Graeme Davies [WFRP]


[review] Davis started playing Dungeons & Dragons in the mid-1970s, shortly after it was first imported into the United Kingdom.
After leaving school he worked in the banking industry before studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree in archaeology at the University of Durham in 1979. He graduated in 1982 and started work towards a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
His first paid writing for the game was an article in Games Workshop’s White Dwarf magazine in 1982. Many others followed, for White Dwarf and other magazines such as TSR, Inc.'s Imagine.
A job offer from Games Workshop in 1986 prompted Davis to leave university with his Ph.D. unfinished.[citation needed] However, his historical and archaeological knowledge and research skills have been put into use throughout his career with several firms and as a freelancer.
He was one of the original designers of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Games Workshop spun Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay into a new subsidiary called Flame Publications in 1989, and Davis remained on staff at Flame.
Davis published his first novel, Blood and Honor, book four in the Eberron The War-Torn series, in 2006.

Since 2009 Davis has been the line editor for Rogue Games' historical horror RPG Colonial Gothic, contributing to several titles in the line.
[/review]


Have you ever heard about the fact that in Poland people are playing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying in darker conventions? Through Polish game designer Ignacy Trzewiczek (Portal)? 

I had not heard of this, although I know WFRP has always been popular in Poland so this news doesn't surprise me. WFRP has always been popular in Poland: while at GW I received one submission (in excellent English) from a Polish fan which was good enough to publish. I saw a few issues of a Polish magazine called "Magia i Miecz" (did I spell that right?) and Polish was one of the first languages to receive a WFRP translation. Since then, I have learned that Poland has a great strength in dark fantasy, with "The Witcher" books and games being translated into English. When we were creating WFRP we never imagined that it would ever be popular outside the English-speaking world (being typical lazy Anglophones, none of us could read Schwarze Auge in German, never mind anything in Polish!) so the international response really took us by suprise.

How do you think - the second edition brought more positives in the world game ? Let us dispense with mechanical changes. 

I don't think there is a definitive answer to this. 2nd edition did bring the WFRP background "up to date" with changes that had taken place in the main Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB) setting between 1986 and 2005: the most significant changes, to my mind, were setting 2nd edition after the Storm of Chaos (an event that was big at the time but has now been mostly forgotten in WFB lore) and changing Karl-Franz from the vulnerable old man of 1986 to the mighty griffon-riding warrior of subsequent Empire army books for WFB. The latter change, in particular, upset many 1st edition fans.
Neither change bothers me, particularly, because I am from a generation of roleplayers who almost never ran an adventure or a campaign exactly as it was written. So where others might see maddening inconsistency, I see a few new things that can be used if they make the game better, or ignored if they don't. As far as the published adventures go, the effects of these background changes are smaller than they seem. How many times does the Emperor appear in person? Very few. If a place was devastated by Chaos and the Storm of Chaos does not fit in the GM's idea of the setting, then the destructon came from a local outbreak of Beastmen or a cult that summoned daemons that it could not control.
To me, the greatest positives of 2nd edition came from the mechanical changes. The background changes I neither love nor hate

Now is time for the next edition for four edition of Warhammer. How should it look like?

There has been a lot of discussion about this on Strike to Stun and the Fantasy Flight forums. I think there are some lessons to be learned from 3rd edition, or at least some questions that can only be answered by having access to sales data that FFG and GW will probably never release. How did the component-heavy approach affect sales? It certainly created some noise in the fan community, but what are the facts behind the rhetoric on either side? FFG's production values were very high and the books were beautiful, but would WFRP3 have been more successful if the books had been monochrome inside and lower-priced? Arguably it was harder for fans to create their own adventures and supplemental rules for WFRP3 than for previous editions (although there has been some discussion online about making new components), and did this hamper the growth of a strong and creative fan community like the one that kept WFRP1 alive without oxygen for the years between Flame and Hogshead?
Without knowing the answers to these questions, my personal opinion is that I would like to see WFRP4 return to a more component-light format so that GMs can create their own material more easily. I would like to see a simple and low-priced basic set that would encourage new players to try the game - perhaps also a free, downloadable "jump start kit" like some games have used. As well as satisfying players of the previous editions, WFRP4 should try very hard to appeal to new gamers and grow the fan base. There are many more tabletop RPGs on the market today than there were in 1986 (or 1995, or 2009) and the task of making a game financially sustainable is more challenging than it has ever been before, so new fans are vital, and so is a strong and active fan community to make the newcomers feel welcome and stimulate their interest in the game. I wrote a blog post a little while ago about the economics of tabletop RPGs  and there are some tough realities that any new game (or new edition of an existing game) has to face. WFRP4 would have an easier time than a completely new game because of the strong and loyal WFRP fan community, but it would still have to work very hard in order to survive and prosper.

After the third which has name "board game" ?

