Friday, October 3, 2014

Oldhammer Interview: Graeme Davis, Designer and Guest at Oldhammer USA!

With great pleasure, I'm announcing that we have a Guest of Honor for our Oldhammer Event at Dropzone Games on October 25th and 26th! Design Studio member, Game Designer, and writer Graeme Davis will be attending the event. Graeme is checking his schedule to see how much of the event he can attend, but he will at least be there to celebrate the passion of the Oldhammer movement. I'll have a better idea of when he may be available, but you might want to bring along some of your WFRP books! And help me applaud one of the guys who helped bring out all of these things that crawl around in our minds eye!

Graeme helped write a lot of the WFRP books, and talks a little of that process in the interview. Interesting he has some really cool things to say about Something Rotten In Kislev!

You can find one interview that Graeme did on Orlygg's Realm Of Chaos 80s! Some great insight there for us. I tried not to repeat too many questions.

Just to let you all know as well, Graeme is currently working on Colonial Gothic, a great role-playing game that adds history to the mix. As Line Developer he has some great stuff, and also adds lots of great historical events to the group on facebook. Rogue Games can be found here. May be I am biased, but the revolutionary war is my favorite period of history. But the line just keeps getting better, with the revised rulebook! You can also pick up the line on amazon and as pdfs! Though the non-book of 18th century ruinous powers peaked my interest! Oldhammer connection, huh?

Anyway, first let me say thanks to Graeme for answering my questions and also for being our first announced GOH for Oldahmmer USA!

Here is the interview!

