This review is on the PDF version of Vorhmeim: Complete City Kit. I bought this over at Drivethru RPG. No product was injured during this review
This small unassuming book simply is the little engine that could. I will state this now so you can see where this review will be heading: This is quite simply one of the best and most useful RPG products that I have ever purchased and read through in my entire gaming career.
I knew that I was going to love this book by the second page when reading the introduction by Zak S. He stated something I feel profoundly every time I read a campaign setting, “Too often, I find, city supplements start by inspiring you and finish by exhausting you.”
When I started reading Eberron, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, and Freeport all of these ideas swirled in my brain and I was excited to run the game, but by the time I finished the book my brain had piddled and I was in a corner rocking back and forth mumbling about jibbering mouthers.
You can tell that this is the love child of Zak S. who is known to many people from his show on Escapist, I Hit it With My Axe and his blog D&D with Porn Stars. The book is tightly put together, short (only 75 pages), and concise. There aren’t windy explanations, heaps of detail, or innumerable NPC’s and their machinations to keep track of. The book is simple, done completely in black and white (save for the front cover illustration).
The book can really be boiled down into two chunks:
1) Flavor and Examples of Vornheim– Here Zak gives an illustration of the feel of HIS Vornheim. I draw attention to this because he makes a point to state that every campaign’s Vornheim will be different as that is more fun and keeps in the spirit of making everything easy!
This section is roughly 28 pages and several pages are dedicated to 3 examples of “encounters” with creatures and stats for monsters and people. This is awesome because it really illustrates the “weird” of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess philosophy.
2) Tables and On the Fly Rules– While the above section is an interesting and a quick read that helps establish the feel of Vornheim, this is where the good stuff really is. This is the meat and potatoes of the book and it takes up the remainder of its pages.
Literally some of the stuff that Zak S. (and whoever else worked on this project) came up with is so simple yet amazing that it astounds me.
His rules for urban crawls and creating floor plans on the fly are fucking genius and inspiring! There are also some cool rules for contacts, pricing, chases, and finding books from libraries all on the fly and on the quick. This is indispensable for any GM.
The book then goes into tables of so many various things that are essential for an Urban Campaign/session. These tables are interesting, imaginative, and clever.
The thing I really think is awesome about the Zak’s philosophy about the tables is that he encourages you to A) create your own stuff off the bat or B) as you use the stuff in the book, cross it out and create your own. That way the list is always fresh.
Something important to state is that you can use this book for any urban setting, it need not be Vornheim which is also a plus. This book has a definite DIY feel and I appreciate that!
Looking at how this book was laid out I honestly wish that Green Ronin had tackled Freeport much in the same way. I love the Freeport feel and ideas, but I think that the “railroading” of the book, or maybe cementation of it all makes me feel less free where Vornheim feels like an open vista of possibility.
In short this is a must have book for any Game Master. You also can’t beat the price point of $9.00 (on sale) at Drivethru RPG!
Do yourself a favor and go pick up this book!
My next campaign (coming soon) will be with my own Vornheim in a world called “The Great Graveyard.” More on this hopefully this week! Stay tuned!