FAL Interview: Interview with Jay Little

Those who are following the development of WFRP at the hands of Fantasy Flight Games will know that they appointed a new Senior RPG Developer for the game. I took the opportunity to send a few questions to this new name on the WFRP scene, and the result was a designer diary that was published on the official web site. FFG graciously allowed me to post the interview here as well, and here it is, in most of its former glory! Look for more interviews with other WFRP personalities to appear as I get this format settled!

To read the interview as it appeared at the WFRP web site, with a picture of the man himself, go to this page here!

Recently Adolphus Altdorfer, well-known scholar from the Empire’s grandest city and pen behind the Altdorf Correspondent leaflets, sat down with Jay Little, the new Senior RPG Developer for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, for a discussion. Adolphus was gracious enough to record the conversation to share with his fellow scholars.

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

Jay Little: I’ve been an avid gamer for most of my life, and really enjoy the challenges that games provide — they really exercise your mind and creativity. I am also an active game collector. I have well over 650 board games in my collection, ranging from old school Games Workshop classics, some out of print rarities, and a large number of newer Euro and designer-style games. But as much as I enjoy board gaming, roleplaying has always been my true gaming love. My collection of rpgs used to be much larger, but right now hovers around 800 items — which includes different systems, supplements, sourcebooks, modules and accessories.

TAC: How and why did you start playing WFRP

Jay: I actually got into Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay via Games Workshop’s board games. My buddies and I were diehard Talisman and Dungeonquest players when I was younger. In fact, we played so often we literally wore out my first copy of Talisman 2nd edition. At the time, our roleplaying was essentially the D&D red box and a smattering of other games. When I saw a copy of the WFRP 1st Edition rulebook in my local hobby shop, I recognized the art style and setting so I picked it up and thumbed through it — that’s when I first fell in love with it.

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

Jay: Initially, it was the artwork. The foreboding, eerie work of Wil Rees’ “Shadows Over Bogenhafen” and John Blanche’s “Hrothyogg’s Tower” really grabbed my attention. And I had never played a game that was so dark and gritty. In other games, the player characters were always altruistic heroes who knew they were heroes. In Warhammer, it was immediately engaging to realize that you might just be a humble rat-catcher or pedlar trying to just stay alive — someone who more likely stumbled into a web of intrigue or dangerous encounter rather than a hero actively seeking fame and glory. That sort of mindset made for a very compelling game environment, and it really found traction with our players.

TAC: What does it mean to be a senior developer at FFG? What are your responsibilities?

Jay: In many ways, it’s not all that different from being a good GM — just the sense of scale changes a bit. There’s a lot of research, preparation and dedication required for both roles. Plus, you have to wear a lot of hats. As a GM, you’re managing NPCs, adjudicating rules, developing storylines for your players, and trying to create a memorable experience. As a Senior RPG Developer, I’ll be managing and working with freelancers and artists, clarifying and consolidating the rules system, fleshing out concepts that will grow into new, exciting WFRP products and working with Games Workshop to ensure that the roleplaying game lives up to their high standards and properly reflects the Warhammer setting, while also creating the most compelling, enjoyable gameplay experience we can muster.

TAC: What prompted you to apply for the job?

Jay: It was a no-brainer… A chance to work on a great game license like Warhammer and work for a great company like Fantasy Flight games? What’s not to love? And the timing could not have been better. When Fantasy Flight first contacted me to discuss the position, I quickly realized it really was the perfect combination of factors.

TAC: What are your strengths as a developer?

Jay: I think my lifelong fanaticism for gaming is a big plus. I have a wide and varied background both playing and developing board games, card games and roleplaying games. With that broad base of experience, I think I do a good job of seeing “big picture” elements and anticipating how proposed rules/content will affect the game experience. I’m also excellent at playing the devil’s advocate to really stress test concepts; I have a lot of experience as a rigorous playtester.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP book?

Jay: That’s a tough call. It’s probably a tie between Tome of Corruption and Sigmar’s Heirs. Both offer a lot of great flavor content to help bring the Old World to life, and both have lots of really neat plot ideas a GM can integrate into their game.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP fan material?

Jay: Without a doubt it’s A Compendious Guide to Old World Coachmen, the career pamphlet by Dave Allen. The Coachman is one of my favorite WFRP careers, and adding the different coaching lines and business elements to this thriving Old World industry adds a lot of depth and realism to the game.

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

Jay: To keep the Old World grim, dark and dangerous — the kind of place you wouldn’t want to live, but as a player, you can’t wait to visit (again and again). I’d like to really expand the player base and share my personal favorite roleplaying game with even more people around the world. The Warhammer games have some of the most dedicated fans and forumites for any game I’ve seen, and I’d love to find even more ways to interact with them and get great content into their hands. And of course, work on all those wonderful, secretive things that I can’t share yet!

