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D&D 5E Campaign Diary: Converting "The Enemy Within" to 5E

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Hello! I have begun adapting the Enemy Within, a campaign from Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, to a 5E game. I thought I'd document my progress here, mostly to illustrate how converting campaigns from different systems... is less difficult than you'd imagine, and is a nice change if you're getting tired of the current slate of 5E releases. This is using material from the recent Cubicle 7 version of the Enemy Within.

Also, if you're one of my players... scram, read something else ya DM-screen peekers!

Feel free to ask me questions in the comments, but here is the slate of events. DO NOT READ if you don't want spoilers for The Enemy Within!

  • We actually started the campaign with a Zero-Level Funnel adventure, using MCDM's Arcadia rules (the adventure is called "Filthy Peasants!"). There were four players, each with 4 PCs. Although I did stress how anyone playing Humans/Elves/Dwarfs would have an easier time navigating the Empire, some of my players can't resist the wackier races. The surviving PCs were a human cleric, human warlock, dwarf-golem sorcerer (reflavored autognome), and skaven fighter (reflavored kobold).
  • Session 1, or the first of "Enemy in Shadows." This went remarkably smoothly; I did add a piece saying that mutants were officially pardoned by the Emperor (this is mentioned later in the module) to avoid the skaven being killed on-sight. Still, most folks don't like the look of him!
  • Money is obviously a big concern here... although I kept the system of 10 copper equals 1 silver, 10 silver equals 1 gold of 5E, I am largely keeping WFRP prices as written. So essentially, most prices dictated by 5E I made remarkably cheaper. Interestingly, this currency system is way more useable and rational compared to 5E's. For example, a mug of ale costs 2 brass pennies (2 copper). When's the last time you've ever used copper in a 5E game?
  • One issue with the Enemy Within as written; it is not clear why the PCs would be willing to spend money on a coach. Sure, it's the fastest and safest way to travel by road, but the party are adventurers (or at least, ratcatchers) so saving money to face more danger is their MO. My fix? I introduced the hook of getting to the military expedition in Altdorf, and added that if they don't get to Altdorf in time, the expedition will leave without them. So time is of the essence, although the PCs won't know that by the time they reach Altdorf, the expedition will have already departed.
  • The PCs did interact somewhat with the NPCs, picking up some rumors from the "rumor table." They missed how Ernst is a Chaos cultist (good outcome), haggled the coachmen down somewhat for the fare price (good), but didn't play long enough with Descartes at cards for him to begin cheating (bad outcome). I used sleight of hand or intelligence for each game of cards, giving Descartes a +6 to his rolls, and a 3-time ability to roll with advantage. Only a couple of PCs were willing to play long with him, so his win chances went exponentially up. By the end, Descartes had netted 1 gold crown for himself, so was pretty fond of the PCs.
  • The mutant encounter on the road, or the first actual combat, went smoothly. I made most of the mutants bandits, though Rolf used nurtured one of Urtrus stats and Knud used lizardfolk stats. Descartes aided the PCs, and had the stats of a spy; I'm not sure how the fight would have gone if Descartes was not there, as he was eking out a lot of damage.
 
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Playable Skaven is kind of super wacky. As the majority of the Empire is under the impression they don’t exist.
Still you do you, though personally if I were doing this setting and adventure I would not have even allowed wackier races. (I also would have just used Warhammer Fantasy as the system. So you tell my opinions are vastly different)

Still looking forward to reading about how you do this.
 


Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Playable Skaven is kind of super wacky. As the majority of the Empire is under the impression they don’t exist.
Still you do you, though personally if I were doing this setting and adventure I would not have even allowed wackier races. (I also would have just used Warhammer Fantasy as the system. So you tell my opinions are vastly different)

Still looking forward to reading about how you do this.

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Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Playable Skaven is kind of super wacky. As the majority of the Empire is under the impression they don’t exist.
Still you do you, though personally if I were doing this setting and adventure I would not have even allowed wackier races. (I also would have just used Warhammer Fantasy as the system. So you tell my opinions are vastly different)

Still looking forward to reading about how you do this.

