Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Product Review: WarCraft, The Roleplaying Game (1st Ed.)


I've probably said this before in previous posts, but I'll reiterate my feelings about video/computer games:

They make me ill.

Oh, not because I'm some sort of 21st Century Luddite, but because I'm so prone to motion sickness that I become quickly nauseated watching the on-screen action. 

However, I still have an ounce or two of Geek Cred, and have been vaguely aware of the on-line phenomena that is the World of Warcraft (WoW). So vague is my knowledge of WoW, I missed the Warcraft film that opened two months ago, and apparently so did many non-WoW fan viewers.

(Image:  Warcraft movie banner)

Anyway, bad movie reviews aside, last year I stumbled across Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game at Half Price Books.  I may not be able to play WoW on-line, but I sure can play this tabletop version.

That is, if my rotating work schedule ever meshes-up with any of my fellow gamers that would be interested in a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D, 3rd Ed.) adventure set somewhere in Kalimdor on the planet Azeroth.

The case-bound, hardcover book is divided into the following chapters:

1. A World At War
2. Heroes
3. Adventuring
4. Magic
5. The World of Warcraft
6. Campaigning

Player characters (PCs) set out on their quest a year after the Third War (the primary setting for the earlier computer/on-line games) and can be any of the following races:

1. Human
2. Ironforge Dwarf
3. High Elf
4. Night Elf
5. Goblin
6. Half-Elf
7. Half-Orc
8. Orc
9. Tauren (Minotaur)

(Image found on:  Henchman-4-Hire)
Some of the races are standard D&D templates.  There's no changes to humans, while Half-Orcs and Half-Elves suffer from similar discrimination as they do in other settings, maybe even more so.

Meanwhile, Dwarves are on a quest to discover the origin of their species, Goblins act more like Ferengi than the malicious second-class cousins to Orcs.  Speaking of Orcs, they're not inherently evil, as has been the case in every setting since Middle-Earth.  Instead, Orcs were duped by demons, and are now trying to get back to their shamanistic roots.  And while nominal allies, the Night Elves, users of divine magic and guardians of the Well of Eternity, can barely tolerate their arcane magic-addicted cousins, the High Elves.

Divine and Arcane Magic can be compared to the Light and Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars.

The races are divided into two general categories.  The Orcs and the Tauren comprise "The Horde," while everyone else is cobbled together into "The Alliance."  But this isn't ironclad, as some individuals have defected to the opposite faction.  Meanwhile, the Goblins out to make a profit.

Had I known this book was published back in 2003, (the second edition came out two years later), I wouldn't be so "late to the WoW party."  While I can't compare Warcraft:  The RPG to the on-line source material, I liked the book overall and have only two minor complaints.

First, the artwork is great, but exclusively black and white.  This isn't a problem in and of itself, but it would have been nicer if the map of Kalimdor was in color.  Second, there are several short-story/vignettes scattered throughout the book.  These are made to appear as if they're written on parchment by some scribe working by candlelight.  The font used in these stories, while elegantly ornate, can sometimes be hard to read.

Copies of Warcraft:  The RPG, can still be found on Amazon.com, ranging from $9.65 to $49.95 (plus S&H), and enjoys a 4.3-star rating.  The sole 3-star rater thought the material was out of date compared to the on-line games.

Undoubtedly it's even more outdated now, but despite my lack of knowledge of WoW, I'll give it a 4-star rating.

(Full cover image found on:  wowwiki.wikia.com)
A Note About My Current Reading Endeavor:

I do a lot of my reading while during my stationary cardio machine workouts, but still have a lot of unread RPG material.  So I decided to remedy this situation and go on a "Fluff" (lore) reading quest.  When I read Warcraft:  The RPG, I skipped over the "Crunch" (game mechanics), which save time and kept me from getting bored.  The RPG books I'll be reading will be hardcover and case bound, which I find easy to lay open on a cardio machine's control panel. 

2 comments:

Michael Sutherland said...

I have to say, and I'm pretty biased, that the 3rd Ed. D20 was the best move Wizard ever did, and this book is a result of that OGL process. If I recall right, and my memory of 2003 is sketchy at best (I was in Korea at the time, so out of touch with the latest and greatest in the US...), that this title was a buildup by Blizzard and WotC to the release of the MMO World of Warcrack...rrrr...craft in 2004. Events in this book take place after Warcraft III (which I spent a lot of time playing in Korea in 2003...) or during it. Being a D20 gamer, and big computer gamer (and WOW addict...), I think this is one of the great under-rated games of its time. Sadly, most pen and paper RPGs based on computer games don't seem to catch on, which is sad given the numerous spawn of D&D on the computer gaming scene. But then, kids who grew up with the luxury of computer to crunch numbers don't have the same fond memory of rolling dice with friends face to face...

Ted Henkle said...

Thanks again for commenting!
I didn't see anything wrong with D&D's 3E either and still have the books.
I think it's neat as well to have D&D extend into other settings and not remain confined within their own realms. But I guess there's too many legal/copyright issues involved to make this happen on a more regular basis.
And it's not just the fond memory of rolling dice kids are missing out on, but gaming with their friends in-person.