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!