This post continues my history of WFRP1, which started here.
Having acquired its first supplement, Forces of Fantasy, Warhammer quickly acquired a second. The Book of Battalions was a collection of army lists. I have been able to find out very little about its release, except that it was not sold separately.
It is undated. However, it refers to Forces of Fantasy. It also uses WFB1 rules, and so predates WFB2. That places it some time between March and December 1984.
It strikes a very irreverent tone. In fact, the whole supplement seems mainly to be an excuse for spoofs and eye-watering puns. For example, Aer Dressair, King of the Sea Elves, and his sword Stylinn Coam; Adriel Galabovril, “son, heir and pride of Celebumble King of the High Elves of Gondossin” and his friend Gil-Haddock; Crown Prince Wilhelm of Albion and his sword Exclobberer; etc. If Warhammer‘s jokey streak wasn’t evident before, it certainly was after The Book of Battalions.
Some elements of the later setting emerge at this point. Albion appears, with a handful of named places: Mercia, after the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom, Rutland, after the English county, and Wallopthorpe, a comedic invention. The expedition of the surprisingly Germanic Crown Prince Wilhelm to expel Norse invaders recalls the Viking raids on Britain in the 8th to 11th centuries CE. The sword Exclobberer, the wizard Marvo and various knights have Arthurian echoes. Malcolm, “the young pretender” seems to blend the historical figures Charles Edward Stuart and Malcolm III.
Nippon is also mentioned for the first time. Its presentation is very sketchy, but recalls Japan of the Sengoku period (15th-17th centuries CE) with samurai and ashigaru. Most notably Vim-to monks make their first appearance.
Hobgoblins are presented as nomadic raiders modelled on the Mongolian Empire (they are led by Tynn Khan). There are night goblin fanatics with balls and chains.
There is a little more information on Lustria: an army list for the Clawed Feet of Mylkbeotl, a group of slann responsible for protecting the Imperial mail from bandits. The list includes the first mentions of cold one mounts and warhounds.
A few further (mostly jokey) settlement names also appear in The Book of Battalions (eg Halflington, Barathome, Notnam Forest, Horrorwell, etc), but to my knowledge none reappears subsequently.
There was one further release for the first edition of the Warhammer game. It came in September 1984, and, depending on the release date of The Book of Battalions, may have been Citadel’s last publication for WFB1. It was the second Citadel Compendium.
The Compendium was again primarily a miniatures catalogue. The miniatures listings have a few notable inclusions. Cold one mounts appear again, this time described as mounts for dark elves, lizardmen and slann. There are some more creatures of Chaos: hounds of Chaos and beastmen, both of which had been mentioned in Forces of Fantasy.
It contains just one Warhammer article, a lengthy scenario called ‘Rigg’s Shrine’, which expands the Lustria setting further. It adds Amazons and advanced weapons from the High Age, such as needlers and bolt guns. These weapons had been mentioned before in ‘Warhammer and Science Fiction’ in the first Citadel Compendium. They illustrate Warhammer‘s willingness to blend fantasy and science fiction at this point.
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No further material was produced for WFB1. A new edition was around the corner. Its release in December 1984 would mark a new era for the game.
This timeline summarises the development of WFB1, as mainly described in parts IX to XIII of this series.
The following chart summarises the chronology of this post relative to others in this section of ‘The WFRP Story’.
This concludes my chronological review of the period between the launches of WFB1 and WFB2. The next posts review the material from the same period thematically, starting with a look at the emergence of Chaos.
Title art by John Blanche. Used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders.
6 thoughts on “THE WFRP STORY XIII: THE END OF THE BEGINNING”
Interesting. I own a number of WFB1 products that I picked up many many years ago for pennies. I was never clear what the relationship between The Book of Battalions and other products was. I think you must be right about when it was published. I recall as a teenager rather enjoying its ridiculous – and often poor – puns. It must remain a high point of Warhammer at its silliest – which by comparison to how stupidly serious some later incarnations appeared is no bad thing.
Yes, The Book of Battalions was definitely peak silliness for Warhammer, and a lot of fun.
Aer Dressair turned up in Tim Eccles’ “A Pass to Farside” or “All Quiet in Kislev” – there were a few other NPCs from these early WFB1 supplements too.
As I recall, the Book of Battalions was included inside the boxed set of Forces of Fantasy.
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Vim-to monks are in fact mentioned under the Men of the Orient already in Forces of Fantasy. FoF also has Cold One mounts for both Lizardmen and Dark Elves.
Yes, you’re right. Incidentally it has been suggested to me that the Book of Battalions might have come with copies of Forces of Fantasy, so they may have been concurrent.