Merchant scroll

Posted by  | Wednesday, April 30, 2014  at 11:09 PM  

As the Portable Document Format file continues to supersede scrolls and tomes from a bygone age, many of us find ourselves torn between the disposable convenience of hi-tech software and the comfortable mustiness of hardback books.

Experience points have been lovingly notated on paper printed Warband Roster sheets for every tabletop campaign since the dawn of my virgin discovery of wyrdstone shards in Mordheim. Each piece of treasure, each new skill, each characteristic increase, each injury has been jotted with pencil on a sheet of crinkled parchment. An eraser on hand to rub out spent equipment or lost items, a sharpener kept handy to keep the HB pencil tip at a point. All of that is about to change. Record keeping will never be the same.

In the Marienburg campaign I have been running, one of our group members has been using a digital roster sheet for his warband. A number of of us are using phones to check player aids, articles or rulebooks. Now that gizmos like tablets and smart phones are becoming more affordable I decided it was worth investing in some new hardware. As a consequence I looked into the complexity of creating a Fillable PDF for the Marienburg warband roster sheet. Combining science and sorcery I have developed a new editable roster sheet.

Completed Norse warband example roster sheet - Fillable PDF (PDF, ca. 2.6 MB)

Mutiny in Marienburg warband roster sheet - Fillable PDF (PDF, ca. 2.6 MB)

Apologies for providing a downloadable file that is chock full of entries for hoary heathens from the Northern Wastes! This is my example roster based on a Norse warband following the 'Gaze of the Gods' plot in a Marienburg campaign.

"There are no problems in Marienburg which can't be solved. Handrich willing, of course."
— Artemus van Loenhoek, Scribe

In the process of downloading and opening this player aid you will have the opportunity to to play around with the file. Delete undesired text entries and click on check boxes that have been marked with skill types, experience points and campaign points.

"This is Marienburg, lad. People are always talking. Incessantly, as a matter of fact. Can't get them to shut up."
— Abbott Knock, Priest of Myrmidia

Merchant princes, Cult magisters, Watch commanders and Cartel gang bosses with a preference for digital record keeping will be able to open this smart scroll on their magic tablets to maintain their Marienburg manifests!

Thank you to Zetazot for the original warband roster sheet designs for Border Town Burning and Mutiny in Marienburg.

True detectives

Posted by  | Thursday, April 17, 2014  at 1:02 PM  

Felons are warriors in your campaign being identified as known criminals. Placing these models under arrest means that a player could score additional campaign points.

“Something is rotten in Marienburg. It’s a human saying. It means that there is something amiss.”
— Felix Jaegar, Poet

During my last campaign in the Free City of Marienburg we began to learn about law and order. In the opening sequence of battles we had two agencies with jurisdiction. These were two very different warbands whose agenda was to fight crime on the canals! A patrol of officers from the City Watch armed mainly with clubs and my Moon Guardians from Elftown. In the first of our annual multi-player extravaganzas crime did not pay. These battles tend to get messy with so much being at stake. Long after the sun had set the law enforcers were the last men (and sea elves) left standing.

My elf rangers were outperformed by the watch patrol. The Watch made arrests where as my elf guardians made none. This had something to do with an unsuccessful policing strategy; shoot first, ask questions later! I learned some hard lessons in those stages of the campaign when trying to engage tougher opponents in hand-to-hand combat with my sea rangers and continued to do so.

Guidelines for fighting crime were being written on the job. Some players have a problem with new rules being invented on the spot. Retrospective ‘nerfing’ is something that (some of) your friends are capable of swallowing in a narrative campaign, especially when it improves the story. When we began the adventure it was made very clear that it was a pilot run. I knew what I was getting myself into. Stakes were raised. Options got tinkered with. Fall out occurred. Contributors kissed and made up. Gameplay has evolved.

Now we have a rounded set of guidelines for crimefighting in a narrative campaign set in a city like Marienburg, Mordheim or wherever you prefer to call home. Please note that while the objectives of this plot may seem clear enough, it’s more difficult to uphold the principals of civil liberty and justice for all than you might think! Don’t be surprised when in the course of your investigations the leader of your patrol winds up in more dire straits than Axel Foley and Samuel Vimes put together.

Plot – Guarding the Peace

Models that can or cannot be placed under arrest are evenly defined in the officer’s guide accompanying the objectives. The main topics have been outlined here. I didn’t wish for this to be literal, so not every rule and situation has been defined. It’s not ambiguous either, yet it’s important that there is a little scope for freedom of interpretation. Remember this is a narrative campaign!

Most models can be placed under arrest. The question a player needs to ask themselves is not “Can I arrest them?” but “Should I arrest them?”

The only arrests which convert into campaign points are those made on these known felons, or models found to be committing a felony, such as arson, breaking & entering, or carrying fell cargo; drugs such as crimson shade, tainted item such as a wyrdstone necklace, occult item such as a two-thousand year old vampire sleeping in a quilted coffin etc

Campaigns become a lot more interesting when some models cannot be arrested for special reasons. Some characters including diplomats and powerful crime leaders have immunity from law enforcers! Of course it would be pointless trying to arrest an ungor beastman or a forest goblin. These savage creatures from the Warhammer World should always be slain to put an end to their destructive mischief.

“Goblins! Goblins! I caught that one in the stable, trying to set a fire. Waste of good horse meat. Maw curse them all.”
— Grog, Ogre Bodyguard

The warband objectives for watch patrols and other warbands who can follow this plot require the models in your chosen constabulary to work as a team. It is up to the player where they wish to play their role out as righteous lawmen, dirty coppers or a mixture with some good cop bad cop interactions!

