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.

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