Before I start this, yeah I know I’ve written Dwarfs instead of Dwarves, for some reason Dwarfs is the correct spelling in Warhammer…
Mythic’s recent development post regarding the play as monster feature and their implementation of Skaven, predictably prompted some debate regarding the warhammer lore and the concept of Skaven as allies of the Order races. In general it wasn’t a popular move and is seen by many as a heinous breach of the warhammer lore, though others are quick to point out (correctly) that Gamesworkshop gave it the OK and (incorrectly) that surely it doesn’t really matter.
Firstly, while Gamesworkshop gave it the OK for Warhammer Online, they have not done the same for any of their other games. Quite the opposite in fact, as Skaven are now officially designated a Destruction race, within Gamesworkshop’s new groupings of allies. Whilst Skaven are fairly new to being grouped quite so clearly as this, prior to this latest edition of Warhammer there were races that the rules (and lore) restrict each race from allying with. From those that Skaven were restricted against allying with of particular note are the Dwarfs, who have been involved in a bitter and hate filled war with the Skaven for the small matter of, oh… over FOUR THOUSAND YEARS.
That’s right, the Dwarfs have been had four thousand years of unending war with the Skaven, but then with the Skaven being seen as responsible for the collapse of the Dwarf empire (technically it was down to a Slaan, but they don’t know that..) and the death of countless millions of Dwarfs, you can understand if the stunties are perhaps a bit miffed.. There isn’t really anyone that can beat Skaven for entries into the Dammaz Kron (Book of Grudges). So regardless of Gamesworkshop giving it the green light, it was obviously not going to be a popular move and the fact that they haven’t put it anywhere near the proper game world speaks volumes. Oh and the Trollslayer career in WAR has a mastery path called Skavenslayer. HELLO!
Now there is a fairly valid argument against Skaven being allied with the existing WAR Destruction races, as Skaven are such treacherous gits that nobody trusts them at all. I would say that they are more suited to a third faction, though being part of WAR’s Destruction faction is not an entirely uncomfortable arrangement. But being allied with the Dwarfs is totally not an option. It’s actually less about whom the Skaven would ally with, but more the fact that the Dwarfs (and Elves for that matter) would never ever agree to it.
But it went live and that’s what we’ve got, so why does it matter?
The thing is a great many people wouldn’t have ever started playing WAR if it wasn’t for the lore. They are fans of it; they know how it works and what is wrong or right. So a developer should ensure that is cherished, protected and used in a way that keeps the players on side. If WAR wasn’t set in the warhammer universe, I wouldn’t be playing it. If WAR was some generic made up on the fly fantasy shite, then absolutely no way would I be interested, but it isn’t, it’s Warhammer and that has meaning to me and a lot of people. Likewise, if Star Trek Online wasn’t set in the Star Trek universe it would be dead in the water and have nobody playing it at all. The famous IP draws people in, then hopefully the quality of the game retains them, but if the game has issues people will leave and your left with just a few diehards and all the rest will be those that are playing because they love that IP.
As it stands we have no assurances that this won’t continue in future. What’s next a Wood Elf skin for both factions? If Skaven for both is reasonable, then so is that. What about Beastmen, Undead or Bretonnians? Why not eh? Keep going along that path and it’s not long before this isn’t Warhammer anymore. A nice logo and Gamesworkshop's approval won't help you when you're down to one dying server and even the warhammers fans have rejected the game.
Obviously it would be better if the whole thing was changed so Skaven could be a proper playable race one day, but that seems unlikely in the current climate. But surely it’s not impossible to expect a re-skin for Order’s Skaven to beeither Lizardmen or Wood Elves. Neither are perfect options, but they’re a hell of a lot better than what we’ve got now and instead of alienating a great many of WAR’s remaining players, it would be seen as Mythic seeing the grimy foul Warhammer light and actually acting on it. We would see the lore win.