Saturday, 23 April 2011

T is for Talabheim

Nestled in the protective walls of a massive crater in the heart of the Empire lies Talabheim, The Eye of the Forest. As Nuln, Altdorf and Middenheim, Talabheim is one of the great cities of the Empire.

Priests of Taal recount the formation of the crater in the death of a great dragon destroyed by Taal. The god then settled the people in the crater. The walls--known as the Taalbaston--create a near impregnable defense, towering 200 feet above the city. Moreover, the River Talabec forms an almost natural northern moat, flowing south to Altdorf.

Spanning some 10-12 miles is diameter, the crater is some of the most fertile ground in the Empire for agriculture. The city and the Taalbaston's surrounding towns along the River Talabec make the city a powerful trade center. 

Only one entrance to Talabheim exists, at least legally, and it starts in the port settlement of Talagaad (or Taalagad is it is spelled in Terror in Talabheim). Talagaad is currently choked with refugees from Hochland, Kislev and other nations following the Storm of Chaos (as Marienburg before it). This is in part because of Talabheim's scrict ingress and egress and because Talabheim is expensive.

An almost impossible schedule of taxes, tariffs, and laws exist in Talabheim and they begin at the massive entrance known as the High Watch. The taxes and laws also reveal something of the bizarre double sided nature of those that live in Talabheim. Extremely tolerant of the taxes and laws, but extremely intolerant to outsiders, especially Halflings, where the infamous "Short Shrift" make it all be impossible to even clothe yourself, if you were a Halfling. And while "Ear Taxes" on Elves are known throughout the Empire, they are all but absent in Talabheim (possibly a nod to the Wood Elves known to protect the forests and thus friendly to Taal).

Talabheim and Talabecland are in keeping with my love of the wilderness campaign possibilities in WFRP 2e. The crater is a rich locale by itself, from the defenses that ring it, the river near it, the forest in and out of it, and the urban and civilized areas dotting it. It begs a massive campaign. The beginnings of one are presented in Terror in Talabheim (and it even uses the Skaven as a central villian!). Terror in Talabheim is the sourcebook for Talabheim, much like the 1e Warhammer City: Middenheim book. The book details the locales of Talagaad and Talabheim at great length, introducing new career paths for PCs, like the Litigant, and colors the peoples and places in rich detail, including detailed maps of Talagaad and the city. Two great maps of the region, based on work by Mad Alfred, are available at Winds of Chaos.
Posted by caffeinated at 7:00 AM in d10

Skaven...

I had a chat with some friends today. Two said to me: "S is for Skaven."

Yes. Skaven starts with an S. However, I wanted something obscure, and oh: I have a problem with Skaven.

Frankly, this race of perfidious "ratmen" in WFRP, from 1e through 2e, don't fit in the fiction presented: the ratmen manipulate powerful and influential men to promote the idea that the Skaven don't exist and to ostracize those that seek to prove they do.

The problem with this is that while clans of Skaven, being organized by clans if you did not know, specialize in subterfuge and assassinations, the body politic of Skaven are fairly open. Entire cities in the fiction are documented as being run over by Skaven, both in Bretonnia and points south. Moreover, every bordering nation-state seems to acknowledge the existence openly. Thus diplomatically the Empire cannot support the "lie" proposed in the fiction. This alone would simply make it to implausible for those in power to continue the lie.

While some may argue it unfair to draw WFB into the discussion, I disagree. In WFB, Skaven exist on the battle field. The Skaven participated in the Storm of Chaos. And while the "Under Empire" was expanded in the Storm of Chaos, it is well established in the fiction that Valten was assassinated by the Skaven (though I will stipulate in such a way as to create an air of deniability). And another clan detonated a warpstone bomb in the Fauschlag--sorry, "the Ulricsberg"--of Middenheim. These events are established as canon in WFRP 2e, thus not unfair fodder for the debate. General and foot soldier alike will have returned from battles facing the ratmen. 

I don't think Skaven work as established. Though they are a great threat to PCs. In the shadows, but not unknown.

So I admit to the use of Skaven in my WFRP campaigns though I do not adhere to the canon in as much as using the "X-File" like nature of the Skaven's existence. I instead allow the PCs to laugh at the deniers. Openly.
Posted by caffeinated at 1:19 AM in d10