From Salzenmund To the Sea of Claws

With their revised take on The Enemy Within campaign finished, Cubicle 7 have been freed up to offer a wider range of brand-new material for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition. Just recently I received my hard copies of Salzenmund: City of Salt and Silver and Sea of Claws, two supplements which can each be used individually but have useful synergy – Salzenmund being a major port of the Empire, and the Sea of Claws being the sea you’ll sail directly into when you go downriver from Salzenmund.

Salzenmund: City of Salt and Silver

This supplement not only provides a look at the titular city, but also offers a broader guide to Nordland, the region of the Empire it’s located in, as well as some nice details on mining and smuggling within the Empire, brief but handy guidelines on creating Nordlander player characters, all sprinkled with scenario ideas, NPCs, factions, locations, and all sorts of other material either to spice up a brief visit to Nordland or to form the background of an entire Nordland-based campaign, most likely using Salzenmund as its main base.

The book specifically depicts the region as it exists after the Turmoil – which is the in-character term for the events of the Enemy Within campaign, particularly the climactic Empire In Ruins segment. The “canonical” end to Empire In Ruins involves a shift in the political geography of the Empire, conveniently explaining how the distribution of Electoral Counts and the like changes from the overview offered at the start of The Enemy Within to the situation as it was in later iterations of the setting.

This may bug some, depending on which version of the political map you prefer, but for the purposes of running a game based in Salzenmund it’s actually helpful, because it means that Nordland has its own Elector Count and is no longer under the thumb of Middenheim – a political development which obviously gives rise to lots of possible avenues for adventure in the region, with lots of scope for the PCs to side with one faction or another. If you really want to run it pre-Enemy Within, you could either ignore the stuff about the new Elector Count entirely or simply have the political shift happen through some other means.

On the whole, then, it’s another new city supplement, in the grand tradition established by supplements like the original Middenheim book and Marienburg: Sold Up the River, and which Cubicle 7 have kept alive in this edition of the game with material like their updated Middenheim: City of the White Wolf and their brand new Altdorf: Crown of the Empire supplement. Obviously, for it to stand out it really needs to offer something distinct from the others, and in this instance I think it does.

Naturally, it’s a potentially useful gateway to seafaring adventure, and so is potentially useful for anything using Sea of Claws; in that respect, it’s perhaps a more convenient port of call to begin such things, because Marienburg can also perform that function, Marienburg is an independent city-state off in the Wasteland, which is going to be a bit trickier for Imperial PCs (which most WFRP characters will be) to reach than a city in the Empire itself.

In addition, the political situation as the newly-elevated Elector Count Gausser seeks to cement his rule and drafts ambitious plans to strike out into the Wasteland is nice and spicy – different enough from that in Marienburg to give the city’s internal politics a very different feel, but connected enough that if you have Marienburg: Sold Down the River (or if Cubicle 7 opt to put out an updated version of the supplement) those two books could very happily enrich each other, making the pairing ideal for running a campaign based around the rivalry between the two cities.

Beyond this, the smuggling and mining aspects of the town are also potentially useful and could feed into more Empire-focused campaigns – you could have the PCs come to Salzenmund to pick up some goods to smuggle, or dispatch them from there to take goods to the rest of the Empire, whenever you want to transition between a Nordland-based scenario to something taking place elsewhere in the Empire.

In short, this is the sort of supplement which could potentially enrich any WFRP campaign, unless you simply have no interest in even briefly visiting the region – and it makes a good case for Nordland being worth a visit at that.

Sea of Claws

This is constructed as the big seafaring supplement for WFRP – despite the title, it’s got system stuff to cover sailing anywhere on the Old World’s seas, with rules for ocean-going vessels and journeys, expansions of the trade system from Death On the Reik, seafaring careers, maritime monsters, and whatnot. (We also get some details on the cults of Manann and Stromfels, the accepted and illicit gods of the seas.)

That said, the title is not a complete misnomer, because it also offers a guide to the coastal regions of the Old World bordering the Sea of Claws, giving a taste of what a party may encounter if they make a stopover on the coasts of Bretonnia, the Empire, Norsca, or the Wasteland. None of these offer especially deep dives – the Marienburg writeup is perhaps the longest, but even that’s only a few pages, and I suppose other supplements may be in the pipeline to offer deeper looks at some of those subjects. Nonetheless, it gives you a fairly extensive bench of locales to work into any seafaring voyage in the region.

Although wider in geographic scope than Salzenmund, Sea of Claws is perhaps narrower in utility; I can see a way in which a clear majority of WFRP games would be able to use Salzenmund in one respect or another, but you may find that Sea of Claws is of limited utility if you intend to run a campaign which stays firmly onland, though even then some of the coastal settlements described may be of use.

In particular, Sea of Claws seems to be a supplement that exists in part to provide a mechanism to help get characters to other areas of the Old World, which Cubicle 7 can then outline; a Lustria supplement is already out in PDF. This sails into dangerous waters. The Old World setting, set as it is in a fantasy funhouse mirror version of historical Earth with quasi-Europe getting by far the most attention and development and having been largely developed in the 1980s and 1990s, is the sort of setting where if you set your game in the Empire and its immediate environs you can at least gloss over some of the dodgier and more problematic bits of worldbuilding, whereas if you go roving around the globe you’re in the position of either rehashing material which hasn’t aged so well or needing to develop a whole new take on it.

I suppose this is the challenge which Cubicle 7 have set for themselves in trying to go for a more globe-trotting range of supplements for the line; once I get my hard copy of Lustria, I’ll take a looksee and think about whether they’ve succeeded or not.

3 thoughts on “From Salzenmund To the Sea of Claws

  1. I’ve never bothered to drop you a thank you but seems today is the day so thanks for doing this blog. I came to you looking for articles of WFRP products and since then discovered you cover many old schoolish games I’m interested in, particularly their history and supplement lines, which is something not many people discuss in detail. So thanks for this article and this blog, Arthur!

  2. dry_erase

    Thanks for saying nice things about Salzenmund – I sporadically worked on fleshing out Nordland and Salzenmund for over 20 years and it’s great to see it all in print. I wanted to create something that feels different (provincial, culturally distinct, briny) to Altdorf, Middenheim and Marienburg – hopefully that comes through for GMs reading the book.

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