Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay! WTF?

Warhammer Fantasy RoleplayFantasy Flight Games will release a new version of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game at GenCon this year.

WHFRP was one of the first RPGs I played back in the day (this was still the 1st edition then). The updated 2nd edition that was released a couple of years ago, was awesome. It not only managed to fix a lot of broken rules the old edition had but it also succeeded doing so without making it a totally different game.

And when I first heard about the 3rd edition Fantasy Flight Games is about to release, I thought it was a hoax. But alas it was not. Graham McNeill has posted the following on his blog (emphasis added by me):

A coupe of weeks ago, our regular roleplaying group was privileged enough to playtest 3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. The guys from Fantasy Flight Games were over at Games Workshop HQ, and Jay Little very kindly did a show and tell for us over at Alessio Cavatore’s house, where we saw how much the game has changed from its previous incarnation. Our gaming group has been going for some time and we were all interested to see what was new with WFRP, since we’d playtested the previous edition also. It was in interesting evening, and the game was very different to anything I’ve played before, with a lot of table space taken up by character sheets, action and ability cards, dice etc. It felt like a strange hybrid of board game and roleplaying game at first, but once the notions of the new mechanics took hold, it felt very natural. Likewise, the new dice pool system felt odd at first, but once we’d rolled a few dice it immediately became very intuitive, which is surely the holy grail of any roleplaying system.

Seriously! Is this D&D 4th Edition all over again? Why can’t they just fix things that are broken instead of making it a completely new game? At this time I still hoped for a hoax or at least a misunderstanding, but alas I was so wrong.

Now, it’s official. FFG has created a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and it’s a strange hybrid of board game and RPG and it uses dice pools, action and ability cards. And they sell it as a box for $100!!!

From the looks of it, WHFRP will be a great looking game with a nice box containing several rulebooks, custom dice and many cards. So the production value will probably be pretty awesome, but I don’t think a complete overhaul of the system was the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks great from an artistic standpoint. I can’t  judge the rules, since I haven’t had the chance to check out the real thing, but I am worried. I am just worried that one of the oldest fantasy roleplaying franchises is turned into a boardgame.

I believe I sound like a total grognard right now, but why do these companies think, that we want games that use action cards and fancy dice? Does this really improve the roleplaying experience? And why is it necessary to change the WHFRP rules beyond recongnition? The box will also set you back almost $100. Obviously the industry is doing pretty fine, when you can release a $100 RPG/boardgame hybrid during a time of economical crisis! And I thought the “World of Warcraft Boardgame was expensive! Perhaps they reasoned that FFG’s strength are high production values and boardgames, so they wanted to make use of that in an overhauled Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game.

Sorry, I usually don’t rant on this blog and perhaps I am terribly wrong about all this. Perhaps the new edition of WHFRP is the best thing since sliced bread and we’ll all play and enjoy it in a few months. Or I am right and we’ll all hate it and I can say “See, I told you so!”

Stargazer signing off!