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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
 
$9.00
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Chris M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/09/2014 16:20:47
I bought this product for 2 reasons.

1) I've heard so many good things about Vornheim from a bevy of blogs I follow and whom opinions I respect, I figured it was about time I purchase the pdf. I'm glad I did as I was not disappointed by the content. The book is chock full of inspirational ideas and story nuggets perfect for any fantasy campaign.

2) I wanted to show my financial and moral support for "Zack Smith" who authored this work. To let him know he's not alone in the gaming community in his disdain towards the SJW's (Social Justice Warriors) and Cultural Marxist who constantly attack him and seek to control discourse in the on-line RPG community. Keep on fighting the good fight Zak.

First they came for the Simulationist Gamers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Simulationist Gamer.
Then they came for the Tactical Combat Gamers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Tactical Combat Gamer.
Then they came for the Old-School Gamers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Old-School Gamer.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Gwarh

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Anders N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/08/2014 03:37:14
It's rare to find a product this evocative; I've only done so a few times before. It combines inspiration and a touch of odd with soo much utility. It'll be one of your best friends at the table. It's sad that it's out of print right now, because I would really love a physical copy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/08/2014 03:07:27
If you search the words "city guide" on drivethrurpg.com you can find everything in this guide that is even remotely useful from other people who can write in a coherent style.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Jeremy F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/07/2014 21:37:15
Vornheim is a fantastic toolkit for building a decadent fantasy urban sprawl campaign. This short book packs a mighty wallup!

You should not expect this to be Encyclopedia Vornheim. It instead provides a skeletal framework and palette on which you can layer, via the tools in the book, your version of Vornheim. Its a bit of a Frankenstein's monster, tethered to the wire table, storm brewing, waiting for the bolt of lightning to ignite the life within.

Having already had a physical copy of this book, I wanted a PDF copy as well. The physical book is amongst my most treasured RPG books. It is a reliable source for inspiration, not because it is a complete setting, but because it evokes a richness of setting that could never be fully explored.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Eltup E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/07/2014 17:29:50
the only remotely useful parts are already free blogposts on the dude's website

I guess I'm not a table junky, and I find the content mostly unimaginative tween's first black metal style garbage. Tried using it in play but it's more cumbersome and less interesting than anything I made up on the spot, especially with the trite and juvenile assumed setting and terrible art.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Noah S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/02/2013 00:07:05
A buddy of mine on G+ recommended Vornheim, solely for the clever rules about buying up objects and pricing things on the fly. Well, suffice it to say that there is a wealth of interesting and useful tidbits scattered liberally throughout this work. The setting is wonky and novel, with very little Tolkien and plenty of Hunter S. Thompson. I don't frequent Zak's pages, but I do get occasional updates on his particularly useful house rules, and almost all of them I incorporate into my game (MY DIRTY LITTLE HEART OF LIES SAYS THAT I MADE THESE THINGS UP AND I COULD HAVE THOUGHT THESE NICIES UP MYSEL) Ahem. The fact of the matter is, Zak doesn't think like you do, and you could never have thought these interesting things up. Snakes as spellbooks? Pssh. That's as cool and as novel as the backside of a pillow, with a Poppy Z. Brite book underneath, with interesting and suspicious stains on the special pages.

The "house generation" rules are great guidelines and a good skill to foment in your braincase, the random NPC and hook charts are delightful, and the art is nice, too. Hey, you could spend that 9 bucks on tasteful porn, but spend it on this instead and get your brain thinking in a different and more fun direction! Or whatever! I don't judge.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Rob M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/17/2013 15:42:17
I purchased Vornheim after hearing about how great it is at helping GMs create a sprawling metropolis for their fantasy game. Little did I know that it would become the basis of my next campaign.

Zak S. has put together some of the most imaginative and interesting adventure hooks and tables I've ever seen. Everything in this book will cause a GM's mind to race with possibilities. I based four adventures on Vornheim and barely scratched the surface.

