… 25 years later

Okay, I admit it, I’m a geek. Last night, I received a book from Amazon which I was first promised back in 1983.

Somewhere in my boxes at my parents’ house is a battered old copy of the very first Citadel Compendium. According to this, one of the products which Citadel Miniatures/Games Workshop was planning to produce was a science fiction roleplaying game called Rogue Trader.

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader eventually came out in 1987, but it was a skirmish battle game not a roleplaying game. That quickly mutated into the full on war game that has impoverished spotty oiks ever since. The Rogue Traders (basically space pirates, only of the Francis Drake rather than Long John Silver variety) themselves were relegated to a few paragraphs of exposition.

What came through the post was the core rulebook for Dark Heresy. This is, basically, Paranoia for leather fetishists. The Rogue Traders themselves are mentioned but don’t even have so much of a subheading to call their own. But at least its closer to what I thought was going to be coming out in 1983.

It is slightly ironic that the aforementioned book came out a week after the world’s biggest Rogue Trader sent the stockmarket into a nosedive. Meanwhile, the announcement that the game, and indeed all other roleplaying games published by Games Workshops’ Black Industries imprint is to be immediately scrapped merely ranks as “bloody typical”. It’s deja vu all over again!

Oh, and also vaguely related, the 2000AD section in my local Borders lists Rogue Trooper as “Rouge Trader”, which is wrong on so many thousands of levels I don’t know where to start (“dispensing blusher and filofax, Rogue.” “Thanks, Handbagman.”).


  1. You could always tell me to grow up, get a life and stop shoving my faux radical lifestyle down your throat. That would of course be illiberal. 🙂

  2. I read about this on GamingReport.com. Looks like Black Industries have been told not to take any risks and stick to their core business. In the light of recent GW profits warning, I can see that this is a sensible “commercial decision” as they face an uncertain future when their Lord of the Rings line has run its course.

    Why would they want to get into the business of producing an RPG? which would only take away from their core business which is little lead figures, books full of pretty pictures of their little lead figures and pots of paint to paint their little lead figures.

  3. Oh, I’m sure it makes sense commercially (I should point out that their business is now pulp fiction as well which by all accounts is doing very well), but it’s still bloody annoying. Either you’re in the business or you ain’t. Fundamentally, I don’t think they thought enough about their business plan. The RPG business is not a profitable one – there are loads of dead companies that have fallen by the wayside over the years to tell you that one. That’s why GW abandoned roleplaying in the first place! I’m not 100% convinced that the prevailing industry wisdom, which seems to be that to survive you have to pile ’em high and sell ’em very expensive, is sustainable. I feel another blog post coming on…

    I have to admit that when I first heard that they were relaunching WFRP my response was to doubt they’d last five years, which is why it took me so long to get around to getting the second edition in the first place.

    Ultimately though, I don’t think it really matters. The franchise will probably get licensed off to someone – either Green Ronin will take it on solo or possibly Mongoose (who claim to be doing very well and I seem to recall from my job interview with them were all 40K nuts). And Warpstone demonstrates that fan material can easily be the match of “official” stuff.

  4. Confession time.

    If we are talking about geekiness. the first White Dwarf I bought was issue 9. And the only money I’ve ever earned for writng anything was £50 for an article on AD&D Druids (but for a different mgazine than White Dwarf)

    I was RPG kind of guy. Personally , I wouldn’t touch miniatures wargaming with a polearm.

  5. Congratulations on coming out Chris! For me, miniatures wargaming was something I flirted with until I realised how much you had to spend – and even then they jacked the prices up! I did go through a period of buying all the rulebooks but for one very simple reason: the artwork, and in particular John Blanche’s stuff which I loved.

    Having gone through the Dark Heresy rulebook in more detail last night, I fear it is one of those titles that is going to sit on my shelf unplayed. The deep pessimism of 40K makes for a suitable setting for a wargame, but there’s no real drama in it.

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