Warning. This review contains spoilers for Empire in Ruins and other parts of the Enemy Within campaign.

And so we reach the end. After 844 pages of adventure (and more in the companion volumes) Cubicle 7’s reissue of the Enemy Within campaign comes to a conclusion. But does it end with a bang or a whimper?

Covers then and now (1989 left, 2021 right)


Empire in Ruins replaces the original conclusion to the Enemy Within campaign, Empire in Flames. That adventure was a rushed and unsatisfactory conclusion, produced at a time when Games Workshop was losing interest in role-playing games. It has reasonably attracted criticism from many quarters.

There have been several subsequent attempts to revise or replace Empire in Flames. When Hogshead Publishing republished the Enemy Within campaign, James Wallis planned an alternative conclusion, Empire in Chaos, but never completed it. Alfred Nuñez Jr wrote an unofficial finale called The Empire at War. I have even offered some ideas of my own. Empire in Ruins is therefore the latest in a long line of efforts to draw the Enemy Within campaign to a satisfactory close.


With 207 pages of adventure content, Empire in Ruins is substantially larger than previous instalments in the campaign. While most of the additional page count is dedicated to events in the adventure, a small amount has been used to provide organisational material that has at times been lacking in previous episodes. There is a good summary of the adventure’s plot, which is supplemented with several useful tables and diagrams. There is consideration of chronology, including a detailed table of journey distances and times. Remarkably, there is a short index of topics and important NPCs for the first time in a main adventure since Enemy in Shadows.

We even get a chronological overview of the whole campaign and some understanding of its narrative arcs. This particular information really belonged in Enemy in Shadows, but it is to be presumed that practical considerations intervened, as the later parts of the campaign had at that time not been completed. Nonetheless, this information is better provided late than never.

Empire in Ruins does not wholly avoid the presentational faults of earlier editions. Deficiencies in proofreading are again evident. For example, there are passing mentions of an NPC called Yabo Chao (pp77 and 81), who seems to be a Cathayan ambassador, but is nowhere described. The image resolution of the wedding invitation (p89) is too low for it to be legible. The map of Black Fire Pass lacks details, such as proper labels of the different shrines described in the text (p133). Nonetheless, despite these niggles, presentation is good overall.

Empire in Ruins Contents


The hammer passed down through generations of Emperors is not Sigmar’s hammer Ghal-maraz, but a replica. The real hammer was lost in a battle with the greater demon Sheerargetru and lies in a cavern in the Black Mountains, where it still traps the demon. Sheerargetru has, however, concocted a plan for his release. Through his vassal, the lesser demon Gideon from Enemy in Shadows, he has conspired for the PCs to retrieve Ghal-maraz and release him. Then in a ritual in Altdorf he will possess the Crown Prince and heir to the Imperial throne. The Crown Prince has already been prepared for his role by a group of Tzeentchian cultists called the Nine Eyes.

The plot thickens with a separate scheme by Yann Zuntermein, head of the Purple Hand in Altdorf. He is poisoning the Emperor and manipulating his double. He is also fomenting strife in the Empire.

So is Zuntermein’s rival, Karl-Heinz Wasmeier, former head of the Purple Hand in Middenheim. To further his ambitions he plans to assassinate Katarina Todbringer.

If that were not enough, some Purple Hand cultists, chief among them Kastor Lieberung, have been preparing for a Champion in Shadows to unite the followers of Tzeentch. The Red Crown are gathering beastmen for an uprising. There are also machinations in Ubersreik, Sudenland and elsewhere. It’s a tangled web.

Unknown, Duel, 2021, from Empire in Ruins


The adventure loosely breaks down into two parts. In the first, the PCs return to Middenheim and then travel to Altdorf, becoming enmeshed in Imperial politics on the way. The Empire’s religious and political leaders hope to quell the growing strife between the cults of Sigmar and Ulric by negotiating a declaration of unity and marriage of state between Katarina Todbringer and Crown Prince Wolfgang Holswig-Abenauer.

Play in this section mostly comprises a series of meetings with the Empire’s great and good: one with High Capitular Volkmar and Graf Boris in Middenheim; a conclave between the Grand Theogonist and Ar-Ulric at Shining Rock; an interview with Crown Prince Wolfgang in Castle Reikguard; a parade of unity in Altdorf; the royal wedding; and an emergency council after the assassination attempt on Katarina Todbringer.

I am not persuaded that these meetings present a plausible reconstruction of high-level politics. The informal setting in which the High Capitular presents his proposal seems more appropriate to an office Christmas party than a serious diplomatic negotiation. It makes little sense that commoner PCs are entrusted to deliver the Todbringers’ marriage acceptance and interview the Crown Prince about his suitability as a husband. I would also question the wisdom of conducting that interview after assenting to marriage; it is surely shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Finally, the wedding is arranged with implausible speed.