I highly recommend Vornheim as an essential sourcebook for any OSR gamemaster.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by todd l. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/03/2012 09:19:47
This is a very clever tool box for adding an aura of size and menace to an urban campaign. My players prefer Legend of Anglerre for their dungeon crawls. So, the systemless approach was much appreciated. The art is entertainingly different from the usual rpg style and gives a "Judge's Guild" feel to the book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Eric K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/28/2012 17:28:57
Super cool, and unlike anything I've had before. This book really got my brain working!
If you ever thought running an adventure or even an entire campaign in a city would be too hard, you need this book

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Nathan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/28/2012 01:14:03
Vornheim is a work of genius! It concisely creates a wonderful sense of place, while at the same time sharing a wealth of advice on how to create your own unique and interesting city adventures. The philosophy that a "campaign book" does NOT need to catalogue every denizen or locale really fits with my own style of play. Vornheim is easy and entertaining to read, and the images are fantastic (I love the maps!).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Robert S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/12/2011 09:28:47
This week I am reviewing Vornheim the Complete City Kit by noted artist, gamer and porn star Zak Sabbath. Sabbath’s first claim to fame is his blog, titled “Playing D&D with Porn Stars.”

Sabbath games with people like Mandy Morbid, Satine Phoenix and even with Sasha Grey – which means he has one of the coolest gaming groups ever. To my knowledge, no actual pornography has happened during one of his group’s session. Pornography. From an ancient Greek term translating as “naughty scrolls and vases I have to hide from my parents.” Where was I? Right. Zak Sabbath’s made waves in the hobby and continues to make waves, via his blog. His approach to art, gaming and apparently having sex on camera is restlessly innovative.

In 2011 Sabbath worked with James Raggi, the man behind Lamentation’s of the Flame Princess, to develop his thoughts and the play mechanics Sabbath created for gaming in an urban setting. This led to the creation and publication of Vornheim the Complete City Kit. The work in available in hard copy and PDF – this review is of the PDF version.

Vornhiem is also the name of the principal city in Sabbath’s home game and the book nominally explores the setting. Nominally is a good term as Sabbath is not interested in providing a level of detail on the city for GPS coordinates for all the local cult sites and a map of the regular bus routes and their stops. He does not so much disparage the usually tropes into which fantasy city RPG supplements fall as simply dismiss them. These books are, as Sabbath rightly points out here and elsewhere, are too often too similar to each other even when supposedly about different cities and are too often too dense with inflexible information. If you have read about one fantasy city’s sewer system, you pretty much have read about the sewer system of all fantasy cities. For that matter, too many fantasy cities are not particularly fantastic.

The details he does provide about the city of Vornheim and its world are fascinating – his riff in the book about the skin of reptiles of all kinds is one of the best passages I have ever read in any RPG supplement. An always snow city, Vornheim consists largely of great, dark towers, which are often connected by bridges. There is a strange, timeless and dreamlike quality to the city – more than Waterdeep, Greyhawk or Sharn, Vornheim feels fantastic. You have to go to Sigil to find a city as surreal and interesting as Vornheim.

On his blog, Sabbath writes he lives in L.A. and so many of the people he hangs with are in the sex entertainment industry. One wonders where in L.A. he happens to live, as it seems unlikely porn stars and strippers populate the entire city. It would be interesting to know how living in that city influenced his gaming philosophy.

While Sabbath does provide details on the city of Vornheim, most of the book is about running a city game by making it up as you go. Sabbath employs the book to assert a GM does not need an exhaustive guide to a city to run one properly and having such a guide from the outset can be counterproductive.

Much of the book is devoted to interesting game mechanics including some great tables. For example, Vornheim the book provides a table for determine aristocrats on the fly – you can roll on the table multiple times, mixing and matching surnames and given names and disturbing quirks for the NPC in question. The items on the table for what maybe discovered when going through the pockets of the corpse range from the silly to plot hooks to the comically sad. The item on the table where the party discovers an engagement ring, and a earnest though semi-literate draft of marriage-proposal speech will elicit laughter from most players, especially if their PC are the ones who killed the man. None the less, it is a good table. Those are also the more standard mechanisms in the book – unusual ones includes special pages upon which dice are rolled and where on the page the dice stop is as import as the results of the dice for determining combat result, the size of a tower, the cost of goods and similar results. Some of my favorites are the table on vile tavern games, a diagram for working out NPC relationships and the table on fortunes for the party. And kudos to Sabbath for writing that the GM master and the players and may determine the fulfillment of a prophecy.

Vornheim employs some D&D game mechanics in some places, but only loosely – these are changeable to another edition or even a different game system with minimal effort. Most of the tables and mechanics suggested here is system neutral.

Sabbath’s actual job is an artist and he provides the art for this book, which is stylized and abstract. Normally I dislike this style of art, but Sabbath imbues the art with a vitality and sense of story stylized art usually lacks. Some of the best pieces are the medusa on page 14 and depictions of the Eminent Cathedral and the Palace Massive. To keep the price down the book is black and white, and while not a strike against Vornheim it is unfortunate because elsewhere Sabbath use of color is striking.

