WFRP's own journal of eclectica
So, here again, Warpstone and perhaps the most lavishly illustrated issue yet. Every article has a few pieces of art and even the contents has a little thumbnail against each piece. It looks fantastic and the layout is great - interesting but very readable. From the minute you pick up an issue of Warpstone you know you are reading something a little bit different to the norm.
Fortunately the articles are just as good. I enjoyed the cameo "Between a Rock & Chaos" by Paul Slevin that managed to take a simple premise a long way in a small amount of space. I also thought that the Troll Slayer article was quite a good expansion of the sparse official material, a good example of what a fanzine can do.
The scenarion "The Black Gate" looked quite good fun but I couldn't decide whether it was meant to be good old-fashioned uncovering of an evil cult or a spooky investigative/horror type of game. Perhaps that is for the GM to decide but the writing seemed to alternate between the two.
Tim Eccles "Correspondent" column seems like a good idea. A regular column aiming to start a debate about some aspect of the game world or the game itself. This issue its about the confused state of religion in WFRP. I guess the proof of the idea will be if the nascent letters column takes off with a discussion of his comments.
Warpstone 10 is remarkable for not only having style but also managing to deliver a fair bit of content. Even the interview with the throughly cretinous Phil Gallagher was well done, if only for revealing what prats the GW higher-ups are. John Foody is a little bit frightening though with his article on the seasons of the Old World. There's being anoraky and simply being an obsessive.
It's Foody though that seems to bring a bit of an edge to Warpstone. Warpstone is often extremely enthusiastic about all things Warhammer - sometimes to the extent that one has to wonder why they publish reviews, you know its going to be "excellent". As John has shown in his reviews though he manages to be generally positive about everything without descending into flattery. And that is probably a good description of the zine overall.
The low points for Issue 10 are not that low at all really. The worst is the Foundation and Faith article that takes English medieval society and tries to make it apply to WFRP's Empire. Two problems: the Empire is based on the Holy Roman Empire and the technology level is generally that of the Renaissance. Worse still the author insists on adopting an authoritative tone so even when he is making a valid point about the relationship between the weather and quality of life his patronising tone makes you discount it entirely. It's a waste of space the editors should have been harsher on.
On the good side the fiction was actually quite good this time. A first for any zine I've read. The scenario (again by John Foody (see a pattern developing?)) "The Black Gate" is quite good. The first time I read it I thought it was linear and almost cliched. A re-reading though convinced me otherwise, a corrupt priest promises to bring eternal life to his followers and is close to succeeding! It is simple enough for players to unravel easily but has enough avenues for investigation to be interesting. The only thing that I would change if I could is the shallowness of the P.C.'s adversary. His personality, mindset and goals could be expanded on a lot.
Then at the end of all that an article on the Clerics of Shallya that shows the author of "Faith and Foundation" how you should write about fantasy religion.
Issue Ten of Warpstone is definitely the best we have seen from the Warpstone team and has really shows the potential of the zine. It is definitely "prozine" in its production values and has the writing to back it up. As for its ability to crossover out of the WFRP crowd, well good pieces such as the Clerics article, the scenario and the seasons article can apply to the wider field of fantasy gaming but things like the short adventures rely on a Warhammer vocabulary that tend to make it less applicable outside WFRP.
Warpstone Individual Issues £3 Subs £10 Back-Issues £2.50 John Keane, 5a Wolseley Road, Wealdstone, Middlesex, HA3 5RZ firstname.lastname@example.org http://www2.unl.ac.uk/~cyhzoliverm/warpstone