THE ENEMY WITHIN TO COME, PART ONE

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.

Ralph Horsley, Power Behind the Throne, 2020

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.

Horned Rat

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.

Emperor

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.

Skaven

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.

30 thoughts on “THE ENEMY WITHIN TO COME, PART ONE

  1. I often wonder if seed ideas for the original Horned Rat were recycled into the very well regarded Terror in Talabheim adventure for 2nd Edition WFRP.
    The adventure was written by three authors including TS Luikhart buy also credited is Original Concept: Graeme Davis. I know Graeme had some involvement before with the Horned Rat and is certainly writing it now, so we might see some ideas picked up again from Terror on Talabheim or put to their original use.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have wondered the same, too. The only problem is that Graeme Davis seemed not to know much about the original adventure when asked about it, and deferred to Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it would be good to hear the inside story after all these years, though I might have to write some more effusive reviews before I ask the question! 😉

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  2. I think it is also worth looking at the WFRP3 version of The Enemy Within for clues. Although it is largely unconnected to the original it does have some content recycled from earlier products, and I suspect that some of it will be recycled in the WFRP4 version.

    The skaven are involved in a big way, for example, there’s a false Emperor, and The Changeling also plays a role in the climax; I know that the Changeling has been mentioned as being involved in the new TEW, and I don’t think it was in the original.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good point. It’s a shame it’s no longer available. I’d love to pick up some PDFs of WFRP3 material, if they were made available like those for WFRP1 and WFRP2.

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      1. I can help you with that. I can answer questions about it, or I can loan you my physical copy, as I’m not using it any more.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That’s extremely kind of you. I’m reluctant to ask you to ship it off to a stranger, so I’ll have a think about some questions to bother you with.

        I do think you might be on to something. There has been a marked tendency to reuse existing material, including from WFRP3. I recall Graeme Davis gave a quite non-committal answer when asked at GenCon about including the WFRP3 Enemy Within in the Director’s Cut. The plot you describe has clear similarities with my guesswork.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, the book is sitting in a box in the garage being of no use to anyone, so I’m happy to post it to you if you’d like. Let me know! My gmail account is thekelvingreen if you want to discuss further, or if you prefer, ply me with questions.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks. I’ve emailed you about it.

        I also checked out Graeme Davis’ “non-committal” comment about including the WFRP3 Enemy Within. His exact words were “You’re going to have to wait and see. I have to be very careful with spoilers, as I also have to be careful with promises.”

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    2. The Changeling was detailed somewhat substantially in a Grognard box in EiS. I suspect it will be picked up in later sections.

      I’m not fully up with 3rd edition – I actually own all of it, but due to real life never got the chance to play as my gaming group ended up dispersing throughout the country. I’ve been meaning to read through the campaign for some time as I suspect there’ll be links due to the plans of dragging the editions to a more coherent present.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Not sure I’d call that bit in EiS “substantial”. It did have some fairly concrete staging suggestions, but you get no idea why things would happen like that. And you don’t get much wiser from the writeup in the 3E TEW either.

        The most substantial writeup on the Changeling I’ve seen is actually from the Warhammer fandom wiki, based on the 8E Daemons of Chaos book, which I suppose is where it originates from (3E WFRP was contemporary with 8E WFB, wasn’t it?). https://warhammerfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Changeling

        As I think I’ve noted before, it reads like a supremely annoying character.

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      2. @theoaxner

        Sorry, I can’t seem to reply directly to you for some reason.

        I meant somewhat substantial for a grognard box. It seemed to me to get enough additional attention for a Grognard Box that it is something to come back to later (PBtT/EiR).

        Yes, from what I’ve seen, it’s a built-in Diablo ex machina/ass pull device. If used with care, it could add a nice bit of mystery, but as a primary protagonist, I think it would be more of a frustration.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for writing this post – I was vaguely planning to write one on the same subject myself, but this is better and thorough than what I would have come up with. Also, thanks for the shout-out, again. 🙂

    I hadn’t really considered the possibility that plot elements from Empire in Flames would be distributed over both The Horned Rat and Empire in Ruins, though it’s kind of obvious once pointed out.

    I expect we’ll get more into this in part 2, but there’s also the factor of the apparent intent to tie the new version in with the later development of Warhammer canon, including (sigh) the End Times.

    Another open question (though perhaps also more for part 2) is how and to what extent the whole Ubersreik metaplot is going to figure into the new TEW. There were several references to the Ubersreik situation (that is, very briefly, Karl Franz unceremoniously deposing the ruling noble family and sending Altdorf troops to occupy the city – all for unexplained reasons) in Enemy in Shadows, including in the prophecy, and an option to make Adolphus an agent of Emmanuelle Nacht. However, as far as I can tell, there are none of these references in the new Death on the Reik.

    If I’ve understood things correctly, the Ubersreik metaplot was largely the work of Andy Law and Ben Scerri, and it might end up being much deemphasized after their departure. But we’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’ll come to much of this in part two, but not the Ubersreik connection. I don’t have the new Ubersreik material yet, so am not in a position to draw sound conclusions.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Agreed. Another good analysis.

      As I mentioned, I had planned on opening a forum post on Winds of Chaos to try and extrapolate (guess) a little of what we expect to come later. This is perhaps the one good thing about a lack of synopsis, we get to spend time trying to figure it out.

      I’m just reading through Guilty Party now and trying to see if there’s any extra material in there that can be mined.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice work !

    I think I also remember orcs the south of the Blackfire Pass being mentionned in a rumor (in The Enemy in Shadows p15) as having a future impact in Empire in ruins.

    Maybe it will replace the civil war, or at least explain political changes in the south (Wissenland/Suddenland fusion, Elector change in Averland,…).

