Tuesday, 11 March 2008

WFRP: State of the Game (1)

It's been an exhilarating few weeks for the WFRP fan community. First Games Workshop closed down Black Industries and cancelled WFRP and WH40kRP, creating a buzz among the fans trying to get to grips with what this meant for WFRP and the fan support the game is known and loved for. Would people continue with the second edition or would first edition prove to be the choice of those who continued producing fan material? Or had the second edition fractured fandom into two opposing factions, where the editions would branch out from each other and never again be the one true game? Did the cancellation of BI herald a new dark age for the game and for the fans?

As discussions raged back and forth, GW dropped another bomb. Fantasy Flight Games had licensed the boardgames of GW, and also the roleplaying games of BI. Confusion reigned. What did this mean to the game? How much would it be supported? Who were FFG? And what were their plans? Was the dark age averted? Now some time has passed. We have recieved a little more info, but lots of questions remain. Also given the history of the game and its handling by GW, nothing can be said for sure regarding the future of WFRP.

My own speculation, based on nothing more than gut feeling at the moment, is that FFG will begin by focusing on WH40kRP. It is, after all the King of New Games at the moment, and the momentum it enjoys must be harnessed into profitability for FFG. WFRP will therefore receive less attention, and we're probably looking more to a consolidation of the game line, with a rerelease of the core rules and selected supplements to keep the line active.

I believe that FFG will keep much the same policy regarding fan material that BI did, mostly because it's easier to maintain a status quo, and partly because it really is GW who will be interested in fan usage of their IP. I don't think FFG really cares, unless it directly hurts their releases but then again I think it will be GW who handles the axe, should any matter arise.

So basically, the state of the game is that WFRP is one of the strongest roleplaying brands out there at the moment, with a solid reputation for high quality, award-winning supplements. It is often described as fast and fun and second to none when it comes to online support. Given the strategy of Wizards of the Coast in regards to Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, it is possible that WFRP will be able to pick up some of those who feel that D&D is becoming way to focused on minis and battlemats and who are looking for a more rules light roleplaying experience. Make no mistake, D&D will still be the juggernaut, but WFRP is often mentioned as an alternative on various message boards, so some new recruits are bound to show up from there.

Within a month or two we will hear about who's going to be the WFRP developer. His or her first priority will be to get The Thousand Thrones out the door, and then look into a publishing strategy, which will involve a reprinting of the core rules. Expect FFG to keep their plans regarding WFRP secret for another month or two, with the possible exception of a release of The Thousand Thrones. By GenCon 2008, I'm sure we will be told more about what's going to happen.

Online support for the game will come from fans rather than from the publisher, as I believe that FFG as a company is not ready to embrace the same strategy as BI when it comes to the Internet. This will make fan support even more important for the game line, and hopefully FFG can make some provision for this on their official WFRP web site. Among fandom, not much will change. The lines have been drawn in the sand, and with continued support from FFG most attention will be given to second edition material. The large body of existing first edition fan writings will remain relevant to the game, but I see little movement to add significantly to it from any party, with a few notable exceptions.



  1. I think you've echoed my thoughts perfectly here.
    I don't begrudge Dark Heresy it's time in the sun, really. WFRP's had a good run of it this time, and all the 'essential' supplements have been made. BI released the books at a good pace, and as long as FF keeps up the same quality (or even builds on it!) I'll be happy.

    What WFRP needs at the moment, I think, is a good, centralised site where fan rules and scenarios can be uploaded. The BI site fulfilled this function in the past, but as FF is presumed not to keep up the quantity of web support that BI did, a bit of a power-vacuum's been created, with sites popping up left, right and centre.
    Hopefully one will emerge dominant. It's all very well posting articles on the forum, but they'll be lost in the sands of time, which is not what we want to happen. :)

    (I also wish there was an edit button for comments. Typos be damned!)

  2. Hi Ursca!

    Glad to see you still keeping tabs on my blog, and thanks for posting your comment.

    There are some sites that would like to be the de facto collection of fan material, but I'm not sure any of them will emerge triumphant.

    Maybe if Warpstone expanded their site to include self-submitted material, that could be a contender, but I don't think John Foody is interested in that. I think he'll prefer to focus on the magazine.

    Maybe Liber Fanatica? Seems a fitting name for a site full of fan material.