Commonly law enforcers fulfil the role of heroes in stories. Phil Coulson currently leads his hand-picked team on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at Directory Fury’s behest. Flashing their badge of office in the Marvel Universe spells the opposite reaction to brandishing a badge in Sherwood! Brigands like Robin Hood’s merry men play the role of good guys leaving the Sheriffs men to be painted as villains.

Crime fighters from popular stories operate solo or work only with a partner. True detective or vigilante agent, whether your inspiration comes from Jack Bauer, Alex ‘Robocop’ Murphy, ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan, John McLane or Bruce Wayne the end of campaign objective remains the same. Take the leader of that criminal enterprise into custody. Once you get the bracelets on the kingpin in your campaign then they are going to face justice!

Speaking of specialists, I do have some new Hired Swords and Dramatis Personae in mind for the Marienburg setting. One of the main characters in any Marienburg adventure is Sam Warble the halfling detective.

My earlier mention here of the halfing private-eye fondly recalls discovering his character in the early days of Warhammer literature. My purchases back then were of 2nd edition anthologies from my local Games Workshop store.

Some readers will probably recall the Konrad saga, most the tales of Felix Jaegar and his companion. Not so many Buttermere 'Sam' Warble. But he was in Marienburg and (until Gotrek slew an incarnation of Stromfels!) they were not. Hence Sam pops up during MiM campaigns.

Sam Warble, Halfling Detective conversion painted by Werekin

There are 6 more plots to come. The ones that provide healthy competition and fulfilling interactions with your law enforcement patrols will be next to surface. These involve webs of intrigue spun by corrupt officials representing the Ten Great Merchant Families and secret deals being pursued by crime syndicates affiliated with the League of Gentlemen Entrepreneurs.
I have plans to include a special scenario in the Marienburg campaign for prison breaks at Hangman’s Square. The purpose of this is to create game situations where warbands can release any felons previously placed under arrest.

Lastly I’d like to thank the boys & geek-girl who play Mordheim with me for their inspirational pursuit of gaming and the guys on the Boring Mordheim Forum whose devotion to the hobby and support of this project, especially Rationale Lemming who contributed valuable feedback in the course of this criminal investigation!

Underworld dreams

Posted by  | Tuesday, April 15, 2014  at 1:14 AM  

Heroes thrive off dangerous pursuits – Sold to the pits, held captive by a rival gang, or an illegal drug addiction. The underbelly of the city is where pleasure houses, drug parlours and baiting pits can be found. This is where hedonistic warriors will be able to entertain their darkest desires in godforsaken dens of vice and misery. It is said that more people die every year around the wharfs than on all the glorious battlefields of the Empire! Here is an exhaustive tour of Marienburg's renowned waterfront hostelries and most notorious havens of ill repute.

During the Trading phase of the post battle sequence Heroes may attempt enter one of the taverns, casinos, drug dens and bordellos of Marienburg instead of searching for a rare item.

The following chapters expand post battle sequence options in the Trading phase:

Download - Infamous Haunts (PDF, ca. 1.5 MB)
Download - Marketplace (PDF, ca. 0.8 MB)
Download - Unknowable Cargo (PDF, ca. 0.5 MB)

Mutiny in Marienburg is a narrative campaign for Mordheim. A lot of the flavour for the setting is pulled from tomes published for Warhammer Roleplay. Finely quilled novels from Black Library add layers of detail to existing source material. Compiling as many flavourful notes from as many stories as possible I've been building a pattern of activities. Infamous Haunts contains 14 locations in Marienburg's underworld. The risks are steep. The rewards are great. Players whose warriors pay the underworld a visit are sure to have a story to tell. This could be just the twist in your campaign you were looking for! Here is where Heroes from your warbands may dare to visit in the the post battle sequence instead of pursuing traditional activities.

In your campaigns some players will fuss over gathering up the best equipment, others may realise that visiting an Alchemist to tap into the power of wyrdstone is the best course of action to take. What if there were other options available? Would your Witch Hunter search for a Holy Relic or would he visit the Sanitarium? Would your Necromancer search for a Lucky Charm or cajole a Dreg into visiting the Graveyard with him?

Before I realised what I had on my hands I was working on a compilation article called 'Marketplace'. My intention was (and still is!) to adapt the best material from the Encampments articles published in Town Cryer. This is partly what led me into the seediest corners of the city. Sometimes the outcomes will introduce new rules where guidelines need to be followed. There might be penalties to pay. Rewards vary sometimes revealing a secret location from the Marienburg campaign or a special character such as Trancas Quendalmanlïye at the Casino in Elftown.

On my desktop I still have another document being bashed into shape by referring to my campaign notes plus those old Town Cryer magazines. I have elaborated considerably. Anything that develops a wild campaign story. Anything that encourages modelling opportunities. If it inspires, it's being tied in! For instance that building with the green roof above Three of a Kind casino, if you recognise it, is being well represented. Marketplace will offer safer options to players than visiting the city's underbelly. This should pose further tactical choices in campaigns. Play it safe by visiting the Cartographer or take a chance by visiting one of the locations beyond Three Penny Bridge.

Of course not all warbands will benefit from these options. Enemies of mankind, elfkind, dawi or halfling folk are not permitted entry to legendary parlours of ill repute such as Golden Lotus drug den or Molly's knocking shop. As compensation for this I have a more concise set of (two) locations where the likes of greenskins, beastkin and vermin may think about heading to chill out after the battle. These will work on a completely different set of (very basic) principals to any of the other charts normally used in campaigns. Of course such primitive creatures could be too preoccupied with their wyrdstone trinkets and ceremonies of sacrifice to think about setting off in the right direction!