This book possesses flaws. First up – and this is a subjective matter – there are almost no appearances from elves, dwarves or other fantasy races. Except for a few scant mentions in some of the tables, the fantasy races make no appearance in the book. However, this is easily fixed and the nature of the work means it can easily become about a city of elves, goblins or something else.

A more severe problem is the interior arrangement of Vornheim, as a book, feels random. This is somewhat ameliorated by a good table of contents, but there is no discernable pattern to the sequence of sections in the book or how one sections leads to another. There are good ideas here – some brilliant ones – but difficulty in getting to those ideas hobbles the books utility.

Vornheim, as a book, is not a fictional tour guide to a place the players cannot ever actually visit. It is about running urban games in a quick and energetic manner, where the rules and text do not hold back the flow of the actual game. In that it is succeeds quite well.

I give Vornheim the Complete City Kit, a 15 on a d20 roll. It is quite good at what it does and is valuable for accomplishing its goals and what the book offers gamers. However, it is held back somewhat by a singular focus on humans and an organization that feels slapdash at times. Still, it is worth the purchase price and is available at the D&D with Porn Star site and at the Lamentations of the Flame Princess sites.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2011 07:36:50
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/08/23/tabletop-review-vornhei-
m/

I read gaming blogs voraciously. My RSS feed is filled with OSR blogs and science fiction RPG blogs, blogs about the 80’s games of my wasted youth and blogs written by new economy entrepreneurs selling their print-on-demand wares. Through my blog reading, I found Zak S. and his blog, Playing D&D With Porn Stars. Not having listened to the podcast I Hit It With My Axe, I had no idea who Mandy Morbid was and what exactly was going on in the city of Vornheim. I was ready to leave his blog and move on when I read an article, the exact one is lost to memory, and I realized something: Zak S. knows what he is talking about. Not only does Zak know what he is talking about, he has amazing ideas.

I apologize now for what may seem like excessive hyperbole. Before I held this book in my hands, I thought the exuberance other reviewers had towards Vornheim was unfounded. People were calling this the best RPG sourcebook in the last ten years, if not since the Golden Age of D&D. How could a 64 page book be deserving of so much praise?

Vornheim is the physical expression of Zak’s particular brand of genius. A slim 64 page volume, Vornheim is roughly the same dimensions of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess boxed set and the original Little Brown Books of Dungeons and Dragons. While it may not match your 1st Edition hardcovers, this is a well-constructed example of the bookbinder’s craft. There are no wasted surfaces on the book, and useful content drips from the pages. The slick, full color dustcover has a moody painting of a purple-maned warrior in combat with a gargoyle and a map of the city on the interior. As with all of the art and words in Vornheim, the painting is a product of Zak S.

Rare is the RPG book that needs a description written on the subject of its cover, but Vornheim is no ordinary book. The cover, sans dustcover, is white with black numbers and text. With a handful of d4’s and the key, which is also printed on the inside of the cover, NPCs, Creatures, Monsters, and Locations can be generated in a few seconds. The back cover can help run mass combats super-fast or just tell you where an arrow his. Without even opening the book, Vornheim justified a place in my gaming satchel. Yes, I carry a satchel.

The interior is split in half. The first half is a description of the cold, grey city of Vornheim. Unlike other city books, like the Volo’s Guides, this is not a street by street description, but instead a collection of facts and rumors, which seem to have equal weight in Vornheim. The richness of the ideas here are palpable. Reading snakes make perfect sense to me, after reading it here, and almost every idea presented is the same way. There is an easy, matter of a fact tone to the weirdness that makes even the blatantly ridiculous work. Flailceratops, a tribute to the oft snickered at Flail Snail, feels right in this context, especially when rendered in Zak’s Mike Mignola and Bill Sienkiewicz informed pen and ink style. That the GM is encouraged to run their own Vornheim and not subscribe to an orthodox continuity makes for a much more useful book.

The second half is a meaty selection of tables and charts. Did the party find a dead body? There’s table for what they might find on it. Searching a library? There is a table for that. Need to generate a floorplan for a building? There is a system for that so simple it makes me want to make a whole castle. Even if you are not playing in a city, the charts included have a use. More than a guide to a city, this is a guide to how Zak runs a game. For a GM who favors a loose, sandbox style of game, Vornheim is a treasure trove of methods for my madness.

