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Warhammer meets Fantasy Craft

25/06/2012

I’ve been kicking around the idea of using Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy miniatures in a roleplaying game for a while now. Yes, I know there’s already a Warhammer Fantasy RPG out there, I even briefly played an earlier version of it. I want to come up with my own setting that can utilise GW’s range of models as PCs, NPCs, and monsters. Basically, it’s a way of justifying my random and impulsive method of buying miniatures. (They’re an investment, honest.)

I didn’t want to make anything too close to the existing Warhammer Fantasy setting. It will be heavily inspired by the Warhammer world, but not so much that it loses its own unique flavour. To help me do this I’m going to use Fantasy Craft by Crafty Games. The core book has one of the best world-building chapters I’ve seen in an RPG, fantasy or otherwise. It has its fair share of random tables, but also spends a good number of pages taking the GM through all the important steps they need to consider when creating a fantasy setting. Combine this with the DIY NPC rules found in the previous chapter and you have almost everything you need for limitless adventure.

I’m going to follow the world-building process as it is laid out in the Worlds chapter. I did come up with some of the details of the setting before I even looked at the book, but that’s only natural. Chances are, if you’re putting a setting together you’ll already know many of the elements before you put pen-to-paper (or fingers-to-keyboard). Following the structure in the book, however, allows me to better demonstrate how the book can guide the process. It also helps that the races translate fairly well from Warhammer to Fantasy Craft, especially when you look through the available Species Feats. I won’t be using all the character options, however. Some races won’t be as common as others (if they exist at all), and only certain Species Feats will be available, but more on that next time.

Before I go any further – this post is going to contain a lot of names and trademarks owned by Games Workshop. I would list them all, but that would be much more effort than it’s worth. I trust you’re all be able to tell when I do so and no lawyers will appear at my front door in the future wanting to ‘have a chat’. Unless they’re trying to sell me Cthulhu insurance, of course. That I’m all for. You really can never be sure when the stars will be right.

Don’t make any loud noises, for all our sakes.

Worlds begins by asking you to define the spirit of the game. Part of this is choosing a Genre for the setting, including the most common fantasy genres from the ‘standard’ traditional fantasy, to the bleak dark fantasy, and the anime-inspired gonzo fantasy. Reading over the options, I decided that my setting won’t be as dark as Warhammer Fantasy and opted for traditional fantasy. This ultimately has no effect and imposes no limitations on the setting; it is more of a style guide for how to put things together from here on. There will be evil forces in the setting, but they’ll be kept in relative check and not rampaging across the countryside willy-nilly. There may be light-hearted  moments, but they will be the exception and not the rule. Heroes will able to help guide the fates of nations, but not always change them by themselves.

The next step is choosing an Era for the setting. Unlike the Genre, the Era has an actual mechanical effect on the structure of the setting. Many weapons, armour, and pieces of equipment, as well as a few advanced classes are only available in more advanced Eras. It’s hard to be a Musketeer when all you’ve got is sharp rocks and pointy sticks. Fortunately, you aren’t limited to choosing a single Era for your entire setting. Conan’s Hyboria has savage Picts that live in a Primitive society, while the advanced Aquilonians live in a more Feudal society. Of course, where different Eras exist side-by-side there is bound to be some mixing at the edges. This is exactly what I want for my setting.

Even a quick glance at the races in Warhammer Fantasy will show a wide range of Eras. The Orcs and Ogres, and to a lesser extent Wood Elves, are living a mostly Primitive lifestyle. The Tomb Kings are Lizardmen have made it to Ancient, while High Elves and Human in Bretonnia are more Feudal. The humans in the Empire, after some help from the Dwarves, have made it to the Reason Era. These aren’t all perfect examples of the Eras as presented in Fantasy Craft, but they’re pretty close. It will be easy to use these examples as a base line when it comes time to translate the races across. I’m not going to do that just yet, I’ll just accept that Era will vary depending on where in the setting you are.

Before I go any further, I should lay out some basic details of the world. Unlike Warhammer Fantasy, the world is not an analogue for Earth; it is actually based on Mars. More accurately, what Mars might look like if it still had oceans. A number of groups have studied the topography of the planet and come up with an idea of how it could have looked.  A vast continent covering the southern hemisphere, with the north mostly ocean. An intriguing starting point, and one which I am altering only slightly. Unlike Earth, Terras (the name I’m giving the setting’s planet) doesn’t experience seasons. It’s axis is permanently tilted, essentially locking the planet into a permanent northern summer solstice. This means the far north receives constant sunshine, leaving the frozen south cloaked in permanent darkness. This, in turn, affects the beliefs of the sentient species.

One image of how Mars would look with an ocean.

For starters, the races of Terras believe that supernatural beings of goodness and light dwell in the northern sunlit region, while the southern region is home to foul beings of evil and darkness. Basically both heaven and hell on earth. Most of the races fail to realise how true this is. Beings of supernatural origin inhabit both regions, and they subtly manipulate the races that occupy the areas in between into fighting a never-ending battle for supremacy.

As for the map, it won’t look exactly like the image above. For starters, there will be mountain ranges, forests, rivers, and other terrain features that would be found on a more Earth-like planet. I’ll use these terrain features to define the boundaries of the more civilised nations. The landmasses are also unlikely to get so close to the northern pole, except as a large island. The north is a region shrouded in myth, and will be deliberately kept separate from the rest of the planet. Note that the southern pole is not similarly limited. The forces of darkness prefer a more hands-on approach, sometimes even sending their most powerful servants into battle against the forces of light.

Thats all for now. Next time I’m going to go through the races who inhabit Terras and try and put a map together.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 25/06/2012 19:12

    Very cool. 2 questions…
    1) When are you posting the next one
    2) When you run it, can i join via video conference?

    • 25/06/2012 23:06

      I’m not sure when the next one will be ready, I need to work the details out first. Hopefully not as long as this one took to finish, though.

      As for running the setting, I don’t know if that will ever happen. Hopefully it will, of course, but I guess we’ll see.

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