Thursday, 31 March 2016

Things I'd like to be writing about

I'm hoping that at some point Real Life and the remorseless paint queue will get to the state where I've time to blog about subjects beyond my latest paint job or wargame that I've played, as I'd always planned to do. If that ever happens there are four main topics I'd like to spend more time on:

  • The early medieval period as a game setting
  • The WFRP careers system in an early medieval setting
  • Wargame campaign systems
  • A grimmer Logan's World

The early medieval period as a game setting

I've seen Warhammer's Old World critisised as unoriginal and derivative but to me it's a genius piece of world design. The design criteria appears to have been "how do we fit all of our historical miniatures in" but I enjoy digging into the real world history that it draws from, be it the Holy Roman Empire or the Spice Road. Currently a lot of my gaming is Dark Ages early medieval related so naturally I've been reading up on that, and in many ways it's as much of a breath of fresh air from the generic pseudo-medieval setting that I grew up playing D&D in as a more exotic setting such as Tékumel. For example, what happens when there are no inns (or pretty much no towns for that matter)?

The WFRP careers system in an early medieval setting

WFRP is my favourite system of the admittedly relatively few RPGs I've played, and one of its great strengths is the way the careers system embeds the character into the world. However it means that to use the game in a different setting the careers system needs to be tailored to that setting. There are a couple of settings that I'd like to try it in one day: Middle Earth (which despite the Peter Jackson films should be Anglo Saxon in flavour, or so I understand) and the "time of Sigmar" (which seems to be early medieval / Ostrogoth-ish, both according to the Brief History of WFRP Time and this fantastic concept piece by Stefan Kopinski).

Wargame campaign systems

I've rambled about this before, and I'm looking forward to any insights that Tomahawk Studios forthcoming The Age of the Wolf offers.

A grimmer Logan's World

I'm trying hard to avoid being drawn back into Warhammer 40K, not least because of the paint queue implications but also that the the setting's not very attractive - but in a certain way it's also deeply fascinating. I've various ideas milling around in my head, the most recent of which was triggered by thoughts on the Oldhammer forum about a Logan's World game at this year's BOYL. The thing I find interesting about the game universe is the technology-as-religious-dogma aspect: science has been discarded, artefacts are built via ritual, and fear and superstition are positively medieval. To my mind, if a world was cut off from the Imperium then it wouldn't spawn an 80s mirror-shades view of the future, it would result in something much grimmer (and far more interesting).


  1. With my recent blog post in mind, I am looking forward to your posts on using the WFRP system as a vehicle for 'early medieval' (which, despite what historians say, just isn't as cool a term as 'DARK AGES!') gaming. I've recently picked up Cthulhu Dark Ages, Val du Loup (both BRP) and Mythic Britain for RQ6, though this is set substantially earlier. Plus I've got a whole load of Dragon Warriors stuff - I don't know if you're familiar with the setting (the world of 'Legend') but it is a relatively low magic, humanocentric Europe and Middle East analogue circa 1000AD.

    At the moment I am running an Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2e game, but I am itching to have a run a more historically-informed game. Which is why I am thinking aloud at the moment. It seems to me that in order for a group to play in such a setting the system needs to be fairly gritty - violence should not be the first option for PCs, and magic shouldn't be easy to toss around.

    I'm leaning towards a BRP (or perhaps OpenQuest/Renaissance) based game. Though I want you to convice me to use WFRP. WFRP is one of my true loves, my long lost sweetheart. But I must be getting old and slow because 2e seems to have too many 'parts' for how my brain works these days. The proliferation of talents and so on reminds me of the way in which every single model in WFB acquired 'Special Rules'. I prefer games in which the 'stat line' can be trusted to do 90% of the work, with exceptions to the general mechanics saved for rare occasions. Nevertheless, I hope to be convinced that I am wrong...

    1. I agree - Dark Ages is much cooler. But...

      I couldn't say I'm familiar with Dragon Warriors - I've a feeling I may have leafed through it when it was new, and every time it crops up in internet discussions nowadays I think I must seek it out again, but there's never enough time...

      I'm vaguely aware of Mythic Britain, although having just read the blurb for it - - even with what little I now know of the historical period I'm slightly struggling against the urge to write a "but that's not right" piece. Hopefully in a gaming context I could take it at face value and enjoy it (but don't get me started on Tintagel...!).

      WFRP 2e is something else I need to find time to take a proper look at - the consensus seems to be that it's 1e with some of the more broken bits fixed. Although personally I never found 1e that broken, and even after all this time I'm pretty sure I could run it an autopilot, so there's a strong argument to stick with what I know.

      In terms of grittiness I'd agree - I've a pretty good feel of where I'd set the magic level for a historically-informed game from those of the books that I've read over the last few years where this "seems right" - a subject for a post shortly, hopefully.

      Back to the WFRP subject, I will get to this, but probably not as soon as I'd like. The "trouble" with early medieval is that it's so different, and yet not, from the pseudo-medieval that most gamers have as a common currency that it's hard to know where to start. Plus I'm conscious that I'm actually still very ignorant on the subject.

    2. I'm lucky that despite being quite well read not much sticks so I'm rarely saying, 'but that's not right!' But Mythic Britain is very much in the vein of Bernard Cornwell's 'Arthur' books, which I very much enjoyed. My problem with things like Mythic Britain is there is just so much detail that it is always hard to see how I could get up and begin playing without tremendous commitment.

      Dragon Warriors setting is much more accessible to a more 'casual' player - after all the system is a class and level game, a British 1980s introductory D&D-ish game. It is certainly not real history, any more than the Empire of WFRP is the Holy Roman Empire. But it is a solid enough setting that is fairly consistent in tone.

      There is something about Cthulhu Dark Ages and Val du Loup is much more accessible, given the level of commitment I (and my players) can offer to a game. That's not a slight on Mythic Britain - it is, like RQ6, a spectacular piece of work. And it does have some nifty looking mass combat rules that could be used with other d100 systems. But I'll have to offer some kind of commentary on my blog re: the BRP dark ages/early medieval books, hopefully informed by actual play!