Monday 31 March 2008

WFRP: The Altdorf Truth 807

What do people in Altdorf talk about? Just about anything. And very often they talk about what's being peddled as information, sold or given away by eager news sheet vendors, or posters glued to walls. The Altdorf Truth is one such news sheet, posted on the walls of buildings and sometimes even animals all over the capital. No one knows who is behind the rag's eclectic mixture of pro-Imperial and anti-authoritarian reporting. Part news, part opinion piece, part gossip, and all this with a second helping of hysteria, The Altdorf Truth has a curios finger on the very pulse of what people deem important in the largest city of the Empire. It is evident that the writer or writers are singularily well connected among the merchant class and the aristocracy, and it has laid bare many a scandal since it started circulation in 2501. Authorities have tried in vain to track down the elusive publisher and their failure has suggested that the culprit might even be of higher rank than any can imagine, maybe even sanctioned by one of the electors. I believe the truth to be more mundane than that, but will devote no further energy into finding out the truth behind the distribution of said news sheet.

Aldophus Altdorfer
Aubentag, Pflugzeit 31, 2523 IC

The Altdorf Truth 807

The Altdorf Truth is a tool I use to keep the players thinking about and taking note of the big and small things that goes on in the campaign world. It provides a nice counterpoint to their own little universe, where their PCs are always the most important people. Some events are major and will change the campaign for the PCs, and some are minor things they will never have to bother about. And some are secrets that will play out later on in the campaign. I hand out one new issue of The Altdorf Truth at the end of each session, and have one player read that issue at the beginning of the next session. Works very well to keep the players anchored in the setting.


Friday 28 March 2008

WFRP: Help wanted (11)

"Family jewels lost. 50 Karls to those who return them. No questions asked. Contact Axel von Lachse in Obererik Bezirk for more information."

- Poster distributed among the taverns of the Werksviertel and Niederhafen Bezirk.

Tuesday 25 March 2008

WFRP: Sanctuary in the Temple of Sigmar

The grand capital of the Empire is a bustling metropolis, a teeming hive of scum and villainy, a confluence of holy influences, the push and shove of the crowds filling the streets, cries of help and sounds of brawling from the docks, seagulls eager for scraps of food, dogs, beggars, vendors, town criers ... during the day the cacophony of sound is an assault on the senses for any right-thinking individual. Even in my lofty abode high up over the barely controlled chaos that is life in Altdorf it is impossible to entirely escape the commotion.

When I feel the need to rest my head I have the recourse of seeking out our libraries, but after my harrowing experience there last year I am loath to go down there. Instead I do as many pious Imperial citizens, I seek out sanctuary in any of the larger temples that are situated in the capital. There is of course one large site dedicated to each of the major deities, as befits proper faith and respect for the gods, but I tend to pay my homage to the lords of our souls at the largest of them all, The Great Temple and Citadel of Sigmar.

This immense structure, reverently referred to as "The Hammer" among the populace, is a haven for those in need of quiet contemplation, and it welcomes all. Well, almost all. The smelly beggars and insane rambling agitators are firmly redirected to any temple of Ranald they might find, and to be frank what business would the poor people have in fancier parts of Altdorf? The interiors are magnificent and lends an air of power and authority to the chambers and halls.

There is a multitude of high columns, pointed arches, ribbed vaults and tall stained-glass windows, all to impress a visitor and make him reflect on the deeds of the great Sigmar. Serene choir music is often heard wafting through the temple grounds, providing a soothing counter-point to the babble of the Altdorf streets.

Adolphus Altdorfer

Backertag, Pflugzeit 25, 2523 IC

Go here to download the complete iAltdorf map!

Great Temple and Cathedral of Sigmar


Saturday 22 March 2008

WFRP: Best of the Fans (5)

WFRP has always been a game that's been defined by how you play it, rather than what it says in the core rules. The impression of the first edition was influenced more by the ground-breaking and breath-taking The Enemy Within campaign and subsequent fan material covering various aspects of the Old World not touched upon by more official and marketable material.

