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Thursday, August 25, 2005

WFRP rocks- it’s official!

Congratulations are due to Black Library and Green Ronin for the great success enjoyed by WFRP2 in the ENnie awards at GenCon this year.

Winning Best Production Values and Best Game for WFRP2, and Best Adversary/Monster Product for the OWB, Black Industries scooped gold in all 3 categories in which it was nominated. This strikes me as pretty good going for a game in its first year of publication. Chris Pramas, T.S. Luikart, and Ian Sturrock in particular must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves, and rightly so. Their writing impressed me immediately I delved into their winning works and, given the fun WFRP2 has given me already, well, I’m pleased for them.

I can think of one person who might just be feeling a little bit peeved though, and that’s Ryan Dancey. Regular readers might remember my remarks re. the hysteria occasioned by his review of WFRP2. In a comment I posted elsewhere at the time, I said of the WFRP2 review:
“I thought that the review was fair, balanced and favourable. It was opinionated to be sure- perhaps even ignorant in places; but the reviewer stated and argued his opinions while at the same time giving the product a 4/5 points favourable review."
I don’t impute this peevishness because of anything Mr. Dancey said about WFRP2, and the fact that it won the big prize. No, I say this because of the review he also posted about the OWB.

It turns out that this review of the OWB- a book about which I wrote my own first impressions here was where Mr. Dancey’s opinionated and ignorant chickens came home to roost.

Here are some choice quotes from the review.
“If you are looking for more "flavor" material to help you understand the Warhammer Fantasy world, then the first half of this book will be helpful. If you can figure out for yourself why demons, orcs, skaven, dragons, ogres, and vampires are evil and should be killed & looted, you may wonder what you're supposed to do with 65 pages of average or below-average quality, stream of conscious, intentionally error-riddled fiction.”
The chickens are heading home already. Mr. Dancey is entitled not to share my high opinion of the great value of all this material to a WFRP GM. Even so: what are people going to be buying the OWB for if it’s not more "flavor" material to help you understand the Warhammer Fantasy world? Is someone really likely to buy the OWB to convert its contents for another system, d20 say?
“The Warhammer World is a very classic fantasy property. Once the Games Workshop content is excluded … the other monsters are primarily based on common European myths and legends… The reader may find this completely appropriate given the roots of the Old World setting, or boring repetition of materials already covered by a hundred other products, depending on the reader's perspective.”
Erm, are we here being told that a new edition of a venerable and much-loved frpg (or any other game for that matter, eg. a modern period rpg with the inevitable weapons lists already covered by a hundred other products) isn’t allowed to present familiar material in terms of its own rules? Surely not? (The chickens are airborne btw.)
“There are, unfortunately, a number of things missing from this book that would have improved it substantially.. .That material would be:
1. Treasure tables and guidelines for determining what can be looted from the bodies and lairs of the monsters 2. Information on organizational structures and warbands larger than individual creatures
3. "How to make a monster" rules to allow GMs to either create new critters or easily import monsters from other sources (i.e. D20)
4. Monsterous magic items”
The chickens have landed! Look, it’s one thing to review a new core rpg product in a way that says to players of other games (the main game in town in this case) that here is a game they might find useful (gamers being the inveterate systems tinkerers that we are), or that you might even want to play.

It’s another thing entirely to review a supporting product for that same system entirely from the standpoint of whether it repeats material already extant in the games those people are already playing (ie. D&D/d20); whether it is written to conform to the way those games are played; or whether it facilitates conversion to those games. Clearly, from that perspective- ie. as a d20 sourcebook (as opposed that is, to a key part of a WFRP2 GM's library)- the WFRP2 OWB deserved the measly 2 stars awarded it by Mr. Dancey. Thank goodness then for the WFRP players who thought it deserved 5 stars and more.

Of course, Mr. Dancey might well share the satisfaction of many gamers at the Gold award given to OWB. But if he gave more than 2 stars to any other product eligible in that particular category, then I think dissatisfaction with the result can fairly be asserted, even if the suggestion of peevishness is an imputation too far.

Finally, I’d just like to add my own note of congratulations to the guys at HERO for Villainy Amok’s silver in the Best Adventure category. Well done all concerned.
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