That’s it for this time! Let me thank Jay Little for his time, and readiness to answer my questions, and for letting fans read them at the WFRP web site! Let’s see now, who’s next … hey, that chap over there! …


FAL Interview: Interview with Alfred Nuñez Jr.

Regular readers of The Altdorf Correspondent know that I try to do my part to put the limelight on the many great and dedicated fans WFRP has, and the top notch material they produce and offer online for free. I try to make a Best of the Fans post every month, and believe me, there’s plenty of material to look through to find the very best. Each time I sit down to pick a fan project to highlight as a Best of the Fans effort, there is one name that always crops up. Alfred Nuñez Jr, pictured on the right.

I believe most know him as MadAlfred, map maker extraordinaire, but he is also the author of the well recieved sourcebook Dwarfs: Stone and Steel for WFRPv1 that was published by Hogshead in 2002, as well as Pretty Things, one of the earliest adventures for WFRPv2 that was published by Black Industries in the Game Master’s Pack. A while ago he released Empire at War online, a complete and massive reimagining of Empire in Flames, the ill-fated last part of The Enemy Within campaign, bringing it in line with the kind of WFRP imagery that the enduring fans of the game appreciate.

Myself, I think of Alfred as the grand uncle of The Altdorf Correspondent. If it hadn’t been for his and his co-conspirators’ work on compiling information about Altdorf from hosts of Games Workshop sources, this blog would probably be The Middenheim Correspondent … or something like that. So I dropped Alfred a mail, asking if he would be game for a short interview here, and here’s the result.

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

Alfred Nuñez Jr (MadAlfred): Well, I am an American from California and (currently) 51 years of age. Apart from gaming, my reading interests include Ancient History, pre-Tudor British history (currently reading various sources covering 410–1066 A.D.), Archaeology, and Paleontology. I work in the garden to relax as well as occasionally go on walks/runs. The latter helps me sort out my thoughts on whatever WFRP material I’m currently writing.

TAC: How and why did you start playing WFRP?

MadAlfred: I moved my playing group from AD&D to WFRP in 1988. I thought WFRP was far more interesting a game to play with its darker elements. Odd as it sounds, I also liked the (then) concept that wizards in the game did not always dress in flowing robes and they could carry swords rather than daggers and darts.

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

MadAlfred: The darker tone, richer background, and career/skill based system were the elements that won me over.

TAC: How long have you been producing fan material?

MadAlfred: I have been writing fan material since 1994 or thereabouts. So, about 14 years.

TAC: What prompted you to do this, and to distribute your material for free, online?

MadAlfred: Since the game lacked official support, I wanted to further develop the background for my own use. Shortly after joining the old WFRP mailing list hosted by Clay Luther, I thought I would share some of my material to other subscribers. The reaction I received was pretty positive, so I started posting my other ideas hoping someone who find something useful to use in their campaigns.

TAC: A large and important part of your work has been compiling gazeteers and drawing maps. Why did you focus on these two categories?

MadAlfred: I found that both maps and gazetteers are helpful at generating game ideas as well as providing a quick reference material for GMs. I also found that these helped me focus in visualising the world at large and gave me a starting point for possible scenario plots.

TAC: What was the most difficult part of compiling the information on Altdorf?

MadAlfred: The most difficult part was determining how to incorporate the sketchy and sometimes contradictory information contained in many of the Warhammer novels. I had learned from one of the writers that there was no central authority among the editors of Games Workshop to ensure some level of consistency with Altdorf and its locations.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP book?

MadAlfred: “Marienburg: Sold down the River” by far. My oldest son makes a cameo in the book as Miguelito “Little Round Head” Nunez in that book

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP fan material?

MadAlfred: The “A Private War” campaign by Tim Eccles.

TAC: What are your hopes for the future of WFRP, fan-wise or commercially?

MadAlfred: Commercially, I’d like to see WFRP move more towards the 1st edition in tone (grim and perilous) rather than stay with (my interpretation of) the 2nd edition change to heroic fantasy with spiky bits. I’m just not sure what FFG intends, if anything.

Moreover, I’d like to see more fan effort, though such can be uneven in quality. Warpstone magazine is a great source for ideas and a number of sites – for example, Liber Fanatica – put out quality material. So long as its fans care, WFRP will continue to be supported.

I think Alfred is right. WFRP has had its ups and downs, but there’s no denying that the fans care passionately about the game. And Alfred himself is one of the very best examples of this passion, which drives him to create material that make all our other games richer and more fun. So let me close this interview by thanking Alfred for answering my questions, and for all his efforts to make WFRP great!