Thursday, 27 December 2007

WFRP: iAltdorf updated to version 1.10

As a celebration of my first year of writing The Altdorf Correspondent, I hereby release version 1.10 of the iAltdorf map. This time, I have done some major restructuring which most of you won't notice, but also added a completely new sewer layer! So check out the new version of the map!

Go here for the download page!


Thursday, 8 November 2007

FAL Review: The Giant's Skull

Publisher Fiery Dragon. Released 2001. Format Softcover. Game system d20. Pages 40. Price $9.95.

James Bell.

In this installment of Fanboy At Large, I cast my net back through the years, searching for the hidden gems of the vibrant and exciting beginnings of what will go down in history as the d20 era. After trawling a bit I hauled in my catch of the day; The Giant's Skull, an adventure that clocks in at 40 pages, published in 2001 by Fiery Dragon. The flaming draconian was one of the first pioneers of the d20 market and brought to market several interesting and innovative adventures, but today they are mostly known for their counter collections. Although they do offer adventures as well through their web site, now that I took the time to check it out.

The Giant's Skull is a remarkable adventure for one single reason: you get to play both sides of the story. Apart from that, not much stands out. Between the covers you find 40 pages of adventure material, split into two sections concerning The Giant's Skull, a fairly powerful magic item. The text is reasonably well organised, but suffers from a confusing and somewhat back to front approach to explaining the plot. Apart from a very good cover, the art and maps are clear but nothing evocative. They do their thing, nothing more and nothing less.

The first thing that marks this adventure as something other than a run of the mill offering is that colour counters are included. The counters show pictures of the monsters and heroes of the adventure, and they can be cut out and used instead of regular minis for resolving combat. A great idea, and something Fiery Dragon later developed into a product line of its own.

The duality of the plot is of course the star of the show. The first time the players play the part of a gang of ogres bent on reclaiming The Giant's Skull from the evil and nasty humans. The second round casts the players as their regular PCs tasked with retrieving the artifact from the evil and nasty ogres. Unfortunately the adventure in itself falls short of its true potential, and is basically an average dungeon romp. I feel that it is a wasted opportunity, but a GM who works with the format can spin the ogre versus humans conflict into something truly memorable.

Worth checking out, but expect to work with the story to bring out the adventure's full potential!


Monday, 5 November 2007

WFRP: Fumbling the scenario competition

Well, to make it official: I couldn't get my manuscript done in time to enter the BI scenario competition. The scenario is still mostly bare bones and after the playtest on tuesday last week, I realised that some stuff had to be added and other stuff changed, but alas ... I couldn't find the time. Well, such is life, I guess.

But to all who did manage to get their entries in ... I'm impressed!

And good luck to all of you. My scenario might show up some other time, when I've assembled the pieces. One such piece is Uriah Hepp, which was posted yesterday, and most likely more pieces will show up in due time. In the meantime, look forward to an update to the iAltdorf project in a few weeks.


Sunday, 4 November 2007

Sunday, 9 September 2007

FAL News: Rackham bites the dust?

Rackham, French game and miniature producer extraordinaire, has filed for protection from bankruptcy. This occurs as a result of slow sales of AT-43 in Europe. It should be noted that the situation is not the same as Rackham going bankrupt, as it appears that they have a positivt cash flow, but are experiencing difficulties that might be insurmountable in the long run.

As Rackham makes some of the most visually spectacular miniatures on the market I hope they pull it through!


Friday, 7 September 2007

WFRP: Black Industries scenario competition

Just a quick post to say that my synopsis for an adventure called A Piece of the Pie was accepted to round two of the Black Industries scenario competition. I've got until November 5 to finish it, so there should be plenty of time to finish it and playtest it with my regular group. Also, congratulations to the other people who went through to the second round, and good luck to you all!


Thursday, 6 September 2007

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

FAL News: WH40kRPG Demo Up

Well, finally it's been released! I hit the download button and then headed here to post the news:

The WH40kRPG demo Shattered Hopes is available for download. Get it here!

This is easily one of the most anticipated releases since the original release of WFRP. It even beats out second edition WFRP.

A quick glance through my download assures me everything looks ok, but a bit heavy on the old laser printer. Now I know what we'll be playing on tuesday, if I get a shot at the Game Master's chair!


Monday, 3 September 2007

WFRP: Help wanted (10)

"Dirt cheap coach travel rates at Cannon Ball Express! Also, drivers needed for race. Apply at stables in the Bankbezirk and show us your best!"

- Poster on the Dead Tree at the North Gate.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Friday, 31 August 2007

FAL News: More Cthulhutech Art

Well, Cthulhutech is still not out, and the wait is killing me! And a lot of other people, judging from the internet chatter. To appease the masses Mike Vaillancourt of Wildfire posted a piece of art on RPGnet, and he graciously allowed Fanboy At Large to repost it here. It shows Migo dropships over earth, an image that is disturbing both for its implications for the game world (exciting) and for the liberties it takes with the Cthulhu Mythos (terrifying). I for one welcome our new Migo overlords, regardless of which ride they chose!

Click the image for a larger ... um ... image. More info can be found at the Cthulhutech website. Hopefully I'll be getting my hands on some supressed transmissions to further whet our collective appetite.


Thursday, 30 August 2007

WFRP: Gossip (8)

"There are no Skaven! I tell the truth! Maybe what you have glimpsed are Beastmen. They're all beastmen. Mutated scum. Ratmen? No, no, no, it's really, really just people who are mutating into rats. That's what you've all been seeing. Or just large rats. Or people dressed up as rats, feeding the conspiracy of the existence of the Skaven, to keep people afraid, to keep them down. It's an Imperial conspiracy, that's what it is. You know how they keep telling us the Skaven don't exist? That's because they DON'T exist! But why would they have to tell us that, again and again?

Because fear will keep us in line. Fear of this conspiracy will keep the local villages in line! And since it's the aristocray, and the Emperor telling us this, people believe the opposite ... and the government knows this, that is why they are telling us they don't exist! So that we will believe they exist! The Skaven, the rat men, the scourge of the underworld.

And you know what else? There's a cult, where the Emperor is the master illuminated, and they make sure there are little pieces of evidence all over the place to make us believe that the Skaven exists! So there you have it, it's a conspiracy! To keep the working classes down!"

- Agitator in the Drecksack slums. Curiously, I haven't seen him since he delivered this tirade.

Friday, 24 August 2007

WFRP: Best of the Fans (4)

Poster Jackdays on the Black Industries forum have been very helpful with comments on the iAltdorf project. I'm working on incorporating some of his corrections as well as building a sewer layer.

But Jackdays is not only a helpful chap when it comes to Altdorf, he is also a mapper of skill and - hopefully soon - repute. He has taken it upon himself to expand on Norsca, and has graciously provided us fans with a smashing web site; Kalevala Hammer!

Check out the section on Norsca, especially the huge and detailed map, and remember that a project like Kalevala Hammer is ultimately successful thanks to hard work, a dedicated creator and helpful input from fans. Jackdays can be found on the Black Industries forums, soliciting comments!

His work is surely among the Best of the Fans!


Saturday, 18 August 2007

FAL News: WFRP wins Silver and Gold Ennies

The Ennies award ceremony have come and gone and even though WFRP didn't win everything it was nominated for, the result is pretty impressive.

Best Cartography - Silver award for Game Master's Toolkit
Best Writing - Silver award for Children of the Horned Rat
Best Adventure - Gold for Lure of the Lich Lord
Best Supplement - Gold for WFRP Companion
Product of the Year - Silver for Children of the Horned Rat

And Black Library snatched a silver for Liber Chaotica, in the Best Regalia category.

This result and the number of nominations speaks volumes as to the quality of the current WFRP product line, and the efforts of Black Industries and the fans, of which many wrote for the books awarded!

Congratulations to all involved!


Thursday, 16 August 2007

FAL News: 4th edition of D&D to be announced at GenCon

According to the talk on EN World, and persuasive evidence posted by poster MerricB, WotC will announce the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons at GenCon tomorrow. It's going to be interesting to see what they do with the game, and how it ties into the digital plans they have.

UPDATE: This seems to be the first substantial information about the new edition.

UPDATE II: More meaty information here!

