft, GTA4, Call of Duty 4, Braid, Rock Band, Wii Fit. In RPGs, we’ve got to D&D 4e. Imagine if video games had taken thirty years to produce a fourth edition of Space Invaders or Pong, and that was the most-played market-leading game.

That’s where the RPG market is. And that’s why a typical new RPG from an established company will sell less than 2000 copies, which is not enough to make money if you’re trying to do this as a proper job. We as an industry are selling a product that’s almost identical to what it was thirty years ago, except for better-quality printing and nicer art. Most of the RPG market is driven by nostalgia. The number of new players coming in is negligible. Magnum Opus is around for the long haul, but don’t expect us to be focusing all our energy on publishing traditional RPGs.

Wow! I never knew, or rather never bothered to find out, that James wrote Once upon a time, one of my favourite games ever! When it comes to WFRP, it was Hogshead’s endorsement of Warpstone that prompted me to check the magazine out, something I have never regretted. So in more ways than one, James Wallis has added to my library of extra-ordinary game experiences. Although I never really got the hang of Baron Münchausen. I guess I was too busy reading and rereading PuppetLand. Now, I’ve got to get my hands on Game Night and Dragon Warriors when it is released in October. I still remember those covers from ads in White Dwarf …

A great many thanks to James Wallis for accepting to do this interview, and we hope to see a lot more of Magnum Opus Press in the future!


FAL Interview: Wim van Gruisen, Fanatical Editor

One of the many things WFRP is known for is its fans. Some are fans of the first edition, some are fans of the second edition. Some are just fans of WFRP. That’s how I think of Wim van Gruisen, a lauded writer of fan published scenarios and, together with Henrik Grönberg and Jude Hornborg, one of the movers and shakers behind the terrific fan publication Liber Fanatica.

I first took notice of Wim and his co-conspirators with the initial release of Liber Fanatica, and I immediately identified with the idea of fan material building bridges between the two editions that was expressed there. After that I eagerly perused the follow-up releases of the LF, and followed Wim’s posts under the moniker of Whymme, on the Black Industries forums and now on the FFG forums. His posts are often thoughtful, constructive, and I have a feeling Wim is always trying to see several sides to an issue, avoiding to be locked up in one interpretation of rules or background.

The Altdorf Correspondent (TAC): Tell the readers a bit about yourself.

Wim van Gruisen (Whymme): I live in Maastricht, the Netherlands. A nice old town with lots of history, which is quite inspiring for games like WFRP. 🙂 I’ve been gaming for almost twenty years now, but have become active in fandom only recently. Mostly WFRP, but I’ve done some stuff for games like Cyberpunk and Over the Edge as well. Somewhere in the back of my head and buried deep in the files in my computer are some ideas to write my own RPG as well.

TAC: How and why did you start playing WFRP?

Whymme: WFRP was the first real RPG I ever encountered, really. A few years before I had found a series of “Choose your own adventure” books, somewhat like the Fighting Fantasy series, but the Bloodsword books (which you can still download from here) were better written and had a unique feature; you could play it with up to four persons, in four different roles. Anyway, back then RPGs were very unknown in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. I found a very used WFRP rulebook in the second-hand section of an English bookstore in Amsterdam, bought it, and was hooked. Wrote my first adventure not much later, and it was a terrible railroad. Back at the time you couldn’t find any of those funny shaped dice; the first few sessions we played, we had a table that converted 3d6 rolls into d100 results, until I ran across some polyhedral dice in a toy store in Luxemburg. Really, back in the day I had to scrounge my RPG necessities from anywhere I could get them.

TAC: What was it that primarily attracted you to WFRP?

Whymme: Availability, mainly. As you might have gathered from the story above, RPGs were not really a dime a dozen at the time. After I got my WFRP books, some copies of D&D adventures and “Das Schwarze Auge”, both translated into Dutch, began appearing in Dutch toy stores, but they didn’t really become a great success. I only learned more about RPGs when I went to the UK for three months as part of a student exchange program. I saw that more games existed, found out about White Dwarf (which had just started publishing their legendary Marienburg stuff), and bought my second RPG – Cyberpunk 2020. Looking back, I don’t think that it is a coincidence that my first two RPGs both were so grim and gritty.

TAC: Any other roleplaying games that you enjoy?

Whymme: There are lots of good, almost perfect RPGs around. I have some of them here, on my shelves, but I doubt that I’d ever play them. I like Ars Magica for the interesting setting (our medieval world, but with the legends being true) and the great magic system. Pendragon for the evocative Arthurian setting (sorry, but Knights of the Grail just doesn’t cut it). Amber for showing me new possibilities to play and to GM, and Feng Shui to a lesser extent similarly. Blue Planet and GURPS Transhuman Space are brilliant SF settings, and Over the Edge is a great rules-light, story-focused game, and I’d love to run a campaign one time using that system, and a setting fueled by GURPS Voodoo, GURPS CABAL, GURPS Illuminati, and so on.

