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!