UPDATE III: Word is getting around.

Stay tuned!


Wednesday, 8 August 2007

WFRP: iAltdorf updated to version 1.01

I sat down and made some updates to iAltdorf. The latest version is now 1.01. There are no major changes, but I added a score of locations, fixed some errors on the map, and created a few more layers.

Go here for the download page!

Now you'll have to wait a while for the next update, probably a month or more, depending on if my scenario goes through to the next round in Black Industries' scenario competition. But I'm sure you'll find plenty of use for the map even so.


Sunday, 5 August 2007

Saturday, 4 August 2007

FAL News: Cover of WFRP Kislev sourcebook?

Poster Slaneesh on the BI forums spotted a placeholder image on Simon Says that could show the cover of the upcoming Kislev sourcebook for WFRP. It follows the standard set by earlier region books, so it sure could be the real thing.

Click here to view the cover!


FAL News: Covers of Warhammer 40,000 RPG revealed

Poster johnnype on RPGnet has discovered images on Amazon that's supposed to be the covers for the Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game. Apparently the rulebook is supported by an adventure book, a GM's kit and a Character Folio. Click here for the thread.

I think they look mighty spiffy, and I think I'll be all over this game when it's released! A shame about the pushed back date of release though ... well, there's a teaser released at GenCon later this month, so at least progress is made!


Thursday, 2 August 2007

WFRP: iAltdorf download

Welcome to the download page of the iAltdorf project for Warhamer Fantasy Roleplay. From here you can download the essential files that make up the package; a layer based pdf map over Altdorf and the spreadsheet with additional information. All files are contained in a single zipped archive.

The releases are listed in reverse chronological order. Each entry contains the version number, the date of publishing and a list of changes from the previous version.

Post all requests to the request page.

System requirements

  • Windows XP or later , MacOS X 10.2 or later, iOS or Android.
  • Adobe Reader 8 for PDF map
  • Microsoft Excel or NeoOffice Calc for companion spreadsheet

Version 1.21
Release date: February 16, 2013.
Changes: See the following list:
  • Added College of Noble Sorcery
  • Moved Karaz Ankor Embassy to correct location
  • Added Imperial Engineer Guildhouse
  • Added missing Imperial School of Engineers
  • Updated Excel sheet with latest changes

Version 1.2
Click here to download.
Release date: February 21, 2010.
Changes: See the following list:
  • Added a new layer to the PDF: Printers, Bookshops and Publishers
  • Added a new layer to the PDF: Embassies
  • Expanded Süderich Bezirk sewers
  • Changed refugee camps outside North Gate into a Special Area, instead of a Diverse Place of Interest
  • Added new layer: Elevation
  • Revised layout of Reiksport
  • Revised layout of Reiksport Shanty Town
  • Added Reiksport Bezirk
  • Added new road to the Reiksport Bezirk

Version 1.11
Click here to download.
Release date: February 22, 2009.
Changes: See the following list:
  • Revised the icons on the cemetaries
  • Added a new layer to the PDF: Communications
  • Added a new layer to the PDF: Administration and Bureaucracy
  • Added a new layer to the PDF: Guilds and Associations
  • Huhnmarkt: Added
  • Altsalem Bezirk: Added
  • Docklands: Added
  • Altdorf Pool: Added
  • Old Docks: Added
  • Alte Kaiser Brücke: Added
  • Floating Bloat: Added
  • Ilse of Eels: Added
  • Mermaid: Added
  • Recht und Richtig: Added
  • Ratchett Stables: Added
  • Guild of Stevedores: Added
  • Crackle Hill: Added
  • Ulmen Strasse: Added
  • Beloved of Manaan: Added
  • Reiksport: Added
  • Reiksport Shanty Town: Added
  • Jaeger Estate: Added
  • Austauschstrasse: Added
  • Inkwell: Added
  • Ax und Hammer,: Added
  • Reiksbrücke: Added
  • Jaeger und Söhne: Added
  • Greif: Added
  • Main Signalling Tower: Added
  • Western Signalling Tower: Added
  • Northern Signalling Tower: Added
  • Eastern Signalling Tower: Added
  • Southern Signalling Tower: Added
  • Three Toll Bridge: Changed named to Reiksbrücke (Three Toll Bridge) to reflect information from the novels about Felix and Gotrek.
  • Teamsters’ Guild: Changed name from Stevedores' and Teamsters' Guild to reflect information found in Shades of Empire.
  • Ostlander Brücke: Changed named to Die Alte Kaiser Brücke (Ostlander) to reflect information from the novels about Felix and Gotrek
  • Updated spreadsheet with the above information.
Version 1.10
Click here to download.
Release date: December 27, 2007.
Changes: Added sewers. Minor additions and corrections to map. See the following list:
  • Map: Fixed placement of the name for Eisenschlacke Weg, which was obscured by a building
  • Map: Fixed a gap between border and forest above the North Gate
  • Map: Added a new layer: Sewers
  • Map: Made name-signs smaller on Tavern layer
  • Map: Added Altdorf Fog layer as an aid to find locations, which will stand out more if this layer is turned on
  • Map: Added an All locations layer, which shows all locations at once
  • Spreadsheet: Changed names and arrangements of the columns on Changes sheet
  • Updated spreadsheet with the above information.
Version 1.01
Click here to download.
Release date: August 8, 2007.
Changes: Minor additions and corrections to map. See the following list.
  • Added Middenland Electoral Palace
  • Added Talabecland Electoral Palace
  • Added Ostland Electoral Palace
  • Added Stirland Electoral Palace
  • Added Hochland Electoral Palace
  • Added Nordland Electoral Palace
  • Added Wissenland Electoral Palace
  • Added Averland Electoral Palace
  • Added The Moot Electoral Palace
  • Added Die Volksoper
  • Added Smithy of Dalbran Fellhammer
  • Added Sullen Knight, The
  • Added Beard of Ulric, The
  • Added Staff of Verena, The
  • Added Temple Street Gymnasium
  • Added a new layer to the PDF; Contested grounds. This layer contains buildings that are debated among fans, where there might be clashes between sources.
  • Added a new layer to the PDF; Electoral Palaces
  • Added a new layer; Theatres and Operas. Moved theatres and operas to the new layer
  • Added new layer; Warehouses of Note, and moved two warehouses to that layer
  • Handschuchplatz; Adjusted name a bit to the right
  • Changed name of the Places of Interest layer to Diverse Places of Interest
  • Expanded Little Moot Special Area
  • Fixed a typo in the entry under Angelotti & Figlio
  • Fixed the Kaiser Karl-Franz Brücke railings, which were misaligned
  • Fixed the location sign for Die Kunst und Der Welt
  • Fixed the location sign for The Cat and Fiddle
  • Fixed typo in name, from "Vagr" to "Vargr", in Vargr Breughel Memorial Playhouse
  • Moved the Luitpoldstrasse name up north a little bit
  • Moved Amber College of Magic to new layer; Contested Grounds
  • Removed placeholder for Gugelhupf's Bakery and Patisserie text that was accidentally left in Domplatz Bezirk
  • Shifted the name of the Street of a Hundred Taverns upwards and west a little bit
  • The Amber College lies in the hills outside the walls of Altdorf, so in WFRPv2 there is no such college in Altdorf. WFRPv1 mentions an abandoned Amber College, so I moved it to the Contested Grounds layer. I also changed the location and the name to Amber College of Magic
  • Added Main Temple of Morr by the Ruhstatt cemetary
  • Updated spreadsheet with the above information.
Version 1.0
Click here to download.
Release date: August 1, 2007.
Changes: This is the first release, so there are no changes from previous versions.

This is the first release, so there are no changes from previous versions.

Known issues
Although this is just a PDF map, there are some issues you need to be aware of.
  • Size. The map is "physically" very large, and if you were to print it, it wouldn't fit on an A4 page without you having to scale it down to 19% of its original size. I chose to create the map like this so that I could get a high level of detail. It is still printable at any size, due to being vector based, but if you try to print it at small sizes the text will be illegible.
  • Scope. The map contains thousands of graphical objects. So it is a demanding beast, and if you try to run it on a slow computer, you might find it frustrating. I haven't tested the map on any really low speed machines, but it's running ok on the three laptops I have at my disposal; Powerbook G4 (1 Ghz, 512 MB RAM), MacBook Pro (2 GHz, 2 GB RAM) and a Dell Latitude D420 (1,2 GHz, 1 GB RAM).
  • Printing. Printing the map is very demanding on your computer's RAM. This means that some drop shadow effects might have an undesired "halo" around them when printed. I'm looking into how to make the file demand less memory, so if anyone has any tips, please post them to the request page!

