Grim and Perilous Freeport

Since we began work on the Pirate’s Guide, we’ve wanted to produce a WFRP Freeport Companion, a guidebook for running WFRP games set in the City of Adventure. While the possibility of such a book is not completely out of the question, my eagerness to explore such a marriage has gotten in the way of common sense, hence the subject of this blog entry. This document avoids lengthy rules discussion and instead explores how to adapt Freeport’s flavor to the WFRP game system.
The first thing to do when placing Freeport in the Old World is to establish how the setting conceits fit with those defined by the WFRP setting. At a glance, there seems to be little room for such figures as Yig, the Unspeakable One, and the cataclysm that brought forth the Serpent’s Teeth islands. There’s simply no place for Yig or the Unspeakable One to join the ranks of those distant and inexplicable gods, and certainly no room for another Ruinous Power (though some are bound to disagree). It doesn’t take much thought, though, to find other ways to express these powers so they can function within the Old World concepts.
Let’s start with Yig. Known as the Great Serpent, Yig is said to have shaped the world, snatching elements of other planes and fusing them into a patchwork plane that incorporates cultures, peoples, and landscapes from all over reality. While this never happened in Old World, WFRP’s ancient history is filled with the legends of the Old Ones who sailed the sea of stars to shape and fashion the world, using their ancient and lost arts to awaken the races, modify the climate, and reshape the lands. Their principal servants, the Slann, were brilliant and gifted with great power, capable of constructing gateways to bridge distant worlds, to modify and alter the world to suit their inexplicable purpose. At their height, the Slann were the laborers and creators, and through their constant service, the Old Ones modified the world to suit their purpose, raised up the primitive peoples, and were as gods.
Naturally, this era would not last forever, and the gates in the heavens collapsed, tearing holes in reality. From these rents, the raw stuff of Chaos spilled forth, hemorrhaging and infusing the world with corruption—the raw stuff of Chaos. The Old Ones were lost, the Slann trapped and driven into the remote corners of the world, while new races, elves, dwarfs, and eventually humans rose up to stanch the tide of Chaos and make their lives on this imperiled world.
None of these myths are at odds with the Freeport cosmology. In fact, Freeport’s ancient history fits well with the primordial age of the Warhammer world. Perhaps Yig was an Old One and the Valossans were in fact Slann. The corruption of the Unspeakable One that led to the collapse of the Valossan Empire might just be an embellished way of describing the calamity that befell all civilization when the gates collapsed. As a result, Yig is not so much a god, but a powerful and lost master whom some the serpent people deified.
The Unspeakable One is far easier to explain. As an agent of destruction, a force of madness, mutation, and unfathomable evil, the Unspeakable One may just be a mask for one or all of the Ruinous Powers. Perhaps instead of being an intelligent agent of destruction, the Unspeakable One may just be a name for mortal corruption, a personality and nature imposed on the raw stuff of Chaos. In this way, the various cults of the Unspeakable One might serve Slaanesh, Tzeentch, Nurgle, or Khorne, depending on their goals, motives, and behavior.
When it comes to the other gods mentioned, the Pirate’s Guide wisely avoids giving them names so that the various powers can easily correlate to whatever pantheon you choose to use. For tips, I’d suggest the following conversions.
Deity WFRP Counterpart
God of Knowledge Verena
God of Luck Ranald
God of Murder Khaine
God of Pirates Stromfels
God of the Sea Manann
God of Warriors Myrmidia
Oona, the Cannibal Spirit Khorne
Unspeakable One Nurgle
Yig Tzeentch
If you’re not using the Continent as described in the Pirate’s Guide, you can park the Serpent’s Teeth just about anywhere in the Old World. Any of the islands off the east coast of Lustria could work well, especially near the submerged city of Chupayotl. Alternatively, you could place the Serpent’s Teeth on the west coast of the southern continent, below Araby and the Lands of the Dead, somewhere in the Sea of Squalls. Both locations put Freeport on trade routes between the city and the Old World, while keeping it close enough to Slann civilization to allow the “serpent people” to maintain a presence in the city.