In the end, the only negative I can think of for Vornheim is the name. This is not a book about a city, this is a book about all cities. I guess that would explain the subtitle being ‘The Complete City Kit’. Every GM of D&D style games who thinks they might ever have a party wander into a city should take a look at Vornheim. For my money, there is no more useful book for a GM to have in their satchel. Is there a more butch name for a satchel?

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Sylvain B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/21/2011 14:37:32
As a GM, I personally find the creation of any settlement larger than a village to be a daunting task and published city settings to be often overwhelming with details. I appreciate the author's approach to fleshing out an urban setting on the fly. About half of this product offers information on the city of Vornheim which, although interesting, will not be of much use in my own games. On the other hand, the remainder of the book will serve as a very useful city creation tool kit. I would have granted an extra star if not for the pdf's hefty price tag.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Daniel D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/15/2011 00:21:19
Let me preface this review with noting that if one doubts how role playing has evolved over the years one may look no further than Zak S. The artist and writer behind Vornheim. Artist and writer being just two of the attributes blended here to produce a very different book. The DIY and indie ethos in the new game designers, GMs and players is making a vibrant and alive environment for RPGs. Whoever has said RPGs have gotten stagnant isn't really looking. Now on to the book...which (by the way) at the time of this review is nominated for an ENnie. This isn't the "exhaustive list of every steet city supplement" that your daddy used (hell maybe your used) back in the day. More so a fluid and free forming city building tool. Vornheim is the setting and some information on that city is included. However it is done in mostly sketchy write ups to impart a flavor or feel for the GM to build on. Really you could use these same techniques to build any city of flesh out the city your players are already in. What I liked most from the book is the shadowy artwork and the surrealistic descriptions. This city seems to have a old school fantasy Naked Lunch feel to it. It also has a almost noir like quality as well. If you like more sword and socerery and less Tolkein in your fantasy city this would be for you. Also appreciated is the target audience. The on the fly GM. Let's face it, most GMs have players assembled right after putting the kids to bed, getting off of work or friends calling asking for game out of the blue. If your party has finished the dungeon crawl early and it looking for place to heal and spend their loot you can: A) Drag out that dog eared other fantasy city supplement and mash that square peg into the round hole in your campaign. B) Make the city up out of thin air and deal with the unusual disasters that creates. Or C)...buy this book and make a city that they remember and may want to return to. Maybe even a city that could be the setting itself. For those GMs who have spent the last three months designing the prefect city (good for you if you got the time) this book can only help. Another reviewer stated that this book is really a good "how to book" in game design and I would agree. The novice GM could pick up a lot of tricks with just a casual read. There are also tons of other goodies for random generation crammed in as well but for that you'll need to do yourself a favor and buy the book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2011 00:27:19
Vornheim the complete city kit is a massively huge city setting so strange, exotic and new that your players might not ever want to leave. Designed by artist Zak Smith/Zak Sabbath and playtested in his rather unique blend of oldschool D&D and 3rd edition with his equally unique group it is not too much to state that you have not seen a city like this before.
Vornheim reads like a city designed by M.C. Escher and H.P. Lovercraft on a bender. Streets bend and twist on each other and I swear so do the inhabitants. This comes I feel from Zak being a artist first and a game designer second. Compared to other city books there is a lot that this book doesn't do and lot of other things it does.

What doesn't it do. Well for starters no where is it defined where this city is. It could be anywhere, from anywhere. Secondly do not expect a lot of details. The author has very specifically left a lot to the designs of the individual DMs out there. So while some people are mentioned (I rather likes the three witches) there are a lot of details left to you.

What does it do. It is a framework and notes of a great city. There is a fantastic set of superstitions listed and there are NPCs, monsters. Stats are given in a simplified version of the d20 rules, favoring an old-school bent, but there are plenty of conversion notes for every edition of the Worlds Oldest FRPG.

There are tables after tables of things that can happen in the city beyond just random monsters, but also legal issues, things you might find, people you could encounter. The place is huge.

The layout is simple and dense. There is a lot of text in the 70+ pages and the whole thing has this real cool retro vibe to it. Almost like it had been published in the 70's (was Zak even alive then?) and it works great.
The art is Zak's own and it has it's own surreal weird style that really sets the stage for this place.

Visit the Immortal Zoo of Ping Feng, or the Library of Zorlac or just "crawl" across th city.

Vornheim the City is not for the faint of heart and Vornheim the book is not for the DM that is afraid of a little prep time (though with the tables you can be using it in minutes) or bringing his/her own ideas to the table.

I have to admit I am rather impressed.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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