More seriously, skaven not existing is a running joke in WFRP (and Warhammer generally) in that there is PLENTY of evidence Skaven exist, and not much of a concerted effort to hide it, and yet 99% of humans don't think they do. There was a literal massive war, led by Mandred Skavenslayer, against the Skaven, and yet in the modern day Mandred is considered a loon and skaven an old-wives tale. There's almost no reason to even want to hide skaven's existence, considering the logical leap from beastmen existing to ratmen existing is not large.

Even funnier, The Enemy Within's Companion has a Skaven in it, at a traveling zoo that keeps beastmen as exhibits... they have an albino skaven, and everyone thinks it's just a funny-looking beastmen. In another line, a rumor says "Apparently, the army fought beastmen with guns in the mountains... whoever heard of something so fanciful!" It's gaslighting at its finest, and is part of WFRP's charm.

Anyway, I've largely accepted that if we are doing 5E, I had to be a little more flexible with races... a lot of folks (myself included) have played Total War: Warhammer, and have played many races there. So players definitely want to play as something non-human, that's a big part of 5E. And sadly playing WFRP was probably never an option, as a couple of my players are very "I play 5E, nothing else," which is annoying but is the way it is.

Still, in my experience so far, converting the module to 5E has not been hard, as 5E is a very flexible system.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
All right, with session 2 under my belt, let's go through with the recap!

  • The road wardens promptly showed up now that the mutants were defeated. Knud had fled, so I'll bring him back in the next mutant encounter (a long way off). The party easily concealed the inheritance letter they found from the watch, although the module makes that very easy (the wardens don't care even if they notice the resemblance, which they didn't).
  • Essentially fast-tracked to Altdorf, as the party weren't interested in anything in the next inn. The pickpocket successfully swipes gold from the richest party member (who when she later realizes, stuffs her gems into her bra, good solution).
  • Josef shows up, I had him know our skaven (again, Josef thinks he's a dumb mutant). Everyone heads to the bar.
  • Here I had our cultists introduce themselves with their signals; when our fake "Kastelle Lieberung" tried to walk over, they fled the bar.
  • Then, our snotty nobles show up. They kick off the bar fight, where Max picks fights with the party. The party wisely did not mess with the nobles and their bodyguards; this is also hilariously when one party member realizes she's missing her coin purse, so she decides to call for the watch.
  • By the end of the fight, the nobles had left (convinced by their guards, who had been convinced by the party, that this wasn't safe and they should leave), Max was knocked out (though he had knocked down a couple PCs himself, if only briefly), and the watch cleaned it up. One party member pretends to be a noble, so the watch was very helpful, though they can't retrieve the lost coin purse.
  • Finally, on the walk to Josef's boat, the cultists try to follow them; but when the PCs try to talk to them, they are both killed by a hidden crossbowmen. No one was able to see the assassin (as the module wants) though the skaven was smart enough to do a thorough enough check to find the Purple Hand tattoo (no one knows what this sign means).

A very fun session over all! I don't think anyone, despite being long D&D players, had actually done a bar fight before, so they all loved it. This session requires a lot of notes, as a lot of things happen all at once; the pickpocket, then Josef, then the cultists, then the nobles/Max, then the cultists again... it's a lot to keep track of, so make a checklist beforehand. Other than that, used bandit captain for Max, thugs for the guards, nobles for the nobles, commoners for the cultists (they're meant to die!).
 

TheSword

Legend
I love anything Enemy Within related. Well done for converting. I’ve just started a campaign journal myself, but we’re playing in WFRP 4e.

… just checking, did you realise the fourth part of the series is about convincing the Graf of Middenheim that Skaven exist… with skaven worshipping cultists trying to stop them.
 

