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Translating World of Warcraft into a Tabletop Roleplaying Game: The Content Challenge
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Translating World of Warcraft into a Tabletop Roleplaying Game: The Content Challenge

January 8, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

A 224-page RPG book contains about 168,000 words. The average novel has about 90,000 words. Thus, each of our books has about as much content as two novels. Not including the core book, we're staring at content equivalent to that found in twelve novels.

RPG books obviously include a lot of content; an RPG line includes an almost staggering amount of material about its setting. This fact can be both good and bad.

Good:

• RPG books can serve as an outlet for information that would otherwise be difficult to get into the fans' hands.

• RPG books can serve as excellent reference sources. I suspect that many people who buy our books don't do so because they want to play the game, but rather because they want to read about the Warcraft setting.

• RPG books allow you a lot of room to create stuff that doesn't (yet) exist in any other source.

The supplement books for the WoW RPG -- on my dining room table.

 

Bad:

• You need to fill those books with content.

This last issue is the one that got us. Of course, a lot of material about the Warcraft setting already exists, and we could print it in our books: what happened during the War of the Ancients, a description of the Dustwallow Marsh, and the story of Arthas's fall, for example. We did indeed print all these things -- despite the fact that true fans probably knew them already or knew where to find them. Our books were not complete without this information, plus we wanted the books to serve as a compiled reference source for the Warcraft setting.

We wanted to add additional content to the books as well. RPG books can be a great resource for material that, for whatever reason, you can't release in the video game, and we wanted to use that potential. Also, fans have a right to expect new content in their RPG books.

So we asked Blizzard for more information. And they gave us some -- information from expansions and patches that were in development at the time, or things that they hadn't yet had a chance to deliver to the fans.

Yet this information still wasn't enough. So, as writers, we started making up stuff. That's what we generally get paid to do, after all.


For the RPG, we had to delve into unexplored aspects of Warcraft lore, like high elf culture and history.

Such a turn of events was both unavoidable and unsurprising. When you're writing these books, you need to make up things. How orc culture feels about mages, for example, or what the streets of Stormwind would be like for a poverty-stricken child. We extrapolated from existing material, coming up with a clearer and more detailed picture of what Azeroth would be like for someone who truly lived in it.

However, Blizzard didn't feel comfortable allowing a third party, like us, to invent stuff about the Warcraft world. That's understandable, certainly, but definitely a problem if you're a roleplaying game line.


Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

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