Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Wizarding World of Roleplaying

Debs and I, about fourth in the queue at the first Fantastic Beasts fan event 2016 in London
(Yes, J K Rowling was there. No she didn't hear us screaming)
Yes. I have a problem. I'm a little obsessed.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I need to write the Official Harry Potter tabletop roleplaying game. Not some "numbers filed off" unofficial one. I need to write an official, licensed RPG set within J K Rowling's Wizarding World.

The frustration that there isn't one, and that I'm not involved, ebbs and flows but it is times like yesterday when the leaked footage of an awesome looking video-game RPG within the Wizarding World hit the internet, that I start screaming at my computer.

First of all, about that video game footage. It looks amazing. I'm so glad I wasn't part of their focus group as I would have been leaping about the room, making noises like a Fwooper. It's a great studio behind it if the rumours are true (Avalanche who did Disney Infinity), and the game looks stunning.

Like Portkey Games and their Hogwarts Mystery game, they've been sensible and set the rumoured RPG in another time period to avoid clashing with the events of Harry Potter (and Fantastic Beasts). And like Portkey's Hogwarts Mystery it tells a new story within the Wizarding World, with new characters visiting familiar locations.

My character tutoring Lumos in Hogwarts Mystery - so long ago... I'm a fourth year now...

So the question is, if this fantastic video game, as well as Portkey's Hogwarts Mystery, can tell new stories at Hogwarts (and in the Wizarding World in general) that are not necessarily considered canon, why is a tabletop roleplaying game any different?

I'd just love some answers.

If it's fear of players creating their own stories and adventures within the Wizarding World, in the games they play and create sitting around a table, it's not like it's that far from fan-fiction. It's not making money and it's certainly not considered canon to the universe.

If it's worry about the potential publisher creating new stories and adventures, I'm sure that any adventure idea would be vetted by Warner Brothers, and is it that different from creating the narrative of the video games currently published or in development? When Portkey first announced their games there was a section in their FAQ's that said J K Rowling would be approving everything - a line that was removed a few months later making it seem like the developers have been given a little more free rein.

Is it just about the money? While a Harry Potter tabletop RPG would be huge in the games world, the tabletop games industry makes a fraction of the money that a video games company would.

I've addressed in earlier posts the many benefits of tabletop gaming and how a Harry Potter RPG would get kids (and adults) interacting sociably in a face-to-face environment, fuelling their imaginations, getting them thinking on their feet, problem solving, and creating. You can see the lengthier post here:

Pitch layout for a potential Harry Potter RPG - layout by Will Brooks

That same post also details my first attempt at pitching to Warner Bros with the support of a major game company, and how it didn't get very far. I have to wonder if the thing that stopping a Harry Potter RPG is not speaking to the right people? Or getting through to them in the first place? When we pitched (successfully) to the BBC for the Doctor Who RPG, I learned that a factor in other companies' attempts at the license may be purely down to them not getting through to the right person with their proposal.

So my big questions are...

Why is there no Harry Potter / Wizarding World tabletop roleplaying game?

If it's purely financial, I can understand that - I'll just have to hope either to gain the backing of a successful and fluid publisher, or hope for a lottery win. Of course, if a publisher is already working towards a Potterverse game, please let me know!

If it's about creative control, then why can video games companies do all of the things that seem to hold a tabletop game back.

One day I'll corner the Warner execs in a room with J K Rowling, and I'll give them the Powerpoint presentation of a lifetime...

Until then, I'll just have to play with my hack of Tales from the Loop...


Timothy S. Brannan said...

You and me both.

I'd fight ya too for the chance to write the Harry Potter RPG, but I think we would work better together!

I think no RPG publisher really has the cash to do a Harry Potter license.

David F. Chapman said...

Here's hoping for that lottery win!!!