Warning. Spoilers for the Enemy Within campaign.
In my review of Enemy in Shadows I bemoaned the lack of any outline of the future course of the revised Enemy Within campaign, and others have made similar observations. I thought therefore I would attempt to read Graeme Davis’ mind, and see if I can divine what the rest of the campaign might hold in store.
The available evidence falls into two types. First of all, we can glean some information from the original campaign. The first two parts of the new edition, Enemy in Shadows and Death on the Reik, have followed the old scenarios closely. The remaining parts are likely to depart further from the previous versions, but will probably still draw on them for some material.
The second category of evidence comprises various published hints about the content of the new versions. They include comments in the new adventure texts and other remarks by the authors.
To this evidence I will add a good dose of conjecture. This should, of course, be treated with caution. My prior attempts to predict the shape of the new campaign have been mixed. Some have been bang on, but at other times my aim has been wide of the mark.
POWER BEHIND THE THRONE
The central plot of the original adventure concerns a conspiracy by the Purple Hand to take over the city of Middenheim. The head of the cult in the city has achieved by nefarious means influence over senior political figures, and used it to introduce a series of taxes to weaken the city’s defences against Chaos. In the climax of the adventure he goes further and seeks to kill the Graf and replace him with a doppelgänger.
It seems likely that this plot will be substantially repeated. It has already been confirmed that the new Power Behind the Throne will be based on the original. There is also a comment in the new adventures that hints at the same plot:
This will play rather nicely into the matter of Middenheim’s new taxes, a key story point in Power Behind the Throne.
– Death on the Reik Companion, p18
There were, however, a number of respects in which the original Power Behind the Throne did not link well with the preceding parts of the campaign.
First, the Kastor Lieberung subplot is quickly abandoned. Mathias Blucher’s ruse delivers his double to a Purple Hand safe house in Middenheim, but the house has recently been cleared by a witch hunter, and the story hits a dead end.
Second, the Gotthard von Wittgenstein lead goes cold. Von Wittgenstein does appear in the original Power Behind the Throne, but the GM is strongly discouraged from allowing the PCs to pursue him. A supplementary adventure outline in Warhammer City describes a plot by him to kidnap children and sacrifice them to summon a horde of demons, but this is brief and never worked into the main adventure.
Third, Death on the Reik suggests the Red Crown cult is based in Middenheim. This lead is never followed up.
All of the same plots have been retained in the new Enemy in Shadows and Death on the Reik. It is to be hoped that this means more will be done with them on this occasion. However, the size and complexity of Power Behind the Throne present difficulties in expanding the scenario. Cubicle 7 may struggle to fit the adventure into their target page count and GMs struggle to run the scenario even without expansion. The Power Behind the Throne Companion might allow more room to address these issues, but it seems to me unlikely that there will be extended treatment of them, based on the format of the Companions released to date.
There may also be other changes to link Power Behind the Throne better to later instalments on the campaign. It is suggested that events in Middenheim could have a critical impact on The Horned Rat:
If the adventurers are not in Middenheim during this year’s carnival, they cannot thwart the evil plan in Power Behind the Throne and the city will fall. Consequently, the events of The Horned Rat could devastate the Empire….
– Death on the Reik, p133
I will return to what this comment might mean in part two of this post.
THE HORNED RAT
The next part of the original campaign was planned to be The Horned Rat, but this adventure was never written. Instead, an entirely different scenario was inserted, Something Rotten in Kislev, in which the PCs are sent to Kislev on an unrelated matter concerning an ancient necromancer.
The remake will replace Something Rotten in Kislev with The Horned Rat, and so the original campaign tells us essentially nothing about the new version. We do, however, know a little about plans for The Horned Rat from a comment by one of the campaign’s original authors:
The Horned Rat idea was all mine. Mine, I tell you. Who knows how it might have panned out, but I had this idea that a bunch of Skaven were developing a means of bringing Morrslieb down to earth… and/or they had created a portal to enable them to teleport to the surface to mine it… Chaos-mutations a-plenty!
– Phil Gallagher, Graeme Davis’ blog
Since the stated intention of the new version of the campaign is to return to the authors’ original intentions, it seems likely the plot of the new Horned Rat will follow this outline. What little has been said about the adventure so far is at least consistent with this:
Book 4: The Horned Rat examines the vile Skaven, a race of Chaotic rat-people that burrows beneath the Old World in search of the magical mineral known as Warpstone.