The hardest hurdle to jump is Freeport’s racial mix. Humans, Elves, Dwarfs, and Halflings can all coexist together with little trouble, but the presence of Orcs is a bit more complicated since Greenskins are notoriously unpleasant and savage, having little inclination to live alongside their longstanding enemies (and if Orcs are in fact space fungus, well that’s a whole new issue by itself). Still, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for Greenskins to find some way into a predominantly Human city. If Freeport brought in Orc slaves to work the Docks, with them would come Goblins, Hobgoblins, and everything in between. In fact, Greenskins in Freeport would certainly make the city even more unstable and raucous causing no shortage of trouble for the city watch. The hatred of these wretched creatures would certainly spawn groups in Scurvytown and elsewhere, enough to push the Orcs back to the fringes of the most polluted and dangerous sections of the city.
Two races that simply can’t exist in the City of Adventure are half-elves and half-orcs. In the context of the Old World, pairing between Humans and other races never produce offspring for reasons of simple incompatibility in the case of the former, and biology in the latter. I’d recommend substituting Bretonnians for half-elves and Kislevites for half-orcs. For any other strange races that don’t quite fit in the Old World, simply replace them with some other cultural group—Estallians, Tilleans, and so on.
Officially, Gnomes do not exist in the Old World. That these diminutive folk were mentioned in the first edition of WFRP is irrelevant,for the shape of the Warhammer World is ever evolving and older concepts fade in favor of newer ones. Hence, Gnomes in Freeport ought to just be Halflings. Naturally, there will be those who object to the loss of this much-maligned race—indeed, it seems gnomes vanish left and right these days—and for those who would see Gnomes stay Gnomes in Freeport, you can use the following unofficial rules.
Distant kin to the Dwarfs, the Gnomes are a mean-spirited race of mountain dwelling humanoids, found in tiny settlements in the Worlds Edge Mountains. There they have managed to survive in spite of Rat-Men aggression, wars with their cousins, and the depredations of the Greenskins. Short-tempered and altogether unpleasant to be around, Gnomes are reluctant to spend much if any time with anyone outside of their families, though it bears mentioning that Gnomes have little love for their siblings and would gladly rid themselves of all such kin.
Gnomes are a people in decline, largely as a result of their selfish tendencies and general disgust for all people, even other Gnomes. In fact, Gnome families are never founded for love, but rather as payment for debts or some other obligations. The only reason why any Gnome would deign to wed is to erase a point of shame and make amends to some wrong he or she has committed, making Gnome families miserable things languishing under a cloud of loathing and resentment.
Gnomes have craggy features with bulbous noses and weather-beaten skin. They are shaggy and filthy, smelling of ham and sour milk. Their beards are tangled nests crawling with lice and the leavings of old meals. Their black eyes dart about, always looking for treachery, while their mouths seem suited for only issuing complaints and insults.
Characteristic Generation
Weapon Skill (WS) 30+2d10
Ballistic Skill (BS) 20+2d10
Strength (S) 20+2d10
Toughness (T) 20+2d10
Agility (Ag) 20+2d10
Intelligence (Int) 20+2d10
Will Power (WP) 20+2d10
Fellowship (Fel) 10+2d10
Movement (M) 4
Wounds Roll 1d10: 1–3, 10; 4–6, 12; 7–9, 13; 10, 14
Fate Points Roll 1d10: 1–4, 1; 5–7, 2; 8–10, 3
A Gnome character gains the following skills and talents:
Skills: Common Knowledge (Gnomes), Speak Language (Khazalid dialect), Trade (Miner, Smith, Stoneworker)
Talents: Grudge-born Fury, Orientation, Night Vision, Sturdy, Tunnel Rat
Starting Careers: When generating a Gnome’s starting career, use the Dwarf column under Table 2–5: Starting Career. Replace any result that comes up as Runebearer or Trollslayer with Cragfighter.
Cragfighter (Basic, Gnome Only)
On the slopes of the Worlds Edge Mountain, Gnomes fight against roaming bands of Greenskins and even Dwarfs for the scarce resources of the peaks. Over the generations, the Gnomes have learned to use their environment to the best effect and when fighting against overwhelming numbers, their warriors may place themselves in tight areas to help shield themselves from attacks. Cragfighters are a surly lot, given to suspiciousness and crudity. The most unpleasant Gnomes are often encouraged to take up this profession.
WS BS S T Ag Int WP Fel
+10 — +5 — +10 — +10 —
+1 +2 — — — — — —
Skills: Concealment, Dodge Blow, Perception, Secret Signs (Scout)
Talents: Close Combat Fighting†, Contortionist, Coolheaded, Dirty Tactics†, Menacing, Stout Hearted, Strike to Injure
†New Talents
Trappings: Hand Weapon, Crossbow with 12 bolts, Medium Armor (Mail Coat, Mail Coif), Shield, Lice
Career Entries: Agitator, Militiaman, Thief, Watchman
Career Exits: Bodyguard, Pit Fighter, Sergeant, Smuggler, Tomb Robber
Close Combat Fighting
Whenever you end your turn with a barrier or obstacle on two sides of you, you may enter the Parrying Stance as a free action.
Dirty Tactics
You are an expert at using subterfuge and unfair tactics when fighting other creatures. Whenever you successfully feint in combat, you gain a +10 bonus on your next Weapon Skill Test against the target you feinted.
Denizens of Freeport
Building NPCs from the descriptions in the Pirate’s Guide using the WFRP rules is simple. The character’s level of power and experience corresponds to a number of careers. Apprentice indicates the first career, journeyman suggests second career, while master represents characters in their third or fourth career. You can give the character as many advances as you like though if you prefer a more randomized method, simply have the character be 1d5 advances into their current career. The following table includes a list of the more important characters found in Freeport and their suggested careers.
Alcindar Dwarf Artisan, ex-Tradesman
Alfhild Human Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman, ex-Norse Berserker
Bianka Altanish Human Journeyman Wizard, ex-Apprentice Wizard
Dirwin Arnig Gnome Guild Master, ex-Artisant, ex-Tradesman
Morgan Bauman Human Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman
Aporcus Beedle Human Apprentice Wizard
Cyril Berryhill Halfling Thief, ex-Rogue
Liam Blackhammer Human, Militiaman, ex-Tradesman
Andrea Blax Human Rogue, ex-Seaman
Poppy Brag Human Foreman, ex-Stevedore
Bobbin Brandydale Halfling Innkeeper, ex-Servant
Rikard Burbage Human Minstrel, ex-Entertainer
C.Q. Calame Human Demagogie, ex-Agitator
Cragwipe Orc Mercenary, ex-Thug
Countess D’Amberville Human Assassin, ex-Spy, ex-Courtier, ex-Noble
Celeste D’Arran Human Spy, ex-Courtier, ex-Noble
Dimetrios Human Fence, ex-Smuggler
Darius Dorvan Halfling Thief
Dunbar Human Veteran, ex-Mercenary
Egil Human High Priest, ex-Anointed Priest, ex-Priest, ex-Initiate
Falthar Human Master Wizard, ex-Journeyman Wizard, ex-Apprentice Wizard
Finn Halfling Crime Lord, ex-Master Thief, ex-Cat Burglar, ex-Thief
Masson Francisco Human Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman
Shantar Froese Elf Mate, ex-Seaman
Garek Dwarf Tradesman, ex-Shieldbreaker
Xavier Gordon Duelist, ex-Courtier, ex-Noble
Gringa Human Veteran, ex-Berserker
Nathan Grymes Human Politician, ex-Noble
Sister Gwendolyn Human Anointed Priest, ex-Priest, ex-Initiate
Dirk Haslinger Human Rogue
Enoch Holliver Human Captain, ex-Sergeant, ex-Mercenary
Admiral Hrothy Human Spy, ex-Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman
Fargus Ironfoot Halfling Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman
Eudokia Kasovar Human Master Wizard, ex-Journeyman Wizard, ex-Apprentice Wizard
Jozan Feg Human Apprentice Wizard, ex-Burgher
Gitch Goblin Shaman, ex-Apprentice Shaman
Rudimar Harrow Human Friar, ex-Initiate, ex-Soldier
Harcourt Horkel Human Charlatan, ex-Minstrel, ex-Entertainer
Janis Hawthorne Human Peasant
Torya Irontooth Human Noble
Karl the Kraken Human Bodyguard, ex-Mercenary, ex-Pit Fighter
K’Stallo Serpent Person High Priest, ex-Anointed Priest, ex-Priest, ex-Initiate
Lexi Human Apprentice Wizard, ex-Servant
Jacob Lydon Human Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman
Marilise Maeorgan Human Politician, ex-Courtier, ex-Noble
Mendor Maeorgan Mutant Demagogue, ex-Rogue, ex-Noble
Argyle McGill Human Fence, ex-Smuggler, ex-Seaman
Mother Mirren Human Burgher, ex-Servant
Talbous Mog Human Priest, ex-Initiate
Nevtalathien Elf Artisan, ex-Tradesman, ex-Mercenary
Omar Nkota Human Scout, ex-Hunter
Otto Parsam Human Tradesman, ex-Veteran, ex-Soldier
Patamon Human Apprentice Wizard, ex-Rogue
Prendag Mutant Veteran, ex-Pit Fighter, ex-Thug
Tench Prescott Human Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman
Arena Quen Human Priest, ex-Initiate
Thulmir Quent Human Agitator, ex-Burgher
Thurlow Rankin Human Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman
Red Alice Human Thief, ex-Rogue, ex-Entertainer
Draegar Redblade Hobgoblin Captain, ex-Sergeant, ex-Mercenary
Marcus Roberts Human Politician, ex-Courtier, ex-Noble
Nifur Roberts Human Noble
Tando Sandek Human Sergeant, ex-Militiaman, ex-Thief
Bill Sangapulatele Human Bodyguard, ex-Mercenary
Asha Sante Human Witch Hunter, ex-Judicial Champion, ex-Veteran, ex-Soldier
Scarbelly Orc Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Seaman
Dreiden Simmerswell Halfling Innkeeper, ex-Servant
Angelo Stampfel Human Thief
Kyrga Stonefoot Dwarf Messenger, ex-Servant
Laria Syrtis Elf Mate, ex-Seaman, ex-Entertainer
Vikki Tarjay Human Rogue, ex-Noble
Tarmon Human Wizard Lord, ex-Master Wizard, ex-Journeyman Wizard, ex-Apprentice Wizard
Thorgrim Human Journeyman Wizard, ex-Apprentice Wizard, ex-Berserker
Timothy Human Thief
Halkos Tremiir Elf Physician, ex-Barber Surgeon
Hector Torian Human Sea Captain, ex-Mate, ex-Marine
Aleksander Tovac Human Journeyman Wizard, ex-Apprentice Wizard, ex-Militiaman
Trask Gnome Charlatan, ex-Rogue
Garth Varellion Human Politician, ex-Noble
Buster Wallace Human Agitator, ex-Noble
Petra Wallace Human Agitator, ex-Tradesman
Mister Wednesday Human Crime Lord, ex-Fence, ex-Racketeer, ex-Protagonist
Xort Mutant Friar, ex-Vagabond
Zach Human Valet
Serpent People
Serpent People are an insidious presence in Freeport and though they do not officially appear in the Warhammer world, it’s no stretch to think they could exist in the Old or New World, especially if you tie them to the Slann. Adult serpent people stand just over six feet tall and weigh about 150 pounds on average. Fine scales, ranging from green to brown, cover their lithe bodies, and their hands and feet end in small claws. Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic are their heads. Their heads are snake-like. Some have hoods like cobras, but most do not.
WS BS S T Ag Int WP Fel
34 26 32 (3) 38 (3) 44 41 33 36
Skills: Academic Knowledge (History) (Int), Academic Knowledge (Theology) (Int), Common Knowledge (serpent people) (Int), Concealment (Ag+10), Disguise (Fel+20), Dodge Blow (Ag), Perception (Int), Search (Int), Silent Move (Ag), Secret Language (Valossan) (Int), Speak Language (Reikspiel) (Int)
Talents: Contortionist, Keen Senses, Resistant to Poison, Unsettling
Traits: Shapeshift
Attacks: 1; Movement: 4; Wounds (TB 3): 12
Armour (none): scales (Head 1, Arms 1, Body 1, Legs 1)
Weapons: Hand Weapon (1d10+3)
In their natural form, a serpent person wears simple robes and carries a longsword (hand weapon). When infiltrating a society, serpent people wear clothing appropriate to role they are playing and thus they may keep several disguises handy in safe places that they can easily access.
Serpent people can assume a human shape and appearance as a half action and can remain in this form until they choose a new one. A slain serpent person reverts back to its normal form. Detecting a shapeshifted serpent person requires a Very Hard (–30) Perception Test.
Degenerate Serpent People
A degenerate serpent person is a serpent person with the poisonous bite mutation. Most degenerates also have 1d5–1 additional mutations.