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The Enemy Within Campaign Journal (Spoilers)

TheSword

Legend
So after discussing WFRP and it’s rules on a few other threads I thought I would post the campaign journal on how we get on. This will be from a DMs perspective and like all campaign journals will contain spoilers. However if you comment please don’t reveal stuff from the campaign that my players might not have got to yet. At least some will probably read this.

We have four characters Luchs von Schwertkrieg a stern and unyielding witch hunter’s interrogator. Hilda con Lustfahrt a down on her luck Riverwarden. Alexis von Falkenberg an ernest noble scion, and Viktor Schaumer an close-lipped bounty hunter.

Session One

The adventure began on a rickety river barge called the Trandafir. All the characters had been hired by a young entrepreneur, Rutger Reuter to accompany the barge carrying building materials and its Strigany crew to a building site for a new mill down river. The only stable ground for miles around because of the swamp that lies either side of the river here. Luckily it’s in the direction of Altdorf, where all the characters are heading to for their own reasons. So a couple of days barge duty has to be better than walking, right?

After introductions are facilitated by young Rutgar he returns to his cabin and the PCs are approached by Reiko the Strigani boatman who’s team have been hired to transport the materials and build the mill. He has his concerns but remains optimistic that this job will allow him to return to Ubersreik and let him spend a year or two there with his daughters. He warns to pay his grandmother Vadoma no heed with her talk of curses and doom. She is ensconced at the prow of the ship. Hilda has heard of this stretch of the river and is surprised that they are building as development has always been forbidden by the local lord.

When the PCs approach Vadoma, who is swathed in black scarfs, they find her muttering and rocking. Whispering about the curse on this part of the river, and the beast of the Ortschlamm Marsh. Luchs struggled to get any more out of her, until they pass a bend in the river. At that point she whooped with delight and says that they are now free of the beast. Unfortunately at that point the barge strikes something in the water and comes to an abrupt halt hurling Vadoma into the cold fast flowing water.

Luchs tries to reach out and grab her but his timing was off and he topples into the water after her. Viktor too was thrown over a rail while Alexis and Hilda keep their feet. Getting rope to throw after them Hilda saw something big moving through the water towards the splashing Vadoma. Screaming stirpike at the top of her lungs she shouted for everyone to get out of the water. Alexis leant over the railing ready for someone to pass Vadoma up to her. Meanwhile the stirpike - a vicious river predator 12 feet long goes for Viktor. One savage bite almost kills him leaving him prone and clinging to life. Luchs heaved Vadoma out of the water into Alexis grasp and then drew his sword, wading throw the water to engage the stirpike. Meanwhile Victor mustered his resolve and surges to his feet engaging the beast with his sword. Hilda tied off a rope to the edge of the barge so those in the water have something to help them out and repeated that they should get out of the water.

Alexis instead leapt over the rail to land behind the stirpike and slashed it a mighty cut with his rapier. The Stirpike thrashing in the water appeared to turn on Alexis but only so it could slam Viktor with its fluked tail, knocking him back down. Luchs slashes with his sword but only gets a slash on his cheek for his trouble from a fluked tail. Wiping away the blood he snarls at the mighty fish. A lump hammer taken from a nearby crate, comes spinning over his head and strikes the fish hard as Hilda gets ready to throw another one, her strong muscles flexing.

The fish seems panicked now as Alexis tries again to strike it. And Hilda’s next tool strikes it again gouging a line in its side. Viktor feels the fish crush his ankle as it thrashes and rolls, being knocked back underwater for the third time. While Luchs gets in a lucky hit. The stirpike, bleeding hard, smashes past the group who now outnumber it and swims powerfully upstream. The Strigany are also throwing things from the crates at it as it passes until Rutger comes out of his cabin and begs them to stop wasting his materials.

The PCs climb out of the water with help of the rope and the others on the barge and Luchs prepares to take a look at Viktor’s many wounds.

End of session 1
XP Awarded.
50 for roleplay.
25 for saving Vadoma’s life.

**********

This was a really fun first session. The majority was taken up by character creation but if you know what you want to play this is relatively straightforward. Players chose race, class and career and then randomized everything else. Two players rolled really badly so I let them add +2, +3 and +4 to three stats (not their highest or lowest) which brought them in line with the others. They also got 100 bonus experience to start as the noble character really wanted to be able to read and be of noble blood, which I thought was fair.

The roleplay was fun as can be expected in WFRP. Career gives you far more inspiration to work off than D&D classes.

The combat was very interesting. It was a great first combat. Advantage kept swinging each way as it is supposed to do. Large creatures can be brutal… the stirpike did 22 damage to Viktor in the first round, he avoided the crit by sacrificing his leather Jack. Large monsters can hit like a south bound freight train!

Resolve made a big difference, keeping Viktor up and fighting. He took 2 crits so was two more away from death/ spending a fate point. To be honest the same could have applied to a character with a lot more stats. It was just bad luck.

All in all the combat felt really dramatic and I was very pleased. It gave lots of opportunities to practice the rules and flowed quickly. Advantage was really easy to track with Roll20 tokens and the dice rolling felt really fast. Though of course it was just one creature.

In case anyone is an Enemy Within aficionado, you’ll notice this isn’t the normal start to the campaign. I’ve added a prologue module to help us pick up the rules.
 
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GuyBoy

Adventurer
By Sigmar's grace, I play Luchs von Schwertkrieg in this campaign, and Chaos will be purged from the Holy Empire.....
Seriously, it was an excellent session. I wasn't especially familiar with the WFRP system but it proved to be both elegant and intuitive, and will, I think, prove to be pretty flexible as characters develop. Fighting chest-deep in cold water wasn't easy and what the big fish did to poor Viktor was a whole lot more than "because it bit my finger so..."
 

TheSword

Legend
I think what I like, is that I can’t imagine a big fish with one attack around being any kind of challenge or interesting encounter in D&D. Whereas something about the WFRP system makes it far more engaging. I’ll think on’t.
 

TheSword

Legend
Session Two

The party recently out of the water do their best to tend Victors wounds. Luch’s heavy handed sticking combined with Alexis prodding the gaping wound in his leg caused Victor to pass out. Luckily Mother Vadoma who they had saved from the river did a much better job of stitching him up.

Hilda realized the boat was in trouble and the over-burdening, and uneven balance combined with damage to the hull was going to leave the Tradalfar in trouble. Quickly marshaling as much goods as possible they unloaded the cargo just before it catastrophically split down the middle and sank.

The Party agreed to carry goods through the swamp along with the Strigany provided they were paid an increase on their existing wage - 25 shillings to be paid when they reached camp. Rutger showed them a chest with two locks, of which he had one key. His partner Johanna Stiegler had the other. Rutgar made several promises and assured the group that the camp wasn’t far but it was clear he was putting on a brave face and not as confident as he felt. Reiko thanked the party for saving his grandmother and swore friendship to them.

After six hours miserable trudging through the swamp they reached the building site just before nightfall. Introduced to Thulgrim the Dwarf Foreman of the site they were taken aback how slapdash the place was. Waterlogged foundations, unsafe scaffolding and shoddy tools. Thulgrim introduced himself and took them to Stiegler to get paid. She was not best pleased, trying to sleep in her wagon, redrimmed and bloodshot eyes with a fraying temper. At first she refused to pay the promised fee, showing her disgust at the exorbitant rates Rutger had promised but eventually agreed and removed her key, in exchange for some future work on the morrow. Stiegler was a local and knew the area well.

Before bed they headed up to a mound north of the camp that Hilda recognized as Oghams. Standing stones common to the hills of the Reikland. In this case a black basalt hexagon with sides chiseled clear of markings. There were no signs of beast tracks though there was something unnatural to the strange stone and the mist that clung to the Oghams. The Strigany gratefully provided a place to rest and good honest food. Their sleep that night was troubled by horrible nightmares, a baleful eye, claws, and the feeling of being bound and bent backwards over cold stone. All but Hilda woke more tired than they were when they went to sleep.

Thulgrim provided breakfast and directed them to clear the standing stones for Stiegler. Promising them each a shilling a piece for the work. After some discussion about whether it was a good idea to topple a standing stone they decided to see if the chiseled markings above ground continued below. Sure enough they did beneath the earth which was already loose - and the covered markings were not defaced. Carved reliefs of monstrous one eyed creatures raiding villages and worshiping a female leader, who commanded a great eight legged beast seemingly sending lightning from its eyes. The carvings showed the matriarch was buried beneath the Ogham.

Deciding to dig deeper and see if the creature was still buried below they toppled the ogham and excavated the mound, attracting Thulgrim interest as they did. When they struck a waterlogged coffin they were able to find the remains of the ancient creature and several gold torcs. It was all burnt under Luch’s direction and the agreement of the party including the torcs, despite being promised a finders fee and Thulgrims Protests. The oppressive mood over the camp lifted and the party were welcomed by the Strigany who celebrated until dusk.

As night was falling, Thulgrim approached the party to say he was looking to pay them and while he’d got Stieglers key, he couldn’t find Rutger. The party helped them look and while his tent was empty they did find flattened grass and strange three toed prints a yard long in the marsh. These led to Rutger’s body. Arm ripped off and seemingly gnawed at the stump. Covered in blood with the paychest key still around his neck. The Strigany dismayed at the loss of the man that had contracted them expressed intention to leave. After a small argument, between Stiegler and Thulgim over who would have Rutgers key, the party handed it to Thulgrim for safe keeping.