– Enemy in Shadows, p7
Graeme Davis has dropped a further hint that The Horned Rat will involve mountain travel:
The last two adventures in The Enemy Within Director’s Cut are in the process of writing and development at the time of this posting. Both involve some mountain travel….
– Graeme Davis, blog post
The nearest mountains to Middenheim, where Power Behind the Throne takes place, are the Middle Mountains. On the other hand, there are some reasons to believe that the PCs have to travel to the Grey Mountains. Theo Axner has pointed out a rumour in Death on the Reik:
Crown Prince Hergard von Tasseninck has been killed while on an expedition in the Grey Mountains. He was the only son and heir of Grand Prince Hals von Tasseninck, the ruler of Ostland. Some of them that were with him came back raving about beastmen using guns! Have you ever heard such tripe!
– Death on the Reik, p17
Axner has suggested the “beastmen using guns” might, in fact, be skaven, perhaps implying a connection with The Horned Rat. The evidence is tentative, but it is a plausible hypothesis.
Intriguingly there are some pregnant comments in Enemy in Shadows and Death on the Reik that suggest doubles of the Emperor are part of the plot of The Horned Rat:
Unknown to the Characters, this is not the actual Emperor. This is one of his doubles. The real Emperor is convalescing in the Imperial Palace across the river, some distance away. The double is abroad to still the rumours of his increasing frailty.… It’s important the Characters see the Emperor’s double for reasons that will become clear in The Horned Rat.
– Enemy in Shadows, p34
The Emperor has been seen in public, soothing public fears that he was sick, mutated, or worse. He took part in an investiture ceremony for new members of the Reiksguard, one of the Empire’s elite military units. However, at least one source reports hearing that the Emperor did not look like himself, and indeed may not have been: ‘He’s got a double to throw off assassins — everyone knows that. And he stumbled over the words of the Oath of Loyalty when he gave it to the new recruits. My brother-in-law was there — Altdorf born and bred, he is — and he’s seen the Emperor enough times to know when he’s looking at an imposter.’
– Death on the Reik, p67
There is no further information on the role the doubles play, but I believe we might be able to glean some clues from the original campaign. The cancellation of The Horned Rat in the original campaign meant that its conclusion was compressed into a single volume, Empire in Flames. Consequently many of the events in that adventure seem compressed. The restoration of The Horned Rat in the new version may mean that some material previously included in Empire in Flames will be brought forward into The Horned Rat to allow a more gradual development of the story.
This, of course, assumes that the new campaign will follow some of Empire in Flames’ plot. This seems to me likely. Empire in Flames was intended from the start to be the finale to the original campaign, and its writing was supervised by the campaign’s original design team. Therefore, the outline of its plot probably reflects to a considerable degree the authors’ original intentions (even if its implementation is unsatisfactory). Since the new campaign is seeking to return to those original intentions, I believe key features of Empire in Flames will be preserved. Further, hints about Empire in Ruins suggest important similarities with Empire in Flames. This is discussed further in the analysis of Empire in Ruins in part two of this post.
Empire in Flames begins dramatically with the death of the Emperor Karl Franz. If this part of the story is to be retained in the revised version of the campaign, it poses a significant problem, as Karl Franz remains alive in the later WFB background. The presence of doubles, however, would allow the authors ways around the problem. The apparent death of the Emperor could subsequently be revealed to be merely the death of a double. Alternatively, the real Emperor could die and a double take his place, as suggested by James Wallis. I note that Graeme Davis has commented cryptically in interviews that the Karl Franz is WFRP4 is “both” the weakened figure of WFRP1 and the heroic warrior of WFB4 onwards.
The Horned Rat might therefore include the apparent death of the Emperor. This might be what the following prophecy refers to:
Lo, the Horned Rat then claims the Broken King atop his Throne of Lies.
– Enemy in Shadows, p32
“The Broken King” could refer to the infirm Emperor, and “The Throne of Lies” to the presence of an imposter. On this interpretation, the statement that “The Horned Rat claims the Broken King” would suggest that the skaven cause the death of the Emperor or one of his doubles.
