Vornheim

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Vornheim

Postby Rich Stokes » 8:10pm on 01 Apr 11

I don't usually talk about specific gaming books online unless someone asks.

But I just bought Vornheim, and HOLY **** IT'S **** AWESOME!

It's a fantasy city book, but it's not a tourist guide to the fantasy city of Vornheim, it's more a book which tells you how to run a game set in the fantasy city of Vornheim. I've honestly never seen anything quite like it before. No huge turgid details of minor locations, this is a toolkit for making the city come to life. And would be handy for any setting (especially something with a warhammer-y feel).

I'm not going to bother posting much more, just go buy it!
I also write a regular column here about roleplaying games and what we're really doing when we play them. It's kinda dry, but hopefully interesting to at least someone.
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Re: Vornheim

Postby James Mullen » 9:06am on 02 Apr 11

Who are you and what have you done with the real Rich Stokes?

That aside, that does look like an intriguing resource. :)
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Re: Vornheim

Postby Baz King » 11:32am on 03 Apr 11

I have mixed feelings about this. I'm no fan of LotFP, at all, but I do like what Zak does with his D&D with Porn Stars blog.

I'm also leery about any book that claims cross compatibilty with all versions of D&D. That can often mean more work for the DM, and that's the opposite of what I want from a sourcebook.

So, I need more convincing Rich. Consider yourself asked.
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Re: Vornheim

Postby Rich Stokes » 9:36pm on 03 Apr 11

The marketing on this one is a bit pants. I guess if you're going to skimp on something when it comes to games publishing, I'd prefer to was the marketing than the writing, art or printing! It's not easy to get the straight dope on this, so I'll do what I can to clarify what it is.

The first thing is that it's not a supplement for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG. It's just published by the same guy under the same imprint which happens to have the same name as his RPG. Which is unfortunate, because I think a lot of people are going to regard this as a supplement for a game they don't play and not give it a second look.

How to describe it though, it's tough because it's not presented like anything else. Taking other city setting books I've read for comparison. Pirate's Guide to Freeport is a book I rather liked. But it's 250 pages of detailed descriptions of places, people, politics, the city's hoistory and etc etc. Here we get a quick rundown of the city (it's huge, it's cold, there's a massive palace and a massive cathedral in the middle which you can see from pretty much anywhere in the city, there's a well in the centre with a wyvern in the bottom which answers people's questions) and then it gives you a bunch of tools you can use to make the city happen in play, rather than making you read about it a lot up front and then refer to it. You get random tables for things so you can generate quickly content on the fly. You get a list of city superstitions. A brief rundown of the lands outside the city. A handful of useful locations which can be slotted in wherever you need them.

It's statted for 0/1st ed. Since monster stat blocks are basically "Has N Hit dice and this special attacks" that's close to systemless. There is a page of 4th ed stats for everything at the back, although they're not full stat-blocks like you usually find. For example:

Name Init HP/Blooded AC Fort Ref Will Primary Attack Damage Attack Damage AP
Librarians + 10 56 28 22 21 23 24 Melee: +13 1d6+6 Ranged: +14 1d8+4 – 1 attack gains: Ongoing 5 Poison (save ends) 0

I intend to use Swords and Wizardry, rather than 4th ed for this. Much as I love 4th, I'm thinking that for a freewheeling, largely improvised game it's probably not what I want to use.
I also write a regular column here about roleplaying games and what we're really doing when we play them. It's kinda dry, but hopefully interesting to at least someone.
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Re: Vornheim

Postby Pete » 6:03pm on 20 Jun 11

Good call Stokemon, I just bought this badboy. (Well, a couple of weeks ago now.)

Dude wrote:Huh? Pete, you don't play D&D or any of its variations.

Well yeah, but the bulk of the book is chock fulla colourful locales and characters, with cool names like "The House of the Medusa" - it's a house full of medusae who wear masks to hide their fearsome visages - and "The Immortal Zoo of Ping Feng". D&D-specific stuff like stat blocks and the like are easily ignored.

Vornheim looks to be a fine resource for generating colourful hooks for use in off the cuff games of the kind of games I dig. I haven't used it in play yet, but I can totally see a city-bound chapter or two of In A Wicked Age being played with Vornheim as the backdrop: there's a stack of colour that you can plug into descriptions while scene setting, and given the open nature of IAWA, I can even see someone choosing to play the city of Vornheim itself as a character in a chapter. (Man, I'm going all over the place here, but there's this awesome Batman story from the early 90's called Dark Knight, Dark City in which the city of Gotham itself is a driving character in the story. If you dig dark Batman stories, do check it out, it's just 3 issues that you'll be able to pick up on eBay pretty easily.)

The only thing that slightly sucks with the PDF format is that the book is a gaming artifact too: in a manner slightlyslightlyslightly reminiscent of the Action Chart in all of those Lone Wolf gamebooks, the Vornheim book features a random encounter matrix on the inside covers, where the position of the dice that you roll directly on the book contributes to the result. Sure, I can print off the pages of the matrix - and the PDF is explicitly formatted to enable this - but I really should've just plumped for the physical book rather than the PDF that I ended up purchasing, so I recommend that anyone considering getting this go straight for the physical book.

+1 from me, cheers
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Re: Vornheim

Postby Tsenn » 6:48pm on 20 Jun 11

Sounds like a pretty solid endorsement to me! I like the idea of the city book as a procedural rather than a prescription, if you follow my meaning. Question, though: does it have an alpha version? Like, is there a "in our version this district was notable for X Y and Z" in addition to the DIY tables? The reason I ask is because sometimes I want to pick up a supplement, read it through, and throw it at the players. It helps break me out of sometimes predictable and sometimes bad habits by using material that is not influenced by my decisions.
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Re: Vornheim

Postby dr_mitch » 1:58am on 21 Jun 11

Darnit- sold...
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Re: Vornheim

Postby Rich Stokes » 9:21am on 21 Jun 11

Tsenn wrote:Question, though: does it have an alpha version? Like, is there a "in our version this district was notable for X Y and Z" in addition to the DIY tables?


No, the city itself has a description, but the specifics of the districts (even how many there are) are all left to the reader/user to define. it's all procedural except the locations and tables.

Think of it as a cookery book, rather than a ready meal and you probably have a kind of vague notion of how it compares to other city books.

Seriously though, get the hardcopy. It's such a great object (and you get the PDF when you order anyway).
I also write a regular column here about roleplaying games and what we're really doing when we play them. It's kinda dry, but hopefully interesting to at least someone.
Rich Stokes has received thanks from the following for this post:
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Re: Vornheim

Postby Rich Stokes » 5:48pm on 22 Jun 11

Pete, seriously, I've just grabbed those Batman issues because, frankly, Milligan is a **** genius. I also just realised that he's writing Hellblazer now and have a package of his 30 issues on it's way. And now I'm hooked on Flashpoint because Shade is in it and will now be part of Peter Milligan's new Justice League along with John Constantine.

Dammit, I haven't read comics in ages. I haven't read superhero comics in **** years. I think the last supers comic I read was either Xstatix or Nextwave.
I also write a regular column here about roleplaying games and what we're really doing when we play them. It's kinda dry, but hopefully interesting to at least someone.
Rich Stokes
14th-level
User avatar
Location: Southampton
Thanks: 20 given/115 received
Playing: D&D (Eladrin Swordmage/Bralani Wintersoul/Queen of the Winter Court)
Running: Swords & Wizardry, tons of other crap.
Planning: Stuff.


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