Slumming it

Posted by  | Saturday, December 4, 2010  at 6:30 PM  

As a consequence of directing the action to a sprawling city-port there will be nautical and piratical trimmings aplenty. What else? Hopefully it won't come as too much of a shock to hear that our maritime campaign is heavily themed around upholding, bending and breaking the law! Previous posts indicate that crimefighting agencies and criminal gangs both play significant roles in the struggle.

One of my conspirators has been encouraging me to introduce the wards and boroughs of the city. Another great idea from Cianty! The districts of Marienburg might help inspire hobby projects because they certainly will be influencing many new scenarios and game links during campaign play. You have a super sexy map to drool over! But what of all these designated zones?

Marienburg is broken down into a number of districts. In addition to the recognised wards, local boroughs are given recognition on the Great Map. These ghetto districts harbour criminal enterprises and the dens of vice they lord over. Ghettos are affected by laws which govern the city, but each borough tends to be subject to rules (local laws, not game rules) of its own kind. Crimelords and racketeers maintain lordship over nearly every slum and its denizens. Their perpetual state of lawlessness tailors them perfectly to suit the needs of any Mordheim fan.

The Dead Canal, Old Money Ward and the South Dock are the slum districts in Marienburg. The rule of law is greatly reduced in these areas. While there is a semblance of order in the decaying mercantile district of the Old Money Ward, and watch patrols covering most of the South Dock, the remaining slums from these major districts can be described as being virtually ungoverned. The Dead Canal is the worst of all, a blight stricken domain that is shunned by all excepts cultists, mutants and foolhardy thrill-seekers. Here in the worst of slums and in shady corners of the South Dock (Three Penny Bridge in particular) is where illegal activity runs rife.

With precious few exceptions all backroom deals and violence (the fighting!) takes place in the areas described where appointed constabularies fear to tread. The character of each foreign ghetto can be defined by its inhabitants. Here is a brief rundown of expatriate communities, designated hot-spots for street brawls and illicit dealings.

Arabtown is renowned for fine tutors and strange wares. The Arabyan district is also infamous for its drug dens and vice houses offering a safe haven for drug cartels, slavers, Hashishin assassins, and Pirate Lords of the Twin Seas hailing from Mahabbah in Araby. It can be a dangerous place where harsh criminal punishments are meted out by deposed sultans and desert sheikh focusing mainly on the removal of offending body parts.

Indic District on the surface is the place of dark-skinned traders, spice merchants, house servants, petty magicians, and subscribers to the drug parlours and bordellos. Spice traders eagerly travel to Marienburg to auction valued herbs. Of the three nations to the east Ind is closest. Their gods and traditions puzzle scholars. Observing local customs is advisable because the deeply spiritual culture of Indic District is as exotic as the Spice Islands of Ind. Something as simple as crossing a bridge the wrong way, or eating meat can stir up the ire of the locals, bringing down swift retribution upon confused outsiders.

Kislevan Way is a tough neighbourhood populated by mercenaries and labourers, as cold and unforgiving as the Oblast itself. Their vices are funded by fat fur-hatted traders from Erengrad.

Knife Alley is the Estalian district, predominantly known among other things for violent crime, criminal gangs and extravagant facial hair.

Nippon Town lies in the shadows of the Palace District suiting their ridged class system. The ghetto is home to labourers and fishermen from the islands of Nippon, preferred house staff for the elves. Here is where a wealthy patron might recruit a ninja, the deadliest of assassins. The distrustful Nipponese hear more tales than they tell making the district a valuable haunt for information brokers.

North Miragliano is a hotbed of political wrangling and the home away from home for mercantile elitists branching out from the sphere of influence controlled by the Merchant Princes of Tilea. There are frequent brawls with the Remeans.

Norscan Town on the edge of the South Dock. The moon-faced plainsmen of Norsca transport their wares on the backs of snow mammoths in the Northern Wastes before transferring their cargo aboard longships which sail out from the icy fjords of Ormskaro and Olricstaad eventually crossing the Sea of Claws to reach Marienburg. Traders in amber, furs and ivory provide passage to barrel-chested employment seekers, Norse mercenaries embarking for the city of islands rather than doom in battle admitting them to Norscan Valhal. Sailors, dockers and mercenaries frequenting mead halls and whore-huts are all subject to the vendetta law of Norse Town.

