Vornheiming Middenheim Part VIII: The Great Park

Another quick post worked in between getting ready for a New Years Eve party at the new house.  Here's a write up on the Great Park district.  The locations are a little more filled out here, and I had to come up with a little more on the rumors than what was in the book.  The write up's after the break, and I hope everyone has or had a fun and safe New Years Eve.

Vornheiming Middenheim Part VII: The Palast District

As much fun as the various generators were, I figured I better get a handle on how to do the different city districts.  So far I'm leaning towards keeping things brief, as I think that a Corpathium-level amount of detail per district might be too much.  I'm also using the rumors as the place to put the adventure hooks from Warhammer City: Middenheim and The Power Behind the Throne plus a few embellishments from me.  As with the previously presented rumors, I'm not going to present any as "true" and others as "false", and I will instead leave that to individual referees to decide for their game.  That makes rumors a nicely concise way to convey a lot of potential information without dictating any setting details.  Plus, the rumors can be just as valuable whether true or false, so that's pretty cool.

Also, using the contact rules from earlier, plus district specific rumors, gives a nice way to work your way towards intrigues.  I'm thinking that each district will have rumors mostly having to do with that district, and sometimes contradictory ones about other districts, so that you'll have to work your way around the city and making new contacts to get to the bottom of stuff.

At any rate, for today below the break is the write-up for the Palast district.  Please let me know if anything seems unnecessary, or if it's too sparse, or what should be added.

Sunday Special: Weird Taboo Generator

[edit: it's Sunday, not Saturday]

Reading Arnold K's totally sweet post about Wizards and Witches inspired me to try to come up with a way to think up bizarre taboos for wizards and monastic types on the fly.  I imagine some of them will take more interpreting than others, but let's try it out!

Here's the table:
1Must1In moderation1Always1Eat1Meat
2Should2In excess2Never2Drink2Slaves
3At all3In the presence of others3Use3Alcohol
4In vain4Between sunrise and sunset4Own4Sex
5Between sunset and sunrise5Abstain from5Words
6Every day6Tolerate6Violence
8Speak with8Vegetables
10Opposite Sex

And let's try a few examples:
  • (Roll: 1, 4, 2, 6, 4) Must never tolerate sex in vain (I see this as a belief that sex is a necessary evil for making babies and followers of this belief would be intolerable prudes)
  • (Roll: 1, 4, 3, 8, 7) Must speak with blood in the presence of others in vain (Okay, this one's weird. Maybe when in the presence of others, these people must address people based on their social class, or something weird and magical with blood?)
  • (Roll: 2, 2, 6, 7, 1) Should see meat in excess every day (These guys would have to surround themselves with raw meat, more than they can eat)
It's not perfect, but I think it might be fun if you're stuck for ideas.

Vornheiming Middenheim Part VI: Cults and Intrigue

Today we get to the stuff I'm most excited about: the Chaos Cult and Intrigue generators! These are the parts that are most original and least a reworking of other people's stuff.  Obviously I think the reworking has value too, or I wouldn't be doing it, but coming up with these got me fired up in a way working on district write-ups or adapting the Powers that Be did not.  

So, a few words on each of the generators.  First of all, I can't help the feeling that they're overly simplistic, but I think in practice the complexity will come from interactions.  That being said, even more so than the other things, these are a draft, and I'd appreciate any suggestions for changes or additions.

The intrigue generator essentially works as a mad libs.  If you don't already have a person or group in mind, you can randomly generate the players involved, or you can just roll the other columns and plug in the groups you want to find a relationship for.  The wants and beliefs are left fairly vague so they can fit a variety of different people and situations.  If an intrigue seems weak, either a) pick one you like better, b) roll again until something gets your motor going, or c) layer on other sources of complexity like generating specific NPCs, tying in the Powers that Be, pulling in a Chaos cult, or what have you.

The Chaos cult generator's format is inspired by Logan Knight's excellent NPC Birthing Sacs.  I've added the feature that you can roll 1d4 and get a "standard" cult by reading straight across, and each cult is assumed to have an enmity/rivalry with the next one down.  Which Chaos God is generated does a lot of the heavy lifting for the flavor of the cult, as the rest of the columns were made to generically fit any one of the Chaos gods.  I figure I'll never be as evocative as the Realms of Chaos books, so I won't try.  I feel like the "quirks" could be more interesting, but it was hard to come up with ideas that worked equally well for followers of every ruinous power.  After the break is the actual rules.

