The Alexandrian

Fun With Vornheim

April 8th, 2011

Vornheim - Zak S.Vornheim: The Complete City Kit by Zak S. of Playing D&D With Porn Stars is available for pre-order. And if you pre-order you can immediately download a PDF copy.

Which I did.

I’ve actually been looking forward to Vornheim with the most excitement I’ve felt towards any RPG product since Monte Cook’s Ptolus. I’m not entirely sure why, but every single thing I read about this book mademe say, “Yup. This is something I need to buy.”

I haven’t had a chance to fully digest the book yet, but I am having fun with it. Which is why I’m recommending that you buy a copy for yourself ASAP.

It should be noted that only about half the book is dedicated to describing Vornheim itself (a city from Zak S.’s campaign). But even here pretty much everything is presented in a format which makes it immediately and palpably gameable (a tribute which I think has become strongly undervalued in too many products which are ostensibly supporting roleplaying games). Vornheim has a unique, metal-punk flavor all its own; but even if you don’t use Vornheim itself, you’ll find that it’s easy to grab chunks of it to inject a little weirdness into your own campaigns.

It’s the other half of the book, though, that got me really excited. This is the section where Zak S. lays out a panoply of practical tools for running “urbancrawl” adventures. Stuff like: On-the-fly neighborhood streets. On-the-fly building floorplans. How to leverage the legal system for flexible, entertaining interactions. Rules for searching libraries. NPC generators. Book generators. And on and on and on and on.

Not everything Vornheim presents resonates with me. And I can say with a fair degree of confidence that much of it — perhaps even most of it — will not find its way into my permanent toolkit. But there’s so much of it that even the fraction that does resonate with me and will permanently improve my games makes Vornheim well worth every penny I spent on it.

And because the book presents such a cornucopia of useful material, I can pretty much guarantee you that if you have any interest in running urban-based fantasy at any point in your campaign, then you, too, will find it worth every penny.

One particular tool presented in Vornheim is so cool I’m not entirely sure how to discuss it without spoiling it. You know how useful a properly designed GM screen can be? Well, I’m pretty confident that Zak S. is going to revolutionize the utility and lay-out of my GMing space with what I’m referring to as “GM tablemats”. These are graphical charts which are designed to be rolled on. Not rolled and then consulted: You literally roll dice on the table and the position of the dice immediately feeds you useful information.

In fact, trying to discuss this book without simply spoiling its contents is quite difficult. So instead, let me share its awesomeness by way of example.

FLOORPLAN SHORTCUT

Here’s a floorplan that took me 30 seconds to roll up using the “Floorplan Shortcut” on page 38 of Vornheim:

Vornheim - Floorplan

The “pretty” version of it shown here took me another 4 minutes to quickly map using Dundjinni, but I was able to generate the usable-at-the-table version in less time than it takes to resolve the PC rogue picking the lock on the front door.

A quick flip to the back cover, a roll on the GM tablemat there, and I discover that this is a clockmaker’s house.

More Fun With Vornheim: A Noble Drama

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2 Responses to “Fun With Vornheim”

  1. Vereishek says:

    Must… get…
    Compelled by blogger… 😛

  2. — #Теория — Улучшаем карты подземелий: ч.7 – Перечень монстров (перевод) says:

    […] «Vornheim: The Complete City Kit» на прошлой неделе, я придумал термин «игровое поле ведущего» (GM tablemat) в […]

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