My Vornheim- Overview and System

I will be discussing my new homebrew campaign over the next couple of posts. Highlighting world building, system design, inspirations, and hopeful directions.

I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a homebrew campaign for quite awhile, but just couldn’t settle on a theme/feel for it all. I debated post-apocalyptic (inspired by Gears of War and Cthulhu) or a Militaristic Fascist game where the players would be stuck in an oppressive empire, possibly rebels or something (inspired by Final Fantasy VI, or III in America, Steampunk, political and war struggles of World War II, etc), or even a gritty fantasy world.

I was given a boon when I discovered the awesome book/kit of Vornheim by Zak S. I did a review of this awesome product the other day, which you can read here. . After reading this book ideas started spinning in my brain about world building (many of which I used in the past when I first started GMing 16 years ago, but have forgotten with the passage of time, getting busy, and relying on established settings. Hrm.. I smell another post here..

I honestly do incorporate the Weird and Strange in many of my campaigns, but I never really have done a straight Weird Fantasy Setting. So I started taking many of the ideas from these other possible Homebrew themes I was working on and came up with the following:

Note that all my info can be found on my Obsidian Portal Page (including races, laws, technology, etc).

Vornheim is a large city in a barren world fraught with peril. The world, now called the Great Graveyard, belongs to the beasts, undead, and even stranger creatures. The knowledge of the destruction that caused the world to die has faded with the passage of time. When people talk about how the city was founded, grew, and developed the common sentiment is that “Vornheim just is.” Very few have access to the knowledge of the past. Most people are interested in today or tomorrow. The deepest darkest knowledge comes from Snake Readers, and they guard their tomes tenaciously. The city lies at the edge of a cliff where an extremely wondrous occurrence takes place. Three portals form at just off the cliff, forming the wonder dubbed Bat Wings. With great concentration from Vornheim Mages and the burning of much precious Baby’s Tears the portals can be opened. This generally happens twice a year. Each portal leads to another dimension. Air Captains lead their steam ships through the portals to engage in trade with settlements in the other dimensions.

The city relies heavily on trade with these settlements. The cities main source of export is a strange glowing rock, called Baby’s Tears, dubbed so as it sounds like a baby crying when consumed, that has high energy and magical properties (although it’s exact nature and powers are unknown to most in the city. People just know others want it and they get food and supplies for it). The second source of export is a purple webbing from a strange creature that resides deep in the minds called the wail widow that is dried and mixed with other herbs to create a powerful psychotropic drug called Wisps of the Web. There are a few minerals and goods that are also exported from Vornheim.

After I got that info knocked down I started thinking about what system I wanted run it with. I decided that I wanted to run Savage Worlds, but wanted to keep Aspects from the FATE system in my game (as I’ve had so much fun with them). Aside: here is a great post over at Pyres of Vam about Aspects in Savage Worlds, which I’ve used as inspiration for my own port. I also am taking the Dread style questionnaire to help the players think about their characters in ways that they may not have done in the past (more on this in another post).

I decided to nix Hindrances completely. All Edges that are role-playing-centric are also gone, but I decided to keep Edges that gave a numerical/mechanical enhancement.

So what I’m looking at is:

Char Gen- First- Answer Questionnaire and then derive your 5 Aspects from answers.
Aspects- High Concept, Trouble, 3 other Aspects.
Second- 5 Attribute Points and 15 Skill Points and 1 Edge Point.
Third- Choose Gear.

Every even level up skill point or new skill or raise attribute (once per rank). Odd levels gain one Edge Ability.

I think this will keep things from escalating to the point of ridiculousness, keep things a bit more gritty (I’m hoping), and keep bookkeeping to a minimum. Also with the questionnaire and Aspects there will be TONS of information and ideas for adventures and role-playing opportunities.

Tomorrow- The Questionnaires

Author: wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

11 thoughts

    1. Well largely I will be crafting this as a sandboxish style setting that will cater to the players machinations while have some plot point interactions.

      With the questionnaires and aspects I will be able to see the goals and wants of the characters as well as their weaknesses, that of course will make for some tasty role-playing.

      As far as what the players over goals are- that is something we will discuss on Sunday and once they chart their course, we will go from there.

  1. Still digesting Vornheim. Along with a bunch of other stuff. There’s a ton that can be done with it yet it’s really simple. I like that sort of thing. 🙂

  2. This is great stuff! Thanks for the shout-out to my site.

    I’ve been reading Vornheim too and it’s very inspiring. I’m thinking of making Savage Worlds versions of the dust jacket pages that you physically roll on.

    I’ll be following your progress here; I’m thinking of trying a similar thing in the not-too-distant future.

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