Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play

So you take Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, a game with a venerable heritage, and give it to an expert RPG design company. Green Ronin re-designs it, making changes while retaining the soul of the original game. They succeed, including being true to Games Workshop's rich fantasy world.

Green Ronin's WFRP wins Game of the Year at Enworld in 2005. Their Old World Bestiary goes on to win best monster product. In 2007, Lure of The Liche Lord wins best adventure. Children of the Horned Rat, a hugely innovative RPG product, narrowly misses the first place award that same year for best writing (it gets a silver award). Innovative products continue, such as Renegade Crowns, a brilliant, system neutral world design book (every DM should have one on their shelf). Granted, there were a lot of hit or miss products for this game, but the hits were golden.

In 2008, Black Industries, a division of Games Workshop that makes products with the license, is shut down by GW and the future of WFRP is uncertain. So what do we get in 2009? Four years into an award winning game system, it's a do over. It's a do over in the format of a giant, boondoggle box set from Fantasy Flight Games, with the lead designer known for writing D&D adventures (no offense to him).

It looks like a hybrid RPG-board game, with hundreds of "power" cards and lots of counters. I try to be a cheerleader for the game industry, but can we have a collective "WTF?" I want to remain open minded, but sometimes it's hard. It will be unveiled at Gencon this week, so hopefully my apprehension is misplaced. It's just sad to see something so solid, discarded so easily.