Putting the Uber in Ubersreik
A closer look at the setting for The Edge of Night adventure for WFRP
A Designer Diary by Jay Little
A short while ago, I announced an upcoming adventure called The Edge of Night. This exciting adventure centres around political intrigue in the town of Ubersreik, and important crossroads in the Reikland. As the story unfolds, the PCs may soon find themselves swept up in the machinations of several rival noble families each vying for control of Ubersreik.
Baron Manfred von Holzenauer, a visiting nobleman, is hosting an extravagant masquerade ball, which has quickly become the talk of the town. It will surely be an important venue for the noble families to further their agendas and rally support from Ubersreik’s most esteemed and influential citizens.
This designer diary goes into more detail about the town of Ubersreik, showcasing why it makes such a compelling centre-point for the adventure.
Putting the Uber in Ubersreik
To help tell this story of power, politics, and nobility, as well as bring the town of Ubersreik to life, I enlisted the talents of Graeme Davis. Graeme is a name many WFRP fans will be very familiar with. He’s been involved with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for a long time – he helped write and develop the first edition rules, as well as The Oldenhaller Contract, an oft-praised introductory adventure.
Having Graeme work on The Edge of Night was a great opportunity. He was able to bring his impressive knowledge of and passion for the Warhammer setting to bear, and wrote one heck of an adventure, tying the intrigue and encounters into the new system with a deft touch. Graeme’s writing details a very interesting and engaging location that is intrinsically Warhammer, but has a few surprises in store for the reader, including a host of rumours and adventure seeds GMs can use to breathe even more life into Ubersreik.
Ubersreik’s Place in the Empire
Ubersreik is a free town of medium size, situated on the River Teufel a little downstream from the Grey Mountains. The town sits astride an important bridge where the road from Bögenhafen to Dunkelburg crosses the river, and trade flows along the road as well as downriver to Auerwald, Grünburg, Kemperbad, and Altdorf. In the mountains to the south-west of the town sits the infamous Castle Drachenfels, and to the south-east is the recently founded small dwarf hold of Karak Azgaraz.
The town is strategically positioned to be a base to protect the Grey Lady Pass, just as Helmgart, further west, protects Axe Bite Pass. Its proximity to the Grey Mountains means that it has a thriving dwarf community, which has grown in recent years because of trade with Karak Azgaraz.
Human prospectors, hunters, and adventurers use the town as a base of operations for expeditions into the Grey Mountains, and the weekly market brings in livestock and produce from half a dozen surrounding villages. Luxury goods such as Bretonnian wine and brandy flow in through the Grey Lady Pass. The town watch is augmented by a small garrison based in Magnus’s Tower, a spectacular structure reputedly commissioned by the Emperor Magnus the Pious more than two hundred years ago.
A Town in Turmoil?
A few years ago, the ruling von Jungfreud family had their authority tempered by the Emperor, and Ubersreik, previously under von Jungfreud control, became a freistadt or free city. Tensions had been growing between Ubersreik and the town of Auerswald downstream, and Graf Sigismund von Jungfreud was accused of fomenting civil war.
Another scandal hit Ubersreik recently when a Chaos cult was discovered operating out of a remote hunting lodge owned by one of the town’s noble families. The cult was wiped out, but the von Bruner family has lost most of its prestige as a result… (this may sound familiar to those of you who have played through or read the Eye for an Eye scenario found in the Tome of Adventure).
Rumours & Suspicions
Partly because of this scandal – and partly because of a resurgence of greenskin activity around the Grey Lady Pass – a rumour is circulating that the “Powers That Be” are thinking of revoking the town’s free status and reimposing a liege lord over the area.
In one version of the rumour, this move comes from the Emperor himself as Elector Count of the Reikland. A different rumour notes that the nobility of Grünburg is planning to annex Ubersreik and its surrounding villages to their own territory. A third whisper states that the upstart von Saponatheim family of Bögenhafen has its eye on Ubersreik, the family’s ambitions growing since a strategic marriage to the powerful von Liebwitz family of Nuln.
Whatever the truth may be, a number of nobles are jockeying for position and trying to gain favour with the town council and the people of Ubersreik. The council and guilds are doing their best to present a friendly face to their prospective liege lords, while many work behind the scenes to preserve Ubersreik’s status as a freistadt.
Ubersreik was traditionally ruled by the von Jungfreud family, but became a freistadt several years ago as the result of a dispute between Graf Sigismund von Jungfreud and the crown. Suspecting that von Jungfreud had covetous eyes on the Hahnbrand silver mine in the nearby hills, the Emperor dispatched an Imperial judge to Auerswald to report on the situation. The judge immediately began levying punitive taxes on vessels using the River Teufel, severely impacting the economies of Ubersreik and the surrounding area.
The Graf responded by raising more troops and issuing veiled threats against Auerswald. Skirmishes broke out, and for a while it seemed that civil war was inevitable. A last-minute deal between the Emperor and Ubersreik’s town council saw the town become a freistadt, while the von Jungfreuds were ostensibly relieved of the corresponding lands and titles. Some speculate that the von Jungfreuds merely shifted their attention elsewhere, hoping a lighter hand in Ubersreik’s affairs would help cultivate an ambitious, competent leader in the city.
Ubersreik is a town with a large number of influences. Its position within the Reikland, its proximity to the Grey Mountains, and its situation on the river make it a unique crossroads – different races, cultures, and ideals have helped shape Ubersreik into the town it is today. The town features a number of interesting and unusual locations, to better cater to its eclectic collection of citizens and visitors.
One of its most notable features is Magnus’s Tower, the tallest structure in Ubersreik. It is rumoured, was commissioned by Magnus the Pious himself, as a stone-carved relief by the main door details. The five-storey tower after which the complex is named has a commanding view over the town’s surroundings, and is equipped with a great bellows-operated horn for raising the alarm in the event of an attack. The horn is more than six feet long, and is said to have been cut from the head of a daemon slain during the Great War Against Chaos.
The tower is surrounded by a small castle which includes a parade ground, barracks, stables, armoury, and a smithy capable of making basic repairs to weapons and other equipment. The town garrison consists of twelve detachments of halberdiers, eight units of crossbowmen, and three engineer units trained to use and repair the artillery pieces set along the watch towers. These men all fall under the command of Captain Erwin Blucher. In addition to the standing garrison, many of the townsfolk have received basic training as a reserve force, and can turn out armed with an assortment of weapons if the alarm is raised.
A small detachment of the Reiksguard has its own barracks within Ubersreik, as well. While the Reiksguard have their own responsibilities and duties, they have orders to aid in the defence of Ubersreik if needed. The Reiksguard answer to the local Field Marshal Antonin Sieber, who also serves as a military advisor to Captain Blucher.