Thursday, 29 May 2008

WFRP: Gossip (12)

"The pies sold in the Bankbezirk are full of rat and dog meat!"

- A pie seller in the Universität Bezirk revealing a dreadful secret while hawking his own premium pork pies.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

WFRP: Die Volksoper

Die Volksoper Altdorf, or Altdorf People's Opera, is a major opera house on Münzestrasse in the Werksviertel Bezirk. Some of my colleagues have expressed astonishment over the fact that there is so much interest in the opera, that such an alternative to the Imperial Opera House can exist and even thrive in the capital. But the truth is that one of the most popular pastimes of the Altdorf middle class is attending the Volksoper. Having spent time at the establishment itself, I am less surprised than my scholarly friends; the Volksoper offers fiery passion, blood-spurting violence, hilarious comedy and all this scored by some of the finest composers from history. The focus of the Volksoper is light entertainment, and its repertoire consists of opera, operetta and muscials.

Of course, this is seen as vulgar entertainment by the upper class and the pretentious cultural élite, but this bothers the clientele little, as the seats are sold out almost every night. Each season the Volksoper gives around three hundred performances of twenty productions, closing only during the hottest months of the year, as other open-air entertainments are more popular during those times. The Volksoper has 900 seats, and room for about as many standees.

The most famous plays that have been staged at the venue, and which are habitually restaged every couple of years are such masterpieces as;

"The Angry, the Happy, and the Watchman", a tale of three mercenaries seeking the same gold treasure in the ruins of Mordheim.

"The Merry-Go-Round", a farce set in Altdorf guild circles, with plenty of mistaken identities and pratfalls.

"The Bat", a dark and violent tale of revenge and the mental decay of a noble turned vigilante.
Adolphus Altdorfer

Marktag, Vorgeheim 7, 2523 IC

Friday, 23 May 2008

WFRP: Painting Eternal Sin

After hearing that dreadful sermon where the accursed zealot painted such a vivid picture of the Kingdoms of Sin, the realms of torture reserved for all who sin against the pure and true order of the world, I have seen references to these dreadful lands crop up all over Altdorf. These are small references, a sculpture here, a gargoyle with a curious shape, a vegetable grown to a deformed size, it's everywhere! And then I saw the painting. The dreadful painting. It's simply called Primus, and shows the Fickle Judge presiding over the sinners, and in the far distance, the Kingdoms of Sin themselves.

Hiernonymous Bosch, cut from Garden of Earthly Delights

I am loath to reveal the placement of this blight on our culture, but suffice it to say that I will talk to the University faculty to have it removed from our grounds, and burnt for the sin it depicts!

Adolphus Altdorfer
Bezahltag, Sigmarzeit 21, 2523 IC

Hieronymus Bosch was a painter of the bizarre and extraordinary, and as such, his paintings provide much inspiration for the WFRP world. Wikipedia gives us this summary:
Hieronymus Bosch; birth name Jeroen Anthoniszoon van Aken (c. 1450 – August 9, 1516) was an Early Netherlandish painter of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Many of his works depict sin and human moral failings. Bosch used images of demons, half-human animals and machines to evoke fear and confusion to portray the evil of man. The works contain complex, highly original, imaginative, and dense use of symbolic figures and iconography, some of which was obscure even in his own time.
A list of his works can be found here!


Saturday, 17 May 2008

WFRP: Help wanted (12)

"Cleric of Morr needed for transport of deceased corpse to Middenheim. Also in need of guards for trip. Enquire at Morr's Temple, Morrwies. Note: applicants should not fear darkness!"

- Short and discrete note pinned to the Dead Tree at the North Gate.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Sunday, 11 May 2008

FAL News: Two new WFRP adventures announced

It seems that Fantasy Flight went and announced two adventures for WFRP at the GAMA convention a couple or so weeks ago. The titles are allegedly Shadows of Empire and Tomb of Thieves. There's also mention of two titles for WH40kRP; Dark Heresy Gamemaster's Toolkit and Disciples of the Dark Gods. Whether the first of these WH40kRP titles is a reprint of the previous Dark Heresy Game Master's Kit, I'm not sure. The second was previously scheduled by Black Industries, if I recall correctly. Here's the source!