When the second edition was announced, there was fear among the established fan community that the new edition would prove to be less supported by stellar fan material, since more than a few of the old hands expressed doubts about writing new material for the new edition. Fortunately for Black Industries and fans of second edition, a lot of both new and already established talent decided to step up to the plate and start hitting home runs.

One of the most spectacular of these fan efforts is the project called Liber Fanatica. The project has so far released four pdf books filled with interesting and thought provoking material, and the first book was released simulataneously with the second edition core rules. The thing that attracts me to the Liber Fanatica is the fact that the writers work hard to build a bridge between first edition and second edition, updating careers, skills and other aspects as well as adding new material in the style of first edition.

So if you haven't already clicked the link to the Liber Fanatica web site, move your cursor the the following link, and download some of the best stuff for WFRP that is available online!

Click here for the Liber Fanatica web site!


Wednesday 19 March 2008

FAL Commentary: Pathfinder RPG open playtest

As you could read here and all over the D&D websphere yesterday, Paizo is releasing a roleplaying game called the Pathfinder RPG in 2009. It will be based on the 3.5 version of the d20 SRD (found here), it will all be in one book, it will have high production values ... and there will be a one year open playtest. Click here for the forums for feedback.

If for nothing else, this is the thing that is of most interest to me. Not because of the rules discussions, not because of the wild ideas, not because of the flamewars, but for the process. It's going to be a whole year of input from the fans, and we get to see how such an open playtest works and what the result will be. We'll be able to see if it fractures possible supporters into opposing camps, generates alternative rules out of the gate, or amounts to much ado about nothing. My take is that many will take part in the playtest and come away disappointed that their input didn't shape the game more than in a general sense. Many will also be frustrated that the game isn't changing enough, and others that it is changing too much. And it's going to be fascinating to see how Paizo handles all this. They will be scrutinised every step of the way by harsh judges.

For Paizo, I think that the open playtest is not so much a process to hammer out the rules, but a way to conduct a one year marketing campaign and focus group test. They will introduce rules here and there and see how people react, and use that data as input to their business plan, while at the same time hone to rules to attract as many gamers as possible. Which is not necessarily the same as honing the rules to be the best game in town. Hopefully the two will coincide, but I'm not really sure about that. There are many things that people want to have fixed with 3.5 that other people don't want anyone messing with. Finding the balance between the two will be a tough feat.

If anyone can do it, it's Paizo.


Tuesday 18 March 2008

FAL News: Paizo to release Pathfinder RPG

Paizo, known primarily for being the last company to publish Dragon and Dungeon under license from Wizards of the Coast, has made an interesting move in the light of the development of the Open Game License, and the changes to that strategy for Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition.

The short of it is that Paizo will release the Pathfinder RPG, which ties into their line of Pathfinder adventure paths. More information can be found here!

The key element of this move by Paizo is of course the fact that the Pathfinder RPG will be a direct competitor to D&D. Given the quality of Pazio's past products, it will be very interesting to see how this influences WotC strategy. If Pathfinder becomes a relevant and sucessful alternative to the new D&D, and this in turn means that other publishers stay with the OGL instead of going to the new GSL, it might create an obstacle for WotC to rope in some players wanting to stay with 3.5 rather than adopt 4.0.

More on this tomorrow!


Monday 17 March 2008

Friday 14 March 2008

WFRP: Gossip (9)

"You know Siegfried Wiezenmehl, the Westenstrasse baker? Yeah, the one with the cakes and marzipan toppings ... yeah ... the one who's delivering to the Emperor himself. Do you know how he gets that nice, deep green colour of his marzipan? Warpstone ... that's how! Crushed warpstone, delivered by chaos imps by green moonlight! So don't be surprised if the Emperor sprouts another arm or head! That'll be the marzipan to blame, I tell you that!"

- Young woman buying bread from a baker in the Werksviertel Bezirk.

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.


Saturday 8 March 2008