This is a part five in a series of posts that will outline my homebrew campaign that utilizes the Vornheim Complete City Kit.
Now that I have races and locations around Vornheim done in loose terms I wanted to tackle the dreaded map. I am not a map maker. I used to do it long long ago however now I just don’t have the damned patience to do it anymore.
I tried a few different times to do it on graph paper as well as Gimp and Hexographer, none of them were coming out as how I had it in my minds eye, which of course because I’m not fucking talented in this aspect. My lands were looking like they had all been too close to Chernobyl.
So I started thinking about HOW I wanted to get this map done. I wanted it to be extremely simple, flexible, and have open areas that are ripe for “discovery.”
So this is what I came up with:
I know some players/GMs would balk at this, but it works for me and that is what is important. I know what is in each square, and there is room for new stuff to be inserted as well as ALL that lovely open space out there for the players to discover and can be made up as time goes on.
Once I had all this done I needed to create a few interesting aspects that really fleshed out Vornheim (aside from all the delicious stuff that was already in the Vornheim book that is).
The first thing I looked at were the laws in Vornheim (the two outlined by Zak). I took the names, Armament Laws and Sumptuary Law and took his feel, but added my own flavor to it all. I pondered magic and what I wanted to do with it and came up with Shattered Law.
Armament Laws – By Decree of the Avian Court and the High Lord Thrawl any citizen found carrying any kind of weaponry shall be arrested and put on trail. The guilty party will be made to wear rotten fish around their necks to let the jury smell the guilt that lingers around them.
Nobles and peoples of higher status are permitted to carry one dagger or rapier in open display.
Sumptuary Law – It has been deemed that those of lower status found emulating or impersonating those who are their betters through the wearing or displaying of Noble clothing or high fashions shall be arrested, fined, and made to stand trial.
This law stands in accordance to Vornheim philosophy, “Know Your Place.”
Shattered Law – Magic is a strange and powerful force. For the protection and safety of Vornheim it has been decided that only the practitioners of the Raven Clutch are allowed to cast spells while in Vornheim. Fail to comply with this law will result in tar and feathering under the full moon and being forced to stand trial.
Exceptions to this law are such: Nobles who carry a talking yellow canary on their shoulder are allowed to practice magic openly. Priests and Priestesses of the Church of Vorn and Church of Tittivilla are allowed to practice magic. Lesser religions are not, this is in accordance with the Vornheim philosophy, “Know Your Place.” Also on the two days of festival, the Day of Masks and Day of Wolves, all people are allowed to practice magic.
After I outlined the laws that I was interested in making important enough to mention I began thinking about who runs Vornheim, where could there be a few power struggles and machinations. I also looked at religions. There would be power struggles there, people for the players to interact with, contend with, and worry about.
The Religions Church of Vorn and Church of Tittivilla and the names Thrall and Vosculous Eeeben are Zak’s creations, but I added some of my own flavor to the religions (mostly to Tittivilla).
Dream Hunters – The lost souls who have nothing left to lose and glory hounds seeking riches risk the unspeakable horrors trying to find that one big dream in the Lake of Dreaming for themselves or, if the price is right, someone else.
Avian Court – The High and Esteemed Court of Vornheim. He who wears the Feathered Crown is hence forth called Lord until the Final Molting and the crown is bare. The current Lord is Thrawl the Wise. While Thrawl has been abroad for several years his trusted advisors, administrators, and servants, most notable Vosculous Eeeben, have been handling the affairs of this great city.
It is said that members of the Avian Court who serve Vornheim with distinction and honor are blessed with the gift of the great bird. However none have done so in living memory.
Raven Clutch – The mysterious and enigmatic Raven Clutch is an ancient and honored group of practicing Sorcerers and Clerics that serve the Avian Court and aid Vornheim (if they are offered the right amount of profit, or something equally enticing).
Without the Raven Cluth there would be no regular opening of the Bat Wings.
Church of Vorn – Major religion of Vornheim. The church has its claws in many things. It sits in the Eminent Cathedral, which is part of the Eyes of Vorhnheim. The current leader of the church is Sublord Mealix.
Church of Tittivilla – The church of all flesh, pleasure, and pain. This cathedral is drapped in tapestries and art that depicts depraved acts of both sex and violence. There are two doors to walk down in the main chamber; one is colored a deep red and the other a greenish blue. Worshipers choose from the noises which exercises they will participate in that day. The leader of the church is High Priestess Lieal.
Cult of the Dying Bird– This obsessive cult follows a depraved and exiled member of the Raven Clutch, now siredThe Dreaming Crow. They roam the desert sometimes causing trouble for Vornheim and its citizens.
I then looked at Technology in Vornheim and also generated a few ideas for locations where possible encounters could occur. I didn’t want to create too many places, because A) what if they never go there and it just sits and gets dusty. B) I wanted to generate ideas and put work in as needed. This is a sandbox, but I will create as I get inspired or as players give me juicy things to work with.
The steam technology that now fills Vornheim was invented and pushed by the Dwarves. The technology has brought some convenience to those who can afford it. Those who live in outer Vornheim still live in an “archaic” manner.
This new technology has brought about extraordinary changes in weapons and travel. Ball and powder muskets and pistols are available as are cannons and cannon ball style grenades. There is also a deadly weapon that spews forth gouts of fire. It is a formidable weapon, but is extremely unstable.
A trolley system has been built through Inner Vornheim that allows for quick and easy travel and there are plans to build a train system to some of the outlying areas, most importantly to the Shattered Mines, Plains of the Slithering Shadows, and the Dungeon Below.
Horse carriages that run on steam and motors called “put puts” can be seen moving around the streets of both Inner and Outer Vornheim. Dirigibles of various sizes are docked at the towers of Vornheim, waiting to go through the various portals transporting goods.
Many people still use large Aardvark like creatures called, Grazers, are used as beasts of burden since they are easy to take care of and feed compared to horses and cows. Only the very rich have a horse and only larger noble estates have any livestock. Cows are kept outside of Vorhneim in pens and corrals.
I have to say that I’m curious as to how the player will react to Jean Le Tiepe. I think he has the potential to be an interesting contact/adversary.
The Sculpture Gardens of Jean Le Tiepe – Some people find it an honor to be immortalized in song, painting, or sculpture, but the avid and devoted fans of Jean Le Tiepe have very different view; they know the highest honor is to be immortalized as the sculpture.
If Jean Le Tiepe feels you are beautiful or unique in some fashion he will pursue you to become a part of his collection so you can remain beautiful forever. Dozens of sculptures line this stunning garden. All were once living fans of the eccentric artist.
The House of Dignitaries – This is where officials representing the districts and the other dimensions all meet. The House also has living quarters for those from the other dimensions.
Lastly I created a few NPCs for the players to interact with/have heard of (the NPCs on my OP page are notable ones. Lesser ones that may fade into the darkness of mediocrity won’t get an honored place here). I also created about 6 events and 6 rumors for each of the locations I mentioned in my previous post except for Vornheim itself, which has about 12 of each. Again this is on top of all the ones in the Vornheim book itself (plus other hooks I’ve created in the past or are in things like the Game Mastery Guide for Pathfinder). Basically I’m set.
And that’s it! My Sandbox-ish Vornheim was ready to go! All I needed to do was plunk my players down in it and see where adventure took them.
We played this Sunday and it was an AWESOME session! We all had quite a bit of fun! The recap will go up tomorrow!