Stiegler offered 10gc for whoever would kill the beast that did this to Rutgar and the party agreed, setting off into the swamp with a rowboat and lanterns. The tracks were surprisingly clear and Victor felt something was strange. After a few hours travelling and about to take a rest the party we’re confronted by three rough looking locals running through the trees screaming “it’s after them”. One dropped a long pole as they ran. Behind them a massive eight legged monster loped, eyes clouded with character acts, limbs palsied and gait uneven. It seemed to be withered and decrepit.

Despite its size and potential strength, the creature seemed clumsy and the party was able to use it awkwardness against it. Surrounding the beast and hacking and slashing at it. It retaliate by attacking Victor (of course) but he was able to evade its trembling claws. Trying to run, it was easily caught and brought low, vicious cuts to one of its legs eventually causing it to bleed out.

Victor discovered the long pole had a board shaped like a triangle with three protuberances. They also noticed the beast had four toes on each foot not three. Some firm words from Luchs… and being surrounded convinced the three locals to surrender and admit to smothering Rutger on the orders and pay of Johanna Stiegler. Who was trapped in

a nightmare contract with a reckless and incompetent Rutger. After he spent a years funds in three months and suffering from exhaustion and nightmares Stiegler paid three local bully boys to do the deed and pretend it was the Ortshlamm beast to cover their tracks. The party arrested the three and got them to drag the beast back to the boat and all return to camp.

When they arrived they realized that the strigany were almost gone only the last few wagons remaining. Thulgrim had taken the Stiegler-Reuter paychest and disappeared (Thulgrim already had Stieglers key before the commotion of the murder and the party had actuallly given him the second without realizing the impact. He appeared long gone. Stiegler seemed a broken woman and after paying the party the 10gc she promised, soon confessed to her crime with little prodding. The ruination of her business left her little choice but to dispose of Rutger though it was clear she regretted her actions… mumbling “the nightmares the terrible nightmares.”
The adventure ended with the party with Stieglers wagon, four prisoners and the body of the Basilisk as they intend to head for a road and their journey towards Altdorf.

XP Awards
50 for roleplaying
25 for unearthing the stones and putting the bones to the flame
50 for defeating the Beast of the Ortschlamm
25 for dealing with Stiegler and her thugs.
 

TheSword

Legend
Another very enjoyable session.

Liking the rules a lot so far. Healing is by no means easy, though having reduced wounds didn’t stop Victor carrying on (though the adventure structure didn’t leave him much choice). The beast was a pretty easy fight but only because I rolled abysmally failing most defense rolls by -5 or more every time. Outnumbering bonuses can stack up and I had already reduced these a bit from +40/+20 to +20/+10. I’m happy with how the combat went though. The beast was intentionally old and infirm, further crippled by the destruction for the standing stones of Grausee - unknown to the PCs.

The story was beautifully written and a lot of fun to DM. It’s called If Looks Could Kill and was the first adventure released by Cubicle 7 for the 4th edition. A play on words for the animosity between Rutger and Stiegler as well as the big Basilisk Beastie near the end.

some highlights for me…

- The strigany while travelling laborers, clearly based on the Traveller community defied the traditional stereotypes. Instead of being mistrust-worthy servents of evil with irrational with irrational superstitions, they were in the Grausee marshes because they’d contracted to do so and were determined to fulfil that contact. They weren’t superstitious… they were right - there really was an Ortschlamm Beast and the stones they were wary of were a place of evil magic. Lastly they were reliable and it was Rutgers short cuts and incompetence that meant the building site was slapdash, not the strigany. Reiko was a likeable character and I hope to see him return - possibly with his family.

- I loved the multi-layered story, On the surface the building site was a mess and the superstitious strigany doing a half-arsed job amid bickering amongst the business owners and the exasperated dwarf foreman. Stiegler ignorantly ordering the destruction of standing stones. What kind of adventurer knocks down standing stones!

- Then you realise that the stones are evil and there is something more sinister happening in the marsh with the fimir evil magic and the nightmares. Perhaps the beast is real. The death of Rutger was a nice shock and the PCs naturally took Thulgrims side over the abrasive, worn down Stiegler.

- Discovering Stieglers plot and the fake tracks - and the cause - Rutgers incompetence net ruining the venture was a nice twist - human weakness and vice uncovered with some sense of justice…

… but then you realize the Ortschlamm beast is real after all and chasing the murderers, giving the PCs chance to defeat a chaos beast after all as well as obtain a really interesting (if macabre) and potentially valuable ‘treasure’.

- I had a lot of sympathy for Johanna Stiegler (maybe because I’m a manager too). I suspect I played her a bit too abrasively and she wasn’t likeable enough - she did contract out a murder though! It’s really satisfying to have an adventure that can end in adventurers taking the villains into custody (especially villains with an understandable motive. Rather than them slaughter everyone in a series of fights. I’m not sure why WFRP plays so well this way. Maybe it’s just the way the world and the adventures are written.