It's understandable that they chose to do two adventures to start with. Adventures are fairly easy to get going with for a developer, and it will be a way for FFG to get a feel for the system and the world. Also from a commercial viewpoint, they are up against the roll-out of fourth edition D&D during this year. This means that they probably don't want to sink too much money into launching yet another 256 page rulebook to compete for the few gaming dollars going round the block.

The titles, Shadows of Empire and Tomb of Thieves, don't conjure any immediate WFRP images in my head. The first sounds like the Star Wars campaign book I've got in my shelf, and the second sounds like it's a module for Thieves World. I'm sure FFG are aware of this, and will work hard to work the right WFP atmosphere into the books.

What I don't understand is why FFG didn't announce this news at their own website.


Thursday, 8 May 2008

WFRP: Best of the Fans (6)

WFRP has long been known as a game with dedicated supporters, and the fans have been known for the excellent supplemental material they produce. Today, most of the limelight goes to contributions to the second edition of the game, but it is important to remember that the production and distribution of high quality fan material isn't a recent development. For as long as there has been an Internet, it seems that there has been first class rules and background released online by fans. One place to go for high quality material for WFRPv1 is the Strike to Stun website. This site, which has one of the best site names in WFRP fandom, contains a download page with links to the Strike to Stun fanzine, but also a link to one of the real gems of the site; the sourcebook Monastic Life in the Old World, written by Natascha Chrobok.

Click here to go to the downloads page of Strike to Stun, and click the download link next to Monastic Orders.

Although the sourcebook was written with WFRPv1 in mind, it contains much that is useful for players of any version of the game. It contains background info, new careers, new skills, details on religious orders and a bunch of NPCs. It might not fit every Game Master out there, but for anyone wishing to add depth and colour to their own Old World, this sourcebook is a true Best of the Fans effort!


Monday, 5 May 2008

WFRP: Gossip (11)

"Don't pay the ferryman until he gets you to the other side! It is true what they say, you know ... one of the boatsmen ferrying people across the Reik is a cursed revenant who will drown you halfway over the Reik if you pay him before you've reached the other shore! So, don't pay the ferryman! You'll use the bridge up ahead, good sire, if you know what's good for you. That's the truth, may Stormfels send his Kraken to take me if I'm lying!"

- Superstitious sailor besieging me to use the Ostlander Brücke instead of one of the thousands of small boats crossing the Reik.

Friday, 2 May 2008

WFRP: The Foggy Dew

There are many ballads that stir the hearts and souls of the Empire's folk and fighters. One such is the newly composed The Foggy Dew, which was written after Reikland troops rallied to defend Altdorf from a vicious Chaos incursion during the Storm of Chaos. Most of the troops were killed, but the attack on the capital was stopped. Those who returned were hailed as heroes, but they had paid a terrible price and are still haunted by their ordeals. So The Foggy Dew is a lament for their great sacrifice.
As down the glen one Sigmar's morn to a city fair rode I
There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by
No fife did hum nor battle drum did sound it's dread tatoo
But the Hammer's bell o'er the Reik-river swell rang out through the foggy dew

Right proudly high over Altdorf Town they flung out the flag of war
'Twas better to die 'neath our Sigmar's sky than at Khypris or Barak Varr
And from the burghs of Reikland hills strong men came hurrying through
While the Blood God's Huns, with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew

So the bravest fell, and the requiem bell rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Sigmar-tide in the springing of the year
And the world did gaze, in deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few
Who bore the fight that freedom's light might shine through the foggy dew

Ah, back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more
But to and fro in my dreams I go and I kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O glorious dead, When you fell in the foggy dew.
The song references the giant bell in the Great Cathedral of Sigmar, and two famous battle sites in the Badlands; Khypris and Barak Varr. The Blood God's Huns were a Chaos Mercenary regiment, infamous for using the Hochland Long Rifle in combat.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Bezahltag, Sommerzeit 2, 2523 IC

The song I have adapted is of course The Foggy Dew. I have changed the meaning of some verses to fit the Old World and the sometimes more simple conflicts that are played out in this fictitious world. My favourite version of the original is sung by Alan Stivell together with Shane MacGowan, but the Chieftains with Sinead O'Connor also perform a powerful version. The first time I remember hearing the melody though, was with Black 47 in their "Livin' in America (11 Years On)" from the album Fire of Freedom. I will return to the Irish tradition when adapting more songs in the future.