WFRP: iAltdorf requests

The iAltdorf project continues to grow. With your help the map can be made more accurate and comprehensive. So please post your requests for additions or changes in the comments of this page!

Planned additions and changes
These features are planned. No promise is made as to when they make it into the project, but things should appear eventually.

* Add sewers (major pipes and main sewer entries for each Bezirk).

* Add special area: Imperial Palace.

* Add more locations to University of Altdorf.

* Add elector palaces (one for each elector).

* Have to look into the placement and size of the Bezirks (Districts). Especially the Bankbezirk seems suspiciously large, as does the Palast Bezirk.

* Add street names from Darkness Rising

* Add more streets

* Divide places into more layers (just like Taverns and Watch Stations, e.g.)

* Add more distances to Scale layer

* Add increments to distance indicators, one every 100 yards

* Add more islands

* Add elevations

* Add places linked to the NPCs found on The Altdorf Correspondent

* Add Grand Temple of Morr close to Amethyst College

* Fix the sign for Die Kunst und Der Welt

* Fix the sign for The Cat and Fiddle

* Delete placeholder text for Gugelhupf's Bakery

* Rough up the layout. It looks too neat! Note: an ongoing effort, it will take a lot of time!

* Add special area: Refugee camp.

Do you have anything you want to add? Let me know!

WFRP: iAltdorf presentation

I am proud to present my latest project; iAltdorf! Free for you to download and use in your games, iAltdorf is a set of PDF maps of the imaginary city of Altdorf, capital of the Empire in the Old World of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

The maps of the iAltdorf project are vectorbased, and boasts fully searchable text entries for places of interest, Taverns, Watch Stations, Street names, Plazas and more.

The maps will be continually updated as I get more feedback and my own campaign progresses, but even in this first release they contain enough information to make an excellent tool for any Game Master running a campaign or even just an adventure in Altdorf.

Don't hesitate, jump straight to the download page!

Copyright information
iAltdorf is completely unofficial in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Limited, or Black Industries. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, WFRP, Games Workshop and all associated marks, names, races, race insignia, characters, vehicles, locations, units, artefacts, illustrations and images from the Warhammer world are either ®, ™ and/or © Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2007, variably registered in the UK and other countries around the world. Used without permission. No challenge to their status intended. All Rights Reserved to their respective owners.

iAltdorf was created by Magnus Seter in 2007. It was inspired and based upon the Altdorf map created by Charles Elliot, originally published in The Enemy Within. That map is © Games Workshop, 1986. This map references places found in Empire in Flames (by Carl Sargent, published by Games Workshop), Spires of Altdorf (David Chart/Black Industries), Sigmar's Heirs (Anthony Ragan/Black Industries), Night's Dark Masters (Steven Darlington and Jody MacGregor/Black Industries) and (by permission) the map of the Altdorf University found in Liber Fanatica IV (created by Henrik Gronberg) as well as the unofficial fan article The Imperial Capital of Altdorf (by Arne Dam, Roderic d'Arcon and Alfred Nunez Jr. Additional Background by Timothy Eccles and Anthony Ragan). It also references locations taken from the WFRP campaign of Magnus Seter. For more information, please see the companion spreadsheet, or go to

Monday, 30 July 2007

FAL News: New WFRP campaign named

An observant N0-1_H3r3 on the BI forums discovered an entry for a new book for WFRP titled The Thousand Thrones.

The enigmatic entry.

My first thougth was that it's the name of the new campaign from BI, and then poster Lord of the Pit posted a link to the cover, which seems to clinch it.

The cover.

As for now the discussion seems to be mostly focused on the price, which at 30 quid seems a bit steep. The cover looks smashing though, so I'll certainly look into this in more detail when it's released.

Now the only thing I wonder is ... where the hell did he get the user name N0-1_H3r3 from?


Fanboy At Large merges with Altdorf Correspondent

Breaking news!

As you might know, I'm also running Fanboy At Large, a blog with general and D&D-related gaming tidbits. After much pondering during my vacation, I have come to the conclusion that I don't have the time and resources to devote to two separate blogs.

My recent work with my iAltdorf project have made me want to focus more energy towards the Altdorf Correspondent. So I have decided that Fanboy At Large will instead become a feature of this blog for the time being. The main focus of The Altdorf Correspondent will still be WFRP, but the WFRP content will be sprinkled with other gaming material as well.

I will transfer the posts from Fanboy At Large to The Altdorf Correspondent during the week to come.

We'll see how that works out!


WFRP: Gossip (7)

"The goblins are marching on Altdorf! They have lost the Storm of Chaos against Archaon and are retreating here make a last stand! First they want to take the city, and then turn it into a huge fortress! The Emperor needs to put more gold into arming the people so that we can defend ourselves!"

- Agitator speaking at the Ruckusplatz

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Thursday, 12 July 2007

WFRP: Here be dragons

Preview of iAltdorf

This is a preview of what I've been up to lately; my own map of Altdorf. The final map will be a PDF map, with layers so that you can turn some features on and off; names, streets, buildings, sewers and districts.

I've been using the map from The Enemy Within (published 1986 by Games Workshop) as my base, and the general layout of the city matches that map. Also, MadAlfred et al's stunning work on the Imperial Capital has been referenced. Read up on Altdorf here!

Finally, as you will see when the map is released in a year or two - just kidding, I'm hoping to release a first version end of August - I've added my own street names and places as well. But as I work on the map I'm reminded of the passage in Spires of Altdorf claiming the capital can never be mapped. Only now do I realise the truth in that.

I would also like help in adding to this map or just correcting it, so if you feel like beta testing it, please drop by in the comments!


Tuesday, 10 July 2007

WFRP nominated for several Ennies!

Today I read the final nominations for the Ennies, the EN World award for excellent gaming products. This award used to be a d20 system affair, but in recent years they have widened the scope and now includes material for any system.

WFRP have already fared well in the Ennies. The rulebook and the bestiary won a total of three categories in 2005. This year also looks to be a good one for WFRP, both for Black Industries and for the fans!

And this year the nominated WFRP products are:

Best Fan Site
Liber Fanatica

Best Interior Art
Children of the Horned Rat, Black Industries

Best Cartography
Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay: Game Master's Toolkit, Black Industries

Best Writing
Children of the Horned Rat, Black Industries

Best Rules
Honorable Mention: Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay: Companion, Black Industries

Best Supplement
Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay: Companion, Black Industries
Honorable Mention: Tome of Corruption, Black Industries

Best Adventure
Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay: Lure of the Liche Lord, Black Industries

Best Regalia
Liber Chaotica, Black Industries
Witch Hunter's Handbook, Black Industries

Best Free Product
Black Industries Web Site, Black Industries

Fan's Choice: Best Publisher
Black Industries

Product of the Year
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Children of the Horned Rat, Black Industries

A big applause for BI, Black Library, all the writers and artists, and an especially grand hooray for the Liber Fanatica crew!

Read more about the Ennies here!


Wednesday, 4 July 2007

FAL Review: Shackled City

Publisher Paizo. Released July 2005. Format Hardcover. Game system Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Setting Core. Pages 416. Price $59.95.

Designers Jesse Decker, James Jacobs, Tito Leati, David Noonan, Christopher Perkins, Chris Thomasson. Cover artist Mark Cavotta. Interior artists Attila Adorjany, Tom Baxa, Peter Bergting, Matt Cavotta, Jeff Carlisle, Christine Choi, Stephen Daniele, Omar Dogon, Tom Fowler, Andrew Hou, Ben Huen, Eric Kim, Chuck Lukacs, Val Mayerick, Mark Nelson, Ramón Pérez, Chris Stevens, Jim Zubkavich. Cartography Chris West.

Spoiler altert! This review contains information about the plot of this campaign. If you are planning on playing Shackled City, don’t read any further!