Vornheiming Middenheim Part V: The Powers that Be

So, it ended up taking me a little longer than I expected to get the "Powers that Be" table set up.  Turns out that it's pretty tough to satisfyingly emulate the innovation to have each entry show a relationship with the next entry from  Zak S.'s Vornheim Aristocrats table.  As it is, I ended up with only 25 entries.  This should probably be chopped down to 20 or increased to 30, so that it corresponds to an actual die.

For those unfamiliar with Zak's table, the idea is that you can randomly pick an aristocrat/powerful person by rolling once, and he or she will have all of the traits from left to right, with the relationship indicated by the last entry with the next person on the table.  I've built this so that it can act as a quick reference or relationship map if you want to play Middenheim "by the book", or you can randomize new aristocrats by rolling once for each column and getting totally new NPCs.

So, for example, say you roll a 15 and you're doing it the simple way.  You get Janna Eberhauer, Deputy High Wizard, an intelligent and friendly wizard with freckles.  She terrifies Josef Sparsam the Chancellor.  Or, if you want to go the complicated route, you could roll a 6, 10, 11, 15, 16, 7, 25, which gives you the following: Petra (no last name), the Midden Marshal, who has freckles and is an enthusiastic collector of antique art.  She is a lover of Baron Stefan Todbringer.

If you want to get really complex, repeat a few times rather than having the "relationship to" column point to a fully developed "book" NPC.

I'd say that if I were writing an adventure, rather than creating a toolkit, I'd take about this level of information and put it into a visual relationship map, and I'd add in a few more of the plots given in Warhammer City and in "Power Behind the Throne" to suggest ways for PCs to get involved.  As it is, I'm hoping that the intrigue generator will do most of the heavy lifting, and I'm going to parse the stuff in the supplement and adventure for material to put in that.

Powers that Be

RollLast NameFirst NamePositionPhysical FeatureCharacter TraitRelationship to
1HelseherAlbrechtHigh WizardGaunt and asceticMore concerned with abstractions than real lifeSuspects the worst of
2HoflichJoachimLaw LordQuiet and DignifiedWry sense of humorHolding ransom a relative of
3EhrlichReinerLaw LordQuiet and UnassumingMelancholicDesperately trying to secretly communicate with
4SchutzmanUlrichCommander of the WatchTall and imposingHarsh and UnbendingSeeks guidance from
5StolzWernerChief Priest of SigmarCautiously ambitiousWants to humiliate
6Ar-UlricHigh Priest of UlrichTall and RangyKindly but AmbitiousHaving an affair with
7SchlagenEmmanuelleLady at CourtTall and willowyCrafty and ManipulativeLover of
8TodbringerBorisGrafPowerful build going to seedCrippled by griefCan't stand the sight of
9PrunkvollSiegfriedKnight EternalWears armor on all public occasionsPompous, apalling boreTurned down a proposition from
10LiebkosenPetraLady at CourtDark, curly hairGold diggerHaving a fling with the son of
11Von GenscherMaximillianMidden MarshallFacial ScarCourageous and magnanimousSuspicious of the rise to power of
12GoebbelsGotthardKomission Convenor and Chairman of the Merchants' GuildPremature grey hairVain and graspingSecretly working for
13WasmeierKarl-HeinzLaw LordUnremarkableCruel and avariciousDangerously underestimates
14SchwermuttJohannGarrison CommanderLight buildHuman and approachableSmitten by
15EberhauerJannaDeputy High WizardFrecklesIntelligent and FriendlyTerrifies
16SparsamJosefChancellorWalks with a limpEnthusiastic collector of antique artIrrationally despises
17ZimberlichHildegardeChaperone to the Graf's DaughterFrail but SprightlyGood character, not easily fooledFiercely devoted to
18TodbringerKatarina"Princess"BeautifulDelicate and refinedInfatuated with
19LafarelRallaneCourt MinstrelSilvery blonde hairHopeless romanticBest friend of
20FanmarisAllavandrelMaster of the HuntStartling Green EyesEnjoys the good things in lifeDrinking buddies with
21SchmiedehammerDieterGraf's ChampionBroken noseBright, friendly, and helpfulEngaged to
22JungKirstenLady at CourtSimple, classically stylishKeen IntuitionStrongly dislikes
23SinnlichNatashaLady at CourtIce blue eyesWorships powerRegrets a fling with
24PavarottiLuigiBaronial PhysicianFat and flamboyantGood hearted with a lust for lifeProvides care for
25TodbringerStefanBaronSickly and droolingFeeble minded, idioticCan only get help from

Self Indulgent Year-End Post

So, more family stuff for Christmas day means little time to devote to writing up districts or Chaos Cult generators or the like, so I'm going to put up a little "year in review" post here as something quick.  I also figure it's best to put a post few are likely to read on a day few are likely to be checking blogs.

