Monday, 14 April 2014

Random parenting insight into my hobbies

Inspired by Snicket's vaguely related post about younger relatives and gaming I've finally dusted this off my draft pile... Posts on consecutive days? Whatever next?!

Being somewhat older now than I was when I started playing RPGs, and Warhammer Fantasy Battle a few years after that, I now have children who are themselves (independently) showing an interest in these hobbies. And it's enlightening to consider my own reaction to their interests.

A few years ago (before I'd discovered the Oldhammer movement, perhaps before it even recognisably existed) our eldest boy got into Warhammer 40k. I vaguely mentioned I'd played myself in my youth, and my wife and I saw it as a convenience in terms of buying Christmas presents, but otherwise I didn't express much interest. In hindsight I should have at least involved myself in the painting side of things but was held back by a couple of factors, partly not wanting to encroach on the hobby he shared with his friends but also coloured by my own rejection of the Games Workshop of 20+ years ago. Anyway, after a year or so his interest waned and that was that.

Then several weeks ago our number 3 son (counting in age order only, I hasten to add!) very hesitantly explained that he wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons with his friends, and seemed a bit nonplussed at our casual acceptance of this.

The point (I'm getting to it, honest!) is that, if he'd wanted to play Warhammer rather than D&D, my reaction would be more complex and probably in many ways less supportive. My reason - I'm betting the current edition doesn't contain anything along the lines of "Of course, there is nothing to stop you developing your own world background, or of adapting the background from any book you have read to form the basis for your games" (WFB 3rd edition, Introduction, p9).

Warhammer has always been a sales tool for a miniatures manufacturer, but from what I've seen (although this could be me confirming my own prejudices) modern Warhammer is proscriptive rather than creative, whereas a role playing game can't help but be about creation and imagination.

In the hypothetical scenario where he did want to play Warhammer I could of course espouse the virtues of Oldhammer, but it'd be my eccentricities versus what his peers are playing and the marketing budget of the 800lb gorilla. And (again, from what I've seen) modern Warhammer doesn't even give you the tools to make it up for yourself - for example number 1 son's version of the 40K rulebook is only a third of a rulebook by 2nd edition standards (Combat only, no Battle Magic or Battle Bestiary, and with the points values section of Combat removed).

Hopefully I'd be able to create a small bubble of enlightenment amongst him and his friends, but I'm guessing that (for example) giving gifts of non-GW figures would lead to the same expression of contained disappointment as when, in years gone by, a relative bought him the big console game of the season - but for the wrong console.


  1. A good read and I think sits alongside my own article nicely, you explore the worry of playing present editions of Warhammer/40k which I completely understand. However, I think I would start with the present stuff and then, if they/he/whoever took to it then I'd say "Hey, this is good, but how about these bananas?".

    Incidentally, the hard back version of the current Warhammer rules contains a section for creating your own troop types. I don't own the book, I own the slimmed down version in the current rules boxed set, so I can't make comment on how good they are but it's a nice addition that maybe shows a glimmer of the games creator and not the business..............maybe.........................

  2. I figure you have this nailed pretty much already. To be honest I'd be in awe of any kid that picked up the modern game of DnD. To me it looks like an exercise in micromanagement and slow story progression. But if the kids get their kicks from it who are we to stand in their way? (Well apart from purse string holding parents.)