I find it interesting that in 1974 D&D was launched as 'Rules for a Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaign' but miniatures and the campaign, for most players, soon became an increasingly small part of D&D, and all the other fantasy games that followed in its wake. Until almost ten years later, in 1983, things come full circle when Games Workshop released Warhammer with the 'Mass Combat Fantasy Role-Playing Game'. So in less than ten years we go from a hobby started with a game born of minis wargaming that introduces roleplaying, to a hobby more or less devoid of wargaming where a new RPG game is launched that (re)introduces wargaming to the hobby.
Now the above cover is a source of later confusion for me. When I came back into the hobby in 2004, after being out for a decade, I found a thriving online RPG community and when talk turned to Warhammer RPG people were talking about WFRP with the iconic dwarf trollslayer cover, and I would be thinking of this, becasue when my mate picked this up he gave it to me to run and I ran the RPG side of it and largerly ignored the mass battle side of it. Through the mists of time (and my age addled brain) this came became WFRP for me. Ha.
Anyway it's been (a terrifying) 3 decades since I read and played this rules so I thought I aught to take a quick reread.
Everything was still in the boxed set even the special offer to send off for a Thorgrimm Branedimm mini.
The rules are split into two volumes. The battle and the RPG side of things are split between Vol1: Tabletop Battles and Vol 3: Characters whilst the magic for both is covered in Vol 2: Magic (natch). The colour box art is by John Blanche and the interior illustrations in the books by Tony Ackland both of whom are iconic rpg artists. I love the box cover and the interior art is good, but I think this must be early in Ackland's career as I've much stronger stuff from him.
The rules for tabletop battles look simple, fun, and slight (most of the space is taken up by the creature list). I can't say how they compare to other miniatures rules as I only ever plauyed hex and chit wargames. I particularly like the Psychology rules that simulate Hatred, Fear, Terror, Frenzy, and Stupidity. I might nick that for D&D monsters.
The magic system looks rather bland on paper (though most do) but
has a few distinguishing traits, such as some spells requiring a Talisman of some sort and the fumble mechanics. The spells contain much more utility (or dungeon delving) spells than I imagined. I was expecting mostly battlefield artillery. There are also seperate spells for Nercromancers. The magic items section spices things up with a few named items with history that form the basis of what will become the Warhammer world.
Finally we have the RPG rules in book 3. These look to be a simple and fun light system where randomisation is the name of the game when it comes to character creation. You role for race, social status, age, stats, and skills. It's a d100 roll for skills which are really backgrounds, and quite vague when it comes to implementation. For example Skill #76 - Transvestite gives no advice on how to implement it or what a character with this skill set can do. Anyway I get the feeling Bowskill and Weaponskill are all you really need. There a bit of stuff about creating adventures, lots of encounter tables, and a sample adventure. It's all very brief. The only thing I find really comment worthy here is that . . . OMG! The designers really loved Elves. I mean really loved 'em.
By 1986 Games Workshop split the game between rules for Role-playing off into WFRP and produced a new edition of the battle game . . .
This time they're the combat rules, a bestiary, and Combat magic. They seem like the same rules, but there's more detail in the combat volume with more details about movement and formations.
I just gave these a quick skim as I'm not really interested without the RPG angle.
What I did find interesting was the piece of paper that fell out of the bestiary when I opened it . . .
Speaking of which on the other side of the paper was this . . .
Anyway, we had scrawled out are armies on the back of a letter from our school informing us that our mock exams would be disrupted by industrial action by the teachers union. Ha! Seems we found something better to do with our time than revise then.