To supply my Warhammer group with the materials needed to play the next version, over $150 is going to have to be spent. I have five people at minimum, but most of the time I have seven. According to FFG’s official reckoning I’m going to need the core box set, the adventure’s set, and at least one extra set of dice. While they have said that you can play with as many people as you like with the core box set, this appears to be incredibly awkward to do, so I consider it necessary to get the expansion. This is a tremendous amount of money just to get basic functionality. Because of this, I have been thinking of the value of the new system when compared to the old and other RPGs.
First, the previous version of WFRP was $40 plus tax. It gave all of the careers, all of the races, a starting adventure to play through and a thin GM section. With it I could create everything needed for a campaign, no extras needed. All anyone coming to play need is some dice. This has been the traditional setup for RPGs and it delivers quite a bit of value for the money.
D&D 4th edition is the next natural choice to compare. The core set of books can run you as much as $105 + tax without any discounts. However, looking on Amazon, I can get each one for $23 for a total of about $70 before taxes. And I can check it out ahead of time by going to WotC’s website and getting a free pdf which introduces much of the core concepts and a free adventure to try it out with. In practical terms, a group of five to seven can easily play with just the initial outlay although an additional PHB may be needed. Overall, not bad bang for one’s buck if one is able to get the discounted versions online or even secondhand.
Pathfinder offers a nearly all-in-one tome for $50 that has everything but a monster manual. Much like WotC’s D&D not much more is needed to keep a group of players going after the initial purchase. Currently there’s no free taste but considering it’s built off of the freely available 3.5 SRD one doesn’t really need an official version to try out. Despite this, the amount of flavor put in there by Paizo makes the price well worth it.
GURPS has a two book set, Characters & Campaigns, comprising its core system. Both are listed at Amazon for a total of about $50 before taxes. Together the two have a page count of nearly 600 pages of yummy RPG goodness. Designed for the DIY crowd, the Campaign book goes to great lengths to help the GM get going. Players with a lot of imagination (and more than a little time on their hands) have a dizzying array of options to go with. There is absolutely nothing more needed to play. This is another system that offers a free pdf to give a taste before buying.
In looking at how much is packed into these two books, it is hard not to say that GURPS may represent the most bang for one’s buck. The only drawback is the the amount of time needed for world-building.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. The HERO 6th edition core set is $70 if both books are purchased together. Rifts is currently going for $30. This doesn’t even touch free systems such as FUDGE or FATE. Nor does it address the hundreds of small/independent RPGs, many of which are $30 or less.
So I am skeptical, very skeptical, that the next version of WFRP is going to have a comparable value for my money.