But ultimately, a game is as good as the players it gets. The most brilliant setting and game mechanics get dulled if played by an uninspired group, while a good group will have fun playing almost anything.

TAC: Tell us a bit about the Liber Fanatica project.

Whymme: Well, it’s lots of fun. What more do you want to know?

TAC: What prompted the creation of LF?

Whymme: The playtest for version 2, really. That playtest, the way it was set up and executed, is a story in itself. But in the end, we playtesters were presented a final version of the rules as they were going to be, and a number of us were not really satisfied with that. During the playtest Henrik Grönberg and I often found ourselves having the same opinions on issues, and we started showing each other alternate rules that we’d written. And we decided to work together on a set of additional and alternative rules and comments.

Jude Hornborg, Herr Arnulfe on the forums, had presented a cool article during the playtests. Henrik and I liked it a lot, and we asked Jude permission to use that article and invited him to join us. He accepted and became the third member of the group.

Some others wanted to cooperate as well, and joined, but several dropped out again. We ended up with four members, the fourth one being James Walkerdine, who is mostly responsible for our lay-out.

TAC: How hard is it to get people to contribute to LF?

Whymme: Well, LF VI is really the first time where we are actively looking for people to write new stuff. Much more often we have decided on a theme and we find that people are already presenting ideas on the internet that fit that theme. And so we ask them for permission to use those ideas in our issues. And most of the time they have no objection, and are happy to have an outlet for their ideas, to see it being published.

LF V, as you probably know, will present a detailed overview of Wurtbad, the finest city in the Empire. The next issue will have a number of adventures set in that city. Mainly Cthulhu-like investigative/horror scenarios (a type of adventure that has been neglected so far). And we are open for people who would like to contribute such a scenario. Anyone who would like to write such a scenario for LF VI can contact me.

TAC: Are there any other creations of yours that you are especially proud of?

Whymme: Well, I like my WFRP website. And the adventures that I’ve written; I’ve written and mastered two scenarios for TimCon (the world’s largest roleplaying convention that is wholly dedicated to WFRP – there are about twenty participants each year) which both have been great successes, and a third scenario has been runner-up in last year’s scenario competition.

TAC: What’s the advantages and disadvantages of creating fan material?

Whymme: The advantage is that you can share your ideas with a larger group of fans. And if they tell you that they like what you’ve done, it’s quite an ego boost 🙂

The main disadvantage is the time it costs. When I write something and get it ready for publication, I want it not only to be a good idea, but also well executed, with pretty pictures, good writing, spiffy lay-out. And that only adds to the time.

TAC: A catchphrase of WFRP is “Grim’n Gritty”. What does this mean to you, and how does this influence your game?

Whymme: I think that this is a bit overblown, really. Some people make it seem like WFRP is all about blood and mud and grit, everyone’s poor and it’s raining all the time, and your favourite pet just died or mutated into some Chaos monster. I see WFRP generally as quite a bit lighter and more optimistic than that. It is just not a game for ancient Greek style of heroes, people who are clearly superior to normal people and who eat giants and three-headed hydra’s for breakfast. My standard WFRP is about people who try to make a living, but in doing so get hindered by all sorts of problems and inconveniences that, looking back years later, can be described as ‘adventures’. I’m not a big fan of the idea proposed in the rulebook (both in first and second edition) that the PCs are ex-ratcatchers, tradesmen, and so on, who willingly stop doing what they did for a living and instead voluntarily go looking for the discomfort and danger that is referred to as “adventure”. People who willingly do that, giving up their daily life in order to get into mortal situations, should start the game with more than a few insanity points, IMHO. Notwithstanding what I said at the beginning of this paragraph, the Warhammer world is still one where death is cheap and omnipresent, and you’d be a fool to look it up out of boredom.

One important part of WFRP is the humor. Or at least, it used to be so in the first edition. There were those awful puns, but also some great situations like a goblin wearing the dress and jewelry of a sorceress, thinking that they’d give him magic power. It was great to describe the scene when the PCs ran into this transvestite goblin waving his hands and muttering an arcane language. This humor is something I miss in much of the second edition.

TAC: How much humour do you inject into you WFRP game, and how do you do it?

Whymme: The amount of humour depends on the game and the players. Most of the games I run tend to have a lot of humour in them, but a large part of that comes from the players. A GM shouldn’t be funny; he should present the opportunity for the players to be funny. The GM shouldn’t present a clown throwing cream pies; he should just tell the PCs that there is a table with cream pies and wait until they start throwing.