These problems are not insoluble. The meeting with the High Capitular can with some effort be adapted to a more formal setting. The adventurers can accompany a suitable noble, such as Heinrich Todbringer, to interview Crown Prince Wolfgang, or be given honours for saving the Graf and Middenheim in Power Behind the Throne and The Horned Rat. The marriage acceptance can follow the interview. The haste of the wedding arrangements can at a stretch be justified by the urgency of the crisis.

There is a more important difficulty, however. I am unconvinced that these negotiations are especially fun to play. They comprise a linear sequence of cut scenes, which rely extensively on scripted text. They leave the PCs largely as passengers. Even a section in the style of ‘A Rough Night at the Three Feathers’ (pp78-83) does little to improve things.

The purpose of these meetings seems to be the exposition of rather dull Imperial politics. This might be forgivable if they were short and necessary, but they are neither. They comprise the bulk of the sixty-six pages that make up the first part of the adventure, and provide little more than background detail without significant bearing on the events of the adventure. Insofar as such exposition is necessary, it would be better to drip-feed it throughout the campaign, rather than dump it in one go here.

Unknown, Shining Rock, 2021, from Empire in Ruins

The dry politicking is punctuated with some action. The adventure opens with a sequence in which the PCs defend Heinrich Todbringer’s dirigible from attack. It is an entertaining episode, but gamers who prefer a grittier, historical feel will no doubt shudder at the anachronism. It is not the only example of a more exotic tone than the original Enemy Within campaign. An Imperial steam tank also makes an appearance, and the royal wedding is graced by hats so large that they need to be supported by magic. Given how gravity-defying non-magical hats are in WFRP4, the mind boggles.

More problematically the existence of air travel has implications for the rest of the adventure which are not thought through. If the characters have access to an airship, there is no need for them to journey by land to Altdorf and Black Fire Pass. Fortunately, the dirigible is not an important plot device and the episode can easily be rewritten as a land journey.

A skirmish encounter with the Sons of Ulric at Shining Rock also enlivens this stage of the adventure. It is an interesting tactical combat, but the description omits important details, most notably a map. The missing information appears in the Empire in Ruins Companion, but it would have been better in my opinion either to have included it here or relocated the entire episode to the Companion. Its inclusion in an incomplete state is unsatisfactory.

The first part of the adventure culminates with the royal wedding and assassination attempt. This is a simple, but dramatic, set piece. It is just a shame the players are made to wait so long to get to it.

Unknown, Here Comes the Bride, 2021 from Empire in Ruins

In the aftermath of the assassination attempt, the Empire fractures into quarrelling factions. The Emperor’s hammer is shattered, and thus revealed to be a mere substitute for Sigmar’s. The second part of the adventure is occupied with the quest to recover Ghal-maraz itself.

Options are presented for several different NPCs to encourage the adventurers to undertake the expedition. The PCs are also given a chance to investigate the history of Sigmar’s hammer. It is pleasing that some thought has been dedicated to the instigation and motivation of the mission.

Regrettably, though, Empire in Ruins neglects to explain adequately why the hammer’s recovery is seen as important. Up to this point the only discussion of the subject is a fleeting comment in the adventure synopsis (p6) that it is necessary to restore the Emperor’s authority and avoid the Empire disintegrating. This statement is easy to miss, and it is poor practice to include information only in the summary. Such a critical plot point should be explained clearly in the main text of the adventure.

Furthermore, investigation of Ghal-maraz’s history requires no more than a token amount of research. The work has already been done by an NPC, who simply tells the characters to look in a three-mile stretch of Black Fire Pass. More could have been made of this.

The journey to the Black Mountains comprises a series of appropriate and atmospheric encounters. The adventurers experience at first hand the increasingly fractious state of the Empire and become embroiled in some of its politics. Several organisations, from the Purple Hand to a secret order in the cult of Sigmar, attempt to prevent their progress.

Black Fire Pass is a simpler affair. Its main landmarks are briefly described, but they are unlikely to be much more than scenery, as the characters’ path through the valley is clearly defined. They pass through an old mine tunnel, recently reopened at Gideon’s instigation, into a gorge infested by a colourful clan of goblins. From there they can access the hammer’s final resting place in the Caves of Chaos. No, not those ones. These are a complex of nine chambers corrupted by Chaos. Each is affected by a different wind of magic, except the last which is suffused with Dark magic. This provides the perfect excuse for a good old funhouse dungeon filled with such delights as a three-headed guard dog, zombies emerging from a river of blood and an island in a lake of gold with treasures that turn to lead when they are removed. It is probably entertaining to play, but I find it hard to escape the feeling that I’ve seen it all before. I perceive echoes of Greek myth, Indiana Jones movies and Harry Potter books. Whether this is deliberate artistry or the inevitable consequence of the hobby’s fifty years of dungeoneering I cannot say.