Divine1943

Explorer
This is fantastic. I look forward to following your adventures!
I could actually see Enemy Within getting a 5E version, wouldn’t be too far a stretch of the imagination.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
I love anything Enemy Within related. Well done for converting. I’ve just started a campaign journal myself, but we’re playing in WFRP 4e.

… just checking, did you realise the fourth part of the series is about convincing the Graf of Middenheim that Skaven exist… with skaven worshipping cultists trying to stop them.

Thanks! Yeah I definitely want to try more TTRPGs, but sadly my friend group reacts to anything non-5E like pulling teeth. Thankfully, converting this isn't hard (yet) so I haven't had much trouble.

And yes, I am aware about part 4... and I have not thought of a solution to that problem yet. That is a long way off though so I'm not too worried about it, I'm sure some answers will present themselves.

I'll add, today is session 3, and I have plugged in "The Affair of the Hidden Jewel" into the section between Altdorf and Weissbrook. Mostly because it's a pretty fun adventure, and I think would be an easy way to get the PCs to level a bit more before Bogenhafen (where they should meet their first daemonic challenges).
 

TheSword

Legend
Thanks! Yeah I definitely want to try more TTRPGs, but sadly my friend group reacts to anything non-5E like pulling teeth. Thankfully, converting this isn't hard (yet) so I haven't had much trouble.

And yes, I am aware about part 4... and I have not thought of a solution to that problem yet. That is a long way off though so I'm not too worried about it, I'm sure some answers will present themselves.

I'll add, today is session 3, and I have plugged in "The Affair of the Hidden Jewel" into the section between Altdorf and Weissbrook. Mostly because it's a pretty fun adventure, and I think would be an easy way to get the PCs to level a bit more before Bogenhafen (where they should meet their first daemonic challenges).
There is a lot of flexibility in the campaign. I like how easy it is to add interludes like that.

I’ve just finished If Looks Could Kill as a prelude to the Enemy in Shadows. I’m replacing Josef in your current section with Reiko the Bargemaster as the PCs built up quite a good relationship with him.

I’m also slotting in The Oldenhaller Contract into the Altdorf section as the players have quite a bit to do there so it would be good to give some combat meat to that section.. I also really want to run Night at the Opera for them later on in the campaign so want Oldenhaller to be introduced earlier as an NPC.

Regarding your skaven NPC if they survive that far… they could be a rival clan trying to undo their nemesis. It is kindly of ironic that a skaven might need to prove its own existence and not be passed off as a beast man. Could result in some quite existential conversations.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
There is a lot of flexibility in the campaign. I like how easy it is to add interludes like that.

I’ve just finished If Looks Could Kill as a prelude to the Enemy in Shadows. I’m replacing Josef in your current section with Reiko the Bargemaster as the PCs built up quite a good relationship with him.

I’m also slotting in The Oldenhaller Contract into the Altdorf section as the players have quite a bit to do there so it would be good to give some combat meat to that section.. I also really want to run Night at the Opera for them later on in the campaign so want Oldenhaller to be introduced earlier as an NPC.

Regarding your skaven NPC if they survive that far… they could be a rival clan trying to undo their nemesis. It is kindly of ironic that a skaven might need to prove its own existence and not be passed off as a beast man. Could result in some quite existential conversations.

These look like some pretty great additions! I'm probably not going to add much more than the Affair, as I think by Death on the Reik the party will likely to overleveled rather than underleveled... WFRP definitely considers anything supernatural like zombies or goblins as deadlier than just normal humans, which 5E does not, so there will be a weird disparity there when I hit it (essentially, the zombies they face are going to be tougher than normal 5e zombies!)

Yeah the skaven PC is a little odd, as he wants to be a "nice" skaven who got exiled for being kind of an idiot. I think a good plan is that the cultists do there best to kidnap, incapacitate, or otherwise incriminate that PC so that it is very difficult for the Graf to ever see or trust him.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
A little delayed, this will cover sessions 3 and 4. And essentially, 80% of the "Affair of the Hidden Jewel," which I have smooshed in-between the trip of Altdorf and Weissbruck.

