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Posts Tagged ‘old school’

Monday Maps #6: Peasant Cottage

February 24, 2020 2 comments

Adventurers spend a lot of time traveling through remote places, so a peasant farmer’s cottage will be a familiar sight. It may be threatened by bandits or monsters, presenting an opportunity for a Seven Samurai defence action. It may be occupied by a family whose remoteness from the world hides secret mutants or other quirks, like the cannibalism of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Or it may simply be a place to get out of the weather, and perhaps bargain for a bowl of stew.

Irish Cottage 2

This design goes back into prehistory, and is still in use today in some areas. In a medieval setting, the windows would be smaller, with curtains of skin in place of glass. Copyright Marion McGarry: used without permission.

 

In some places, a cottage is little more than a barn, divided into two parts. The animals occupy one part, and the family the other. Sometimes the sleeping quarters are in a loft above the livestock stalls, benefiting from the animals’ warmth. More prosperous farmers added hearths and chimneys to their cottages, and moved the animals into a barn across the farmyard. Other features might be added, such as a granary and vegetable store, a well, and even a smithy.

Farm 1

A medieval farm, by Dante78. Borrowed from Renderosity: click image for more information.

 

Often, there would be a surrounding wall, both for defence and to stop animals wandering off.

Farm 2

Hudson & Allen Studio’s 25mm Fortified Medieval Farmhouse. Image from Wargame Scenics. Click image for more information.

 

 

German cottage

A two-storey cottage from Germany. This is large enough to accommodate an extended family, and would probably belong to a fairly prosperous farm family.

 

Links

This page from British History Online has some useful plans of various cottage layouts, as well as a lot of information on various building types and how they were used. Scroll down to find all the plans, but if you have the patience to read the text you will find some of it useful.

 

 

Monday Maps #4: Town and City Gates

February 10, 2020 Leave a comment

In medieval Europe, and in most fantasy worlds, towns and cities are surrounded by wall to protect them from attack. The gates are the weakest part of a town wall, so they tend to be the most heavily fortified.

In a small town or walled village, the gate fortifications may be very modest. In a great and wealthy city, each gate can be a small castle in its own right.

Plan and Elevation of Monk Bar, York

From The Pictorial History of England (W & R Chambers, 1858)

This 19th-century image of Monk Bar in medieval York shows the basic components of a fortified city gate. It has a barbican with a double gate and a portcullis between: when the outer gate is breached, attackers enter a killing zone and must endure fire from all sides as they assault the portcullis. Having broken down the portcullis they must pass under an archway to reach the inner gate, and the ceiling of the archway is pierced with “murder holes” through which defenders above can fire missiles or drop boiling water or oil.

 

 

A guardhouse stands beside the gate, and outside it stairs lead up to the wall top and the room above the murder holes. The winch for raising and lowering the portcullis would often be at this level as well.

Finally, there is a sally port beside the gate, through which defenders could break out and get behind an attacking force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smaller towns will have more modest arrangements, like this:

 

VK-com

Borrowed from VK.com

 

 

This model would suit a medium-sized town in Warhammer’s Old World or a similar setting:

 

 

Turbosquid

Borrowed from Turbosquid.com

 

 

…and here’s a floorplan from Jason Engle, whose web site is worth a look. Find it here.

JAEstudio

 

See you next Monday for more maps!

 

 

Monday Maps #3: Water Mill

February 3, 2020 5 comments

Nearly every village of any size will have a mill for grinding grain. Windmills are popular in the Wasteland and other flat, windy areas, but everywhere else, a water mill uses the power of a nearby river. The mill is a vital part of the village economy, and the miller is a respected member of the community, turning raw grain into saleable flour for a percentage of the yield.

A water mill is essentially a large machine set inside a building, and it can be a dangerous place for the unwary – especially in a fight. Even if the wheels are not turning, they present hard an unforgiving obstacles in unlooked-for places; if the mill is in operation, their gears can snag clothes and crush their wearers.

And of course, there is that big wheel outside, for those who want to recreate the iconic sequence from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - The Big Wheel Fight

This diagram is from 19th-century America, but the principles of siting a watermill and directing the flow of water are unchanged from the Middle Ages:

mill-diagram

These two images give an idea of the interior layout:

 

WFRP Maps Water Mill

Borrowed from the web site of David Darling (https://www.daviddarling.info/index.html). No challenge to copyright intended.