This raises the matter of what threat might lead to the death. In Empire in Flames the Emperor is assassinated. The matter is dealt with only cursorily, but the murder is attributed to religious extremists, and prompted by schism between the cults of Sigmar and Ulric. Rising tensions between the cult of Sigmar and Ulric also feature in the new adventures, so it is possible that the same situation will occur in the revised campaign. However, this would seem to have little to connect it to the skaven and the prophecy above. Moreover, the religious schism is likely to play an important part in Empire in Ruins, and may therefore not be connected with The Horned Rat. If the Emperor is to be assassinated, the circumstances may be quite different from Empire in Flames.
Another possibility is that the Emperor dies as a result of sickness. There are numerous rumours of his illness in the new adventures, and the text implies that, as in the original campaign, they are true. This might neatly link with the involvement of skaven. The difficulty is that the real Emperor is stated to be ill, not one of his doubles. If illness is the cause of death, then the real Emperor cannot survive, and it entails an imposter taking the throne. I find it unlikely that GW would consider it acceptable to rewrite Karl Franz as a fake, but it is not impossible. Perhaps the imposter might be portrayed as the true heir of Sigmar, though that would rely on implausible coincidence.
Neither of these possible causes of death has any obvious connection to the warpstone that might be the core of the Horned Rat plot. Nor do they explain the following well:
Altdorf Zoo’s been shut for weeks. I heard Deathclaw, the Emperor’s Griffon, went on a rampage. Probably because the Emperor hasn’t been to see him for months.
This rumour is common in Altdorf, and is true: the Emperor is avoiding his Griffon for reasons that will become clear in later instalments of The Enemy Within.
– Enemy in Shadows, p15
However, early draft material of Empire in Flames describes a situation that might fit more neatly. In the draft there is a remarkable scene where the Emperor is revealed to be a mutant and a worshipper of the Chaos gods. It does not appear in the published text, but it is possible that it could be reinstated. The campaign has already mentioned rumours that the Emperor is a mutant, and it would certainly tie in with Phil Gallagher’s “Chaos-mutations a-plenty”. It might also seem to explain the issuance of the Emperor’s decree regarding the treatment of mutants.
The Emperor has issued a new edict declaring that there are no Mutants in the Empire. The practice of exiling or slaughtering those unfortunate enough to carry some sort of physical deformity purely because of their appearance is henceforth illegal and punishable by death.
This rumour is, somewhat unbelievably, entirely true… The reasons why the Emperor would allow such an edict are explained in the last instalment of The Enemy Within, Empire in Ruins, and cause significant political upheaval everywhere.
– Enemy in Shadows, p57
… some experts believe — wrongly, as it happens — that the cult of the Red Crown is somehow responsible for the Emperor’s recent Mutant Edict.
– Death on the Reik Companion, p95
However, this seems to me improbable. The inclusion of this idea would go against its rejection in the past. It would also probably require Empire in Ruins to make further changes to the narrative of Empire in Flames, as in that adventure the Crown Prince is revealed to be a mutant (see part two of this post). Finally, it is stated above that the reasons for the mutant edict will not be revealed until Empire in Ruins.
Of course, it is also possible that the doubles do not relate to the death of the Emperor at all. They could be part of a conspiracy where they are used to take control of the Imperial throne (though this would be uncomfortably similar to Power Behind the Throne). In the prophecy above, “The Horned Rat claims the Broken King” might then mean that the Emperor falls under the control of the skaven.
Frustratingly, I have found it impossible to put these pieces together in any conclusive way. All of the hypotheses discussed above are possible, but all have difficulties. Moreover, the incompletion of our information perhaps means the most likely options are ones not even covered here. To settle on a particular view of The Horned Rat, I would have to stray from wild speculation to pure invention. It might be that the Emperor is being poisoned by skaven, but recovers, only to be assassinated by Ulrican extremists. There could be a plot to replace the Emperor with one of his doubles. Perhaps the Emperor is a mutant, after all, but the PCs find a way to reverse the effects. The possibilities are endless.
Fortunately, however, firmer conclusions can be drawn about Empire in Ruins….
Part two of this post considers the possible content of Empire in Ruins.
Title and internal art by Ralph Horsley et al. Used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders.