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Warhammer FRP - Ideal For Immature Gamers?

by Hawke Robinson published Jun 15, 2011 05:35 PM, last modified Aug 17, 2015 02:40 AM
I have delved a little further into the Warhammer Fantasy Role Play rules, and from what I am seeing, I have a working theory as to where WH FRP may have it's usefulness for a specific subtype of role playing gamer, the immature player.

This does not necessarily mean young in age, nor inexperienced in gaming, this means immature regardless of age or experience. The gamers that I usually had to ask to leave our groups because they were too disruptive, immature, dishonest, argumentative, etc. I could be wrong, but so far that seems to be how WH-FRP would be most useful compared to other RPG systems. That, and it's a lucrative business model, requiring a much larger initial financial investment and ongoing investment, especially for Game Masters wanting to find new players...

As I have delved deeper into the system, though I have not yet actually played it, I've developed some working theories about why the system is designed the way it is.

First, it is very expensive compared to every other RPG I have ever invested in since 1979. The approach they take may be a possibly lucrative business model, because unlike regular RPG's that only require purchasing a players book, a game masters book, and maybe a creature supplement or so, allowing you to then play forever using just paper, dice, and pencil with those core rules, the WHRPG requires a significant investment by the GM and the players (or additional burden on the GM to support more players).

There is a box set for the basics for $100 USD that includes reduced versions of the core rule books, the basic cards, counters, tokens, dice, small character sheets, etc. for 4 participants, this means 1 will be the GM, and the remaining 3 as players. To really "speed up" the game, it is actually really needed to spend an additional $150-300 or so for the full core rulebooks, additional dice, cards, counters, etc. This doesn't include the nearly limitless expansions averaging $30 to $100 each.

Expenses aside, it seems the approach may have more than just financial gain in mind, there may be actual legitimate reasons for all the dice, cards, counters, tokens, etc. Keeping immature players honest and reducing confusion/conflict. Maybe.

Around 1989/1990 someone asked me to GM the earlier version of Warhammer RPG. It was one rule book, and pretty much inline with other fantasy RPG systems. I quickly learned the rules, and GM him and another friend for a few sesions. It was fun enough, though I really do not remember much else.

I am evaluating WH RPG mostly just for my RPG Research project, bringing myself up to date with a wide range of the newer systems, so I am not viewing everything in the RPG industry from my "old school" perspective without at least having some experience with the latest generation of RPGs. I will blog about those other systems separately later. So, with those disclaimers that I still have yet to actually play the new version of the game, I have reached some tentative conclusions about the design of the game. This may change completely upon actually playing and GMing it, but I am posting it here for posterity sake if nothing else, and to see if my views change later, to contrast and compare.

Why do I think this is for immature gamers? The entire way they require players to "lay everything on the table" in plain view of the other players and the GM seems immediately to attempt reduction of some of the squabbling that occurs from even honest misunderstandings about who is doing what and when.

For example, even with mature gamers, using miniatures on a grid/hex battle mat can greatly reduce confusion and misunderstandings because everyone can see where they are in relation to everything else in that scene. Whereas the misunderstandings without miniatures with mature players are infrequent, and do not often lead to heated arguing, the same setting with immature players regularly devolves into "nuh uh, I was 15' back, not 10'".."No, I was behind the fighter, not next to him"..."No way, I was down the corridor, I wasn't in the room with everyone else"... etc. However, using miniatures does not resolve issues with immature players such as "No, I had already cast my invisibility spell", "No I hadn't cast it yet, I was just preparing to cast it", "Nuh uh, I had my bow in hand, not my sword.", "I had 35 hit points left, not 25", etc. Warhammer Fantasy Role Play can significantly reduce this kind of debate, since many of those issues are all represented physically on the game table for all the players and GM to see, thus reducing some dishonesty or confusion based issues.

So, this is the Nanny version of RPG systems. I can see how this would have some market demand, and solves a problem for a percentage of gamers who otherwise are forever bounced out of group after group, because of their immaturity being so disruptive to mature gamer groups. Personally this system approach so far does not appeal to me. It seems all these physical components would significantly interfere with the "suspension of disbelief" that leads to what is known in sports, recreation, and recreation therapy as "flow", that state of lost time and being so in the moment, and these constant physical reminders keep jerking you back from the shared imagining, to the mundane mechanics of adjusting a token, etc.

Ihave recruited 3 players ranging from ages 11 to 18 (I'm 40 btw) who are willing to go through the system for a while to see what we can learn about it.

I am hopeful that many aspects will be interesting, learning some interesting system rules and perspectives that may be useful. I am more skeptical about how smooth the game play will be, and wonder how much it will interfere with being in the moment and in "flow".

I could be wrong about all of this, and welcome feedback, criticism, and suggestions regarding this. I will continue reading the books.

Here is a list of the WH FRP products I purchased for this evaluation:

  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Rules (boxed set)
  • WHFRP Game Master's Toolkit (bought to have a GM screen, comes with other supplementary materials too, couldn't find screen separately so had to spend far more than wanted to just have a WHFRP GM screen)
  • Warhammer FRP Game Master's Guide (needed for more complete rule set)
  • Warhammer FRP The Creature Guide (optional but needed for more than basic adventure development and many modules)
  • WH FRP Player's Guide hardcover book (optional, eases use of system)


Unfortunately both Merlyn's and Hobbytown USA did not have any employees or people in attendance (lots of gamers in the stores) that knew anything about Warhammer FRP, so they could not advise me on what was the bare minimum to play. I have learned the following:

LITE Rules - You can play the most basic rules if you just purchase the Player's Guide and the Game Master's Guide, and nothing else. This is an extremely limited version of the system. This is a minimum base cost around $90 for the two books. You can at least have as many players as you like, and do not have to buy more supplements to play the game, but it is a very reduced version of the system.

"Medium" rules - you can play much of the basic version of the system with the Core Rules box set, but game play will be slower, and you only have enough materials (cards, tokens, character sheets, special dice, etc.) for 3 players and 1 GM. For more players you have to buy additional packs for about $30 per player. This is enough to experience much of the base system, but without the additional rules, classes, and other benefits that supposedly "speed up game play". This is a base cost around $100 for 1 GM and maximum 3 players.

Full rules - the Core Set ($100) plus the GM's guide ($40), plus The Creature Guide ($30), plus Player's Vault ($40 per player),  plus GM's Vault ($30), plus Creature Vault ($40), plus the Game Master's Toolkit ($30), plus the Adventurer's Toolkit ($30). This does not include any of the adventure, campaign, or world setting supplements (average about $30-$50 each). For a grand base cost of $680.00 USD initial investment.

I could be wrong about all of this, and welcome feedback, criticism, and suggestions regarding Fantasy Flight Games' Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I will continue reading the books, and post additional reports as we make progress creating characters, and engaging in the first adventures.

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