THE ENEMY WITHIN: THE BLOGGER’S CUT

As is obvious from other posts, I have a great affection for (bordering on an obsession with) WFRP‘s original Enemy Within campaign. I was therefore delighted when Cubicle 7 announced they will release a new Director’s Cut of the campaign.

With Graeme Davis leading the development, it promises to be an excellent release. There is no-one better qualified than him to revise the campaign.

Still, I cannot resist posting my own thoughts on the subject. They are, of course, just my personal opinions. Several of them have been discussed before in The Enemy Within: A Companion.

Warning. Spoilers for the Enemy Within campaign.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY & SHADOWS OVER BÖGENHAFEN

There is very little that I think needs to be changed in these adventures. Neither has significant problems. Some new twists and additions would be welcome, but none is really necessary.

I would, though, like to see the arrangement of some of the material in Bögenhafen adjusted. The division into the main acts (‘All the Fun of the Fair’, ‘Beneath the Town’, ‘Something Rotten’ and ‘The Darkest Hour’) works well, but the material within ‘Something Rotten’ has always seemed a little convoluted to me. It follows a narrative order, which is easy to read, but hard to use as a reference document. I think it would be easier on the GM, if this section contained a list of events in chronological order (including the follow-up with Magistrate Richter on p28*, the return of Doctor Malthusius on pp28-29* and the first meeting with Magirius on pp36-37*) and a list of locations grouped by category and presented in alphanumeric order. It would also be helpful to group the scattered background information on Bögenhafen in an appendix.

DEATH ON THE REIK

Again, I think Graeme Davis has little work to do here. It would be great if the fate of the meteorite felt like less of a cop-out, but that’s a tricky problem to fix. Also more could be made of the showdown with Etelka Herzen. But overall the adventure needs very little change.

I would slightly alter the arrangement of the content here, as well. Some material is presented chronologically (eg the Purple Hand and Red Crown sections), some geographically (eg the Barren Hills and Wittgendorf). It mostly works, but it means a few sections are in unexpected places and hard to find (eg the events around Altdorf are buried in the Delberz material on pp17-18; the final encounter with Etelka Herzen is mentioned only briefly on p21, but not in the section on the signalling device on pp30-33; the events in Grissenwald are listed out of sequence with the Red Crown material on pp22ff; the first sight of Castle Wittgenstein is not mentioned until p45; etc). Locations are also not referenced on the map of the Reikland.

Personally I would prefer most of the material to be arranged geographically and tied into an indexed campaign map. This could then be supplemented with a chronological overview, with timelines and lists of events.

Also the scale problem of the Castle Wittgenstein map needs to be addressed.

POWER BEHIND THE THRONE

This is where the work of revising The Enemy Within gets harder. In my view The Director’s Cut needs to address the neglect of the Kastor Lieberung and Gotthard von Wittgenstein plots. It also needs to strengthen the hooks to get the PCs interested in the taxes. In truth, I believe the adventure would benefit from a complete rewrite of the core tax plot. It is far too subtle, and is in any case made irrelevant by the doppelganger plot. However, I suspect such a change is too radical for the Director’s Cut project.

I would also love to see this adventure made into a huge Middenheim box set, with four books separately covering the adventure narrative, NPCs, carnival and city. Once more, that is probably too much to expect, but some reordering of the material around the different plot threads (see The Enemy Within: A Companion) would in my opinion work better than the existing arrangement.

SOMETHING ROTTEN IN KISLEV

If revising Power Behind the Throne is challenging, fixing Something Rotten in Kislev is, I think, impossible. It is too different from the rest of the campaign and requires a level of rewriting that would for the most part destroy the original. I think it would be better to drop this episode altogether or replace it with something else. Perhaps we could see The Horned Rat in print, after all.

EMPIRE IN FLAMES

Many seem to prefer the fan-made finale, The Empire at War. I have never played or run that adventure, and so am not well placed to judge it, but reading it has never persuaded me to prefer it to Empire in Flames. The Empire at War is certainly an impressive and frequently ingenious adventure, but seems to me less dramatic than the adventure it replaces. Its intricate plots often seem to leave the PCs as passengers. They spend much of their time as go-betweens, delivering messages between NPCs, rather than shaping events themselves.

For all its faults, Empire in Flames is an epic finale, with some excellent set pieces (eg ‘Death in the Afternoon’, ‘The Empire at War’ and ‘The Final Evil’). I would like to see a rewrite that preserves its plot and better sections, but replaces its weaker material.

That is no easy task. I have tried myself, but never been happy with the results. (Some of my ideas can be read in The Enemy Within: A Companion, and they are easy to criticise.) The plot of Empire in Flames requires the PCs to tread a relatively linear path. It is hard to create choice within its framework. It is also difficult to make Sigmar’s last journey easy enough for the PCs to follow, when others have failed for 2,500 years. And there is the issue of the changed character of the Emperor Karl Franz in later editions of Warhammer.

So giving the campaign the finale it deserves is no easy task. Good luck, Graeme!

FOOTNOTE

* These page references are to the GW first printing. For the Hogshead and Cubicle 7 releases, the page references are: p84, pp84-85 and pp92-93.

Title art by Ian Miller. Used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders.

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4 thoughts on “THE ENEMY WITHIN: THE BLOGGER’S CUT

  1. With regard to your comments about Power behind the Throne… I wonder if the Kastor Lieberung and Gotthard von Wittgenstein plots warrant two separate scenarios altogether, creating three Middenheim books with plots that may or may not entangle themselves.

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    1. That’s a nice idea. There is something about the Middenheim section that just invites expansion. Almost every time I look at it, I see more opportunities to add to it.

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      1. Thanks. I’m guessing that if C7 are revising the whole campaign, PbtT might be a while away yet, so maybe there’s a chance to pester them with that suggestion.

        I admit that I’ve not reread it since it was first published, but PbtT was a real eye-opener for me back in the day.

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  2. I agree about Empire at War – it looks very well written but it lacks the character of the other parts of the campaign.

    One can at least say finding Sigmar’s hammer and the new emperor Empire in Flames is an epic conclusion to the campaign – even if it could be the epic conclusion to any homebrew WFRP campaign as well as it doesn’t really build on the prior threads of TEW. Sadly I doubt EiF will be redone as it is – the Empire in WFB and Karl Franz went in a completely different direction, which is ironic given that Heinrich is basically WFB’s Karl Franz. There was a French module called Pour la Gloire d’Ulric set straight after EiF with Heinrich on the throne.

    Something Rotten in Kislev should probably be retooled as a stand-alone module, or replaced as you suggest. It’s too much of a tangent IMHO – though other folks think it is a great module. I’m not sure I’d want to see the Horned Rat done from scratch as let’s be honest the skaven are overdone in WFRP by this point.

    The Dying of the Light makes a pretty good replacement for SRiK IMHO – send the PCs chasing cultists to Marienburg and have the cult be the Purple Hand instead of Xazivort’s lot.

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