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22 September 2013 @ 08:45 pm
Warcrafty RPG thoughts  
I played a lot of World of Warcraft. I think across all my characters, I had something like 500 days of play time, which is an insane amount even if a double-digit percentage of that was tabbed out doing other things while some kind of automatic process was running--camping for rare mobs, long-distance flying, crafting, etc. On the one hand, that's a lot of time spent on something ultimately ephemeral, but on the other hand, it is pretty hopeful from a certain perspective. When I think about how much effort I'd need to learn to program or to speak Japanese, I remember how much effort I put into system mastery for WoW. It reminds me of an article I read about how so many modern people complain that they have a hard time concentrating but are capable of spending hours at a time staring at a computer screen while moving only the mouse and their WASD hand.

Anyway! That's not what this entry is about.

As is my jumpy fashion, I've been giving some thought to using the World of Warcraft RPG to run a game. Well, kind of--I'll probably read it through and throw up a review on Goodreads later, but for the moment I'll say that it has a lot of oddities left over from its D&D heritage. It still has spells-per-day instead of a mana system, warriors and barbarians are separate classes despite the existence of fury warriors in WoW and the fact that stances would solve some of the problems with the 3.5 fighter (not all my any means, but some), most special abilities for martial classes are done through feats instead of class powers, enchanter is a class instead of a profession, paladins are much more warriory than castery...

Apparently Blizzard requested that this all be left the same in order to increase compatibility with D&D, but everything I've found suggested that it just made people think it was too watered down and not really worth buying. The authors released a free supplement (PDF warning) that fixes some of the problems, but not all of them, and by that time it was mostly too late. Several of the supplements, like Lands of Ruin about Outland, never came out, and the line was basically shut down.

Before that, though, there was a Warcraft RPG that came out before WoW did. The mechanical issues are even stronger, but I think the background works a lot better. As a illustration, here's the map from the book:

There's some interesting bits on there (Caverns of Time! Maraudon! No Teldrassil!), but the main thing is how empty it is. WoW had little outposts of civilization pretty much everywhere, but on the map there, there's Nighthaven and Ashenvale, which the text describes as mostly left wild and untamed, Durotar, Theramore, Ratchet, Bael Modan, Thunder Bluff, and...that's it, and that's in a crescent pattern across maybe a fourth of the continent. The vast majority of Kalimdor is an unknown, with a few pockets of civilization. Points of light, if you will.

The book also takes the tack that contact with the Eastern Kingdoms has been mostly cut off and no one really knows what's going on over there. When I first read the Warcraft RPG, I really liked that idea as a the setting for a game, and I was kind of disappointed that WoW made travel so easy and convenient. Even in the book, it was a bit out of place, since in The Frozen Throne we see that the Alliance still has a command structure in Lordaeron and people are able to travel back and forth from Northrend without much trouble. And that's fine in a high-level world-traveling game, but we all know that high-level 3.x is broken as hell anyway and that having people who can summon angels to fetch them tea delve into holes in the ground to haul out loot is ridiculous. But an E6 group out of Theramore, tasked to explore parts of Kalimdor to give the Alliance an advantage against the Horde? That sounds awesome.

I have too many game ideas and not enough time to run them all.
Current Mood: mellowmellow
Current Music: World of Warcraft - Burning Steppes
q99q99 on September 23rd, 2013 02:02 am (UTC)
I saw the WoW RPG at a used bookstore recently. I was tempted, but flipping through it disuaded me- half the art was just blown-up characters from the game, pixels and all.