Remas Way is the stomping ground for the Swords of Solkan. Remas is the seat of power for worship of the God of Law and as a consequence his masked reactionaries possess a firm grip of authority in the Remean district of Marienburg. Tileans from Remas, will often brawl with the Miraglianese.

Wine Sack was named for the Bretonnians refusal to drink the local water. Agents of the court sent to spy on Imperials find a home for themselves in the district alongside mercenaries, artists and adventurers. Due to the pungent culinary preferences of its residents the Bretonnian quarter has also become known as Garlic Town.

The Silk Market supplies high quality silks, tea and fireworks. Rich merchant houses frequent the market district to employ swaggering Cathayan bravos with heavy curved swords and Oriental masters of the Mystical Martial Arts. Small banking houses offer financial services to clients from all over the city. Persistent rumours suggest Chaos cults operate behind the scenes in the Cathayan quarter.

Monstrous artefact

Posted by  | Saturday, November 27, 2010  at 10:00 AM  

I thought about writing something which reflected on the discussions which Cianty & I had (what seems like ages ago) concerning what the perfect setting would be good to visit after Border Town Burning. A city sea-port seems like an ideal location. Marienburg has so much to offer, too much in fact! It's also the stomping grounds of one of Mordheim's original mercenary warband favourites.

Rather than dwelling on why we discarded other viable locations before I had suggested Marienburg was an attractive propsect, check out this epic piece of cartography and judge for yourself...

Large version - (2000 x 1500) - 16 MB

This monster tapestry is the Great Map. The Great Map is an artefact of Chaos. It's so devilish it even has its own story! In brief, the map was produced as a commission by the artist Ralf Hawkslay (Ralph Horsley original version in 1989 for Hogshead Industries WFRP publication 'Marienburg: Sold Down the River') who succumbed to the Ruinous Powers in a bizarre sequence of events. This artefact is supposed to be locked away beneath the Temple of Verena in Marienburg! Don't tell anyone we have it here or else the Witch Hunters and the Inquisitors of Solkan will be on our tails. The estimated value of the Great Map is 15,000 gold crowns! Just think about how many warbands you can hire with that much income. :)

The version viewable here has been enhanced for campaign play by a powerful warlock; Scanned from the original, after a few touch-ups to remove scan lines, scanner dirt & crease marks, the map was lightened slightly as it started life too dark. Next the district borders were carefully plotted from referencing another version of the Marienburg map provided in the 1st Edition WFRP book. Finally each of the translated (common rather than Reikspiel) names were added for Marienburg's wards & boroughs. Districts are upper case. Ghettos are lower case. A few other locations of note are tagged for reference such as Three Penny Bridge and the Bruynwater canal.

The Great Map has unique character and will serve as a source of inspiration for anyone following Mutiny in Marienburg. It's worth mentioning that there are other 30 locations (buildings mostly) which can be identified on the map by a keen eye. If you have a copy of Marienburg: SDTR handy they are all confirmed. See if you can spot the Golden Lotus Dreaming House in the South Dock district or Deedsveld Cemetary in Porters Wall!?

Most of the action will take place on the wharfs of slum districts and the streets of lawless ghettos. Colourful background describing the wards & boroughs ensures that all scenarios will be special (including Chris Kneller's proposed backstreet adventure in the Craftsmarket; "Creature From The Black Market Lagoon".) Each ward has a strong theme. Each borough possesses plenty of intrigue and enough character to follow in the wake of Mordheim's derelict zones.

Behind closed doors

Posted by  | Saturday, November 20, 2010  at 10:45 AM  

Before we publicised the existence of Liber Malefic at all there was a threshold of understanding that was decided needed to be reached by its primary conspirators. While it's fun to ponder new ideas and post them publicly to allow our peers to muse over whatever ingenious designs we've been dreaming up, this has a tendency to diminish the opportunities of creating any longterm impact. I'm a sucker for establishing anticipation! Usually I'm a patient fellow yet I would confess to be chomping at the bit to turn the first few leaves of that new Wulfrik adventure novel from Black Library. I've read the sneak peek PDF online. It's going to be immense.

What's this got to do with writing Mordheim campaign settings I hear the Town Cryer holler? Playtesting is what. There isn't really any point in releasing new campaign material (unless it's for the purpose of Beta testing) if it hasn't be trialled. In the immortal words of an infamous Vampire Hunter; There is a time to think, a time to plan, and a time to take action!