I admit a weakness for puns and for obscure (and not so obscure) references, though. There are usually a lot of those in my scenarios. “Arrows of Outrageous Fortune” has a bookmaker called Wilhelm Hügel – that is a direct translation of William Hill, the UK betting agent. That scenario was rife with silly names like that. I toned things down quite a bit for “The Legend of Wolfgang von Horn”, but I couldn’t resist naming the bard Robert Zimmermann. If you don’t see why that is funny (or, well, groanworthy), google for the name.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP book (any edition)?

Whymme: Difficult question. There are a number of good books; for WFRP1 I love the first three parts of the TEW setting, and the Marienburg sourcebook is a thing of wonder. Second edition … I think that I’d go with both the Tome of Corruption and the Tome of Salvation. They do an excellent job in deepening the WFRP world. That said, Sigmar’s Heirs is very good as well; I think that it loses a few points for not including maps of the regions it describes.

There are a number of other good books on my shelf, but I haven’t read them all yet. Books like Children of the Horned Rat or Realm of the Ice Queen look like they’re good, but they cover a rather specialised part of the setting, and as long as my group doesn’t go there, the information just isn’t as interesting to me as those books that I do need.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP fan material (any edition)?

Whymme: Apart from the Liber Fanatica and my own website, you mean? Then I’d go with the things that kept WFRP alive after Games Workshop gave up printing RPGs (the first time), and after Hogshead did the same. The products of that fan community, like Warpstone, TimCon and Strike to Stun have been very important for WFRP, and still are.

TAC: What’s the iconic WFRP opponent for you?

Whymme: Humans. All those rats and goblins and bloodthirsters are very nice and all, but for me WFRP has always been about the evil that people do to each other. We were talking about grim and gritty, and I believe that showing what man is capable of is far grittier than introducing bumbling orcish sword fodder or a skaven society that seems to have walked straight out of Paranoia. Sure, the beastmen and chaos gods and such are great decoration, but in the end what makes adventures interesting are human weaknesses and the problems they cause.

TAC: What could we have more of in WFRP?

Whymme: Good adventures, good setting information. A very active fan base. Can we ever have enough of that?

TAC: What could we have less of in WFRP?

Whymme: The simplistic part of the imagery in WFB. Bad adventures. Game companies that stop producing WFRP.

TAC: What’s the status of WFRP in your home country?

Whymme: Not sure, really. If you look at the forums, you see that a number of active posters come from the Netherlands. So there must be more groups playing WFRP than just mine. I just never met them.

A couple of years ago we tried to organise a WFRP-con for Dutch-speaking WFRP players (from the Netherlands and Belgium – and we planned to run a line of English language adventures for furriners who wanted to join), but in the end that attempt fell flat. Perhaps we should try again some time.

TAC: What are your hopes for the future of WFRP?

Whymme: WFRP has always been a fan effort. It was fan community that made the game survive when the publishers gave up on it, and it was that same community that gave the game its tone and themes. And even when the game got new life and a new edition, lots of worthwhile material has been produced by fans of the game. If anything, I hope that this fan material and the fan community will continue to be a big part of the game; I cannot imagine WFRP without it.

A WFRP without an active fan community is indeed a bleak prospect. Projects like Liber Fanatica are incredibly important to that community, both for the creativity it showcases and for the wealth of additional background and source material it creates, but also because it brings fans together to write, to create, to build on the community. Wim’s, Henrik’s and Jude’s enthusiasm and their attitude of “it can be done” is contagious, and I hope many more catch the disease!

So if you haven’t done so yet, download the Liber Fanatica releases. They’ll make your game richer and more exciting, and what else can we wish for?

I thank Wim for taking his time, and eagerly await the next installment in the Liber Fanatica series!


FAL Interview: A short chat with Steve Darlington

The first time I was made aware of Steve Darlington was at RPGnet. He posted in what turned into one of the funniest threads ever on any site, and after a few good additions to the thread in question he wrote a Monty Python riff based on the spanish inquisition sketch. Pure genius. Ahem … well it was laugh out loud funny at least. Lines from that post still grace my sig at RPGnet.

After that I followed Steve’s posts with some interest, mostly to see if he would deliver more funny moments. Which he did, again and again. And in between that he posted thoughts about gaming and plot seeds and what have you. Posts that became one of the many reasons for visiting RPGnet, apart from the highly amusing flame wars.

So when it came to my attention that Steve was writing on WFRP supplements, I considered that some very good news. It was interesting to see what he would come up with, and for sure, his work on Children of the Horned Rat (with Rob Schwalb and Gary Astleford) and Night’s Dark Masters (with Jody MacGregor) didn’t disappoint me. I have yet to read through Realm of the Ice Queen (a collaboration with David Chart, Andy Law and Graham McNeill) but I’m sure I’ll enjoy that book too. And there are other fans out there, who asked me to do an interview with the distant Aussie. Steve volunteered and I quickly shot off the questions. He managed to return the answers in between being a guest of honour at GenCon Oz and trying to get some well-earned sleep. He also sent a picture of him holding a … beaver of some sorts, I think.

