Sunday, 21 June 2015

Army Books as 'Lore': Tilea in Dogs of War

A while back, once there were no more WFRP1e books to buy - that I could afford anyway - I decided to turn my compulsive book buying towards Warhammer Fantasy Battle 'Army Books'. I had spotted that the WFB4e and WFB5e Army Books were selling on eBay for a quid or two, often in batches. Obsolete in terms of rules, outdated in terms of setting, but not entirely useless to a WFRP GM interested in fleshing out the world.

Here, let me show you.

Excepting the 'gems', I'd guess I barely paid a tenner for these, all in. While WFRP players cling dearly to 'outdated' books, and sneer disdainfully at the new, WFB players ruthlessly abandon the obsolete, it seems. Of course, one way to understand this is that WFB players need to find opponents who share their rules, while GMs impose their rules upon hapless WFRP players.

Anyway, the 'gems' in this little collection are White Dwarf Presents: Chaos Dwarfs and Dogs of War.

In fact, Dogs of War is my favourite Army Book. It doesn't really matter how good, say, the Elf or Dwarf Army Books might be, as the material is so familiar, having been recycled and regurgitated so many times through each edition of the game. And the Empire? Well, any WFRP GM has better material detailing the Empire than he or she might find in an Empire Army Book. And that is even if I were to cleave to a higher fantasy conception of the Warhammer world than that of The Enemy Within. But Dogs of War? In Dogs of War I can find bits and pieces about the lands beyond the Empire, about Tilea, Estalia and beyond. There is so little 'official' material about these places; Brian Craig's Zaragoz, a brief mention in the WFRP1e rulebook's World Guide, a bit of material in the WFRP2e Companion, and so on, but where else? Dogs of War fills in a few of the gaps, and provides the bones, or at least a sketchy outline, of something that I, as GM, can fill.

The background of each regiment (not all of which are Tilean - there are details on Golfag's Ogres, Long Drong Slayer's Pirates, Al Muktar's Desert Dogs, &c.) and  is full of small details that could easily be incorporated into a WFRP game:

The fact that Dogs of War regiments are accompanied by all manner of 'special characters', not all of which are wham-bam! heroes or wizards, means that the book contains the foundations of very interesting and colourful NPCs - possibly patrons to the adventurers; the genius Leonardo da Miragliano (and his 'scientific' items), Lucrezzia Belladonna, a ruthless, politically powerful sorceress, Marco Columbo, 'discoverer' of Lustria, &c.

The history and social structure of Tilea is also discussed - and a timeline is provided - which, as the Tileans are notable explorers, includes passing discussion of other parts of the Warhammer world.

Of course, there are WFRP community developed resources detailing the world beyond the Empire, but more of that another time.

p.s. I notice that, in Dogs of War, Games Workshop asserts that such pre-existing terms as Grail Knight, Knight Errant, and, laughably, Skink, are Trademarks. In the contemporaneous Brettonia book, GW make the same claim for Chivalry! 

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