Shackled City is a collection of adventures from the same company that publishes Dragon and Dungeon. Since they have a license from Wizards of the Coast this book is officially D&D. Also, given the ties and connections the people at Paizo have with WotC, and their history of working on the official game before and during the Paizo era, they have a good grasp of what makes or breaks the D&D expericence.

Shackled City was the first long adventure path that I read in Dungeon. As far as I know the term originated with the launch of third edition D&D, with the Sunless Citadel and following adventures. Paizo ran with that idea and published 11 connected adventures in Dungeon. They started at level 1 and worked their way up to level 20, all with an evolving plot line and within the same setting. The Shackled City adventure path ran in issues 97-98, 102, 104, 107, 109, 111 and 113-116. Now comes the hardcover, bringing these adventures together in one book. To play the campaign you need the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual. Other books such as the Planar Handbook or Manual of the Planes could come in handy, but are not at all necessary.

The book collects and expands somewhat on the original 11 adventures from Dungeon as well as adds a 12th to ease transition between adventure one and two. This all clocks in at 416 pages, presented in hardcover with full colour and comes with a fold-out map and 24 page map folder attached to the insides of the covers. All illustrations in the book are related to the campaign and includes action scenes as well as portraits of important NPCs and monsters. Appendices describe the major villains in detail and present new monsters. It is also important to note that even though the main gist of Shackled City is adventures, there is plenty of information on Cauldron and its people as well, which is important given that the campaign mostly takes part there.

The price tag might feel a bit steep but considering the amount of information and the high quality presentation, as well as the hours and hours of gaming to be had from this path, 59.95 is a reasonable price. The book feels heavy and solid, and the physical aspects of it are immaculate.

Ok, but what about the plot? The shackled city is called Cauldron. It has been chosen by evil forces as the site where a gang of villains are to open a dimension gate to Carceri. Obviously, this is not good for the people of Cauldron. The reason for choosing this city is because it is situated in a dormant volcanoe and has various links to the planes through some of its inhabitants. This is of course all unknown to the PCs as the campaign kicks off, and as the action unfolds this is revealed to be only a part of a bigger plan to free a powerful captured demon prince. There are plenty of action to be had, but also investigation and interaction with various NPCs. The PCs end up serving the people of Cauldron and must deal with their politicians as well as the monsters bent on their destruction. The consequences for failure are dire; Cauldron and its people are devoured in a storm of flames and brimstone.

Shackled City has quickly become one of the famous shared experiences of players of third edition D&D, along with the Sunless Citadel and Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. And it is easily one of the best roleplaying products I have ever seen for any system. It has its ups and downs, but the downs are mostly inconsequential editing errors. Shackled City rivals my long standing favourites Masks of Nyarlathotep (for Call of Cthulhu) and The Enemy Within (for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay) for the top spot of best campaign ever. While it won’t touch Masks of Nyarlathotep, it is a more consistent experience than The Enemy Within, which floundered after the first three installments. I am convinced that this adventure path will be a true classic for D&D, and also a milestone in the history of our hobby.


FAL News: Pathfinder Trailer

Checked the Apple Quicktime site today and found the trailer for Pathfinder: Legend of the Ghost Warrior. A re-imagining of the Norwegian movie Veiviseren, it will be interesting to see what they have done with the story. Judging from the trailer I don't have high hopes, although the visual impact is great.

My impression is that it will mix a lot of disparate genres with copious amounts of anachronism, and top it up with gratitious violence. Could be destined for cult status on par with Brotherhood of the Wolf, a sleeper hit with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplayer fans. Pathfinder is more likely to appeal to the D&D crowd or the fans of the Conan RPG and movies. I get a heavy Vallejo vibe from the poster ...

I'll probably love it and hate it at the same time. Opens April 13 in the states. Don't know when it's coming to Europe.


Saturday, 30 June 2007

Help wanted (9)

"Wanted: adventurous young male with fencing skills wanted for romantic purposes. Must own good clothing and know how to dance! Also, no living relatives! Ask for Othilde Knaus at Imperial Palace!"

- Exquisite letter distributed by a middle-age woman to every likely looking candidate in the Bankbezirk.

I must admit that thinking these help wanted ads up can be a riot. I know many characters who would kill to get a chance to check this item out! And I'm sure we'll hear from one of them in a bit.


Friday, 29 June 2007

Mapping Altdorf


In my quest for knowledge about the Imperial Capital, I have started drawing maps of the places I have visited. Altdorf is a huge and sprawling place, and the houses sometimes form a labyrinth, a maze of doors, windows, roofs and ledges. I am no cartographer such as the esteemed Anders Gesetz, but I have nonetheless taken it upon me to do as well as I can. This is taking up a lot of my time of lately, but I hope that the map will enable me to document with even greater accuracy the heart of the Empire.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Wellentag, Vorgeheim 29, 2522 IC

Wednesday, 20 June 2007


After feedback and clarifications from my good friend and expert Nils-Erik Fahlvik as to how the gun that Nuln by Night was based on works, I have pulled it from the site for updating. Basically what I'm going to do is add two other weapon qualities called Volley and Big Bang, and remove the Multiple Barrels quality. I hope to have it updated by tomorrow.

UPDATE: Ok, the new version is up. See below for a fresh take on Nuln by Night!


Saturday, 16 June 2007

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Best of the fans (3)

It's time again to point your browsers at another stunning WFRP fan contribution. This time it's not a netbook or a handout but an online tool that garners our attention. For any Game Master who's had to create an NPC on the fly, a character generator is a godsend! Or fan send, in this specific case.

Character generators don't get any prettier and easy to use than the one found at Danish based (but English language) web site Malleus Maleficarum.

So I don't have any qualms about naming their character generator a Best of the fans effort! And after you've checked out the generator, be sure to take a look at the rest of the site for a lot of inspirational bonuses!

Great work guys!


Saturday, 9 June 2007

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

FAL Review: Elizabeth

Genres: Historical drama, Romance, Suspence. Main cast: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Kathy Burke. Director: Shekhar Kapur. Writer: Michael Hurst. Length: 119 minutes.

Elizabeth is a visual feast, and a tour de force of convincing acting from many of our times greatest stars. Fantasy fans and roleplayers will recognise Cate Blanchett from The Lord of the Rings and Geoffrey Rush from Pirates of the Caribbean, to mention just a few. Fans of football will recognise Eric Cantona as a french emissary ... and cringe at his awkward and stilted acting.

The events of the movie begin in 1554. The reigning queen of England is Mary Tudor, but she is done in by cancer pretty quickly, putting Elizabeth previously declared a traitor, on the throne. What follows is a very compressed version of historical events. The story of Elizabeth's ascension to the throne and her struggles to maintain it along with her own independance moves at a fair clip, and the plots and schemes to put her down add an interesting edge to the events unfolding in front of our eyes. It is a straight historical movie, no elves, goblins or dragons in sight and no overenthusiastic sword fights that stretch on forever and ever, as is too often the norm today. And that is refreshing. The focus on the people and their interactions fire up my brain with ideas for my games, and should provide many players with plenty of ideas for hamming it up at the table.

So is there anything to lament? Well, yes. I mentioned Eric Cantona, who is a blight on the acting profession. And if you're a fan of historical accuracy, chances are that you will be disappointed. There are several deviations from actual events, several of them for no readily apparent reason apart from fitting some events into the movie a bit easier, such as the death of Mary, Queen of Scots. And even if I myself didn't notice it, I have read that the costumes, while beautiful, are sometimes wildly anachronistic as is the dialogue which has a much more uncouth and modern tonality than that which evidently was used during the actual time period.

Still, to me Elizabeth opened up a deep well of interesting history. I looked up several of the people portrayed in the movie, and found an abundance of inspirational material. Just take a look at the Wikipedia entry of Sir Francis Walsingham! If you don't come away from that page without your mind brimming with ideas, I don't know what would enthuse you.

To sum it up, I loved this movie. As some of you know, and every one else will learn after reading my reviews, I'm a sucker for great visuals and this movie delivers in spades. Its tonality fits WFRP better than D&D, but I believe that Game Masters and players of both games will find great inspiration for plots and characters among the multitude offered.


Tuesday, 5 June 2007

What's going on?