Some people liked the 3rd edition's component-heavy approach, and others hated it for not being a traditional book-only RPG. I had my doubts about 3rd edition when I first saw it , but after reading it through carefully I found it was quite playable and most of the components helped streamline the amount of record-keeping that has to go on during a game. The dice mechanic created some interesting possibilities and could be quite powerful in the hands of a skilled GM, but it was a lot harder to figure the numerical probabilities of success and failure than with a percentile-based system. The components helped streamline play, as I have said, but I think they limited the GM's freedom to create new adventures because it is harder to make a new component for an adventure than it is to write down the necessary numbers on a piece of paper. Also, once you have the core set and a few adventure boxes, there are so many cards, both big and little, that it can be a job to keep them all organized and find the one(s) you want quickly and easily.

You are following Strike is Stun, can you recommend some fansites productions? 

Strike to Stun was one of the first WFRP fan sites I came across, and there is a good community there. The FFG forums focus on 3rd edition (naturally enough), but they are another great community and there already plans to find them a new home if FFG shuts the boards down. The other places I go online are WFRP 1st Edition Fans on Facebook and the three main WFRP communities on Google+. These tend to be a little quieter, but they are still friendly and welcoming places. I also read the Oldhammer blog "Realm of Chaos 80s" which has a lot of interviews with people from GW at that time (including me!), and I blog myself at graemedavis.wordpress.com. The most popular posts are the WFRP ones.

Let's go back to the beginnings of WFRP ... The game was made to fast - the target has been achieved. For some time WFRP was at the forefront of RPG.

By the time I arrived at GW, WFRP's release date was only a few months away. The first drafts had been written by Rick Priestley with input from Bryan Ansell and Richard Halliwell, and its mechanics were more like those of a wargame than an RPG. I worked to make it into a good RPG, along with Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher when they arrived a month or two after me, but we had a very limited time to work on it. It was the adventures, I think - especially the early chapters of The Enemy Within - that gave the game its personality, and for a long time fans were willing to put up with the little strangenesses in the game mechanics because they liked the setting and the adventures so much.

Now I think it would be hard to get back on the podium. 

The tabletop RPG market today is tougher than it has ever been, I think. Video games have taken away a lot of potential players, and at the same time self-publishing and electronic distribution have led to an explosion in the number of small publishers. In my work with Colonial Gothic, I am constantly trying to find new ways to reach new players and GMs, and it is difficult because there are so many other games out there. It's hard to shout loud enough to be heard, when so many others are all shouting at the same time. 

Why there will be more products than WH 40. I've heard that WHF is only about 30% of the entire line of Warhammer ... Line Historical Fantasy also closed ... 

As far as GW is concerned, WFRP ceased to be a core product when Flame shut down. Hogshead was in independent license holder, and Black Industries was a collaboration with Green Ronin. FFG, too, published the game under license from GW. Since Flame closed, GW has focused on 40K, WFB, and the Lord of the Rings. RPGs simply don't sell as many miniatures as wargames, and GW's money comes from miniatures sales. There has been a long trend of focusing on those three core product lines: Epic Scale 40K, Warmaster, Blood Bowl, and others were downgraded and eventually dropped, even though they sold more miniatures than WFRP did.

Don't you think that GW is too restrictive to the fans? You know I mean "Space Marines" matter whether this long formula copyright. Some fans even afraid to publish their materials (heh). 

GW needs to protect its intellectual properties since these are the root of all its profits. Occasionally there are embarrassing slips about copyright of certain terms, but this is nothing new. TSR tried to trademark "Orc" in D&D once, and "Nazi" in the Indiana Jones RPG. Unlike wargames, RPGs thrive when fans are inspired and create their own material, and since there are very few RPG magazines any more a lot of this material is shared online - Strike to Stun, in particular, has a large collection of fan-made material, much of it very good. I think (and I'm no lawyer, so I may be wrong) that problems only arise when people try to sell their own adventures and sourcebooks for games that belong to someone else.

Where have taken all these crazy ideas straight from Monty Python, it's Ken Rolston was responsible for the fun stuff: Jabberwocky, Something Rotten In Kislev, Deviants& Decadents & more funny 

All of us who worked on WFRP 1st edition had grown up watching Monty Python and other comedy shows, and the early editions of WFB also has a lot of jokes in the text. Ken certainly brought his own inimitable voice to SRiK, and he's a very funny guy. Deviants and Decadents came from Carl Sargent, who could also be very funny indeed. The mixture of horror and humor was an early hallmark of WFRP, and it was a very delicate balance. It worked great when we got it right, but we didn't always get it right. 

For two years WFRP will celebrate 30 years. What you promise us as the author first ed.?
It's hard for me to say what the future will hold for WFRP. The first question to be answered will be what happens to the license now that FFG has officially stopped producing 3rd edition material, and whether there will be a 4th edition. Right now, I don't know any more than anyone else does, but I'll be keeping me eyes and ears open for news. If and when I hear anything that seems reliable, I'll be sharing what I can on my blog.

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