For the return to Altdorf, there are different options to travel by land and river and various parties to help and hinder the party, including a secret dwarf network, a splinter group of the Purple Hand, a horde of beastmen and, most dangerously of all, Electors pursuing their own political agendas. En route, the characters also have a chance to recharge Ghal-maraz’s magical flat battery at a holy site.

Should the adventurers take a wrong turn at any point, Gideon is on hand to shepherd them to their destination. They may, though, suspect his manipulation. Along their way are hints that point to his role and the remains of those Gideon has used before them. Gideon even has another iron in the fire who can retrieve Ghal-maraz if the PCs fail. If you’re going to run an adventure on rails, this is the way to do it.

Aside from its linearity, the mission to recover the hammer is thoughtfully designed, and has many entertaining moments. I particularly like the deranged goblins of the lost gorge and the Seven Samurai defence of Wolfshügel from beastmen. The Caves of Chaos, though, aren’t quite my cup of tea.

The hammer’s return to Altdorf sets up the ultimate dénouement and the culmination of Gideon’s plans. In a ceremony to celebrate the restoration of Ghal-maraz, the Crown Prince and the Nine Eyes are sacrificed to summon Sheeragetru, because no-one’s happy without a big boss fight. It’s quite a battle. Sheerargetru’s strength varies according to the adventurers’ prior success not just in Empire in Ruins, but in the campaign as a whole. If Bögenhafen is a smouldering ruin and Maliss Manwrack rained warpstone down on the Empire, things will look quite bleak for our heroes.

It is not clear, however, what happened to the plan to possess the Crown Prince, or why the Purple Hand invested so much effort in him, if he was only ever to be a sacrificial lamb. The final scene does not quite seem to match the plot previously described.

Unknown, Black Fire Pass, 2021, from Empire in Ruins

Many elements of the adventure will be familiar to grognards. The attack on the dirigible is reminiscent of the Doomstones finale, Heart of Chaos (2001), and its early drafts; the battle at Shining Rock is loosely based on the original ‘Carrion up the Reik’ from the first-edition campaign; the royal wedding is an idea from Empire in Chaos; the plot to recover Ghal-maraz is from Empire in Flames; the poisoning of the Emperor comes from The Empire at War; and so on. To a considerable extent Empire in Ruins is an anthology of past attempts to conclude the campaign. There is in principle much to recommend in such an approach, as there are many excellent ideas in previous efforts. However, in practice Empire in Ruins ends up as something of a Frankenstein’s monster.

Despite the presence of good sections, the whole is less than the parts. The numerous stitched-together plot threads are more than can fit into a single adventure, even of this size, and many are badly neglected. There are scattered references to the PCs investigating the Nine Eyes, but almost no leads or clues. The Champion in Shadows storyline is hardly explored. The poisoning of the Emperor is dispatched in just two pages, ticking the plot box, but little more. More effort is spent on explaining the convoluted plot than addressing it.

To some extent Empire in Ruins suffers for the sins of its fathers. There is a lack of prior exposition in earlier parts of the campaign, whose effects are felt in the finale. There are simply too many loose ends to be resolved, and too few prior hints of what is to come. The role of Kastor Lieberung, the return of Karl-Heinz Wasmeier, the Emperor’s illness and doubles, the mysterious sequestration of the Crown Prince, the mutant edict, the schemes of the Red Crown, the machinations in Ubersreik and more need to be addressed with very little preparation. As I have discussed in a previous post, a change of direction during the composition of the campaign meant that early plot development was abandoned, and little took its place in the later episodes.

The adventure also appears to be hampered by the constraints of the established Warhammer background, which require the narrative to progress to a predetermined outcome. Karl Franz must remain on the throne; Ghal-maraz must be in his possession; the borders and rulers of provinces must conform to a set arrangement. This inevitably deprives the players of agency and leads to a strikingly linear adventure. Similar criticism was levelled at the campaign’s original finale, Empire in Flames, but Empire in Ruins has repeated its mistake. The tracks and trains have changed, but the journey is just as fixed as before.

