Oh, I'm well aware of that - the White Wolf/WoD example was just the one that sprung to mind first. As it stands, though, I wouldn't exactly count Savage Worlds, GURPS, the Hero system or D&D in the same vein, though - 40kRP and World of Darkness are alike in that there's a distinct setting that the rules are written for... while Savage Worlds, GURPS, Hero and D&D are all (to varying degrees) setting-neutral or otherwise generic. The Mongoose version of Traveller is similar in this regard - the main rulebook contains a few nods to the Classic Traveller Universe, but the game is presented and marketed as a generic sci-fi RPG.
Personally, I can't touch a generic RPG system without feeling compelled to significantly adapt it to fit the specific nature of the setting I'm playing in (and sometimes not even then - I cannot stand GURPS, and I've never been inclined to touch Savage Worlds or the Hero System). I can't play generic or setting-neutral games 'out of the box' so to speak, and while this is an asset at times (I've done plenty of work tweaking and setting-tailoring d20 Modern over the years), I measure the quality of a system based on how little I feel compelled to houserule (remembering that there's a distinction, albeit a fine one, between houseruling to make something work more appropriately for a given game, and houseruling to add new or more detailed content that isn't necessary). In my opinion and experience, the broader and more generic something attempts to be, the blander and less interesting it is...
So, in that regard, Dark Heresy (and the model established by Dark Heresy) works because it isn't generic, because there's an assumed basic setting to which the rules have been tailored (with means enough to deviate from it if necessary with a little imagination)... for me, a generic 40kRP would have been appealing mainly because it's a 40k RPG, but Dark Heresy sits alongside WFRP and Fireborn as one of my favourite RPGs ever, while I doubt that a generic 40k RPG (and I've seen a number of versions over the years, including a couple of my own attempts) would be anywhere near as satisfying to my particular sensibilities.
Hmm... Interesting. Thanks for the perspective, N01! I appreciate it. Because I usually find the opposite problem with systems. That unless I can take a system and use it for any genre, it's usually because the system is fatally flawed in some aspect. The genre specific ones usually have some aspect to them that is just a gimmick that ends up causing problems. Scion is a prime example. Having to roll literally dozens of dice. Granted this is a fairly extreme example, but it gets the point across for what I have found with genre specific rules.
And that's one of the reasons I am playing DH. I think the system itself is fairly well laid out so that it could be adopted to any genre. It has some problems (like psionics, starting characters skills, class lock) but over all, I think if you were to strip out every reference to WH40K from the rules, you would still have a fairly solid rules system and could adopt it to any genre you want (yes, including supers). But then percentile systems tend to scale pretty well no matter what you want to do with them (Runequest, Claw Law/Spell Law/etc. CoC anyone?). The fact that the WH40K flavor is steeped through the book I think is the only thing that makes it not generic. If you took it all out, you would have a good generic RP system. In fact, you could use it for WHFRP as well. So why not take advantage of it, make it a 40K RFP system (or WH RP system), then put out different setting books? GW would also get add on sells for all the material they put out, which I think is their goal. And FFG gets a system that can be stretched beyond a limited 3 setting scope.
There is the other angle as well - rule refinement. RPG rules can only change so much through errata, before the errata and FAQ sheets end up being worth an entire chapter in their own right, and the natural lifecycle of most hobby games seems to be half a decade or so... as GW demonstrated with the refinements made to their Lord of the Rings wargame between the first three editions only a year apart each, a game system can be more thoroughly and more effectively cleaned up and smoothed out with more closely staggered releases. Rogue Trader has the same potential here - the game isn't a new edition, but it's an opportunity to clean up the rules in a more significant manner than really feasible through errata and FAQs alone. One rulebook and an array of setting books lacks that advantage, though how important or significant you consider that advantage to be is, obviously, a matter of personal taste.
But in a way, that is also an argument for a more generic system. Then you can put out the revised rules that would still play with the existing setting/genre books. Savage Worlds has gone through at least three different iterations (more depending on how you want to look at it) of their system since it started in Deadlands went to Savage Worlds, then to Deadlands Reloaded (with the Savage Worlds Explorer edition core rule book that came out afterwards with all the new rules changes). The individual setting or genre books were still valuable and playable with the new rules. This definitely makes the players happy as they don't need to go out and buy two, three, or more books when the rules change across all the settings. They buy one revised book and get back at it.
Setting books also can provide individual setting tweaks in the individual books depending on the flavor you are going for. For example, mana points to use spells if you want that type of system, or non if you want a more high powered system.
Oh well. Thanks for the excellent discussion, N01! I appreciate you taking the time!
a trai en pace,
That does remind me... is there any chance of getting the first Rogue Trader picture (big starship against a blue/purple starry background, with "coming Gen-Con 2009") as a Wallpaper?
Ceterum Censeo Dezmond Ignorandum Esse.