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Warhammer Fantasy is a fantasy setting created by Games Workshop which is used by many of the company's games. Some of the best known games set in this world are the table top wargame Warhammer Fantasy Battle, the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay pen-and-paper role-playing game, and the MMORPG Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. An upcoming game, Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, is set to be released in Fall 2011.
Warhammer is notable for its "dark and gritty" background world, which features a culture similar in appearance to Early Modern Germany crossed with Tolkien's Middle-earth. Chaos is central to the setting, as the forces of Chaos are attempting unceasingly to tear the mortal world asunder. The world itself is populated with a variety of races such as humans, high elves, dark elves, wood elves, dwarfs, undead, orcs, lizardmen, ogres, and other creatures familiar to many fantasy/role-playing settings.
The first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB) was released by Games Workshop in early 1983. Prior to this release, the company dealt primarily with the importing of American Role-playing games, as well as support and review of gaming products, either through their White Dwarf magazine periodical or as separate commercially available products. The game was a mix of a simple rule system with a background that was drawn from standard fantasy themes. The dedication was, in part, "to Michael Moorcock… whose fault it all is". The game thrived, and subsequent supplements added the particular background to the game. Each "Army List" included a partial history and some related aspects such as notable figures or short illustrative stories. With the publication of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in 1987 the setting had moved from background to the game to a full-fledged fantasy setting.
Besides Warhammer Fantasy Battle, now in its eight edition, and WFRP, there have been novels set in the same background. Material published in White Dwarf (some of it subsequently republished in the game itself), the Citadel Journal and a number of other games using the same setting have all added to the background. Games-Workshop has also announced 8th edition to be released in July 2010.