What are the most important elements of a campaign? My first answers would be development, narrative and (after the enlightenment of Border Town Burning) defining strong objectives. None of these can be achieved to maximum potential without research.

What is the most popular aspect of a new campaign setting? Easy, new warbands. New warbands, for me, are one of the less important features of any new campaign setting! The protagonists should surely be defined by the motives supporting the narrative and the plot lines which subsequently determine the objectives in the setting. Regardless of my opinions on this, many new 'lists' seem to sprout up for (generally) no worthwhile reason in particular. That sounds a little harsh (and it is) when many genuinely good ideas originate in the Mordheim community. I've recently written the first complete draft for a new warband spec. This is for Mutiny in Marienburg. Only one other person has seen it and it's not a gang that would be my first choice to game with. I've completed the draft because it's my friends birthday next week and she wanted to collect a certain type of new warband which I happened to want to raise the profile for in the new setting we're working on. They're a characterful bunch whose motives have quickly become an integral piece for the puzzle behind structuring the City of Islands & Bridges. Researching them has been far more of a pleasure than a chore.

I had thought to begin riffing on these secret deals and how these can impact on players in a Marienburg campaign. This was the intended mystical topic of my blog post this week! Maybe I got distracted by birthday gift deadlines, and email offers from potential Beta testers questioning whether we'll be championing new warband lists for Night Goblins, Elves and Fimir!?

Perhaps secret deals are best left shrouded in mystery for a little longer. After all they wouldn't be kept secret if I revealed what they are.

Salvation from corruption

Posted by  | Saturday, November 13, 2010  at 9:45 AM  

Border Town Burning is a lot more than a bumper campaign pack. It's an epic adventure and like every great quest, sadly, it had to come to an end.

We had to draw the line somewhere and any undeveloped ideas were put on ice. Because the campaign wasn't an official release we benefited from having no marketing staff telling us what we could or couldn't do. We generally only had that known heretic Cianty advising me my ideas were ridiculous (or worse), and myself telling Cianty what was not fitting to do or say in accordance with the Warhammer World background.

All in all, I think the Mordheim community has done rather well out of us. The fruits of our toil continue to inspire players to start new campaigns in the Northern Wastes, collect a new Maneaters warband etc. At the same time it's important to remember that without a community this campaign could never have happened. A lot of the inspiration came from our peers and fellow gamers plus the ideas for a number of rules were produced by the Mordheim community itself! After a break from all that Cathayan cuisine I managed to complete a pet project which had been bugging me since long before we journeyed home from Shang-Yang.

The 'Corrupted Characters' article was released just over a year ago. It brought a fitting end to the Border Town Burning saga and marked the beginning of a new adventure which we hope you will all join us on in Marienburg. The intention of the treatise was to give cultists and northern tribes some amazing campaign options by raising the awareness of two forgotten articles from Town Cryer written by Dan Carlson. On top of the updated content from 'Power in the Stones' and 'Sawbones' you will find special rules promoting mutation among all warbands. Fully explained is how the warp-touch affects your unsuspecting warriors! Also included are new mutations, and Chaos Gifts for those of you who would give yourselves over entirely to the Ruinous Powers.

Download the article here:
Corrupted Characters (PDF, ca. 2.2 MB)

I dislike writing new rules for the game. It's not fun to me! There, I got that off my chest at long last!! Yes the evil necessity of this part of the campaign hobby is something which I'd happily leave to someone else, usually meaning Cianty. Luckily it's not always necessary to produce rules from scratch to make a campaign fly. There are plenty of existing rules which are being neglected and ideas that weren't fully researched, playtested, and developed which are wonderful to adopt for posterity. I've also noticed a lot of superb stuff in the 2nd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay books which after a lot of consideration and head-scratching can be converted to fit the Mordheim system magnificently.

The next article we have in store is a counterpart piece to foil all of this corruption. Heretics and the forces of darkness beware! Priests are readying themselves to storm the tabletop! Armed with little more than faith, these devout holy men bring salvation to your campaigns whether set on the streets of the City of the Damned or the wharves of the City of Secret Deals.

Taking the scenic route

Posted by  | Sunday, November 7, 2010  at 1:37 PM  

This season I will be mostly be making terrain! And for the new campaign I am working on something (hopefully) epic. For the moment I will be remaining secretive on what I am doing (just in case it all goes horribly wrong!) but i will be trying to get a bunch of WIP pictures so when the project is done you can see the progression.