Sometimes I feel as if I'm being watched. As if everything I say and write is being read by distant spirits, far away ghosts ... or even Deamons from the Void. I feel the urge to burn every single word that is wrong, every thought that goes astray. But even when the flame from my candle consumes the bluish ink, I have a feeling that someone, somewhere, has read the words already.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Backtertag, Vorgeheim 5, 2522 IC

Just a short post to explain some strange posts on my blog the last couple of days. Even though I've been doing this since January, I haven't really learned everything about blogging with this tool that I need to know.

So ... when I've been wanting to preview a post, I have cleverly posted it so that it was published one year ago. And that means it didn't show up on the front page. That way I figured no one would find it, and I could look at it at my leisure and then take it down and redo it. Basically this is because I'm not at all happy with the preview function, and I really prefer to actually publish my posts to preview them. Gives me greater control and accuracy.

This weekend I realised that quite a few of my faithful readers ... well, at least two of them, thanks Gitta and Dante, are subscribing to changes on my blog. A great way to keep track of new posts ... which also meant that they can see every post I make, even if I try to hide them away.

So ... not so clever of me, after all.

So, one of my strange experiment posts were up for a few days, confusing at least one reader. I didn't count on anyone finding it, so for those of you that did, the basic explanation is that I'm looking for a house, and wanted to check some houses with a good friend. Hence the mysterious page with links to houses for sale ... but now that page is removed, so look for it no more!

I really don't know what happens when I publish a post, and then remove it. Do those of you who subscribe still get a notification, or is the notification removed when I take the post down?


Monday, 4 June 2007

FAL Review: The Temple of the Troll God

Publisher Fast Forward Entertainment. Released Fall 2001. Format Softcover. Game system d20. Setting Green Races. Levels 4-7. Pages 48. Price $12.95.

Designer Timothy Brown.

Once in a lifetime, there comes a roleplaying product so grand in scope as to put all other competitors to shame. It shatters our conceptions of what a roleplaying game can be, and it shows us new ways of looking at our hobby. It is balanced, has innovative new rules or interesting takes on existing mechanics. It has a riveting plot which allows great freedom for the players' PCs to get involved and change the outcome of the story.

The Temple of the Troll God is the anti-thesis of that product.

Released in fall 2001, this product hasn't aged well. Heck, it got hit by a ghost's aging touch the second it hit the shops. I know it's very much too late to review this adventure now, but I do so for several reasons. First, I had already written a review years ago so I might as well use that again now that I'm launching FAL. Second, it will help you all to start figuring out what I like and what I don't like.

The Temple of the Troll God is part of a trilogy (made up of Fortress of the Ogre Chieftain, Temple of the Troll God and Slave Pits of the Goblin King), but can be played by itself. It is set in the setting of the Green Races, on a world called Elara. The layout is simplistic, the maps are under average and the illustrations of low quality. The structure of the text is incredibly confusing and freely mixes text on the adventure, the rules and the "unique" setting. All in all it feels like a train off the rails; it lacks direction and is heading towards a train wreck.

A premise for the adventure doesn't exist. There is no plot, no reason for why the PCs would be where they are, there is no logic to what's going on or why anything happens. Somewhere among all this is a temple dedicated to a god worshiped by trolls, and this is where the PCs are going to ... do something, I suppose. No one knows what, not even the DM.

These kinds of setups exist in other adventures as well, basically offering the DM a framework to use with his players' PCs. I find many modules with that premise interesting, but The Temple of the Troll God was merely frustrating. It seems as if Brown wrote an adventure that was supposed to be both framework and a linear wilderness plus dungeon romp, but that half of the text got chewed up by a hard drive crash.

The execution of the rules is also a catastrophe, and there are many gigantic mistakes regarding monster stats and abilities. In addition to this, the writer consequently breaks the terms of the d20 license throughout the text. In addition to this, the amount of treasure placed in this adventure borders on the ludicrous.

What makes this offering so crushingly disappointing is the fact that several of the old AD&D guard were involved in its creation. I admired Timothy Browns work on Dark Sun, and always figured that Jim Ward had a lot going for him. But these illusions were backstabbed and disintegrated and then cast into the abyss. Temple of the Troll God feels like a quick hatchet job to cash in on the, at the time, very profitable d20 trend. I wouldn't be surprised if it was revealed that the adventure was simply some discarded or even rejected notes from the AD&D era, dressed up in a tutu and brought to the prom, without Brown ever reading the third edition rules or the licenses attached to it.

Harsh? Yeah, maybe. I have read a rave review of this adventure on RPGnet, so there are people out there who disagree with my assessment. So should you buy it? Hell, yeah! If you can find it for a dollar, pick it up. There are several lessons to be learned from The Temple of the Troll God, and having it in your possession will give you new faith in the products offered for D&D and d20 today.


Sunday, 3 June 2007

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay awarded again!

According to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has won yet another accolade: Grog d'Or, the prestigious french accolade from Guide du Roliste Galactique.

Read more about it here!

Congratulations to Black Industries!


Saturday, 2 June 2007

Burning the midnight oil

Although my adventure in the archives under the University ended badly, I have managed to procure a number of books about Altdorf from a book shop close to here.

My books

I don't believe they will reveal any hidden knowledge about the heart of the Empire, for they were all to easy to find. But still, I need to add to my library and I believe that I have to aquire more gold before I start looking for the forgotten tomes, for they will undoubtedly carry a heftier price tag.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Wellentag, Vorgeheim 2, 2522 IC

The great masters of painting didn't always paint people and religious allegories. They also did a lot of stillebens (still-life), which make perfect handouts for your gaming sessions! Instead of describing the desk the adventurers find, you can actually show it to them!


Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Help wanted (8)

"Will Purchase glands from mythical beasts for manufacture of perfumes. Talk to Herr Gutgeruch of Klein und Laurent in the Werksviertel Bezirk!"

Note distributed at disreputable taverns in the Niederhafen Bezirk

There are many ways to kick-start an adventure. Not everything have to involve lost artifacts, kidnapped noblemen or nefarious cultists out to destroy the Old World as we know it. Even the most unlikely patrons might want adventurers to go out and slay beasts and creatures of myth.

Of course, how do they know that you've been all the way to the World's Edge Mountains to slay a griffon, and how do they know that the bloodied thing in your bag is really the liver from a jabberwock? Well, if they have the money to send people out on strange adventures, they probably have the means to tell a fake heart of a deamon from a real one ...


Monday, 28 May 2007

Olga Knoll

Olga Knoll

Saturday, 26 May 2007


I don't know where I've been, I don't know how I came back. Everything is a blank, a hole in my mind. Only at the edges of memory can I hear scuttling feet and hissing voices. They tell me I've been gone a week, but that no one missed me. No one knew I was gone, and no one at the University cared. It was foolish of me to descend those stairs, to venture down in the most forgotten parts of the archive. But I was hoping to find something, anything that can help me understand Altdorf and it's inhabitants. Old records, legends, religious pamphlets. I know there are books down there that scholars would kill to get their hands on. So down I went, into the musty and ill lit corridors - dare I even call them dark dungeons - to unearth the treasures of the bulging book shelves. I didn't tell anyone, cetrainly not Emeritus Gutbelesen. I feel that he would try to stop me, did he know my plans. But as I walked among the wooden shelves I got the feeling I was not alone. Someone was watching me, someone was making plans. As I found a section that seemed particularly interesting, I caught a whiff of lilacs. For a second I thought it odd that lilacs would grown in such a dark abode, and then I don't remember anything else, until a student found me wandering in the great library, dusty and generously adorned with cobwebs.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Angestag, Sommerzeit 26, 2522 IC

Friday, 18 May 2007

Disciplinary measures

It is with growing frustration that I look upon the situation of my position here at the University. Gutbelesen is keeping himself distant from me and my enquiries on when I can get access to the records he has control over, and which were the reason for my scholarship here in the first place. I don't want to entertain thoughts on conspiracies to keep me away from the archives, but at times I wonder. I have not managed to get a proper office yet, and I still stay in the dismal tower, where I sleep and write and read. The other day I managed to corner Gutbelesen in his own opulent office, but he waved my questions to the side, claiming that he was working on finding the time to properly introduce me to the records. He then promptly turned me out, as he had urgent business administering disciplinary measures to a couple of students caught cheating during a test. I could tell from his face that he was very much looking forward to the incident, and as I passed the students in the doorway, I thought I heard a grunt of satisfaction from Gutbelesen as he welcomed them inside his office. I shudder to think of what measures were administered.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Angestag, Sommerzeit 18, 2522 IC

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Gossip (6)

"It's true! I swear on Sigmar's Hammer I heard it from a Watch Man, who himself heard it from a Watch Sergeant who heard the Reiksmarshal himself talk about it. The next tax will be a Bridge Tax, it'll cost a Crown a Leg to pass any bridge in Altdorf! That's to keep the refugees and poor people in their place, stop them wandering over to the Palast Bezirk."

