Tuesday, 27 November 2007

WFRP, 11 years between editions, maybe not

Mike over at hackslash.net examines a simple averaging of time between game system editions, and has some interesting comments starting, so jump over and check it out.

The simple observation of averages, calculated to answer all of the lamenting of D&D fans over WotC plans for a “4e,” acknowledges a skewing in three core systems due to very lengthy periods between editions, none more lengthly than WFRP. I want to add some additional notes to the 11 years between editions. Because “neglected” is heavy word to hang on WFRP in this sampling.

Most would argue that WFRP was never neglected, at least by the player base of the 1st edition. While I did not start playing again until the Black Industries revival in the 2nd edition, I did still have my 1st edition copy. I, in fact, had pulled it out of storage, interested in playing again even before learning that a 2nd edition was on the cusp of release.

My renewed interest was founded in a respect for the original system that had a solid core rule set that stood the test of time for many players. Even the 2nd edition design notes attest to this, yet even I acknowledge that the 2nd edition makes vast, welcome, and important improvements to the 1st edition. But 11 years doesn’t tell another story:

There was another publisher of WFRP between 1986 and 2005: Hogshead. They maintained the award winning system for 7 years (1995-2002). Hogshead published a revised edition1 of the core rulebook, one might say a “v1.5” edition.

This historical note changes Mike’s calculations to an average of 7.33 years between WFRP releases. It doesn't change the fact the WFRP has the longest average between releases, but I might argue this doesn’t speak ill of the system (a system I would also argue is more playable than any D&D edition, other than v1.0).

That’s my 2 coppers. ~o)

meta-footnote-1=Apocrypha Now was more of a rules supplement than an outright edition like D&D 3.5, i.e., entirely rebound core rule books incorporating changes. Hogshead, as many fans will defend, found that WFRP had a solid rules foundation that needed very little maintenance, but for the welcome overhaul in the 2nd edition by Green Ronin and Black Industries in 2005, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warhammer_Fantasy_Roleplay
Posted by caffeinated at 9:26 PM in d10


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Comment: Mike at Tue, 27 Nov 11:12 PM

I meant no disrespect to wfrp. It was all but abandoned by GW for many years which worked out well for 1st edition enthusiasts. I only chose it as one of the samples because I knew it would be an extreme case. You must admit that if GW had continued publishing it all this time, it would be up to 3rd or 4th edition by now. GW is certainly not afraid to churn out new editions every few years for 40k or Warhammer Fantasy.

Comment: joe.caffeinated at Wed, 28 Nov 8:01 PM

No disrespect taken.

I agree that GW is not shy about rev. WFB and W40K. Not shy at all. That said there have been great debates and analysis of the business model GW sought with WFRP in 1986 that seemed flawed, or poorly executed, or lacked charismatic leaders in the halls of GW.

My argument was hung on the idea that GW did rev WFRP between 1986 and 2005. Maybe your observation should have had the caveat: published and bound releases. This is assumed in your statistics. Apocrypha Now is not such a release, so maybe doesn't qualify in your sampling. I only argued that this was "1.5e" for WFRP, and defended the system at the same time.

That defense being that 7.33 years, or 11, it doesn't matter. 1st edition was enjoyed, played, and fan nurtured, for 22 years (that makes me old) without GW support, or 2e, 3e, 3.5e, ne releases to sate a business bottom line. But WFRP 2nd edition rocks. :)

Comment: Mike at Thu, 29 Nov 8:23 AM

True. I just didn't want to split hairs over what constituted a new edition. As far as I know, the Hoghead's version is virtually the same as the GW one. And things would have gotten very messy if I counted books of optional rules as being new editions. D&D would have tons of editions if that were the case. In any case, I wouldn't expect WFRP to go another 11 years without a new edition. Seeing how the industry average seems to be around 6 years, we'll probably see WFRP 3 in 2010-11.

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