For the last campaign (set in Cathay) we produced, as a joint project between a small number of guilty parties, a gaming table that saw a lot of use through the campaign. It was basically a large mountain road winding around the table and really did make the games played on it come alive. Scenarios such as ambushing a goods wagon seemed much more real when set on a mountain pass as opposed to just trying to get from one side of the table to another. You can see a picture of it in Werekin's profile picture.

All this is really just a long winded way of pointing out the importance of themed terrain, which is why I feel that the Secret Tech™ is so important. No matter how good the scenario you are playing, just playing a game over a bit of cloth with a bunch of books underneath is never as much fun as playing over a beautifully crafted 6'x4' and it will also help to show off your lovingly painted models, too. Because none of you are playing with unpainted models, are you?!

So, I hope this is the year that you are all inspired to start digging out your bits of balsa wood and trusty knife (note: thats Trusty, not Rusty! Safety first, remember) and build terrain fit for a king, or at least a Frog Prince!

Oh and when you have finished you can always send us photos of your masterpiece, either stage by stage progress or pics of it in use. If the pictures are of high enough quality and we like what you have done, who knows, we might even use them in the campaign pack!

City of secret deals

Posted by  | Saturday, October 30, 2010  at 11:00 AM  

Mutiny in Marienburg is a new campaign supplement for Mordheim. The greatest seaport in the Old World stages a maritime city setting in which rival gangs and warring cults contend with law enforcement constabularies and the forces of evil.

The port-city is home to the shady enterprises of racketeers who battle with cutthroat factions over fencing unfamiliar merchandise in multi-storey drug dens across the wharves of the South Dock. Swashbuckling smugglers antagonise stiff-lipped mariners around Elf Quarter before venturing into foreign ghettos to employ the mercenary muscle of outlanders from Knife Alley, Nippon Town and the Wine Sack.

Sunken rooms with private lagoons connect bolt-holes to the grand sewer network which leads nameless infiltrators in or outside of the city walls. Waterfront hovels in the Dead Canal slum district above is where conspiracies take shape as duplicitous heretics conspire in the shadows with agents of Chaos operating incognito out of the Silk Market.

Heroes set sail for Marienburg. A place of magic and miracles that stinks of fish! Bear your arms in the wake of citywide disaster or be plunged in a watery grave.

Old Swords on new contracts!

Posted by  | Sunday, October 24, 2010  at 10:46 AM  

In this post I introduce you to a new way of promoting Hired Swords in your games of Mordheim and present a new massive article by the infamous Werekin.

What I like most about Mordheim is the diversity of the various warbands and the possibility to personalise your own band of shady adventurers. Aside from the character evolution of your Heroes and Henchmen one great way of adding character to your warband is by including Hired Swords. With these specialists the Mordheim rules set provides a flavourful way of not only adding depth to your warband but also to adjust it further to your own style of play. Thus you can choose the warband that fits your style of gameplay best and deepen this even further with the inclusion of one or two specialist Hired Swords. Unfortunately, as cool as this system is at first sight, it does have one major flaw: The upkeep costs for Hired Swords (with a few exceptions) are very prohibitive and often times you are better off investing in better gear or actual henchmen than in a pricey sell-sword. However, with what they add to campaign play it would be great to promote the use of these characterful individuals and encourage players to hire them more often. But fiddling with all upkeep costs or, even worse, re-writing the overall fine system for using Hired Swords is not an option. Instead, all it sometimes takes is a tiny additional rule on top to put things in balance and provide new possibilities.

Some time ago Werekin told me he was working on a compilation of all Hired Swords ever published, which I thought would be a wonderful thing as a convenient piece of reference - albeit a somewhat crazy task with all the stuff that has been published in past issues of Town Cryer and various supplemental materials. Yet, the idea went further: What he was mostly concerned with was the lack of use of Hired Swords in Mordheim campaigns as we have experienced it in our gaming groups. In his article "Swords of the Empire" he thus not only compiles all the Hired Swords you could ever want, he also introduces a system for tying them to the warbands, based on the allies rules in the bestiary of the Border Town Burning supplement. Also, some Hired Swords are categorised as Traders, which lends additional useful functions to their warband. Thus, the article takes a fresh perspective on the use of Hired Swords, provides a handy reference of the many different sell-swords and takes a peek at what awaits the players in the upcoming supplement.

