Monday, 20 July 2015

Website: MadAlfred's WFRP Page

MadAlfred is Alfred Nunez Jr., a well-known figure in the WFRP community. One of those writers whose work spans both professional and fan publications, a glance at MadAlfred's webpage would tell you that this man breathes Warhammer, and despite his 4500 Citadel Miniatures, WFRP1e is his oxygen.

He's a representative example of the fact that there is significant overlap between WFRP's writers and WFRP's fans, players, and GMs. This isn't the case with all RPGs, especially with licensed properties being published in big, glossy book, which can often be the product of work-for-hire writers. And there is nothing wrong with that - professional writers gotta eat, and professional writers are professional - but it is a phenomenon that gives the 'dead' game of WFRP (and now the 'dead' setting of the Warhammer World!) some of the vitality found in the OSR, in which the distinction between players and producers is non-existent, in which real-life play, rather than play-testing, is producing some amazing gaming material. WFRP fan-culture chugs along slowly but surely. Actually, given the abandonment of both system and setting, 'fan' is the wrong word, it diminishes the contribution of WFRP players and GMs, reducing them to consumers... of what? Perhaps player-culture would be more appropriate.

MadAlfred's site is jam-packed with articles, maps and gazetteers, and perhaps most importantly a number of large and small-scale adventures. 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Too much change/Not enough change

Right. It is about time that I weighed on the big debate about changes in Warhammer. I've had plenty of time to consider the rules and setting material.

WFRP2e didn't go far enough! I'm not talking about the system, which included improvements over that of 1e, while remaining close enough to the original for the two games to be speaking dialects of a common language. No, I'm talking about changes to the setting.

WFRP2e's Old World is an immediately post-war setting. And not just any war, but an apocalyptic war that depopulated vast areas and shattered political and social structures. And this is a world in which there are dark things in the forest, inhuman powers to turn to in desperation, etc. 

I know that some of the adventures add a few post-war details, but the feel of the thing is not one in which WFRP2e feels like it ought be played as Twighlight: 2522? Why isn't the whole of the eastern Empire up for grabs for armed men and women with the will to take it? Why doesn't the setting feel like Mad Max crossed with post-Black Death Europe? Why, for all the death and destruction, for all the population=0 in the gazetteers, does the WFRP2e Old World feel more structured and stable than that of WFRP1e? 

For one, it is simply much more detailed. Exhaustively detailed. I own nearly every book for WFRP 1e and 2e, and the 2e setting details are not just exhaustive, they are exhausting! They are some really well produced books, but they are so full of detail that it literally tires me out. Perhaps this is because I read these book as a GM, constantly thinking about the way in which I can incorporate these details into actual play.

But what of this detailed setting itself. Well, remember that the reason the setting of the RPG was changed was to keep it in line with the wargame. A wargame of Emperors riding Griffons and in which every other Graf is nigh-on a superhero, rather than ordinarly weak men, corruptible politicians in a dirty, confusing world. But that's not all of it. Classic D&D has rulership and personal combat/magical ability pretty tightly woven together, and yet built into Classic D&D is also the idea of the lawless, unstructured frontier ripe for adventure - in fact, this implied setting justifies the link between personal ability and rulership. No, being tied to the wargame seemed to demand a setting in which the lines between 'factions' were solid, and the factions themselves were solid - how else could these political entities survive in a world of endless war? Just like the structure of a television show, while it is acceptable to have disruptive events, by episode end the status quo must be restored.

Oh, Age of Sigmar? As Zhou Enlai supposedly said of the French Revolution, 'It's too soon to say'. I'll get back to you in a decade.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

One Less Dimension

This blog has been silent for a while as I have been in the US. When I arrived home I had a little present waiting for me - a huge box of Warhammer (fantasy and 40K) books sent to me by +Daniel Sell. I will have to work out a way to compensate him... More on that later. 

Games Workshop used to bill their big boxed games as 3-D Roleplay. Not just Advanced Heroquest, Advanced Space Crusade and Space Hulk, but also such games as Space Marine (the second incarnation of the Epic rules). In a way, I'd like to rehabilitate the term 3-D Roleplay, to stress the kind of characterful, narrative, scenario-driven (and GM 'refereed') games that is the opposite end of the miniature gaming hobby to that occupied by Mathhammer competitive play. 3-D Roleplay could be seen as, at least, closely related to the values espoused in the Oldhammer Contract.

Thing is, I'm a busy man, with kids, something like a career, &c. Miniatures? As the lady says, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" Yes, I can eke a few hours with the daylight bulb here, a few there, and I will slowly but surely put together and paint the Assassinorum miniatures, but with all the games that I want to play...

And I'd rather play than paint or model. The game is the thing.

A while back I got Commands & Colours: Ancients. I think it is a fantastic game. I immediately wished that there was a fantasy version, a Warhammer version even. And yes, there is Battlelore, which to my mind is less elegant, both mechanically and aesthetically. But C&C planted in my mind the idea that I would be very happy with a 'de-miniaturized' Warhammer wargame. If not quite 2-D, then at the very least a little more... flat.

And this has been sitting in my cupboard. A game that filled Sundays (and dinner tables) of my later school days. 

And then +Daniel Sell sends me this:

I had toyed with the ambition (the fantasy) of using Hordes of the Things (or Warhammerised DBA) to run a campaign of Mighty Empires. And I still might. But Warmaster could also be a suitable companion. Eminently suitable, as they share the same underlying fiction.

But for someone who 'aint't got time for that', how could this fantasy even come close to being realized. Paper miniatures. Paper armies. Thankfully, someone else has done the work for me.

If we hadn't just 'Freecycled' our clunky old printer, and having been forbidden from buying a new one until our house move is complete... But paper miniatures? Yes, I can see these being a large part of my future gaming. 2-D+ Roleplay.