- Wool merchant chatting to his supplier by the Kaiser Karl Franz Brücke.

Monday, 14 May 2007

GM tip (1)

When the darkest hour is close at hand, I sometimes feel the weight of the Old World heavily on my mind. If I'm sleeping I dream of floating away from my body, of drifting slowly through the muddy streets of Altdorf. I drift by people living their ordinary lives, or leading extra-ordinary existences, or people dying, or being born. I float over the roof-tops, over the chimneys and into the thick smoke that rises to the wind. And I can see all the people below me, as if I was a great chessmaster. I reach out and touch their lives, I command them and they dance to the tune of my flute. They beg, they plead, they curse and cry. And everything they do changes the life of someone else. And then I realise the chaotic patterns I set in motion. How change begets change. And I hear the demon lord Tzeentch laugh, and laugh, and laugh, as he pulls the strings that move my arms and legs. And then I wake up. At least I believe that I have woken up. And I am again in my tower of the Altdorf University, again staring out into the darkness, gripping the sheets, crying, crying over the forces that shape our lives. That change our lives. Change ...

Adolphus Altdorfer
Backertag, Sommerzeit 15, 2522 IC

Sometimes fellow gamers ask me what I do to make my games memorable. Of course, the answer is never a straight "this is how I do it", but rather thoughts on what I find easiest to work with to build suspense and atmosphere. Recently I've had occasion to mediatate on this subject, after running a particularily unimpressive Tomb of Horrors (the infamous D&D adventure) for a group of gamers at a private mini-con.

It was a disaster, but the session of Call of Cthulhu that I ran afterwards was a blast and an unqualified success. So what was the major difference?


For me it's that simple. If I use a lot of NPCs in my adventures, there are good odds of things getting interesting and fun. I also use a few techniques (unknowingly, I suppose) to ham it up a bit and create memorable NPCs. This is especially important in WFRP, where the grim and gritty goes hand in hand with the dark and humorous.

So here are four things I do to make my NPCs memorable.

1. NPC cards. You've seen my NPCs, and if not check them out at once! Anyways, I make an card for every major, and sometimes minor NPC in my campaign. I have about thirty or forty now, and I give them out to the players. It's a good way of getting them to remember who's who, and what they do. It also makes it a lot less common for theplayers to invent humorous names when referring to my NPCs, a rather common practice not only at my table, I gather.

2. Crazy people. The people the characters interact with often have questionable sanity and strange motivations, and they perform inexplicable actions. People are people and do the most stupid things, so it feels good to include that. And it throws off the players once in while, makes things not so predictable.

3. Spectacular consequences. Whenever someone fails at anything (be they NPC or PC) I try to use flavourful descriptions of what happens and how the world reacts to this. Since people fail quite a lot in WFRP, this makes for a fun game, and has the possibility of changing the pace of the action. Instead of someone just missing with their thrown dagger, the dagger cuts off a rope which falls on a dwarf troll slayer, who then ... and so on!

4. Funny voices. I don't know what my players think ... well, yes I do. But I still don't know if it makes my game better or not. Still, it's a load of fun!

All this is ideally juxtaposed to a fairly realistic style (very little fantasy elements apparent in the milieu) and high pace action. Otherwise it easily becomes silly, instead of deadly, frantic AND silly.

My players love it.

Well, they really hate the NPCs, but they LOVE to hate them!


Saturday, 12 May 2007

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Fanatics release yet another book!

Well this is a pleasant surprise! Liber Fanatica 4 was released today, and you can find the download page here!

I've downloaded it, but I haven't had the chance to look through it yet. I'll get back to you when I've done so! Odds are that it's a great fan effort, and that it will appeal to those who like to add dusty tomes and libraries to their campaigns. Those who prefer blood drenched battles with scores of demons might be a bit less enthusiastic about the contents though.

I'm sure I'll love it. Especially since it's got a whole freaking article detailing the Altdorf University!

Thanks to the entire fanatic crew for this effort!


Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Karl and Country

Today I happened to go by the Niederhafen docks, and caught sight of a ship sailing out of Altdorf towards Marienburg and presumably farther shores. As the crew worked under the sails, they sang this little ditty that caught my fancy. Stangely enough this song was accompanied on a concert flute by a man capering about on deck, sometimes standing on one leg. An impressive feat indeed, although I'm not sure where he pilfered the flute.

The wind is on the river and the tide has turned too late,
so we're sailing for another shore where some other ladies wait.
To throw us silken whispers: catch us by the anchor chains -
But we all laugh so politely and we sail on just the same.

For Karl and Country in the long dying day,
And it's been this way for five long years,
since we signed our souls away.

We bring back gold and ivory; rings of diamonds; strings of pearls -
make presents to the government
so they can have their social whirl

With Karl and Country in the long dying day.
And it's been this way for five long years
since we signed our souls away.

They build schools and they build factories
With the spoils of battles won.
And we remain their pretty sailor boys -
hold our heads up to the gun

Of Karl and Country in the long dying day.
And it's been this way for five long years
since we signed our souls away.

To Karl and Country in the long dying day.
And it's been this way for five long years
since we signed our souls away.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Konistag, Sommerzeit 9, 2522 IC

Since the last post gave the link to the excellent Under the Sails by Leif Ulrich Schrader, I couldn't resist adapting Jethro Tull's song Queen and Country to the Old World.

Well, "adapting" is a bit of a strong word. I substituted "Queen" for "Karl", and that's about it. It's a great song, though. In case you're wondering, that guy with the flute that Altdorfer took note off is the WFRP equvivalent of Ian Anderson, front man of Jethro Tull. I'll stat him one day.


Monday, 7 May 2007

Best of the fans (2)

This time at Best of the Fans we take a look at a fan classic for first edition WFRP. It is a treatise on ships and life on the water, aptly titled Under the Sails. The author is Leif Ulrich Schrader, a WFRP fan I seem to remember from the WFRP mailing list. Haven't seen him about for a long while though, which is a pity.

You can download this splendid supplement from this page! Don't let the German text scare you off, the document itself is in English. And you're playing WFRP, so it's only fair that you brush up on your language skills!


Saturday, 5 May 2007

New career: Actor

Note that the image below has been scaled down to fit the column, thus reducing readability. If you're having difficulties reading it right-click on the image and open it in a separate browser window.


This is the first of several new careers I'm creating for my campaign. Much of what this career can do is already covered by the Entertainer, but I like the more focused careers from first edition WFRP so my careers will primarily be variants like the Actor.

The careers lists a number of career exits not covered in the rules. Expect them to show up here over time.


Thursday, 3 May 2007

Help wanted (7)

"Scrubbers needed in The Marble Baths! No prior experience necessary. No dwarfs need apply. Talk to the Master of the Baths today!"

- Note glued to the wall of The Marble Baths

Scrubbing might mean scrubbing the backs of rich nobles or the floors of the establishment after they close at midnight. It all depends on the applicant and how high a Fellowship he or preferably she has.

A job such as this might seem boring but it could lead to any kinds of adventures. Who knows what people talk about when they think no one is listening. And who knows what goes on in the steam filled marble rooms ... murder? Or worse?


Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Where are The Marble Baths?

Marble Baths, Reikhoch Bezirk

As a follow up to the presentation of The Marble Baths comes the map pin-pointing its location in the Reikhoch Bezirk, close to Westenstrasse. Don't have a clue where the Reikhoch Bezirk is? Click here to find out! It's number 13 on the map.


What's the weather like?

