Rough Nights & Hard Days: A Review

Built with the aim of rejecting linear adventure writing, this slim collection of tales for Warhammer Fantasy RPG’s fourth edition blends the tangled storytelling of a Shakespearean farce with a generous helping of the blood, darkness and doom that are the setting’s calling-cards.

To describe an RPG book in those terms may sound a little presumptuous, but there really is no better way to explain it. Rather than laying out a straight line from encounter A to dungeon B, each adventure instead provides a location, a cast of NPCs and at least a half-dozen story threads that play out regardless of whether the heroes are paying attention to them.

Keeping track of so many spinning plates doesn’t make for the simplest GMing experience out there, but the free form experience it creates for the players is probably worth the trouble. The clashing, conflicting plot lines bubbling away in corners and behind closed doors helps to build the impression that they’re truly immersed in a living, breathing world – albeit one that tries kill them with some regularity.

The feeling of having leapt into a period drama piece is only magnified by the fact that each of the five scenarios laid out in the roughly 100-page book form chapters of a short campaign that propels the players into the dangerous world of the nobility. Duels, illicit lovers and courtly politics take center stage in settings that range from a seedy riverside inn to a lavish wedding party stuffed with the idle rich.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that the adventures of Rough Nights & Hard Days aren’t likely to be dominated by monster-slaying or down and dirty combat. Instead, they tend to be complex social affairs when quick tongues and keen eyes will generally be more useful than straightforward brawn.

That isn’t to say that there won’t be any heads that need cracking - this is Warhammer after all - but it’s a book that will certainly appeal more to groups that appreciate a heavy dose of politicking along their blood-spattered violence. Even if your party is packed with bustling socialites, however, you may still find that they become a little tired of the tangled-tales format if you plan on running all five adventures end-to-end.

In all honesty this could well apply to the GM too. Rough Nights & Hard Days commits hard to the idea of scattershot storytelling and though the designers have tried to make the weaving threads as clear as possible things can sometimes be clunky or tough to manage.

The events that play out each evening are laid out in a schedule of sorts, and while this is great for keeping track of which NPCs are doing what, it does sometimes feel very prescriptive, like events need to play out exactly as written no matter what. This can result in the party feeling like silent observers to the events unfurling around them, and while this is certainly realistic – and may simply be the price to pay for that wonderful immersion – it can also be frustrating.

Mixed in with this are moments where the guidance is suddenly in short supply or absent entirely. None of this will present a major problem for confident GMs, but you can’t guarantee that every single reader will be familiar enough with the game to decide how many demons represents “a hard fight.”

Even with these complaints in mind, however, Rough Nights & Hard Days is a wonderful set of adventures that bring some incredibly creative ideas to the table. On top of this, it helps that for a comparatively cheap product the presentation is just as lavish as we’ve come to expect from Cubicle 7’s WFRPG books, with wonderful art and maps filling the pages.

A handful of the adventures – A Rough Night and Nastassia’s Wedding – are reworked versions of releases for earlier editions of the game, but even if you have aging copies still hanging about your bookshelves there’s plenty of new material worth picking up here. Indeed, as well as the scenarios the book also comes with rules for a solid selection of pub games and – more importantly – creating gnome characters.

One of the joys of WFRPG is that it offers something beyond the usual dungeon crawls and magical quests of other fantasy RPGs, and Rough Nights & Hard Days is the perfect example of this. It can be a challenge to both players and GMs, but one that pays out generous dividends.

This article was contributed by Richard Jansen-Parkes (Winghorn) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!

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Richard Jansen-Parkes

Richard Jansen-Parkes


Rough Night at the Three Feathers is one of the finest adventures ever written, for any RPG, in my opinion. Worth it just for that. I'm happy to see it got a 4e update.


Really impressed with it. I’m a particular fan of the maps which are always useful. Adventures can stand alone (as they were originally written for that purpose) or can be convincingly ran together into a larger plot. There is also advice for folding into the upcoming Enemy working Campaign. I’m considering having the series replace part one of that campaign as my group had played Mistaken Identity and Shadows over Bogenhafen far too many times.

Superb article Winghorn. Really gave an idea of what the product is, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and convinced me that I MUST BUY THIS NOW!

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