Vornheiming Middenheim Part XI: Altmarkt-Altquartier and Southgate-Ostwald


So, today I've continued the "bite-sized" district write-ups, and I gotta say, I'm enjoying them quite a bit.  Thinking up encounters that would be interesting but would make sense to happen somewhat often and were different for every district was starting to not be a lot of fun.  Neither was writing location descriptions.  But rumors are tons of fun!  I am really digging how well they convey the flavor of each district, and I continue to like the idea that they give GMs flexibility in deciding what's the truth in their game while still presenting readily gamable ideas (I hope). With 12 districts, that's 144 potential adventure hooks (sure, many are closely related, but still distinct).

These particular districts were fun, because they are the two slummiest slums in Middenheim.  Lots of juicy crime boss and red light district stuff going on here.  I feel like maybe I'm not doing enough to make explicit the stuff that this late 80's product was coyly hinting at.  Not to be salacious just for the kicks, but because I think vivid references to sex, drugs, and crime presents more opportunities for stuff to grab the interest of the players.  I do have to give the original a lot of credit for including a lot of explicit stuff on drugs (including one that is obviously cocaine) and a lot of implicit stuff about sex. AD&D would never have included this sort of stuff at this point (as far as I know). Chalk it up to cultural differences, I suppose. 

Write up these slums has also gotten me thinking about alley, roof, and sewer crawling.  Logan Knight just did a rockin sweet post on that very topic, and if I don't do a version of my own, I'll likely say "go use that" for such things.  One of the best parts is that no strict map is created, and everything remains fairly loose geographically.  That matched up nicely with a thought I was having looking at the (lovely) maps from the original supplement: Middenheim looks too finite.  Now, sure, it's probably already way too huge for a late medieval/early Renaissance city, especially one in the middle of a giant forest, but that's not the point.  It's mapped in a way that anal-retentive players could, say, make it a point to visit every single building in a district.  I don't think that's very cool from a play standpoint, or in evoking a big, weird, twisty city.  So I think I'm going to make a new map that shows the districts as big chunks, with only the major streets (which mostly are the borders to the districts anyway) labeled.  I figure if someone wants a more detailed map, they can find it the same way I have (Google), or if they want to leave things up in the air and use more grungy "crawling" rules, they can.

One thing I've been leaving out that came up in today's district write-ups is snotball, because I just can't bring myself to put it in there.  It's just too silly.  Maybe it's the fact that I'm a damn yank and soccer is already perplexing enough to me, but soccer with a snotling tied into a ball? I have always enjoyed the bizarre, goofy, and dark humor in Warhammer, and there's loads of it reading through Warhammer City, but for some reason, the more extreme forms of it just work better for me in the tabletop wargame context than in the RPG context (though I've slipped a bit of my own silliness in here and there).  If you can't live without it, I imagine you don't need my help in making that happen.

At any rate, the actual write-ups are below the break:



6. Altmarkt-Altquartier
Activity
Day
  • The bustling Old Market reaches its peak of activity around 9 am, with slower but steady business the rest of the day
  • Hawkers, agitators, buskers, pickpockets, and charlatans of all sorts ply their trade amongst the crowds
  • The Old Quarter is crawling with disreputable sorts - gangs of urchins, professional beggars, and worse
Night
  • The market is almost totally deserted, except for the odd figure passing to or from the Altquartier on shadowy business
  • The streets of the Old Quarter remain just as busy at night, but become even seedier - gangs of urchins give way to gangs of footpads and beggars give way to prostitutes
Locations
  • The Old Market
  • The Kleinmoot
  • The Worshipful Guild of Legalists
  • The Last Drop Inn
  • Fleischer’s Slaughterhouse
  • The Blazing Hearth Restaurant
Rumors
Roll
Rumor
1
Most of Middenheim’s underworld business is headquartered out of the Old Quarter
2
A Marienberger known as  “The Big Cheese” is the most powerful crime boss in the city due to his extensive drug smuggling operations
3
The halflings of the Kleinmoot are insular and shun outsiders, and the Blazing Hearth is where their elders meet to conduct their business
4
Civil cases settled in the Fusspulver Court of the Worshipful Guild of Legalists are arbitrary and capricious
5
The Last Drop is a good place to buy or sell illegal goods, if you don’t get the tar beaten out of you for asking questions
6
Fleischer and his employees work as hired muscle and provide disposal services for the Big Cheese
7
No one in the Worshipful Guild of Legalists can find any records because of an ongoing low-intensity struggle between rival factions of catalogers
8
Groups of rich young rakes come to Old Quarter for a bit of slumming, often with ridiculous attempts at authentic commoner clothing
9
Any taste can be fulfilled in the Old Quarter, provided it’s not too classy and the money is right
10
The Big Cheese is attempting to recruit or eliminate his criminal rivals
11
A son of a prominent merchant family was found in a very comprising and very dead position in an Old Quarter brothel
12
The watch ignores all but the most violent and obvious crimes in Altquartier and will only enter the quarter in huge, twitchy groups


7. Southgate-Ostwald
Activity
Day
  • Southgate is quiet in the day as its residents toil away at miserable jobs either in their homes or other parts of town
  • Ostwald is bustling with all sorts of unpleasant people - drunks, diseased beggars, and degenerates, with plenty of thieves and footpads for spice
Night
  • By night, both areas are lively - workers spend their pennies on drinks and doxies or get into brawls of varying seriousness, and deals of all sorts are struck in back rooms
Locations
  • The Drowned Rat Tavern
  • Pfandleiher’s Pawnbrokers
  • The Labourer’s Hospice
  • Dragon Ales Brewhouse
Rumors
Roll
Rumor
1
The head of the largest crime ring in Ostwald is known as “The Man”, and he is willing to arrange just about anything for the right price
2
The ongoing rivalry between the Ostwald and Altquartier gangs is heating up as each district consolidates behind powerful leaders
3
If someone asks about “The Man”, he will be contacted at an unexpected time by a surprisingly well-informed respectable looking stranger to come to terms
4
The Drowned Rat’s cellar connects to the city’s sewer system and is used as a way point by thieves and burglars on their way to jobs around the city
5
Any outsider coming into the Drowned Rat will be beaten severely and robbed if they look like they’re worth it
6
The owner of Pfandleiher’s pawn shop is one of the principal fences for criminals throughout the city, but he has especially close ties to “The Man’s” operations
7
The chief beneficiary of the Labourer’s Hospice is a high-ranking member of the Merchant’s Guild who uses the hospice as a base for all sorts of racketeering
8
The halfling owner of Dragon Ales conceals a lucrative side business in the most vile poisons and necromantic agents behind his cheerful, rosy-cheeked exterior
9
“The Man” is a master of disguise who conducts much of his own business in the guises of various lieutenants and flunkies
10
One of the Altquartier gangs is trying to shut down Pfandleiher’s pawn shop to prop up their own preferred fence
11
Workers at the hospice are being offered fantastic wages for special after-hours illicit work, and those that refuse disappear
12
“The Man” is not one person at all, but is in fact a series of cut-outs for a mysterious organization