Now, why did I do this? Couple of reasons; one, it's a pretty fun adventure that embraces a lot of swashbuckling tropes that you don't actually see much of in typical D&D adventures. And two, I think this is a great opportunity for the party to take on a low-level (but still challenging) adventure. It will give them enough XP before proceeding to Bogenhafen, where they will face the first taste of the suitably challenging daemon threat.

So! They leave Altdorf to head for Bogenhafen. A road warden patrol rides alongside, telling them to watch out for a murderer who killed a noble (one of the two that harassed the party the previous night). The party doesn't arouse suspicion, and the road warden provides a couple of sheets.

These sheets are from "The Affair" so aren't normally within "The Enemy Within." They provide two hooks, one for the head of the infamous "Black Arrow" bandit, the other asking for help for a vague job at the Crossed Lances.

Eventually, the Berebeli parks for the night at the dock of the Crossed Lances. There, the party meets Kellerman (who wants the party to help him get the jewel) and Count Amadeus von Drakensberg, who wants the Black Arrow's head. I won't get too into the weeds as you should read the adventure yourselves (it is within the Enemy Within's Companion), but the party decides to try to do both jobs when they realize the link. Although, they aren't fans of the Count, as he used to be their local lord back when the PCs were level 0 (and is in a way responsible for many of the level 0 PCs deaths).

Of course, that night, Kellerman's helper Lauengram reveals his true colors as a spy for the Black Arrow, and drops a bomb down the chimney in an attempt to kill the PCs before they begin. A PC did succeed in snuffing out the fuse before it went off, and caught sight of Lauengram, but not before he escaped by his horse.

The party then proceeded to pursue, reaching Castle Black Arrow. The party decided to take their chances with the secret entrance, in the hopes that Lauengram was not an agent of the Black Arrow.

He of course is, so the PCs land handily into the ambush laid out for them. Although the PCs valiantly tried a number of gambits, a slew of bad rolls led to Lauengram dropping another bomb down the secret tunnel, causing grievous damage and forcing the PCs into a hasty retreat. A move earth spell covered their escape.

That is where session 3 ended, with the PCs in doubt of what to do next, and planning for a long rest.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Session 4!

At this point, the PCs have leveled to 3.

The PCs have escaped, and try to cover their tracks and hide in the surrounding woods. Because one party member is an autognome (we've re-flavored it to be a dwarf construct), he decided to do the full watch while resting. Unwisely, he just sat in the open... and Lauengram's patrol was thus able to find and surprise the PCs during their rest.

This went better for the party, though it was dicey at first. They were able to kill the entire patrol including Lauengram, and decided against capture as they were still mad about falling into the ambush (and now another ambush!)

The PCs, now fully rested, tried attempt to of entering the castle. This time it was night, and the party were able to scale the first wall, taking out the wandering guards without notice. They continued their search of the castle, correctly guessing upwards was smarter, and went unseen until reaching the two guards outside the Black Arrow's (or Annalisa's) room.

This combat went fairly easily for the PC's; although Annalisa did get off a readied action when they entered her room, her threat was quickly neutralized as the party used some grappling-earth spell (forgetting its name) to make her much easier to deal with. However, with other guards alerted by the noise, if things took much longer the threat would escalate.

With Annalisa getting very hurt, she tried to negotiate, which the PCs smartly did (although they were firm about how much they hate Lauengram's guts). Annalisa was able to piece together with the PCs the idea of something tattooed to her head, and with a quick shave the location of the jewel was revealed.

Now, with Annalisa committing to not pursue the jewel herself (she assumes that the Count has laid a trap, which he has), the PCs plan to return to the Crossed Lances. Based on their actions, I'm guessing they plan to grab the jewel and hand it off to Kellerman, and bail on the Count's bounty... however, Amadeus von Drakensberg has other plans!
 

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