Download the article here:
Swords of the Empire (PDF, ca. 3.2 MB)

Download the new Warband Roster Sheet here:
Mutiny in Marienburg Roster Sheet (PDF, ca. 0.7 MB)

We'd love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave a comment, get in touch or post in this thread on the Boring Mordheim Forum.

Raise your Swords!

Maritime massacre

Posted by  | Saturday, October 23, 2010  at 9:30 AM  

Marienburg is reeling in the detritus of a massacre engineered by an all-powerful necromancer, a catastrophe that plunged the port city into turmoil. There has never been a better moment for crime and intrigue.

In a covertly launched attack on the seaport Farrak the necromancer turned most of the city into a realm of the living dead. Farrak was surprisingly vanquished by the watchmen of Three-Penny Bridge. His hold over the horde broken, the dead returned to watery graves and what creatures of the night remained became scattered. Pretentious inhabitants of the Elf Quarter did nothing to aid the city as it narrowly avoided oblivion before the squabbling elites from the Ten Great Families and the Directorate had a chance to reach any verdict.

The current state of upheaval means that Merchant Houses opulent stores are ripe for the picking. Looting has broken out while channel scavengers chase deals to smuggle their illicit cargoes out. Watch stations are snowed under with bleeding citizens teeming with resentment from the injustice of plenty and poverty that has the wards divided. Nobility and savagery engulf the canals, where clerical devotion to faith in pursuit of a miracle leaves feuding cults of the Empire blind to the dangerous proximity between enforcing the law and falling to Chaos.

A number of districts and vast ghettos thrived in a state of lawlessness prior to the invasion where crime bosses are now presented with a unique opportunity to strike against their closest rivals. With a gang war brewing watch patrols are left with the desperate task of restoring order around a minefield of inter-agency jurisdiction clashes. As the pressure escalates unofficial crime-fighting mavericks react decisively by cutting through the red tape, and not a moment before the citywide disaster permits clandestine infiltrators to penetrate Marienburg from within.

Enmity in the maritime metropolis is about to reach boiling point.

On to new shores

Posted by  | Friday, October 22, 2010  at 12:43 AM  

Hi, Mordheimers!

Having moved from a website-based form of representation to blogger you will now find updates and new Mordheim goodness on our new blog here. We plan to continually post tidbits of background for our upcoming unofficial(!) Mordheim supplement as well as new articles with rules to enhance campaign play. I have begun assembling bits for a new warband and the first scratch-built building is about 80% built, so I should be able to provide some eye candy (hopefully!) soonish as well.

Alright, just wanted to say a quick 'hi' and let you know what you can expect in the near future. Check back soon for the first full blown new article.

See you soon!

The Silk Road journal

Posted by  | Saturday, October 16, 2010  at 4:25 PM  

Here it is then ladies and gentlemen. If you're curiously skimming this journal then you've thrown in your lot with followers of the Ruinous Powers once and for all! The influence of certain known heretics have led all of us down this dark path...

Fortune seekers one and all were first lured out of that thrice damned city and on through the wilderness of an Empire in flames. All thought of recovering precious splinters of warp-touched rock forgotten by those daredevils who joined a perilous quest through the wilds of Talabecland in a seemingly futile hunt for an artefact of unmeasured might, an unthought of relic of ancient origin. From here we turned east, along the Old Dwarf Road and were reckless enough to brave the harsh climes of the Northern Wastes and unforgiving Steppes in our fools errand to reach the fertile borderlands of Cathay. After learning of their trade, strange customs and something of shrewd business ways we journeyed along the Silk Road, crossing through the Ogre Kingdoms and the Dark Lands as we did so. The journey home.

The journey home to the maritime metropolis of Marienburg, the city sea-port sited at the mouth of the River Reik.

As we ply our exotic wares in the Craft Market, our very lives will be bargained against repulsive contraband in the Under-Empire. The exchange of illicit goods smuggled by those crime lords who rule the South Dock with an iron fist, for bizarre relics imported by cunning merchants to stem the morbid curiosity of nobles and theurgists alike. Actions will be scrutinized by not only the constabularies, but the warp-touched denizens of lawless slums like the Dead Canal, and altogether more sinister creatures along with glamored swains who have dedicated their very existence to serving the unholy forces of Old Night itself.

Mutiny in Marienburg, a city of islands, city of bridges, city of canals. A city of secret deals.