I have added a weather gizmo to the blog! A little bit down the left side you can see the forecast for the weather in real-life Altdorf, Germany. If you want a more detailed view, click the link by the forecast for more info. Note that this will take you to the site!


Sunday, 29 April 2007

Children's games

Pieter Bruegehl, Children's Games

It is impossible to venture out on the streets of Altdorf without being overrun by children. When I say children it is with the greatest of constraint that I chose such a benevolent word. Brats, racals, even criminals often seem a better word for them, and much better reflects their activities. Even though many children in our fair city begin working at an early age, often helping their parents out with various and sundry tasks, there are many, many who have nothing better to do than spend their time playing on the streets with their various toys.

Of these, wooden weapons seems the most common among the boys. Swords and shields are swung at unprotected heads, or indeed even at the knees of innocent passers-by, in furious battles enacting the war against Chaos. I have also observed a not insignificant group with painted tin soldiers, or troops whittled out of wood. They meet in parks and in public squares all over the city to fight out imaginary battles between the armies of the Empire and the forces of Chaos. A worrying amount of the boys involved in these different war games thoroughly enjoy playing Chaos warriors, and some even run bellowing around Altdorf, scaring women and babies, and panicking horses and cattle! A right nuisance, if you ask me!

And speaking of nuisances, the children of Altdorf seem to have made it their holy mission to remind the rest of the world of their existance; for this they use infernal rattles, pipes, bells, drums or whistles, even horns or trumpets stolen from some unfortunate coach driver add to the cacaphony of sounds of everyday life. Some foolish adults even pay children to come and scare off the ill influences of sickness and disease with their instruments of torture to the ear and sensibilities of educated people! The practice of making this noise seems to be most popular among the girls, for some reason.

Apart from the toys mentioned, the children of Altdorf play with balls made from cloth and inflated pigs’ bladders, playing games that involves much kicking and screaming. They also excel at the game called Nine Kings, where you use a ball to knock over as many of nine pins placed in varying patterns as possible in two tries. Very popular in the more affluent parts of our capital. In the poorer parts of Altdorf the children play with marbles, so called even though they are commonly made from stone or scrap glass or metal.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Bezahltag, Sigmarzeit 33, 2522 IC

While doing some quick research for this piece, I came across the painting Children's Games by Pieter Bruegel. This paints a much better picture of what an ordinary day in Altdorf can look like, so right-click the image above and save it to disk. Then open it in an image viewer of your choice and take a closer look. It is well worth the extra effort!


Friday, 27 April 2007

The Marble Baths

Altdorf is a grimy city, filled with waste and filth. But even so many of its inhabitants take great care to stay clean and bathe once every week. The manner in which they do so varies with social stature and income, but there is a sizeable portion that go to the public bathing houses that exist in the various Bezirks of our capital. Of course som baths are more splendid than others. Most common folk, the poor and the workers, simply use a barrel to scope cold water from, apply soap to strategic bodily locations, wash it off and rub themselves with rough towels to get dry. Not something you do every day, mind you.

For the upper class or for those of means, there are bath-houses where you get heated water in tubs or in pools. Some have rooms filled with heated rocks which you throw water on, creating steam to clean your body. Some rooms have cold pools of water so that you can alternate between hot and cool baths. There are also lounges where you can rest, eat a sausage or pie and drink a glass of wine or a flagon of cold beer.

For clients who can afford it, herbs or oils produced locally or imported from Estalia, Tilea or even Araby are added to the water to release a pleasing fragrance and promote good health and cleansing of the skin and lungs. Among the herbs commonly used are camomile, lavender, lemon balm, mint, rosemary and thyme. Oils are often scented with sap from birch or pine, or from the skins or peels from oranges, lemons, apples and pears.

Of all the bathing houses in the Empire, The Marble Baths in the Reikhoch Bezirk is probably the most well-known. The interiors are constructed from exquisite marble in Arabyan style, with beautiful mosaics depicting flowers, planets and stars. There are two sections, one for the men and one for the women. The bathers dress in simple linen trunks or dresses for the women. Curiosly both sexes often dress in something known as an Altdorf Wig, a kind of bathing hat of varying lavishness. Female bath-house keepers, often devout Shallyans in sleeveless dresses serve the bathers with buckets of hot or cold water and scrubs or lashes in the case of the more devout attendees.

Adolphus Altdorfer

Backertag, Sigmarzeit 24, 2522 IC

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Sayings, words and expressions (1)

The language of the Altdorf population is colourful, and often refers to commonly known events in the capital. Some of them bewilder me, some are quite simple to understand. I have come across quite a number of these sayings and have compiled a short list of some of them, and their meanings as far as I have divined them.

"Up the Reik without a barge" - In deep trouble, often abbreviated "Up the Reik."

"Short crowd" - A gathering of angry people with no power. They don't pose a threat, much like a bunch of halflings wouldn't (they would make up a short crowd, hence the expression).

"Carstein Cattle" - inhabitants of Sylvania.

"Drunk as a map-maker" - derived from the fact that many maps of the Empire often are faulty and inconsistent, hence they are probable made by drunken map-makers.

"Moose-head" - norse raider. Refers to the helmets often worn by the Norscan warriors.

"Tybalt handshake" - a weak handshake, derived from the fact that chancellor Mornan Tybalt had his thumb clipped by rioters during a riot some years ago, in protest of his proposed labour tax.

"Altdorf party" - a riot.

"He's riding the griffon" - someone is boasting, greatly exaggerating his prowess (often "romantic" prowess or combat skills). Could also mean that a person is mad, or hallucinating. Derived from the legends about The Emperor riding a griffon.

"Mad as Alfred" - Describes a person out of his mind, insane or just very, very different. Derived from Altdorf's most famous and loved madman, called Mad Alfred. I'll give you more details on this fascinating person in later writings.

"There's no such thing as a free pie" - nothing in the Old World is free, everything has its price. You'll never get anything for nothing. Also "a deal to good to be true".

"A private war" - someone's own personal business. "Well, it's his private war, there's nothing we can do to help".

"Airhead" or "Cloudhead" - derisive term for Wizard, implying that they have their heads stuck in the clouds and consider themselves above mere mortals. Not used when a wizard is around, I gather.

"A Bergsburg deal" - a deal or offering that is on and off, depending on the whims of the people making the offering. Refers to the disputed status of the town of Bergsburg among the Imperial cartographers.

There are many more sayings like this, and I hope to document more as I spend more time talking to the people of Altdorf.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Konistag, Sigmarzeit 18, 2522 IC

Check out this link to the Black Industries forums, where Happy Gibbon started a fantastic thread about the sayings of the people of the Empire. The above list is my contribution, and you'll find many more from Happy Gibbon as well as other contributors.


Sunday, 22 April 2007

Gossip (5)

"Haven't you heard? The Emperor is going to Middenheim to fight the Storm of Chaos! Only he can stem the tide of evil, they say! But you know what that means, don't you? Yeah ... that'll leave Altdorf wide open to people like Fengsel and Waffenkammer!"

- Two soldiers sharing a flagon of Altdorfer Weisse at The Breasts of Myrmidia tavern, in the Niederhafen Bezirk

Few things have as much potential for trouble and therefore adventure as a sudden power vacuum. If for example the Emperor would leave Altdorf there would be many nobles and influential people trying to profit from his absence. Given the fact that communications are fairly slow and unreliable in the Old World, many plots can be hatched based on wild rumours as to the health of the Emperor as he campaigns against the Storm of Chaos.

But not every power vacuum needs to involve the Emperor or nobles and generals. Crime lords are notorious for warring amongst themselves when their ... betters ... are laid to rest or, erm ... disappears. There are always room for backstabbing in the Guilds, the Merchant Guild being a prime candidate. But don't underestimate the petty power-hungry fishmonger, rat catcher, City Watchman or lowly stable boy. Even the worst tyrant has to start somewhere after all ...

Currrently in my own campaign, there is a riot running through Altdorf after news that the Emperor has been slain by traitorous generals allied with the forces of Chaos. This has provided some interesting twists to the lives of the characters, as well as given one of them an opportunity to prove his loyalty to the Emperor.

Whether this is a good idea remains to be seen.


Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Charlatans and tricksters

There are many magic fairy tales in this world, and none of them should be told lightly. Our old world contains mysteries beyond the understanding of our sharpest minds or most dim-witted fools. And so there are those who would profit from this. Profit from our fears and anxiety. Who would pretend to eradicate Chaos where no such taint occurs. To take our gold to rid us from evil, and save us from our waking dreams.

Most of these charlatans are adventurous types, armed with sharp blades and an array of tricks. They claim to fight evil, to battle Chaos and to do what is right in this world. In reality they only do what's right by themselves. Today most of these wretched beings have fortunately been enlisted to fight the Storm of Chaos, and will hopefully justly perish on a dirty and grimy battlefield in the cold north.

But there are some who are still at large and I can see them pass me by on the streets of Altdorf every day. Who knows what they are planning?

Adolphus Altdorfer
Konistag, Sigmarzeit 2, 2522 IC

Those of you who follow my other blog, Fanboy at Large, might have already read my short review of the movie The Brothers Grimm, which I watched a couple of days ago. If you haven't, nip by the site and do so, I'll wait here until you're done.


Already back? Good. Well, the point of this post is to make sure that all of you who play WFRP also watch this movie. For the scenery and visuals, if for nothing else. But also because I feel that the Grimm brothers and their companions really embody many of those qualities that make up a WFRP adventuring party. They look after themselves first and foremost, they are barely competent, they muck about with things they don't understand, they are beset by a torturer which would be perfectly cast as an unhinged witch hunter in any WFRP campaign ... the list goes on.

As a straight adventure or fantasy movie I feel that even though I like it, I can't recommend it without some pretty severe caveats.

But as an inspiration for WFRP game masters or players, I can't recommend it highly enough. Watch it as a source of inspiration for your games. You will find much in there that could make it into your game, or conversely you will find scenes that highlight what you don't want in your game.

So gather your gaming group and watch The Brothers Grimm together, and imagine it being a session of WFRP. That will make the viewing even more fun!


Saturday, 14 April 2007

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Help wanted (6)

"Strong men needed to enforce a debt! Ask for Thomas Fahber at the Merchants’ Guild. Percentage of debt recovered paid!"

- Post on the North Gate Dead Tree

Business in Altdorf can be brutal, and sometimes even honest people need to back up their claims with brute force. Then again, dishonest people will also need help, and probably more often. As for the downright criminal people ... well, the possibilities for adventure are endless. For who knows if the characters' employer is honest or dishonest?


Wednesday, 11 April 2007

FAL Review: Death in Freeport

Death in Freeport is one of the earliest and most highly acclaimed d20 adventures. It is designed to fit PCs of first to third level, and written to accommodate a game master who is just getting started with leading the game. The adventure is a slim 32 page volume, well written with a clear and useful structure. The layout is clear and the pictures of slightly above average quality. All in all it is the text that makes this offering exciting, not the aesthetics.

DiF is probably best known for the fact that it launched the Freeport setting, an exciting pirate city which had solid support from Green Ronin for many years. Five pages are devoted to a general description of the city and its history. The plot involves the PCs in a mysterious disappearance and a conspiracy involving The Yellow Sign. Everything starts when they are hired to find a person, and they are soon set upon by furious orcs (who probably have very good reasons to bear a grudge against the PCs) as well as suspicious cultists.

The structure of DiF is strongly reminiscent of the classic Call of Cthulhu format involving plenty of investigation and questioning of different people who often have something to hide, as well as a mythical background that could be taken from Lovecraft’s mythos. The adventure is the first part of a trilogy but can be played separately if you are so inclined. The plot continues to unfold in Terror in Freeport and Madness in Freeport and the value of DiF is considerably enhanced if played as part one of the series.

When we played DiF we couldn’t really get into the atmosphere. The plot is very Cthulhuesque but the players were expecting a more standard D&D fare. This resulted in a mismatch of expectations, and the players didn’t really get involved in the story. I think it paradoxically would have worked better for us if it had been a Call of Cthulhu adventure, but as long as a game master is better prepared for this than I was, things should work fine. The only other reservation I have is that as five pages of 32 are devoted to describing Freeport, the adventure in itself feels a bit short.

I recommend Death in Freeport primarily to beginning game masters playing d20 and those who are looking for a change of pace from the ordinary dungeon crawling in D&D.


Tuesday, 10 April 2007

The Estalian Coach

There are many stories and folk songs about life and death sung in the taverns of Altdorf. Many have erotic or horrific undertones, and many make fun of outrageously behaving nobles or clergy and a fumbling and incompetent City Watch.

But many also describe the world surrounding the Empire. Lately the renowned lute player and folk singer Christoph Von Kleinestadt has gained popularity performing his song "The Estalian Coach" at various venues in our capital. I have heard it many times during my outings to The Burning Table, and have taken the liberty of scribing the text to preserve it for those who come after me.

As my observant reader will notice, Von Kleinestadt brings together current events in Altdorf (see my short text on Heartless Jochen) as well as the sinister symbolics of Old World rural folk lore (The Great Jester mentioned in my writings on Gaspar und Gretchen makes an appearance). Wrapped up in this ditty is also a theological conundrum; is it possible that the gods are playing games with their followers, and that our very souls can be staked in a game of chance? Needless to say, the Church of Morr is not amused by the lyrics. Also note the use of the card game Pochen as a symbolic battle between the forces of Chaos and the Lord of Death.

There's an Estalian coach that runs between
Gualcasar and Bilbali.
In the dead of night the bugle blows,
And people hear,
she’s running still.

And then they hush their children back to sleep,
lock the doors, upstairs they creep.
For it is said that the souls of the dead,
fill that coach -
ten thousand deep!

Well a coaching man lay dying,
with his people by his side.
His family were crying,
knelt in prayer before he died.

But above his bed
just a-waiting for the dead,
was the Jester with a twinkle in his eye.
- Well Morr's not around,
and look what I've found,
This one's mine!

Just then the Lord of Death appeared
in a blinding flash of light.
And shouted at the Jester
- Get thee hence to endless night!

But the Jester just grinned,
and said, - I may have sinned,
but there’s no need to push me around.
- I got him first
so you can do your worst,
He's going underground!

- But I think I'll give you one more chance,
said the Jester with a smile.
- So throw away that stupid lance,
It’s really not your style.

- Jochen is the name, Pochen is the game,
we’ll play right here on his bed!
And then we'll bet for the bigger stakes yet;
The souls of the dead!

And I said,
- Look out, Lord, He’s gonna win,
The sun is down and the night's riding in.
That coach is dead on time,
many souls are on the line,
Oh, Lord he's gonna win!

Well the coaching man he cut the cards,
and he dealt them each a hand of five.
And for the Lord he was praying hard,
for that coach he'd have to drive…

Well, the Jester he had three aces and king.
And Morr, He was running for a straight.
He had the queen and the knave
and a nine and ten of spades,
All He needed was the eight…

And then Morr he called for one more card,
But He drew the diamond eight,
And the Jester said to the Lord of Death,
- I believe you’ve got it straight.

- So deal me one,
for the time has come to see
who'll be the king of this place.
But as he spoke, from beneath his cloak,
He slipped another ace…

Ten thousand souls was the opening bid,
Soon went up to fifty-nine.
But Morr did not see what the Jester did,
And said, - That suits me fine.
I’ll raise you high, to a hundred and five,
and forever put an end to your sins!

But the Jester let out a mighty shout,
- My hand wins!

And I said, - Lord, oh Lord, you've let him win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in.
That coach is dead on time,
many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord don't let him win…

Well that Estalian coach still runs between,
Gualcasar and Zaraguz,
In the dead of night the bugle blows,
and people fear,
she’s running still…

And far away in some recess,
Morr and the jester are now playing chess.
The jester still cheats and wins more souls,
And as for Lord Morr,
well, He’s just doing his best….

And I said,
- Lord, oh Lord, you’ve got to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in.
That coach is still on time,
oh my soul is on the line...
Oh Lord, you’ve got to win…

Adolphus Altdorfer
Marktag, Pflugzeit 24, 2522 IC

According to Wikipedia, "Pochen" could be the root of the name for the card game we today know as "Poker".

With thanks and sincere apologies to Chris De Burgh, who wrote the song Spanish Train, upon which The Estalian Coach is based.