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How do you feel about Warhammer Fantasy's worldbuilding?

Tarron Zeng

I have been immersing myself in Warhammer Fantasy and I came to the question, how do you guys feel about Warhammer Fantasy. Is it over the top? Or does it lack originality?


Depends on whether your referring to the "World that was" (original Warhammer Fantasy from 1980's until late 2000's) or the most recent 'Warhammer Age of Sigmar' (a completely new background that's been developed over the last few years).

Both I think are good, now at least. Warhammer Fantasy was a Very grim, dark world with lots of scope. The stereotypical fantasy races had added darkness to them.

In Warhammer Age of Sigmar, things are a bit more original but it took them time to get to that point. It's detailed high-fantasy with a sense of darkness and doom, but not quite as overtly grim-dark.

I don't think it's too over the top, when taken into context.


I’m only familiar with the older version. It felt like it took a lot from Tolkien, but then they added their own twists to it. I very much enjoyed the idea of the chaos gate, and how that tied in with the Lizard-men. The how’s and why’s of the elven history that led to the creation of three distinct cultures was also good. All the giant swords and super heroic heroes seemed a bit over the top to me, but then that’s what they were aiming for in the tabletop game (like JGCully said).

So, at first glance it doesn’t appear to be original, but as you get into the history and background, then you see how they’ve made pretty standard tropes their own.


Felis amatus
You have to remember Warhammer came out mid-1980s. A lot of what people don't see as original now was original when it was created. Many today even get the order of things backwards--for example, you'll see people saying Warhammer took a lot from Warcraft when in fact the exact opposite is the case.


Steerpike Your right about that. I remember when computers didn’t have windows, and a mouse was just a rodent. We just bought a second car and it’s got manual windows. The kids are shocked! I even saw a post on Pinterest where someone was complaining about the Beatles ripping off a One Direction song. Sorry, nothing to do with the OP. Carry on.
There are a lot of things that, on the surface, may seem basic and superficial, but over the years 40K has developed a deep and fascinating mythos. Between the warp, the techpriests, the different races, I personally think it's amazing.


Myth Weaver
I have the original rule book and most of the modules for the original Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. Stumbled into after dabbling in AD&D for a decade plus. I really liked the career based system (minus the initial randomness). I liked the skill system. The magic system was better in some ways than AD&D, though the magic points were awkward and the spell list a bit overly restrictive. Combat was far more realistic than AD&D, with a very good chance of even a powerful character getting killed or crippled. Overall, it was much easier to translate characters from 'stories' to WFRP and back again than with AD&D. Ultimately, though, it was a game system, intended for gamer's, not writers.

The revamped version, in my view, 'ruined something good,' especially with regards to magic.

I still occasionally think of the characters in my stories in WFRP or AD&D stat terms. Most fit much more easily into WFRP than AD&D. For example...

in AD&D Sir Peter Cortez would be a fighter or cavalier type - a noble warrior. In WFRP, he'd be a squire turned Free Lance. A simple transition.

in AD&D Kyle would be a fighter turned mage (or psionicist, given the nature of my magic system). In WFRP, he'd be a Soldier turned Wizards Apprentice turned Wizard turned coachman. Still fairly reasonable.

It'd be tempting to make Rebecca a bard in AD&D terminology - she is a skilled musician, and knows a few tunes that have a literal magic all their own - but she doesn't have access to the kind of magic AD&D bards do. In WFRP, she'd be a Minstrel...with sidelines in other social careers. A better fit than AD&D, but still flawed.

However, there is no normal AD&D class that Tia fits into. She has little skill at combat, is not a thief, and has no magic. My last source book has the 'Expert' NPC class, which is a marginal fit; she is well educated with multiple skills. In WFRP, the fit is better; Tia would be a student turned Lawyer/Merchant.


My journey into fantasy started from my dad reading me and my brother the Hobbit, then reading the fighting fantasy books by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston, then Warhammer. So the warhammer fantasy world has been a big influence on my fantasy tastes, to the extent that I probably tend to compare all other fantasy worlds by reference to it.

When I think of orcs, I picture warhammer orcs. When I think of dark elves, I think of warhammer dark elves. When I think of chaotic servants of demonic evil, I think of warhammer’s take on the forces of chaos.

Creatively, I think warhammer was best when they were creating their own material rather than ripping stuff from other people. A lot of the early material is ripped straight from Tolkien. Marvel wrote Malekith and the Dark Elves first. Their take on chaos is taken from Michael Moorcock. For a company that defends its IP so viciously, they sure don’t mind stealing stuff from other people.