Monday, January 3, 2011

Witch Hunter by C. L. Werner


Started reading the old Witch Hunter. The prose style is easy to read and the Warhammer world is well described here. The book falls under my 'popcorn' reading. Below are some quotes taken from the first short story in the book so beware of spoilers for those who detest such things.

On The Use of Holidays:

"The Festival of Wilhelmsag brought many travellers to Kleinsdorf... Gustav again sipped at his wine, silently toasting Wilhelm Hoess and the minotaur lord which had been kind enough to let itself and its horde of Chaos spawn by slaughtered in the streets of Kleinsdorf two centures passed." (pg 18 of the Witch Hunter Omnibus)

With the recent passing of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and of course New Year, I've mentioned a few times that creating holidays, holy dates, and festivity days can be an important part of world building. One thing I didn't hit on, which C. L. Werner does here, is that the scope of the holidays do not have to be all emcompassing. In the dark and standard fantasy settings most D&D style games takep lace in, a lone village that defends itself from an advancing army is going to celebrate that victory.

In terms of connecting it to the campaign, make it not an army of goblins or orcs, but an army of invaders from a nearby neighboring lord that wanted the resources of the land. Beaten back, every year those intruders have to hear of the victory dances and celebrations held one town over. Perhaps they eventually decide to do something about it...

Where Ever You Go, There You Are

"It was Gerhardt Knauf...He was afraid you had come.. seeking him." (pg. 28).

I've mentioned it before, but adventure, action, or events, happen where the characters are because of who the characters are. When a Witch Hunter comes into town, those not prepared for it may panic and do things that normally they'd be more cool-headed and avoid. Same thing for bounty hunters or press gangs or military come recruiting.

Whatever the players make and how they interact with the world, they may be known by things as simple as their garb, choice of weapons, or holy symbols. And when you need to kick start an adventure, just decide that someone where they're going doesn't particularly like that.

The Little Touches

"the grimoire of a centuries-dead Bretonnian witch;p the abhorred Ninth Canticle of Tzeentch, its mad author's name lost to the ages;" (pg. 29)

I hate coming up with names for libraries but the players are always asking what the titles of the books are. Try to keep a list of book names and other useful references nearby so that when they go seeking out knowledge or come across that lich's library, you've got some space covered. And then whatever the players don't inquire about on the list, move it to a new list.

Keep The Action Moving

"The monster crashed into Thulmann sending both man and fiend plumeeting down the stairs." (pg 33)

Authors have to keep the reader's attention on the page. Despite complaints or critcism, R A Salvator has managed to keep Drizzt on the market for decades and one of the things his fans clamor about are the fight scenes. While the fight against this pink horror isn't so long, it does involve a lot of movement from room to room in the manor. Let the monster take a few attacks of opportunity as it bodily hurls the character down the stars. Let the monster take some damage from landing under the character if they make an agility test to put it on the bottom. Keep the action dynamic.

Player Restraint

"If we meet again I may not be so restrained." (pg 37)

Mathias has the opportunity to take out an enemy, but it is one driven by lose of love, not greed, chaos, or any of the other potential reasons a witch hunter might strike someone dead. Well, at least a righteous witch hunter.

Recently, Dragon magazine on the DDI, had an article basically about cripplining and maming your enemies instead of killing them. In the above instance, Mathias has not done that but he has won. think about asking the playersi f they are going for a 'fatal' blow. Allow the damage and other factors to be calculated normally but if the enemy goes down, ask them if they're out for blood. Sometimes their response may surprise you.

C. L. Werner keeps the action moving and provides the little touches that tell you this isn't the Forgotten Realms, it's the world of Warhammer.