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3/03/2017

Role-playing Rants: do we really need another edition of WFRP?

For a few weeks now we know that Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay will return. GW sold the rights to their venerable RPG, and it looks like Cubicle7 will be the distributer of all things grim and perilous. But is it really a good thing?

There's no doubt that WFRP is a timeless classic, no matter how you look at it. From the ancient, but still viable 1st edition, to the controversial, almost-like-a-board-game 3rd - this game raised thousands of avid roleplayers, over the course of a couple decades. Sadly, as its parent franchise got killed off, it too fell into oblivion. Long before the End Times, Fantasy Flight Games, which held the rights to the franchise, after Black Industries, ended their developement of the controversial 3rd edition. A few books and card decks (sigh) were only available on demand. Some time later, Games Workshop decided to withdraw their license from FFG and... it all went quiet. Until Licensing Expo 2016 in Las Vegas, where they were spotted, while they were offering a bunch of their licenses. Back then, there wasn't a 100% confirmation if the license for WFRP has been sold, but now it seems that indeed such was the case. Cubicle 7 Entertainment, a publisher for Doctor Who card games and the One Ring RPG, among other things, has reportedly acquired the rights to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

Is it really a good thing?

I'm not so sure...
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that WFRP will continue to exist on the market. At this moment, it's harder and harder to buy even basic 2nd edition books, not to mention those from the older days of the 1st. There have been rumours that Cubicle 7 may do some reprinting of older Warhammer Fantasy material, and that's a really cool thing. I know that many people, myself included, would love to fill their collection with missing sourcebooks (Realm of the Ice Queen, I need you!) and adventures. However I'm worried. You see, there's this nagging doubt that I have, which just won't go away. It's telling me that they will fuck it up, just like FFG did. Oh, don't get me wrong, I think that the third edition of WFRP wasn't a complete disaster. In fact it was a pretty decent game in itself, if kind of a test pattern for FFG's later titles, but the thing is, it was not what most people wanted. After the 2nd edition, which brought many, positive changes to seriously outdated Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, we recieved... a board game. Worse, it was a board game, dressed as a roleplaying game, which forced you to buy seriously overpriced addons, if you wanted to play it. Without the dice and the markers, there was no way in hell, that the game could be played in any way. Player's Vault, one of the last books for the 3rd edition, adressed that issue, but it was released too late. People were already pissed off, and more and more of them were abandoning this sinking ship, leaving it to rot at the bottom of the Sea of Claws.

Of course the fault was entirely on the publishers' side. FFG is a company which mainly produces board games, and they've never even pretended to do otherwise. Good for them, but when you develop RPG's, you need something more than just a few, funky dice and weird counters. FFG adressed this by treating their RPG's like a scientist or an engineer, treats his work: if at first you won't succeed...

WFRP 3rd edition was a testing ground, which helped in the creation of the excellent Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. A test subject, if you will, used to see which rules will work in a roleplaying game, and which should be avoided. Similarilly, Dark Heresy 1st edition, and the following 40K RPG's were ultimately used to develop Only War, which was the best title of them all, with the least ammount of bugs, bad rules and balance issues. Then again, FFG shot itself in the foot once again, when they've developed Dark Heresy 2nd edition, a complete and utter shitfest, which, thankfully, died pretty quickly. Some people never learn, I guess...

Pictured: a big mistake
Nowadays, roleplaying games are generally made in such a way, that you don't need two weeks of learning the rules, memorising tables and stats columns. Most of the modern RPG's are quick to master, both for gamemasters and players alike, which is a godsend, and actually helps in bringing up new people to the hobby. We are living in a time, where everything has to be done fast and without delay, which means that our entertainment also needs to adapt, if it wants to stay relevant. FFG did not understood that, and ultimately they have failed. Altough some of their games, like Dark Heresy 1st edition and Only War, can be considered successful, most of their RPG's were bloated with rules, tables and charts, not to mention overcomplicated rulesets. I honestly believe that these were the main factors which made them lose their license, for making more GW games as well as continue publishing those already developed. I hope that Cubicle 7 Entertainment won't make similar mistakes, when creating another edition of WFRP, if they'll make one at all. I don't want the potential 4th edition of this game, to be a rules-heavy monster, which'll drive potential players away, with too much stuff, cramped into it. Simples as that, really.

Honestly, I'd just be happy if they'll make a full-scale reprint of the previous Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay games, and I think I'm not the only one. Sure, a new version of this venerable classic would be nice, but ultimately not necessary. At least in my opinion.

That's all I really need, if I want to hunt some Beastmen
Until next time!

Xathrodox86

2 comments:

  1. The whole rule-bloat things is an excellent point.
    Warhammer 2nd edition shined because of this reason. It is realy quite simple, yet combat has atleast a FEW tricks up its sleave (half-actions such as aim etc) that you can be a bit tactical.
    The rules were still burdened by its wargame legacy (ie the stats were realy wonky what with you often having about as large a chance to -30% crit-fail as to succeed) but it WAS simple.
    I am hoping for someting akin to 2nd edition, but with a bit more modern rules. And no goddamn High Elves. They do not belong in the flea-bitten parts of the old world where the PCs dwell.

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    1. I agree with you completely. The easy-to-learn ruleset of 2nd edition was one of its main strengths. Also I did liked the nods towards WFB, mainly the 6th edition, with which it was connected, but some things were... weird. Like when Orc Boy or a Chaos Warrior were weaker than a Stormvermin. That was weird and not in a right way. Also yes, some tests were impossible to pass, I agree. Then again, some of them should NOT be passed... ;)
      Elves could get a nice supplement (something that Black Industries promised, but never delivered), but I agree - WFRP is mainly set in the Old World, and it should reflect that fact. High Elves are cool and all, but they don't really fit. Maybe as NPC's in some cases, but overall it should be about humans, then dwarfs, than halflings and finally about the "domesticated" kind of elves.

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Thank you for the comments. :)