The Altdorf Correspondent (TAC): Tell the readers a bit about yourself.

Steve Darlington: I live in Brisbane, Australia. I have been gaming for twenty something years but am relatively new to freelancing. I’ve worked on Children of the Horned Rat, Realm of the Ice Queen and Night’s Dark Masters. I’ve also worked on a few other products like Freeport and Grimm and I’m just about to do some work for Vampire.

TAC: How and why did you start playing WFRP?

Steve Darlington: That’s far too complicated a question to really answer here, because it took about ten years from the first time I encountered the game to the first time I actually got to play it. The first time I encountered it I didn’t get to play but my friend did and the next day he told me about how cool it was using the Curse spell to turn people’s hair purple, which sounded pretty awesome.

TAC: What was it that primarily attracted you to WFRP?

Steve Darlington: Adventures. I’ve always had a lot of trouble writing these things and as a young gamer I would buy any module I could find. I stumbled onto an awesome double pack in the bargain bin of my old gaming store: The Enemy Within/Shadows of Bogenhafen book and the Restless Dead book bundled into one. As an incredibly stroke of luck, these books contain some of the best adventures ever written for anything in them. I was hooked.

TAC: How did you land the job of writing for WFRP?

Steve Darlington: The same way anyone gets a writing job: I sent off a resume and a sample to the line developer. I had a friend who was working on Freeport with some Green Ronin staff and he’d heard they were looking for freelancers. It was pretty intimidating to start with my favourite company and my favourite game, but the passion for this game is also what carried me through the fear.

TAC: What are your strengths as a writer/designer?

Steve Darlington: Hmm, a tricky question – I’m much better at spotting my weaknesses. I think my strength comes from my passion for the Warhammer world and its style. I love so much about it, and I love crawling into it again and again and doing everything I can to communicate all the joy and wonder and terror I get from the world to others. I could spend the rest of my life writing Warhammer and consider myself blessed.

TAC: Primary inspirations?

Steve Darlington: History. Geography. Humanity. Politics. The world is my sourcebook.

TAC: A catchphrase of WFRP is “Grim’n Gritty”. What does this mean to you, and how does this influence your game?

Steve Darlington: Grim and Gritty has many aspects. For me, it’s about highlighting the more “mundane” aspects of the world – ours and the Warhammer one. It is a sad casualty of many fantasy worlds that the mundane, the small, the quotidian and the base are swept aside in the pursuit of the epic and the grandiose. Warhammer reminds us all that the mundane and the small and the base are full of just enough evil – and more than enough heroism – to tell the greatest stories imaginable.

TAC: How much humour do you inject into you WFRP game, and how do you do it?

Steve Darlington: I don’t really inject humour. I find that games are full of humour anyway, players are just naturally funny. What makes WFRP unique among fantasy RPGs is that that humour is very often in character, instead of just out of character. The humour also comes out of the darkness too, just as the darkness comes out of the humour.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP book?

Steve Darlington: For 2nd ed, Plundered Vaults, no question. It’s probably the most used and most valuable book I’ve ever bought, except for the core rulebook. For 1st ed, Shadows Over Bogenhafen. Did I mention I love adventures?

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP fan material?

Steve Darlington: Whymme‘s excellent time-loop adventure for last year’s competition. I’ve forgotten the name but it was gorgeous.

TAC: What’s the status of WFRP in Australia?

Steve Darlington: That I couldn’t really tell you. I think the battle games are very popular though, and everyone I talked to was jazzed about Dark Heresy, so it seems to be as popular as any non-D&D RPG is these days.

TAC: Have you looked at Warhammer Online? Any comments on that?

Steve Darlington: I don’t know a lot about MMORPGs and my computer would melt if it tried to run it…but I am insanely keen to see this game in action. I can’t imagine anything cooler than walking around the WFRP world. Also, from some hints I’ve got, I think my work in Realms of the Ice Queen might have ended up in the game, since one of the main areas is Praag.

TAC: What are your hopes for the future of WFRP?

Steve Darlington: That it goes on. One of WFRP’s great strengths has become its legendary tenacity and long-toothedness. The greatest RPGs may just be those that refuse to die the longest. I want WFRP to keep going – and still be on its 2nd ed – long after D&D 20th edition is gone and forgotten.

And that’s it, a short chat with Steve Darlington. A few surprises there, especially the bit about Plundered Vaults, a book I haven’t heard anyone else list as their favourite for WFRPv2. It’s good to see the initial releases get some loving as well! Thanks for your time, Steve, and get some rest now!