WFRP: Embrace change, or seek solace in familiarity?

Now that WFRPv3 has been going for well over a year, I have come to the time and place to figure out how to take this edition into account when writing for The Altdorf Correspondent. Embrace the new edition whole-heartedly or put on the grognard cape and grouse about the good old times?
Traditionally, I embrace change. I try new things, I look at them to see the old things in a different light. I look to the new to help me avoid a sense of “I’ve been doing this same thing for 30 years now” and to keep things fresh. I also have had the ambition of supporting the current edition of all the games I write for, be it D&D, WFRP, Kult, Cyberpunk or any other game I feel strongly about.
But I’m not as young as I used to be. I’ve played so many games, tried so many rules, seen so many plots, that I’ve grown confused. Rules have never been my forte, and with WFRPv3, I’ve hit a brick wall. The rules are clearly written, the components are beautiful, everything is top notch. But I can’t connect to the rules. When reading them, I don’t see stories in my head. I see rules, cards, components. I lose track of what WFRP is to me.
And as you can imagine, that is not where I want to be when sitting down to write about Altdorf and WFRP!
It’s not that I think the rules are horrible, it’s not that I think FFG are insulting WFRP gamers all over the world, it’s not the prices or the boxes or the bits. It’s simply the fact that this is very different from what I am used to, and that is enough to throw me.
So what to do? There are two basic aspects I need to consider; rules and setting. And here’s the lowdown …
For rules, I’m staying with WFRPv2. As I look more into WFRPv3, I might start to dual-stat things,if I feel I can get comfortable with the rules. But for the foreseeable future, WFRPv2 is my edition of choice for rules. I will bring in things I like from WFRPv3, and mine WFRPv1 as well. And fan material of course.
As for the setting, it’s more difficult. Or maybe more simple … I don’t really know for sure. I will go with WFRPv3 and mix in elements from WFRPv1, WFRPv2 and Warpstone. It seems to me that WFRPv1 and WFRPv3 are closer to each other in tone and atmosphere than they are with WFRPv2. And Warpstone is superb, and has a lot of the grittiness that I enjoy in the setting material published. So I’ll roll back to before the Storm of Chaos, and go from there.
This is not a big change for me. As many have noticed I am fairly loose with canon anyways, and the things I don’t like are simply toned down (the Emperor riding a griffon, for example). It’s easy to just discard a piece of setting I don’t agree with, and so the WFRP world I present is a curious mix of canon and heresy. Which is what I’m aiming for; my own take on the Old World, my own interpretation informed by my own tastes and sensibilities.
This is influenced greatly by the writings of others, primarily the official WFRP lines, but to an almost greater extent the writings found in Warpstone and historical records.
So there you have it. I will continue much as I have done so far, which will delight quite a few of my readers, I suspect. But there will still be a place for WFRPv3, mostly in commentaries on the products, and reviews. I want to embrace WFRP as a whole, not get bogged down with fruitless internal debates on the merits of one edition over the other.
Hope you’ll stay on and thanks for readin!

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.