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What is the appeal of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay?


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WFRP 1e was both the first game that I was a GM for and the game that took me from thinking thinking rpgs seemed good to realising that no other form of entertainment would ever be quite as satisfying (or miserable). And it is true today. RPGs still provide me with more entertainment than any other medium, and on the odd occasion be so hard and tough they are a trully miserable experience.

But what is it about WFRP that made it so special. Although it had a WIFF factor and combat was trully dangerous back in the mid to late 1980s I had a group of players who really wanted to sink into the game. I cannot explain in simple terms how that strange group of people got together, because we really only interacted together as a group when we got together to play The Enemy Within Campaign, we had different sets of friends at school. But WFRP and that campaign were ours. A great deal of my love for WFRP was how we made The Old World ours.

As it is obvious character death is easy in this game, players are careful. At least mine were. They chose their risks, well they did after having to run away, hide, or get injured once too often. The players loved the sense of terror when a man with a well executed plan and a cross bow seemed like death incarnate. This all before they encountered something trully monstrous.

What I liked about 1e and why it still holds a special place for me as a GM is simply that the world, although darkly humorous, held together in an interesting way. Someone had thought about how to make this world hang together. The coaching ins, the river and its trade networks. The fact that someone explained how and where villages would crop up around cities. There was a bias to making a game world for a game, you can see it in the design if you look, but it still feels like a living breathing world. I loved that people who went to university really could be recruited by dark shadowy people and shown the really dark magic. I loved that magic was something that you learned at university full stop (now we have colour magic and its special schools I feel an interesting side to the entire idea of magic has been lost to me).

It should also be said that it really did feel like a British game. There was something quirky and obviously home designed that spoke volumes off the page. No other game designed or released by British companies over the last decade have felt that way. Oddly they even managed to make the most recent LotR game feel American to me. I cannot explain why, its just a feeling.

Oddly my love of WFRP 1 has made playing 2e, 3e and 4e quite tough. I am coloured by my nostalgia. I have run The Enemy within so often now I can run a version of it right up to Power Behind the Throne without referring to the text. I do want to game in the Old World again, and I do much prefer the new rules in 4e. I just have to place it on my calendar. There are games I have in queues now, as although I no longer have groups that give weekends up to play games I do have people who want to play enough to give me at least two evening sessions per week. However, we have a queue for our games, so others take precedence.
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