The Year in (Brief) Review

Personally, this year has been bookended by starting and finishing a job.  The job was immensely valuable for the experience, and I made a couple of good friends, but I'm happy to be moving on to starting a new job next month.  I've continued to work on graduate school, and I'll be finishing up this coming summer. My wife and I bought a house and moved in, and so far it seems pretty great.  Oh, and we got a couple of cats in February, and they've been nice to have around. I made my first civilian trans-continental trip, going to Singapore and Jakarta for school. 

Gaming-wise Fellhold continued into this year, then we took a break and played "Planet of the Lost" for a few months, and now we're back to Fellhold with a bevy of new house rules.  I've been pleased and amazed that the group of friends I got together has continued to meet online almost every Monday night for a few hours, and the fact that we started a new game with a new GM shows that it's not even just about me or my game, which is cool. Fellhold went from being an experiment in running OD&D and addressing things as they came up in play to being a game run along old school principles with rules designed to do what I consciously wanted them to do. 

Blog-wise, you can see that I was pretty deficient.  The blogging year started in April, skipped August-October, lightly brushed November, and came back in December with full force.  Since my shift to a focus on Older/DIY D&D, I've struggled a bit to find the right tone and types of posts.  I think that actual play reports are not worthwhile, even as a record for me.  Instead, I'm going to focus on rules and setting material, and especially their interaction.  I've got a few projects in mind that will hopefully fill out the blog some even when there's not much going on with Fellhold.  And I'm going to be wrapping up this Middenheim series within the next week or two, which has been fun and garnered a fair amount of interest.  

At any rate, I've got a lot to be thankful for, and a lot to look forward to.  Hope everyone's had a good year, and may your new one be happy.

Vornheiming Middenheim Part IV: Contacts and the City Gates

This is going to be a pretty short post because I'll be spending Christmas Eve hosting the family.  But I want to keep up with this blogging regularly thing, so let's press on with the Middenheim series!

I really like Zak S's Contacts rules from Vornheim, and unfortunately, urban play hasn't been a big enough factor in my own campaign to make much use of them yet.  This variation is meant to reinforce a little further the different feels of the different districts by tying NPCs to the district they live and/or work in.  I left the system for determining starting contacts blank to keep with the principle of "system agnostic", but the Vornheim method of 1 + Charisma points over 15 works, or I was thinking "1 + Charisma modifier (minimum 1)".  I really like the probability distribution of 2d6, and I wanted some results to be more likely than others so that players have some idea what talking to contacts is likely to net them, and I made it fairly likely overall that they hook you into further adventure material (either by rumors, new NPCs, or their own demands).  That being said, it's perhaps too unlikely that talking to a contact will get you the information you need.  That's why I ended up building in the "cumulative +1" clause when they direct you somewhere else, so that there can be an organic chain of discussions and clues, like the first 10 minutes of Law and Order.

For my first "district" I wrote up the city gates and lift chairs.  Since these are not real districts where people live, the full complement of district features is not there, but if anyone can think of an encounter or rumor, maybe I could make it work.  

With all that said, here's Contacts and the City Gates and Lift Chairs after the break:

Vornheiming Middenheim Part III: Some City-Wide Resources

Today we have the general overview of Middenheim, some introductory notes on religion and the watch, a table of random shops, and some rumors about the Undercity.  Their will be more about religion and the Watch in the district and NPC sections, since I think they work better there.  I figure it will be more interesting to know that Ar-Ulric wants to father a dynasty than it is to know as part of the information about the cult of Ulric that the priesthood was sworn to celibacy ages ago and now some of them want to change it.  Likewise, the watch will get stuff like frequency of encounters and attitude to local denizens detailed in the district write-ups.

I feel like the Undercity rumors might be a bit sparse, but they're mostly drawn from the adventure ideas in the original book, and I feel like "how to do a megadungeon" is outside of the main scope of what's going on here.  I put the adventure hooks into rumor form so that individual GMs can decide how much is true and how much is exaggeration, depending on the level of Chaos driven corruption they want.  At any rate, the sections for this post are after the break: