Warning. This post contains spoilers for Death on the Reik.
The vagaries of the Castle Wittgenstein maps in Death on the Reik came up in discussion on the Winds of Chaos forum recently. I thought I might make my own attempt to put the various issues to bed.
Castle Wittgenstein is the subject of three interlocking maps. There is a map of the castle buildings, which is presented as a poster map in the original first-edition adventure and on pp92-93 of the fourth-edition version. Beneath the castle there is a level of dungeons, detailed in Map 21 for the first edition and on p119 for the fourth. Under both these levels there are natural caverns, shown in the first edition’s Map 20 and the fourth’s map on p87.
Because each of these maps has two points of connection with the others, it is possible to orientate and scale them accurately with each other. The castle connects with the dungeons via staircases in the Great Hall and Temple. The caverns connect with the upper levels by means of two spiral staircases. Unfortunately, aligning the maps in this fashion highlights a number of inconsistencies in the first-edition maps.
First of all, the compass directions are contradictory. The map of the caverns implies the baileys of the castle are aligned in a north-south axis on the west bank of the River Reik. However, if this is correct, then the compass point labelled north on castle map actually points approximately west, and the north point on the dungeons map is actually roughly east.
Second, careful comparison shows inconsistent scales. The distance between the Temple and Great Hall staircases to the dungeons is 22 yards in the castle map, but 35 yards in the dungeon map. The dungeon map is here 1.6x bigger than the castle map. The charnel pit measures between four and six and yards wide and seven and nine yards long on the castle map (depending on how the drawn perspective is interpreted). Yet in the dungeon map it is 10 yards wide and 13 yards long. It is therefore 1.7-2.5x wider and 1.4-1.9x longer than the castle map. Neither the castle or dungeon map accords with the dimensions stated in the text, which are said to be 10 and 15 yards (p71 in the first edition, p102 in the fourth). The scales of the cavern and castle maps do, however, match each other. Both imply the spiral staircases are roughly 62 yards apart. They are not, though, consistent with the dungeon map.
Inconsistencies are not the only scaling problem. Some buildings depicted in the first edition castle map are far too small to be practical. The stalls in the stables are only one yard wide and two yards long. They are not large enough to accommodate a horse. Standing stalls are usually 4-7 feet wide and 10-12 feet long. These dimensions are 1.3-2.3x and 1.7-2.0x those shown in the map. In the aviary the text states that perches are four yards apart (p71 in the first edition, p100 in the fourth), but the entire building is only 4 yards by 6 yards in the first edition map.
The simple solution to all of these problems is to align the compass points, double the scale on the castle map and apply the same scale to the other maps. This doubles the scale of the caverns and makes minor changes to that of the dungeon map. The maps immediately below incorporate these changes.
The following composite maps show how these maps align with each other. In the first map the blue vertical lines show the alignment of the four staircases, and the red vertical lines the alignment of two corners of the charnel pit.
I have also relabelled the original maps with amended scales and compass points:
There remain some minor inconsistencies in these revised maps. The dungeon map has some small scale differences, such as the size of the charnel pit, which cannot be removed without redrawing the map. The underground stream is presented as four yards wide, when the text (p61 in the first edition, p89 in the fourth) says it is two yards. Many of the staircases are a little too wide. But these are trivial in comparison to the problems that the rescaling solves.
Capitaneus Fractus has also noted problems that the well in Hegel’s tower does does not align with the underground stream, and the castle map depicts forest over the Reik. However, the well could have another source not shown in the caverns map, and the backdrop to the poster map is stylised, showing vertical levels side by side, so should not be taken as a reliable indicator of the surroundings. Theo Axner has suggested the castle courtyards are too large, but even with a doubled scale the dimensions appear to be similar to historical English castles (such as York Castle in the 17th century CE). In my opinion these revised maps provide a good model for the castle’s structure.
The discussion above has focused on the errors in the first-edition maps. The situation of the fourth-edition maps is somewhat different. The compass point errors are not repeated in the Cubicle 7 edition, as neither the castle or dungeon maps include compass roses. The scaling errors were repeated exactly in the initial PDF release of the fourth edition scenario. In the revised PDF the scale of the castle map was doubled (after I pointed out the error), but the scales of the dungeons and caverns were not adjusted. This means the castle map scale is the same as in my corrected versions, but the other maps are not. The inconsistencies with the scale of the dungeon map are small and probably can be ignored, but the scale of the cavern map should be doubled.
Of course, there is a great big lump of warpstone under the castle, so perhaps the scales and directions were meant to be all over the place….
Thanks to everyone who discussed this issue on the Winds of Chaos and now defunct Strike to Stun forums.
For more assistance with the WFRP4 version of the Enemy Within campaign, see also my tips for GMs.
For all my Enemy Within posts, click here.
Title art by Ian Miller. Used without permission. No challenge intended the the rights holders.
12 thoughts on “CASTLE OF CHAOS”
Good stuff, as always.
I really need to get around to finishing (especially captioning in English…) my revised version of the castle and dungeon maps. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll find time in the holidays, I’ll post a link here if so.
You may be right about the big open courtyard being reasonable; to be honest I don’t remember my calculations from back then. I do think my more compact alternative layout, with both baileys being basically square, looks more like the Ian Miller cover art of the castle than the official maps do. Another oddity is that the middle gatehouse – that is, between the Outer Bailey and the watch tower – is just a mirrored version of the other two, meaning it’s set up to defend the Outer Bailey from within rather than stopping an attack pushing further into the castle.
As for the dungeons, I ended up redrawing the dungeon map completely, adding several storerooms and a Wittgenstein family crpyt.
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Also, even with the scale doubled, the walls – especially the outer walls – are much too thin. (This is unlikely to be noticed by the players, of course.) This error remains on the first draft of my redrawn map – the one I linked at Winds of Chaos – but I’ve rectified it in the unfinished second version.
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It would be great to see your revised map of the inner bailey.
You’re right about the outer bailey gatehouse being the wrong way round, but are the walls really that thin? I think they’re something like 2 yards thick with the revised scale.
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Thanks – I’ll make a serious stab at finishing it over the holidays. Theoretically I should have plenty of time what with the pandemic situation having cancelled my Christmas, but we’ll see…
As for the wall thickness, I checked and measured the new map again. As far as I can see no wall, including the outer curtain walls, come up to thicker than half a yard by the original scale, or about 1 yard with the doubled scale. This is all right for the walls of buildings like the stables and chapel, and internal walls, but the outer curtain walls need to be at least 10 feet thick, and the outer walls of towers, gatehouses and the like some 5 feet at least. But the biggest issue is with the curtain walls.
RPG companies obviously hold the opinion that clearing up inconsistencies and correcting errors do not yield enough additional appeal for their customers to be worth the effort.
I wonder if they are actually right… New products generate a lot of hpye when they come out because they look stunning. Then, only a fraction of the people hyping them actually reads them in enough detail to notice their flaws, and their criticism usually ends up in much less visible places than YouTube etc. – like this blog, for example.
Maybe it IS unreasonable to expect actually well thought out content, because it’s the wrapping that drives the sales?
I think it’s fair to say there are diminishing returns to fixing these sorts of errors, and there may not be a commercial incentive to do so.
Or, in other words, we have no reason to complain, because we do not complain enough.
Yet another fantastic post, with some very useful illustrations! My answer to the problem, though, is in accord with your final sentence. Castle Wittgenstein has become a thing of Chaos. It’s an entity in its own right, a kind of gigantic Daemon, shifting and mutating, but passive and barely conscious. Sigmar help us if it ever becomes aware…
I finally finished my set of alternate maps: https://theenemywithinremixed.wordpress.com/2021/04/10/castle-wittgenstein-alternative-maps/
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Something else I dicsovered, is that in the original edition and the 4th edition maps, the River Gate and its cavern were not large enough to reasonably fit a medium river barge.
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You’re right! Another reason to double the scale.