Sunday, May 13, 2012

Various Visions of the Old World

Right, so....

This weekend I created a character for the MMO based on Warhammer, thus forfeiting what was left of my black little soul.

...or not. I can tell that this relationship is going to be a short fling, though not without its benefits. The visuals in the game have refreshed my mind about what the Warhammer world is supposed to look like. I really like the starting village in particular, and the game has actually given me an idea for where to start my campaign, and some things I want to do with it as well.

However, the game does have a very sharp disconnect between how I view the Old World and how Games Workshop views the Old World. My formative experience with Warhammer was HeroQuest, follwed several years later by the first edition of the roleplaying game. To me, the Warhammer world is a place where Chaos lurks out of sight. It hides in dungeons and behind the faces of your neighbors. You find a strange symbol carved in a barn in some small village and you know you need to GTFO. Chaos is subtle, corrosive, and hidden. Of course, the only part of the Warhammer franchise that seems embrace this version of the Old World is the first edition of the roleplaying game.

Ah, and then we have the Warhammer where Chaos is a screaming horde of guys with black-and-white mohawks and armor with spikes and skulls. Chaos is is your face and burning down your village. I imagine some dude yelling "SURGE" like in those old soda commercials, and maybe some wailing 80's metal guitar.
In addition to the minis game and the MMO using this as the default feel of the world, I should also note that the 2nd edition of the roleplaying game operates under this assumption as well. 

Perhaps I can have it both ways. This is a pre-industrial society with a low literacy rate. News travels slowly, and if the agents of Chaos really are everywhere, news can be easily distorted with hearsay and disinformation. Hell, the Empire's Witch Hunters are just as likely to quell rumors of Chaos activity to avoid inciting a panic and to maintain the illusion that the Church has everything under control.

Meanwhile, villages in Nordland burn as ships from Chaos-tained Norsca deposit mutated raiders on her shores.

I should also mention that the MMO differs significantly from the RPG in terms of starting badassitude. A beginning Warhammer FRP character might be a Mercenary or a Shieldbreaker, sure, but he's just as likely to start off as a Fisherman or an Artisan's Apprentice or something even less glorious. A player needs to get a significant amount of experience under their belt before they can think about moving careers into something like Witch Hunter or Knight or whatnot. I'm guessing, however, that not a lot of typical MMO players would really enjoy starting the game as a Servant or a Rat Catcher. The beginning character classes allow for you to be a Knight of the Blazing Sun or a Warrior Priest of Sigmar or a Dwarven Engineer right out of the gate.

I've heard that the 3rd edition dials back the "Chaos all up in your grill" aspect of the Old World a little, but I really have no desire to find out. I have a pretty healthy library of 2nd ed stuff and no real desire to convert.

So.... my brief dabble in the dirty world of MMOs was helpful. Even as I finish this post, I can already feel my interest in WHO bottoming out. I'd like to log in and look around the world for a few more visual queues, but the fetch quests and guilds and pvp stuff is all for the birds, man.

1 comment:

  1. Subtle, corrosive, and hidden is how I view Chaos as well - which makes sense since I never owned anything but the first edition of WFRP.