I thought I was done with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay after Black Industries closed and Fantasy Flight licensed it and other properties from GW. Then one day I got an e-mail from Jeff Tidball asking me if Green Ronin would be willing to do ease the transition by doing some final work on the line. My initial reaction was no but then I thought about it some and changed my mind. Rob Schwalb had left Green Ronin by this point, so I would be handling development duties myself. This made it a double return; WFRP to GR and me to development.
I pitched several ideas (including a Career Encyclopedia, which I guess FFG liked because they did it later) and we settled on a book of organizations. I sent out an e-mail entitled “Getting the Band Back Together” to some of our most reliable WFRP freelancers (Jody Macgregor, David Chart, Andy Law, Steve Darlington, and Eric Cagle) asking for pitches on flavorful organizations. I worked out a format for each organization, and made clear that I wanted each one to be a group PCs could join, as well as being suitable for GM use in adventures and intrigues.
I also decided to write up an organization myself. I hadn’t done any WFRP writing since Children of the Horned Rat, so I thought I’d take the opportunity. The group I chose to do–the Knights of Magritta–had their origin in a proposal I wrote for James Wallis at Hogshead around 1995. It was for an adventure in which the PCs went looking for a legendary group of knights who had left Estalia centuries before. I took the basics of the group but then changed their history after leaving Estalia, turning them into a secret society more like the Freemasons than the Knights Templar. It was fun taking something I had created at the beginning of my professional work on WFRP and reinterpreting it for the end of my WFRP work.
The finished book, Shades of Empire, came out a couple of months ago and for a project that had to come together quite quickly I’m pleased with the results. WFRP stuff is so often centered on cults and Chaos, it was nice to do a book that explored some other aspects of the Old World. Cheers to my co-authors for helping GR leave WFRP in style.
For now it seems my professional connection to WFRP is at an end. It remains one of my favorite RPGs and I’m glad I had the chance to help bring it back for a new generation of gamers. While the road was sometimes dark and perilous, I only really regret the products I most wanted to do that never happened. Here are the top three.
A Proper Starter Set: My initial product proposal for GW included a boxed starter set to recruit new players into roleplaying. I argued that most roleplayers got their start with D&D; and then other companies had to win them away. Wouldn’t it be nice if we recruited them directly so they bypassed D&D; entirely? I proposed using single piece plastic minis already developed by GW for other products like Warhammer Quest. With the molds paid for, producing the minis would cost very little. As it was to go throughout our relationship, any suggestion of mixing roleplaying with minis was a no go. That was a real shame.
The Age of Sigmar: I wanted to do a series of campaign setting books that explored the Empire in different historical periods. The Age of Three Emperors was high on the list, but the one I wanted to do the most was the Age of Sigmar. This would allow a campaign to take place at the very founding of the Empire as Sigmar united the various tribes under his banner. We’d replace Renaissance trappings with brutal barbarians, doing WFRP Conan style. GW was reluctant to do this book because so little had been written about the era and basically if anyone was going to detail it was going to be them. It’s their IP so fair enough, and subsequently Black Library did some books about Sigmar so there’s more info now. I should probably just do this as a home campaign some time.
Orks and Blackfire: There was a point where we were pairing a sourcebook with a tie-in adventure. We had an Ork book on the schedule for awhile, planning to do for them what Children of the Horned Rat did for Skaven. The tie-in book was to take place in Blackfire Pass, allowing us to detail that out as an adventuring area. These two books got pushed back several times for various reasons and then went off the schedule altogether. The Orks haven’t gotten a lot of love in WFRP and it would have been nice to have that chance.
I will be interested to see how the line develops under FFG. I also hope that GW itself explores other areas like Araby and Ind some day. For now I can just go back to being a WFRP and Warhammer fan and that is pleasantly liberating.
I’ve got a Wallis-era WFRP proposal from 1997 sitting on my hard drive but I can’t read the file type anymore. All I know is it was called DREAD EMPIRE and I think it was about a plague. Oh well!
Been reading “Shades of Empire” this week with plans to include the Dreamwalkers in my Sunday home game. It’s an inspiring collection of groups filled with cools ideas and ready made adventure hooks. Of course seeing the credits of Jody Macgregor, David Chart, Andy Law, Steve Darlington, Eric Cagle and you made it a must have for the collection. I hope Jeff and the FFG crew turn to you folks again!
Warhammer’s Old World long ago captured my imagination in a way matched only by Tolkien’s. And WFRP was the game which gave me my first taste of its delights back in the late 80’s.
You did and all your Green Ronin fellows did a bang-up good job in reviving the rpg line, Chris. I can well remember how impressed I was by your own work writing the rules. And I can tell you that my WFRP is the fattest collection of rpg books that has ever sat on my bookshelves (it’d been HERO5 for a while).
I’m not sure what my roleplaying future is going to bring, for one reason and another. But I can tell you that WFRP products published under the Green Ronin imprint are going to play a big part in anything I’d like to do.
I’m glad to hear that WFRP wasn’t spoiled for you by the trials and tribulations of v2. Really, you revived the game and helped to create an entirely new generation of grognard fan writers who’ll keep it alive through fire and flood.
Age of Sigmar. Yes. I want it.
Shades of Empire = Teh Awesome. Thanks.