This time, though, the stakes are also greatly lowered, as the status quo cannot be in real peril. Thus many of the most memorable elements of previous finales have been deprived of their drama. The Emperor is not assassinated; he just feels a bit poorly. The PCs do not slay the Crown Prince on his transformation into a hideous mutant; instead they get to interview him on his suitability as a husband and discover he is a thoroughly nice chap. The quest for Sigmar’s hammer is not to recover an object lost for millennia, but one that no-one knew was missing until a few days earlier.

Too much effort is expended on reconciling the inconsistent backgrounds of WFRP1 and WFB8 by redrawing political maps. The ingenuity is admirable, but it contributes little to the adventure. The purpose seems to be to satisfy lore nerds, not players. In hindsight it might perhaps have been preferable to have adopted WFB8‘s provincial arrangements from the start and avoided this unnecessary intricacy, though the greater verisimilitude of a changing political landscape is some reward for the trouble.

Unknown, Stress in Streissen, 2021, from Empire in Ruins

The return of NPCs in a finale is a plot twist so overused in media that it has become an expectation. Empire in Ruins meets that expectation conspicuously. In addition to the demon Gideon, Josef Quartjin, Quintus Fassbinder, Elvyra Kleinestun, Renate Hausier, Heironymous Blitzen, Sigrid the outlaw chief, Otto Boorman, Golthog, Erina Eberhauer and, of course, Karl-Heinz Wasmeier all return. Many are optional, giving the GM room to tailor the adventure to match the earlier experience of the players. However, several are not, and the return of quite so many figures seems to me somewhat indulgent, diluting the effect. GMs should, however, have little difficulty scaling this theme back, if it suits their preference.

There is also little advice for GMs on adapting the adventure, should the campaign have developed in ways incompatible with the return of these characters (for example, if Gideon was destroyed in Enemy in Shadows). This is made somewhat more acute by the failure to forewarn the GM earlier in the campaign of the NPCs’ future roles.

Even with these criticisms, there is little doubt in my mind that Empire in Ruins improves in many respects on the original version of the finale. The mission to retrieve Ghal-maraz receives vastly superior treatment to Empire in Flames‘ execrable effort. The instigation is handled in a less heavy-handed fashion. Progress relies less on contrived notions of destiny and arbitrary shortcuts. (Grognards may chuckle when they hear the words “We’ll need to go via The Hidden Valley and The Pegasus” in the new adventure (p163); this time they refer to an inn and a barge respectively.) Empire in Ruins also comprehensively wraps up unresolved plot threads, albeit not as satisfactorily as I would have hoped.

Empire in Ruins‘ failures lie not so much in the execution of individual sections, but in its overall structure. The prior development of the campaign and requirements of consistency with the established Warhammer background appear to have painted the designers into a corner from which they struggled to extricate themselves.

Writing a satisfactory finale without disrupting the existing Warhammer timeline might perhaps seem like solving the Gordian knot without taking Alexander’s shortcut. If the Ghal-maraz plot had to be preserved, I still believe it might have been preferable to set the campaign earlier in Imperial history, and tell the story of the sickly Emperor Luitpold’s death, recovery of Ghal-maraz and accession of Karl Franz. However, such an arrangement would still have involved an element of determinism. An even better solution might have been to focus instead on one of the other plots, for example, hunting down the Nine Eyes across the Empire.

The adventure is in my opinion best used as yet another source of ideas from which GMs can construct their own finale. For example, the expedition to retrieve Ghal-maraz (pp 102-176) could easily be inserted into the framework of Empire in Flames (pp13-31 and 83-110). There are many other alternative constructions. My previous ideas for the finale could also accommodate sections of Empire in Ruins.

Unknown, Sheerargetru, 2021, from Empire in Ruins


Empire in Ruins is, regrettably, not the finale the campaign deserves. It is the weakest of the five adventures and struggles to manage the many demands placed on it. This is not to suggest it is altogether rotten. It has good aspects alongside its weaknesses. In total, though, it is merely passable, and that’s not good enough for The Enemy Within.

To buy Empire in Ruins from DriveThruRPG, click here.

For my other WFRP4 reviews, see this link.

I would like to thank Cubicle 7 for providing a copy of Empire in Ruins for review.

Title art by Ralph Horsley. All artwork used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders. Links to DriveThruRPG are affiliate links. I receive a small payment for purchases made through them. This does not change the cost paid by the purchaser. I have received no inducements in connection with this review.



  1. Yabo Chao is described in more detail in the Altdorf book. I reckon she should have had at least a short write-up in EiR if they were going to mention her at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah … I read through EiR and kept thinking “my PCs are going to be irritated if they have to just sit there and listen to me talk.” Presuming we actually get to that point – this will be the third attempt to make it through this campaign – I’m probably going to have to completely rewrite this adventure to make it fit my PCs better…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you as always for the clear and on-point review, I concur nearly 100% with your assesment but I am somewhat more harsh in tone.

