Wednesday 17 June 2015

So what is it?

This blog is titled "Freedom in an Owned World", borrowing the title of Stephen Baxter's essay published in Vector on the subject of writing fiction for Games Workshop in the late 1980s and the 1990s. I mean no offence by borrowing the title; in fact, a discussion of writing captures my ambivalence about gaming in the Warhammer [propriety] universes, using Warhammer [propriety] rulesystems. We live in an age of vibrant Open Source Roleplaying. Isn't there something terrifically attractive about gaming in your own world, or a truly shared world, using an 'open source' rule system shared by thousands of others? Engaging in a system of free exchange, with limited commercialisation driven by, and rewarding, hobbyists? Gaming with no barriers to sharing and even semi-professionally publishing the products of your explorations of the fantastic? Yes, there is! Undoubtedly so. The OSR is full of vibrant creativity.

But just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Warhammer always reels me back in. In it's mild form, the pull back to Warhammer is the way in which its setting/s colour/s my non-Warhammer gaming. I make life difficult for my players and their PCs. I avoid any hint that playing an RPG is about wish-fulfillment - unless the players are masochists, or they want to play one. I present worlds in which it is difficult to see what 'doing the right thing' might be, and even then, whatever it is often involves doing 'bad things'. I write self-deprecating rants such as The Pathetic Aesthetic.

But this blog will be about the stronger form of this involuntary cycle of behaviour; about the times when Warhammer has caught my imagination on a steel hook and an unbreakable line, when it pulls and pulls until I find that I have the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition rulebook in my hands, and find that I am excited by the prospect of playing as I did in the early 1990s. This blog will be the place where I write about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st and 2nd edition, where, perhaps, I describe my exploration - as yet un-begun - of Fantasy Flight Games' Warhammer 40,000 RPGs, and, who knows, maybe even find the time and space to dig out the old miniatures for some '3D Roleplay', as Games Workshop used to call it.


  1. Oh, and there was me expecting you to start a blog about RPGing the YBAs under Saatchi, exploring the depths of Sarah Lucas's Dungeon (fnar fnar) whilst getting attacked by half a shark in a room that has no inside. I'm sure there's a campaign in there somewhere!

    1. When there were those slides at the Tate Modern it could have been a proper funhouse dungeon!

      But RPGing the YBAs - I'd need Fate for that, no? Or perhaps a Pendragon hack?