Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Vornheim: A Review
So, I'm the kinda guy who likes quirky stuff. I listen to 70's and 80's punk and protopunk and postpunk. I like to watch Ray Harryhousen movies. I thought Amazon Women on the Moon and UHF are hilarious. I love indie and experiemental comics by guys you've probably heard of like Robert Crumb and Harvey Pekar and stuff by guys you might not have heard of like Brad Jones and Archer Prewitt. So why am I telling you all of this? Because Vornheim by Zak S. Of I Hit it with my Axe and Playing D&D with Porn Stars fame has put together a quirky little city supplement called Vornheim: The Complete City Kit. Vornheim is a slim, hard back book published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess (James Raggi). Vornheim is digest size with b&w interior. The cover has a removable dust jacket that has a map of Vornheim on the inside and a set of instructions to use the charts on the front and back covers of the book. Yeah, pretty much every surface is designed to be useful. I'm sure you've probably read the reviews. If you haven't James Raggi does a pretty good job of rounding them up for you here. So, I'm done with talking about the traditional review part. What I was really interested in is how does it hold up in letting you create a quirky fantasy city? There have been several books published that give you the low down on city building, but what I wanted was something down and dirty. Something that I could just grab a handful of dice and really build a city. Most of the city supplements let you do this in the abstract. They have random tables that help you figure out how many blacksmiths you have, the general availablity of certain items, etc. Zak does this as well. But then, he takes a bit of a turn. Starting on page 35, he has some urban crawl rules that let you biuld the city street by street and building by building. I mean that he has put together a simple but totally logical and fun way to build the streets and buildings. I couldn't wait to try out the urban crawl rules. THIS is what I had been waiting for! I like tables, charts,etc but without being able to visualize a city, it's just a bunch of stats on paper for me. I also like mapping, but without imposing boundaries I tend to get lost. Zak's urban crawl rules really let me bridge that gap. I spent about four man hours putting together the city of Hirsthuttonshire below. I mean that was all the time it took to plan the layout, come up with 35 interesting locales and draw the map all using the tools in Vornheim. Four hours from zero to finished piece with key. For me and the way I work; that's unheard of. So yeah, I'm hella impressed. A great tool in a small package that is a tool box and setting all at once. Oh, and don't get me wrong, it's quirky but not so far out there that it can't be used by more mainstream fantasy gamers. No, this little tome should be useable by any fantasy gamer using just about any fantasy system (It does have lite D&Dish stats but you can adapt pretty easily if you're using something else). So, I'd give this 4 1/2 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to any fantasy gamer no matter what system they use.