    Liked by 2 people

  5. If the object of the Enemy Within to come is to strengthen links with Warhammer Fantasy Battle, then, those two events are perhaps related to the new plot:

    2512: Given inspiration and counsel by the whispering voice in his head, Azhag the
    Slaughterer, gathers a huge army of Orcs and Night Goblins. He will eventually
    lead this army to the northern Empire razing the town of Kohlizt. During the time
    of this invasion is famous Battle of Osterwald. Otto Blucher commanded the
    Imperial side. His hand was bolstered by the presence of Ludwig Swartzhelm,
    Wolfgang Greiss, Franz Wagner and the Grand Theogonist Volkmar the Grim.
    Against them stood Azhag the Slaughterer and his army of Orc and Goblin
    marauders. (WFB, GW, EaW/TEW & WD in Kalevala Hammer’s Timeline)

    2513 : Towns and forts along both sides of the Grey Mountains begin to disappear due
    to Skaven attacks. The Empire and Bretonnia suspect each other. Although
    tensions are raised between nations, only border skirmishes have thus far taken
    place. (WFB in Kalevala Hammer’s Timeline)

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5wwL740tSnaaDB0d1J1MDVnRjg/view

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “2512: Given inspiration and counsel by the whispering voice in his head, Azhag the
      Slaughterer, gathers a huge army of Orcs and Night Goblins. He will eventually
      lead this army to the northern Empire razing the town of Kohlizt.”

      Hmm. We did get a small hint in Enemy in Shadows about a military threat from Orcs and Goblins that was quietly building up and would become important in Empire in Ruins. So that’s not impossible at all. Obviously the huge Orc invasion has not happened just before TEW, since there’s no trace of it at all in any writing.

      Here’s the quote:

      “[Rumour:] Colonel Sievers of the Imperial Ostlanders has returned from the Border Princes. The Greenskins must have been defeated! It’s a great victory for the Emperor!

      [Comment:] The Greenskins have not been defeated. Sievers is here to warn the Emperor of Orc and Goblin build-up south of Blackfire Pass, which is of consequence in the last instalment of The Enemy Within: Empire in Ruins.”

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    2. You might be right about the skaven. The text comes from the last skaven army book:

      “2513 to present: Towns and forts along both sides of the Grey Mountains begin to disappear due to Skaven attacks. The Empire and Bretonnia suspect each other. Although tensions are raised between the nations, only border skirmishes have thus far taken place.”

      Warhammer Armies: Skaven (2009)

      This could fit in with The Horned Rat, especially if the scenario does, in fact, take place in the Grey Mountains.

      I am more sceptical about the goblin invasion. The most recent army book text is as follows:

      “2512 to 2515: Given inspiration by the whispering voices in his head, Azhag the Slaughterer leads a Waaagh! into the northern Empire. After famous victories, such as the Battle of Butcher’s Hill, Azhag is finally slain by Werner von Kriegstadt, Grand Master of the Knights Panther.”

      Warhammer Armies: Orcs & Goblins (2010)

      “2512 to 2515: Azhag the Slaughterer leads a huge army of Orcs and Night Goblins into the northern Empire, burning and pillaging vast swathes of land.”

      Warhammer Armies: The Empire (2011)

      The passages are quite explicit that it is an invasion of the northern Empire, whereas the evidence discussed in part two suggests an invasion of the southern Empire. There could be some attempt to reconcile the two (for example, the invasion could originate in the south and reach the north), but it is less obvious that they are connected.

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  6. Another speculation I’ve seen here and there, but only observed recently, is that The Horned Rat might feature a major Skaven attack on Ubersreik. This could serve to tie the campaign in with the Vermintide games, where apparently something similar happens. And there has been a Skaven menace to Ubersreik built up as far back as the 3E adventure “The Edge of Night” (also written by Graeme Davis, for what it’s worth), part of which was reworked as “Lord of Ubersreik” for Rough Nights & Hard Days.

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    1. On the other hand, the whole Ubersreik metaplot, including the ousting of the Jungfreuds, seems to have been pushed back in time. “The Edge of Night” was set about 2520 but “Lord of Ubersreik” is nominally set about 2511-12. It’s all a bit confusing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As a side note:
        1. I feel it isn’t a good idea to play Ubersreik Adventures before the Enemy Within. The rise of supernatural and horror should be very progressive and the confrontation with mutants in Mistaken Identity should be a shock. So only very low fantasy adventures, without mutants, undead, nor monsters, should fit.
        Such adventures are Luisa pleure de se voire si belle en son miroir (translated as “Luisa’s Curse”), Une histoire de fesses (perhaps translated as “This is not a love story”?), The Affair of the Hidden Jewel and Des bébés en veux-tu en voilà (perhaps translated as “Baby Griffy”).

        The first three adventures of Rough Nights and Hard Days perfectly fit as a side campaign during Death on the Reik.
        It is good that adventurers goes straight to Middenheim after Death on the Reik, albeit they could had adventures on their road (Carrion up the Reik, the Grapes of Wrath, the Vengeance of the Gravelord…)
        Hence, the two last scenarios of Rough Nights and Hard Days and the whole Ubersreik metaplot seem to be difficult to place before the Power Behind the Throne. Perhaps that it can make sense before The Horned Rat? We can’t know…

        Perhaps that it can be set after Empire in Ruin. I didn’t read those scenarii, but they seem to let adventurers play in high social levels, which might fit their post-TEW status.

        Warhammer Heroes (if the quest of Sigmar’s Hammer is still there) who gave in the past good services to Liebewitz of Nuln, might be invited to Nastassia’s Wedding… Which would trigger their adventures in The Edge of Night/Lord of Ubersreik and other Ubersreik adventures…

        A good opportunity to bridge the old Enemy Within with the New (WFRP3’s) Enemy Within.

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