Ferretbrain, the webzine I’ve written stuff for since 2006, is shutting down, so I’m transferring all of my RPG and gamebook-related articles from there to here. Tomorrow, there’ll be a little flood of articles, as one per hour posts from midnight UK time onwards until my Ferretbrain RPG-adjacent back catalogue is all back up here. Thought I’d put this heads up here for the benefit of those of you following via RSS etc., and if you haven’t seen these articles already I hope you enjoy them.
WFRP 4th edition is here! As the back cover blurb proudly puts it (beneath the classic tagline of “A Grim World of Perilous Adventure”), “Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay takes you back to the Old World.” Whereas Games Workshop blew up the Old World setting to kick off the Age of Sigmar setting as far as their tabletop wargame offerings go, Cubicle 7’s new edition of WFRP is one of a range of licensed products, including the Total War: Warhammer videogames and Black Library reprints, to have been set in the original Old World setting despite emerging after the Age of Sigmar release.
An entirely separate Age of Sigmar RPG, with a different system more suited to the somewhat different style of fantasy that setting lends itself to features, is apparently in the pipeline: WFRP 4th Edition, in contrast, is something of a nostalgia product – Cubicle 7 set themselves the goal of presenting an updated, improved take on the 2nd edition rules but injecting a lot of 1st edition feel and atmosphere, and they pretty much deliver exactly that – right down to the cover art paying tribute to 1st edition’s cover.
One beneficial side effect of Sandy Petersen and Greg Stafford stepping in to take direct control of Chaosium and put a new regime in place (spearheaded by the Moon Design Publications crew) is that it allowed the new regime to work closely with the creators of Chaosium’s most beloved setting (Stafford and Glorantha) and RPG (Petersen with Call of Cthulhu). On the Stafford side of things, it enabled them to produce a shiny new edition of RuneQuest that’s truer to Stafford’s vision than any preceding edition (having incorporated concepts developed in his home campaign and Pendragon in quite an artful manner), and it’s nice that they were able to do this before Stafford’s unexpected passing.
On the Petersen side, his takeover took place a bit late in the day for him to have much direct role in the new edition of Call of Cthulhu – Mike Mason and Paul Ficker had largely done the job already and the old regime at Chaosium had got up to the point of working on the layout and preparing for printing before they fell over and died. Moreover, the new edition is pretty dang good and doesn’t really need that much of a tweak in the first place, and Petersen has Petersen Games and Cthulhu Wars to manage as well, so one can’t necessarily expect to him to just dive in and start writing masses of material for the game again.
No, I’d say the first really big fruit of Petersen’s new closer involvement with nu-Chaosium is Petersen’s Abominations, which is a set of five modern-day scenarios based on scenarios devised by Petersen for convention play.
Chaosium’s new edition of RuneQuest is now out in the wild in hardcopy and PDF. Whereas RuneQuest was pushed as a generic fantasy system for its third edition (developed by Chaosium and published by Avalon Hill), its two Mongoose editions and the incarnation offered up by the Design Mechanism, for its return to Chaosium it’s also returning to its roots as a game intrinsically tied to the Glorantha setting, as was the case for its first two editions.
Part of this doubtless arises from the preferences of the new regime at Chaosium. After Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen reassumed control of the company – as I’ve chronicled elsewhere – they brought in the gang from Moon Design to become the new board of directors. Moon Design are a group of Glorantha superfans who had previously teamed up with Greg Stafford to produce the Hero Wars/Heroquest RPG, the epic Guide to Glorantha, and other Gloranthan materials. It’s only to be expected that they would feel a certain affection for the setting and a certain nostalgia for the glory days of RuneQuest‘s 2nd edition, which as well as being a generally favoured edition in the wider fandom is also the clear favourite of the Glorantha-happy section of the fandom.