- Most of all, there are lots of loose ends.
Where has Thulgrim gone with a chest of Stiegler-Reuter gold?
How with the Reuter family react to their sons murder?
How will they bring Stiegler and her hired help to justice?
What will the Stiegler family do if that happens?
What will they do with the basilisk corpse?

The prologue is finished. All to see in the next part. Mistaken Identity. Part one of Enemy in Shadow.
 
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TheSword

Legend
I did promise details of the player characters…

Luchs von Schwertkrieg
Interrogator - Career 1 Witch Hunter

Son of a captain in the state Infantry of Ostermark.
Left home at 18 to follow his uncle, a warrior priest of Sigmar. Raised in the faith.
Returned home to find his sister missing - disappeared when riding 3 years ago. He’s desperate to find her.

Motivation: Doing Sigmar's work, love for his sister.

Short Term Goal: Reach Altdorf as he heard his sister had been seen there and attain the seal of a witch hunter in Altdorf

Long Term Goal: Find his sister.

307030CA-543D-49F7-9C84-2E5AE42EF8B6.jpeg
 
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TheSword

Legend
Hilda von Lustfahrt
River Recruit - Career 1 Boatwarden

Hilda is the daughter of the Lustfahrt family of pleasure cruises. Ruined when their most luxury ship sank on the Reik, taking her parents… and one too many powerful nobles with them to the watery depths.
Forced to take whatever work she could on the river while keeping a low profile.
Practical and down to earth. Totally unimpressed with her fathers reckless and risky attempts to build the family fortune by cutting corners.
Has a habit of working on boats that sink… the campaign didn’t start well for her then!

Motivation: Survival and being Prepared

Short Term Goal: Getting a boat of her own.

Long Term Goal: Earning enough to retire comfortably.

26631F0B-CCAF-442D-86FF-5D516453FD4D.jpeg


The other two PCs to follow tomorrow…
 

GuyBoy

Adventurer
Luchs Von Schwertkrieg POV:
The wagons make slow time through the swamp, the road, such as it is, being soggy and thick with looping mud. The prisoners in the back seem cowed and beaten; as they should, for they murdered a man whose only sin was profligacy and incompetence, and the Emperor’s justice must prevail. If Fraulein Stiegler thought to find mercy in my heart by blaming the dreams, she was mistaken. Sigmar’s court will determine her fate.
The dwarf, Thulgrim, appears to have escaped with some riches. His villainy is of the mundane type. Viktor is skilled at tracking such crooks, perhaps he will, perhaps he won’t. For me, I hunt Chaos, and hopefully, in so doing, save my dearest Margrethe.
I will speak to the highest ranked priest in the next town, showing the rubbings from the stone and the dead basilisk, that we may increase our knowledge of the threats faced by our Holy Empire.
It was a bravely done deed; casting down dark megaliths of evil, burning foul remains in Sigmar’s holy flames, defeating a monster of Chaos, and uncovering a murderous plot.
Alexis is a noble warrior, who deserves the recognition and glory he craves, hurling himself so boldly into peril and fighting like a lion of Araby.
Viktor, too, fights so courageously through terrible wounds. His fame will surely spread, though I am mindful of the comment of the infamous artist, Andreas Warholstein Von Pittsbergen, who wrote of the dangers of fleeting fame.
Perhaps Hilda is the wisest of us all. Simple courage. Simple desires. As honest as the Empire is mighty. She will always sleep the soundest at night.

Praise Sigmar!
 

TheSword

Legend
It’s worth saying as well. I’ve said it before, using Roll20 for WFRP takes 90% the calculation, and complication out of the combat system. It’s fast and tracking advantage is a doddle. As a DM I can instantly update everyone’s character sheets with advantage by using the blue circle on their character token. I’ve also set it up with a visible bar for players with a max limit of everyone for 5, and they can see how other foes and characters have advantage or not.
 

GuyBoy

Adventurer
I'll 'fess up to this being my first experience of online gaming, and it's been so easy that I growl at my long-term technophobia. Roll 20 is brilliant and makes WFRP as easy as falling off a log. Most of the complicated bits are done for you and the quality of role-playing can flourish.
 

TheSword

Legend
Alexis von Falkenburg
Scion - Career 1 Noble

Son of a Middenheim Noble
Father sounds like the quintessential noble jackass a powerful politician and authoritarian. Fled a forced marriage and now trying to make a name for himself outside the patronage of this overbearing father.

Motivation: Glory

Short Term Goal: To meet up with his manservant in Altdorf

Long Rerm Goal: Receive a medal of commendation from the Emperor himself.

638C8E3D-FF01-4EB8-B8FE-7248CD608AFB.jpeg
 

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