Watermill machinery

A side view. Notice how the central shaft drives not only the millstones but also the top floor winch, used for hauling sacks up grain up for milling. Drawing by Pippa Miller, borrowed from Norfolk Mills (http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/watermill-machinery.html). No challenge to copyright intended.

…and this more complex map includes floorplans that can easily be adapted for use in a game. It is borrowed from the Mills Archive, which has plans and drawings of many other English water mills.

WFRP Water mill

The mill at Barford St. Michael, Oxfordshire. Borrowed from the Mills Archive (https://catalogue.millsarchive.org/watermill-at-barford-st-michael). No challenge to copyright intended.

Monday Maps #2

January 27, 2020 9 comments

It’s Monday, and here’s another map. This time, it’s from Francois Beauregard, a.k.a. Built4ever on Deviant Art. I know nothing about this artist, but the Deviant Art page is a huge trove of maps and building plans. It is well worth a visit.

Here, we have a nice little row of buildings that might be found in one of the classier areas of a fantasy city. They could be little boutique shops, perhaps with modest accommodation upstairs: shopkeepers are seldom the same class as their customers, even if they live alongside them. I particularly like the little alley entrance in the middle of the block, which could lead to all manner of intriguing locations, from the hidden oasis of a courtyard cafe to a simple yard for receiving and organizing stock. I’m sure you can come up with many other ideas.

storefronts_for_the_clove__a_town_center_by_built4ever_d5mmlw6-fullview (1)

 

The Gong Farmer: A Career for All Editions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

January 22, 2020 11 comments

Updated Feb. 22nd, 2020.

With thanks to the following commenters: Onno Maat and Peter Tracey (WFRP 4th edition group, Facebook); Simon Landry and Ricky (via WordPress); and @RoderiHamilt (Twitter).

 

Ever since Our Heroes ventured into the sewers of Nuln in “The Oldenhaller Contract” way back in 1986, WFRP has had a certain association with the grimier, less pleasant (and less pleasant-smelling) aspects of life in a medieval fantasy world. Rat Catchers have come to define the anti-heroic ethos of the Old World, but there are greater heroes, as yet unsung: the silent night-time armies of gong farmers and nightsoil men (and women) who nightly move uncounted tons of human waste from those homes which have no sewer access.

A while ago, I posted a version of this career for WFRP 1, 2, and 3. Here is an improved and corrected version, with details for 4th edition added. Enjoy – and leave comments below. I’d love to have your ideas on how this career might be improved.

Gong Farmer1

The gong farmer has the least enviable job in the Old World. In towns and other settlements without a sewer system, the gong farmer gathers up all human waste and deposits it in a communal dump or cesspool outside the walls. Often permitted to work only at night, gong farmers are also known as nightsoil men.

Owing to the nature of their profession, gong farmers are able to remain calm in the face of things that would disgust and even nauseate ordinary folk. They are also well able to resist disease and poison through long exposure to the most noxious of substances.

The job is not without its compensations, but they are few and unreliable. Gong farmers have access – albeit at night and well supervised – to the houses of the great and good and can find themselves privy (pun intended) to household secrets as well as having a unique insight into their state of health. In addition, the by-laws of many communities allow gong farmers to keep any coins, small pieces of jewellery, or other items of value that they may find in the course of their work.

 

FIRST EDITION PROFILE

 

Advance Scheme

M WS BS S T W I A Dex Ld Int Cl WP Fel
+2 +2 +10 +10

Gong Farmer 3

Skills
Immunity to Disease
Immunity to Poison
Very Resilient

Trappings
Ragged clothing
Shovel
Wheelbarrow
Lantern

Career Exits
Agitator
Beggar
Grave Robber
Labourer
Rat Catcher
Rogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

SECOND EDITION PROFILE

 

Main Profile
WS BS S T Ag Int WP Fel
+10% +10%
Secondary Profile
A W SB TB M Mag IP FP
+2

 

Skills: Common Knowledge (local community), Perception

Talents: Night Vision, No Sense of Smell (see above), Resistance to Disease, Resistance to Poison, Strong-Minded

Trappings: Ragged clothing, Shovel, Wheelbarrow, Lantern

Career Entries: Bone Picker, Peasant

Career Exits: Agitator, Bone Picker, Grave Robber, Rat Catcher, Rogue, Sewer Jack (Ashes of Middenheim), Vagabond

 

 

THIRD EDITION PROFILE

 

Basic Career: Human, Halfling

Basic, Menial, Social, Urban

Primary Characteristics: Toughness, Willpower

Career Skills: Athletics, Discipline, Folklore (local area), No Sense of Smell (see box), Observation, Resilience

Talent Slots: Focus, Resilience

Stance Meter: 3 Conservative, 1 Reckless

Advances

Action Talent
2 1
Skill Fortune
2 1
Conservative Reckless
2 1
Wound
1

 

Typical Trappings: Ragged clothing, Shovel, Wheelbarrow, Lantern

Career Ability: Your Resilience checks gain 1 fortune die when resisting disease.

 

 

 

FOURTH EDITION PROFILE

 

This four-level career is based on an account of the “nightmen” of medieval Leiden in the Netherlands (see “Further Reading” below). The “hole-man” climbed into the cess pit and scooped out the waste, passing it up to two “tub-men” who transferred it to their barge under the supervision of their foreman. The city of Ghent employed an official known as “the King of Dirt” to ensure that all sanitation regulations were followed.

The gong farmer is a Burgher class career. If random generation is being used, a player who rolls a beggar may choose a gong farmer instead if the GM agrees.

Gong Farmer Advance Scheme

WS BS S T I Agi Dex Int WP Fel
💀

Career Path

Hole-Dropper — Brass 1

Skills: Athletics, Climb, Consume Alcohol, Cool, Dodge, Endurance, Melee (Basic), Perception

Talents: Beneath Notice, Night Vision, Resistance (Disease), Very Resilient

Trappings: Bucket, 20ft Rope, Shovel

Tubber — Brass 3

Skills: Drive or Sail, Gamble, Gossip, Haggle, Stealth, Swim

Talents: Coolheaded, Hardy, Resistance (Poison), Sturdy

Trappings: Leather apron, Barrow, Lantern and Oil

💀 Foreman — Brass 5

Skills: Bribery, Charm, Evaluate, Intuition

Talents: Acute Sense (Sight), Blather, Coolheaded, Dealmaker

Trappings: Gong Farmer Crew, Boat or Cart, Hand weapon (Boat Hook), Leather Jack

King of Dirt — Silver 2

Skills: Intimidate, Leadership

Talents: Commanding Presence, Etiquette (Guilder), Read/Write, Wealthy

Trappings: Badge and Diploma of Office, Crew of Assistants (Tax Collectors)

 


No Sense of Smell (Optional Rule)

The character literally has no sense of smell. Their olfactory sense has been completely destroyed by long exposure to foul-smelling substances or through some other circumstance. They automatically fail any dice roll that depends upon smell — but they are also unaffected even by the most nauseating smells they encounter, or by alluring scents that might be used to entrap others. Poisonous gases and drugs in vaporous form affect the character normally.


 

FURTHER READING

 

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gong_farmer

2nd edition version by Colin Chapman: http://www.scribd.com/doc/156852704/Warhammer-Fantasy-2nd-Edition-Gong-Farmer

Archaeology Magazine “Of Cesspits and Sewers: Exploring the unlikely history of sanitation management in medieval Holland”: https://www.archaeology.org/issues/327-1901/letter-from/7205-letter-from-leiden

 


 

Images taken from 18th century nightmen’s cards (Wikimedia Commons).

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and WFRP are trademarks owned by Games Workshop Ltd. This article is a fan work and is not intended to be official or to challenge any trademark or copyright of Games Workshop or any of its licensees.

 

Monday Maps #1

January 20, 2020 8 comments

It’s been my experience that a GM can never have too many maps, so I plan to post #MondayMaps every week from now on until I run out of images to share.

They will come from various sources, both old and comparatively modern. Some of the newer ones – old-looking designs for 20th-century houses – will include rooms that are not in period for a medieval fantasy game, but the basic layouts can still be useful. A few caption changes, and you’re off.

If you are like me and can’t draw anything beyond a bath, a curtain, and a conclusion, I hope you will find these useful. And if you have any great sources of RPG-friendly mappage that you’re willing to share with the rest of us, please post in the Comments section below.

This is the first one that caught my eye, probably because the style of the elevation drawing looks so much like one from the WFRP 1st edition rulebook. It could work for the home of a merchant or other well-to-do burgher in a small town or village, where there is enough space for its sprawling layout. It might also become an inn, with the great hall serving as a tap-room, a snug bar off the entryway, and the upstairs bedrooms rented out to guests.

I would probably add a dividing wall between the kitchen and the great hall, because medieval-level cooking was a smoky and smelly business. The bathrooms could become additional bedrooms – especially in an inn – and/or storage rooms.

Anyway – enjoy,and let me know whether you would like to see more maps like this.

Original image is 1280 x 1743. To enlarge, right-click and open in a new tab.

Troll à la Morceaux: A Warhammer Recipe

January 13, 2020 5 comments

This short piece of fiction was written in 1989 or 1990 for a never-published sourcebook on Ogres and Trolls in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Marcel de Morceaux is mentioned in the adventure collection Rough Nights and Hard Days, and I might use him in some future adventure if the opportunity presents itself.

Marcel’s cookbook Adventures in Gastronomy includes some of the most ambitious – and dangerous – recipes ever published in the Old World. It is banned in many places, and of all its contents, Troll à la Morceaux is considered the riskiest. Even if every precaution is taken to ensure that the Troll does not regenerate back to life during the cooking process, one can never be sure….

Very few are brave or foolish enough to try this dish, but there are some in the Old World who will venture beyond the limits of convention and common sense in search of new and unique experiences.


Feast

Picture from Lure of Power: Nobility in the Empire (Fantasy Flight Games, 2009). Used without permission. No challenge intended to copyright holders.

The preparation of the flesh of the Troll requires the greatest care and the most trustworthy of assistants, but if the many pitfalls can be overcome, a chef who can present his lord with a dish such as Troll à la Morceaux will never want for employment. But you must remember, mes amis, that one mistake can lead to disaster, and such a disaster can lead to the gallows or worse.

Firstly, your Troll must be absolutely fresh. Do not trust those robbers who will sell you venison at ten times the price and tell you it is Unicorn or Troll. Great cookery demands that no short-cuts may be taken.

The butchering of a Troll presents several unique problems, but a chef who is truly dedicated to his art may be daunted by nothing. The Troll must be securely bound, with its head held in such a way that it cannot eat the ropes that bind it. As each cut of meat is removed from the carcass, it must be placed immediately in a strong marinade of vinegar – the strongest vinegar you can find, for the presence of acid will slow down the process of regeneration.

Any waste and off-cuts must be burned immediately, or if you have arranged to sell pieces to a wizard or alchemist, he must be on hand to take them away tout à l’instant. Remember, and drum constantly into your servants, that not even the smallest scrap of the carcass must be left lying about.

You must be extremely careful when cleaning the carcass, Remember the great size of the stomach, and the immense power of the acid it contains. If at all possible, seek the guidance of a wizard or alchemist in carrying out this process; it is not too much to offer him the stomach in payment for his supervision, for a mishap with a Troll’s stomach can be a catastrophe véritable.

After the meat has stood in the vinegar marinade for two hours, inspect it closely; if it shows the slightest signs of regeneration, add more vinegar. Keep the meat in the marinade for as long as you can – the longer it stays there, the more tender it will be when cooked – but take no chances.

Enfin, we come to the cooking of the meat. This requires the greatest of care, and must be carried out in two stages.

First, the meat must be seared to prevent it regenerating once it is removed from the vinegar marinade. Use a large skillet of cast iron, and heat it until it literally begins to glow. Drop the meat in, turning it repeatedly until all sides are seared black.

This done, the meat is roasted, fried, or stewed in the same way as beef or venison, allowing double the normal cooking time.

A final word of warning. Do not – jamais, never – undercook Troll. When le patron demands his Troll medium rare, it is perhaps time to consider a change of employment.

Trolls in the Pantry

If something goes wrong, the result could be like this – but not as funny.