OITNW:  For those that do not know, current projects of yours include Colonial Gothic, which I love as it melds history and roleplaying. What are future plans for Colonial Gothic or are you working on anything else that you can reveal?
Graeme: Richard Iorio and I are just putting the finishing touches on the Colonial Gothic Players’ book, which should be out before the end of the year. As the name suggests, it includes a lot of new player options, including skills, weapons, spells, and combat. There are also completely new systems for character advantages and disadvantages, social level (very important in those times), plus an updated version of the character templates from the old ebook release to make character creation quicker and easier.
   Further in the future, Richard is working on the third installment of the Flames of Freedom campaign, and we have plans for a GM’s book as well as a super-secret project that has a significant Oldhammer connection. That’s all I can say about it for now, except that it’s not an 18th-century Realm of Chaos adding the Ruinous Powers to the game! Though wouldn’t that be nice, if we could only get GW’s blessing....
OITNW:  We all know that you have joined us on the Oldhammer Facebook group, but what is your general impression of the passion that we have for all of the earlier stuff, whether minis or story?
Graeme: Ever since Flame closed down in the early 90s, I have been amazed and impressed (and, I have to say, a little humbled) by the passion that kept WFRP alive through its wilderness period, and I had the same feeling when I discovered the Oldhammer movement a year or two back. I remember one day in about 1987 we were talking about Thunderbirds and other childhood favorites, and Jervis said that what we were doing at GW would one day be someone else’s Thunderbirds. It seemed like an outrageous assertion at the time, but I’ve never forgotten it and – lo and behold – the man wasn’t wrong!
   There really was something about those days: the particular mix of ridiculously talented people (and me!) and the circumstances that allowed us to get away with sneaking jokes into the games, mixing humor and horror, and doing all the other things that people still like. Although they certainly weren’t free of frustrations, looking back they were pretty good times. Maybe that carries through into the games themselves.
OITNW: While you are a writer, and roleplaying game designer, are there any miniatures that you collect, or did you have any? Were these for roleplaying, or did you have an army?
Graeme: I started out buying a few of the old Minifigs D&D miniatures for roleplaying around 1977, and picked up a few of the early Citadels when they began doing the Fiend Factory line. But my roleplaying at college didn’t make extensive use of miniatures – one of my college friends still teases me about a red plastic chicken from a farmyard toy set that I used to represent any critter for which I didn’t have the correct mini!
   When I started at GW I began to collect undead, which have been a passion of mine ever since I saw the Harryhausen - Jason and the Argonauts movie on TV in the 60s. I was a slow learner when it came to painting, and I never got them organized into a regulation army: I was more interested in having one of everything. I even had an unreleased Aly Morrison green of a skeleton wielding a crank-operated chainsaw! Tragically, I was prevailed upon to “put away childish things” and disposed of them before a transatlantic move during my first marriage. I’d do anything to have them back.
OITNW: The beginnings of the Chaos gods are a little in the past, but do you know of any interesting stories or their creation, or do you know any of the influences that created them (or was that just before your time at the studio?)
Graeme: The four Ruinous Powers were established by the time I discovered Warhammer, and I never heard any particular tales of their creation. My impression was always that they sprang fully formed from the minds of Bryan Ansell and John Blanche. The tale of Malal is pretty well known, and I don’t have anything to add to what’s already been said.
   Acting on a line in an early RoC draft which said that there was an infinite number of Chaos Gods of varying power, I created a couple of new ones for the WFRP adventure Something Rotten in Kislev. Ken Rolston’s original draft called for Malal as the patron of a cult, and it had just become clear that we couldn’t use Malal. So I created Zuvassin the Undoer, who might be described as the patron deity of Murphy’s Law (his symbol was based on a wrench) and Necoho the Doubter, who (in a joke I considered sheer brilliance at the time) was essentially a Chaos God of atheists, opposed to religion in all its forms. So far as I’m aware, neither one appeared anywhere outside that one book.
OITNW: I recently heard that some of the releases for the WFRP game were re-imaginings of existing adventures or modules, was this true, and where and how was the original material chosen or selected?
Graeme: In 2012, Fantasy Flight Games commissioned me to write half of a new campaign titled The Enemy Within, but it was not an update of the 80s adventures. Instead, it was an all-new campaign that explored the same themes. The announcement certainly caused a stir in the WFRP fan community, which is doubtless what FFG intended by choosing that title. I’m not aware of any 3rd edition adaptations of earlier adventures, although the WFRP2 book Plundered Vaults did consist of 2nd edition versions of various earlier adventures. I think there have been some fan adaptations converting various published adventures between the three editions of the game, but I haven’t looked at any of them.
OITNW: In the interview on RealmofChaos80s, you commented that you tried to include Malal in the Realm of Chaos books. Any insights on how you were to include this?
Graeme: My thinking at the time (which turned out to be completely erroneous) was that the book (and it was only intended to be one book at that time) would benefit from having something new and surprising in it. I already mentioned the line in an early draft that raised the possibility of a great many Chaos Gods existing, and as a roleplayer first and foremost I leaped on it. I went through a huge pile of miscellaneous artwork with a view to grouping images together and creating new Chaos Gods as patrons for the sets I’d created. Of course, it was soon pointed out to me that minis didn’t exist for any of these images, and probably never would, and that creating a new Ruinous Power would
commit the company to launching a whole new army with miniatures and a book and everything else – so would I please stop writing about new Chaos Gods!
   Specifically about Malal, I thought this was a no-brainer because he had featured in the Kaleb Daark comic and I had not yet heard about the copyright issues. I found a few likely-looking images for a greater and lesser daemon, and started to write Malal up in the same format as the descriptions of the other Chaos Gods. It should be noted that this was before Mike Brunton took over and I was using a much more modest format!
OITNW: One thing that most of us in the Oldhammer Community agree upon is just the incredible amount of creativity and organic explosion of ideas and imagery that coincided with a certain era at Games Workshop. This has been compacted into specific marketed “looks” and single styles for most of the armies and backgrounds. Most of us lament this as one of the reasons we enjoy Oldhammer so much. As one of those involved in the creation period, how do you view the current flavors of Games Workshop.
Graeme: Honestly, I can’t comment on the current state of Warhammer because I’ve been out of touch with the developments of the last couple of years. I used to get the Empire and Undead books when they came out, but there came a point when it was clear to me that Warhammer and WFRP were never again going to be the major part of my life that they were in the 80s. I had a lot of other projects going on, I had an argument with Green Ronin which ensured that I didn’t write anything for WFRP2 after Ashes of Middenheim, and FFG only asked me to do a couple of things for WFRP3, both of which were already plotted out in considerable detail before I got to have any input.
   So if I were to say anything at all, it would be informed purely by the comments I’ve seen from the Oldhammer and WFRP communities and not by any observations of my own. And I don’t think that would be particularly helpful.

I know we all want to thank you, and can’t wait to see you at our Oldhammer USA event! Thanks so much!

We have another Guest of Honor as well, and I'll be announcing that soon!

Also - some incredible news! The Boyldrick models have arrived. Thanks to Kev, Bryan and Martin Ansell for the incredible miniature. I can not wait to give out at our event! Thanks. Also, thank you to Orlygg, for being kind enough to help us get these guys for our event as well! The only way to thank you will be a bunch of painted pictures of our incredible models!


  1. Can't wait to get one of those awesome sculpts for my goblin horde! What a great community that we can get help from across the pond to support our own weekend.

  2. It most definitely is! Totally awesome. Glad we could help with goblinaid, and so happy he's done this for us. And for the Ansell's for such a huge gesture. Hopefully they make money when the BOYL event happens! From us, we have to get them from afar, but the Mercs and Orcs are in my future from Foundry. And one of those giant trolls... ;)

  3. Wow... What a lot of Boyldricks. A great post this and it sounds like the USA weekend will be just as full of surprises as the UK one. You better take plenty of pictures.