Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Re-skinning Vornheim
Last night I kicked off a campaign using Zak's Vornheim as a basis.  It went exceedingly well - with a bit of fiddling.

Zak never really intended Vornheim as a setting in and of itself.  In his words, "For me it was just sort of What I Do When The Girls Stay Home Instead of Go To The Dungeon. I never imagined I'd run a whole campaign with them never leaving the area."  I looked at his book and thought differently. After some cognating, I came up with some ways to transform Vornheim into my vision.

Versioning: The first point is that I'm running the city with 4e Essentials for the Boy.  Yeah, there is some actual physical pain that stabs into my temple with the thought of that - but there it is.  So any encounter stats have to be adjusted.  That's pretty easy, actually.  HD into Levels.  Poof.  Well, sorta POOF, but you know what I mean.  And races and deities from 4e all get shoved into the funnel, as well as Vornheims own batch.

Rename: I need to pee on something to claim ownership, I guess.  I had a horrible time long ago trying to run MERPs because tromping around in Tolkien baby seemed like heresy.  If I'd have just renamed Middle Earth to the Lower East Side, I might have had more luck.  So my city shall be Vayniris.  That's pronounced like vein iris.  It actually means something regarding the setting, but no one cares about that but me.

Location: Vornheim is Vast.  Vornhein is Cold.  Vornheim is a frikkin freezer.  Brrrrr.  I don't like cold.  I don't even like imagining somewhere that is cold.  While it's a wonderful motif for Vornheim, Vayniris needs something different.

Actually, I spend a lot of mental cycles thinking about location.  I could see the benefit of locating the city on a coast, or landlocked, or in a desert, or in a swamp, or on a savannah, or heck, even back to the Vornheimic tundra.  I just couldn't make up my mind.

But then I though - why do I have to?

That's when all the bits of Vayniris fell into place.

Vayniris has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years.  Originally it was the capital of a small kingdom run by a king interested in empire building.  When he conquered another kingdom, he would have his wizards create permanent magical portals from his capital to the newly conquered capital.  The portals were huge affairs - some reaching hundreds of feet wide and high.  Vayniris absorbed countless cities this way.  The King was able to march his armies almost instantly to wherever they were needed.

Eventually, Vainiris became the center of a worldwide empire.  The worldwide empire.  In some parts of the city ofVainiris it was dry, while other parts were rainy.  Night fell on parts of Vayniris, while at the same time, dawn broke.  The layout of the city became so complicated that it was impossible to draw it on a single sheet of paper - or 100 sheets.  Perhaps an auto-cad program located in the 13th dimension could do the place justice.

The Empire eventually failed, and city of upty-ump-million people became an enormous city-state.  Centuries went by.  The rulers of Vayniris found the task of running the city so difficult that they just packed up their bags and walked away.  Management fell to the massive, headless bureaucracy, much like the way Zak describes for Vornheim- with the Palace Massive, the Eminent Cathedral, the towers, the bridges, etc.

There isn't much reskinning needed, after that back-story.  It all pretty much fits into the standard set-up for Vornheim.  Zak does a wonderful job describing a crazy city, huge in scope and chaotic in organization.  I just increased the scope, added myriad weather patterns and day/night cycles, imbedded thousands of 'far-gates' into the fabric of the streets, and tossed in the some 4e stuff.

This make my ADHD style personality happy.

In actually play - I must say - it rocks.  I've tossed out every suggestion from WOTC about how to DM 4e and am relying on Mythmere's Quick Primer for Old School Gaming as a basis on how to play, coupled with Zak's notes in Vornheim and my own preferences.  The players seem quite happy and I had fun.

So thanks, Zak, for providing me a platform in which I can have fun with 4e again.  The Boy is indebted to you as well, but isn't really aware to what extent. :)

- Ark


  1. Ooo, I've used that same city image in my own games! And I love what you've done. I've been contemplating re-purposing Vornheim as well.

  2. Very exciting. Keep the updates coming!

  3. Thanks, Ark!

    Did the Type IV stats in the back help at all?

  4. That's a really interesting setting, thanks for sharing!

  5. @Risus - Thanks. I'd be interested to see what your re-purposing plans are.

    @JP - I'm glad you liked it. I'll be sure to post more.

    @Zak - The Type IV stats were no help at all. The reason is because . . . I didn't see them. o.O I'll blame the binding and how the glue pulls those last two pages together - but really it's my own damn fault. Looking at the stats now - wow - just perfect. The whole damn zoo too. The PCs are sooo dead. Awesome. Thanks for including that - and mentioning it too! (You had better watch out how helpful you are though - lazy DMs will start asking you to come to their house and read Vornheim out-loud to them.) :)

    @Pala . . . I mean Aaron - No prob!

    - Ark

  6. Awesome idea. Yeah, it is type IV, blah, blah, blah. But, awesome idea for the city. That is a really cool idea. And, Vornheim is a really cool book.

    Amazing idea, I might take it and use it myself.

  7. @dragonlite - Thanks. Yeah - take the idea and run with it. Have fun. :)

    @Zombie - Great image, isn't it?

    - ARk

  8. Great stuff! Reminds me of hive worlds in Warhammer 40K, one of my all-time favorite city concepts.

    I've tossed out every suggestion from WOTC about how to DM 4e and am relying on Mythmere's Quick Primer for Old School Gaming as a basis on how to play...

    I think that's how I'd have to run 4e if such a dark day ever came. I'll be interested to hear more details on how your experience pans out.

  9. @sirlarkins - I had to go look up the hive worlds to figure out what you were talking about. So yeah - kind of. The write-up mentioned gangs on the hive worlds, and that is definitely something I need to develop for Vayniris. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.

    - Ark