Vornheiming Middenheim XVI: Wrapping Up

[UPDATE 1/6/21: I no longer support spending money on products that benefit Zak S, or giving him positive attention and connection. The short version is that I find credible claims that he has engaged in unacceptable behavior and not made up for it. For more detail, see here for the core of the accusations. To get Zak's side of things, he maintains this separate blog from his main one to post updates on the legal status of these complaints. 
Please consider these claims and make your own decision on their validity, and the implications thereof, before either supporting or shunning Zak.]

[Don't forget about the Dungeon Dozen Adventure Contest . Deadline is Friday!]

So, looking over my original proposed table of contents along with notes I developed over the course of the project, I think that I've covered everything.  I considered coming up with some rules for alley/sewer/roof crawling to include, but I think I'm good with saying use these by Logan Knight and tweak anything that doesn't fit your vision of Warhammer or Middenheim. So I want to do a brief retrospective on what I learned while doing this whole thing.

For ease of reference, here's a summary of what I stated I wanted to accomplish in the first post in this series:
  • Err on the side of brevity
  • System Neutral
  • Focus on interesting/weird stuff, and take it to 11
  • Canon? We don't need no stinking canon
  • People
  • Tools, not Reference
Looking back, I'd say that overall I met those goals pretty well.  I'm glad that I stated them clearly up front, because the impulse to expand, embroider, provide all the details; that impulse was definitely there. Having these guiding principles worked as a sort of amulet against excess.  I'm sure I still messed up some stuff in the posts, but I'll be exercising some editorial discretion in compiling a .pdf.

Really, the only one of these goals I don't feel as great about is "Focus on interesting/weird stuff, and take it to 11".  I think a lot of the content remained pretty mundane, due to the influence of the text itself continually reasserting its somewhat tame tone whenever I referenced it.  Fortunately, when it comes time to do something like this for my own fantasy cities, the only force for mundanity is my own predilection for cliches, and I have plenty of good sources to help counter that.

Enough wishy-washy mumbo jumbo, here's some concrete lessons learned for anyone who wants to pursue a similar project:
  • Define at the outset both style and substance goals. These will guide you when you are flipping through highlighted pages going "what the hell am I doing with this?"
  • Good Highlighting is time-consuming, but really helps in the long run
  • To achieve good highlighting, have a clear idea what you want to extract before you start highlighting (I highlighted a bunch of stuff that I ended up not using, and neglected to highlight some stuff I did)
  • What stuff did I end up finding most useful? Odd or quirky NPC traits, scandalous/secret relationships, neat locations, and ideas for crime/investigation/fighting that make sense in the city
  • Stuff that was least useful: stats, specific NPCs that weren't "the powers that be", specific prices, encounter chances, that sort of thing
  • Rumors are your friend.  A table of rumors (or better, multiple tables in different locales with some overlap) are now my very favorite way to convey adventure hooks or content. GMs can make their own decisions and take their own inspiration, but still have something reasonably concrete to go on in a pinch
  • Well established aesthetics and concepts go a really long way to enable efficient use of words - I can say "Warhammer's Old World" and/or "Nurgle", and almost all of the work is done for anyone familiar with those conceptual clusters.  If you're starting from scratch, you'll have to work harder, but focus more on getting your aesthetic/feel right and less on nailing down every detail of a fictional history
  • Having an organizational framework is good, but it's okay to deviate from it halfway if you figure out something that works better. You can edit for consistency later (like my district write-ups)
  • "Roll one of each die" type tables are a remarkably useful creative framework, but are not the answer to everything
Now the only thing left besides collecting all of the content into a .pdf is that I'd like to use the tools I've created to write an urban adventure that is not plot-happy nor a dungeon with a good excuse to be in a city.  That'll be a sort of epilogue post, probably tomorrow, but possibly later depending on how much progress I make. 

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