    When I read Empire in Ruins I was sorely dissappointed with the outcome, so dissapointed in fact, that our table changed the planned years-lomg TEW 4edition for the Dracula Dossier uniquely due to this flawed landing.

    Absolutely boring political scenes (we do LOVE good political scenes), lack of a clear and present Empire-wide Ulric-Sigmar civil war, the main villains do not have a linkage with previous installments of the campaign, …
    I would have had to rewritte a full amount of the book to fix it for my table.

    Currently there are now four approaches to this TEW ending:

    Empire in Flames: Far better that the community normally rates it. Full of Carl Sargent goodness
    Empire in Chaos: What could have been but never was. Very interesting tibdits to be transformed into a potentialnice ending
    Empire at War: Mr Nunez opus and a quite complex animal. Tempted to tackle it in the future
    Empire in Ruins: The latest and the most mixed in quality, from my point of view.

    If we go forward in the future with TEW, a rewritte would be mandatory using the framework of these past works with a very curated and hard-work mixture but, sadly, the matter is not settled with this Cubicle 7 TEW ending.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks for writing this – I’ve been looking forwards to this review and was disappointed when you previously said you’d likely not get to it. I found your site shortly after I started running the campaign, I think at the time THR was not out yet, and I’ve found your take on each of the books really useful. I was dying to hear your take on this one in particular as it made me really mad, principally as I felt I would have needed to know the ‘big plot’ in Enemy in Shadows to make it work – the Kastor Lieberung look-alike PC met Gideon in our game, I had Gideon believe he was who he looked like (Gideon killed Adolphus Kuftsos in our game as suggested by the book as he is asking questions about this cultist) and I had this affect what he later did. I don’t believe any of that would have transpired if he already had this relationship with the real KL. Also the players managed to kill Gideon, I know as a Demon he can probably just come back or whatever, but still.
    I appreciate its probably impossible to bring such a huge and ambitious campaign to a satisfying end and probably quixotic to try account for the consequences of potential player actions across the whole, but this book turned me off more than on, especially the linear start and that dungeon.
    We’re just half way through Death on the Reik right now (going very slow), I’m sure I will end up using some bits and pieces from EIR, tbf I’ve already used the details of Diesdorf from the companion book to bring that location to life, but I have a feeling the various accounts I’ve read online of other people’s campaigns are likely to contribute more (especially THEOAXNER who often posts here). Thanks again for your work!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you for a very thorough review. I must admit I rather liked Empire in Ruins and its companion which I received as a Christmas gift this year. But I am only really using these books for inspiration at the moment as my group are not playing EiS so I am fortunate that i can cherry pick the worthwhile bits and ignore stuff like the airship.

    My own game is still focussed on the fallout from the Mutant Edict 2512, which so far is the main issue affecting the characters and has spawned major repercussions across the Empire and the fracture of the Cult of Sigmar. As schemes go it is oine of the better ideas that the Ruinous Powers have come up with to date especially since it has given the Ulrican Church a chance to challenge the power of Sigmar.

    The whole Ghal-maraz thing is really just a tired old plot that should have been aloowed to wither and die in my opinion. Nobody really give a monkey’s whether the hammer is real or not, the dwarves probably had a mass of them make in Hong Konmg and shipped over for lolz.

    What’s more curious is how Sheerargetru has managed to remain trapped in the mortal realm for so long despite the rules for daemonic instability. It seems as though Sigmars Hammer must have similar properties to the Ring of Opsianon and is preventing Sheerargetru escaping back to the warp for a 1.000 year sebatacle, but why that was considered a good idea reamins a mystery.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am working my way through the books (right now on power behind the throne) while simultaneously running it (just finished Enemy in Shadows). Your engagement with the campaign has helped my prep enormously.

    Good to know that I should at least read the intro before we start the Death in the Reik. It also looks like I will need to do a lot of reworking for the last part myself.

    I just cannot not let the emperor die, the stakes must be high! I will see also how to rework the Crown Prince as the major boss at the end instead of him as a sacrifice.

    Thanks for your work.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I suspected as much and commented as such elsewhere. I’m glad you left this comment and i look forward to anything else you might be involved in producing with Rookery Publications.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Well, what a sad end to a long-expected “director’s cut” (where the “director” was you, I suppose). Frankly, I hope you still have that whole manuscript, and Cubicle 7 loses the license as soon as possible… I would kill to have the chance to take a look at that material!

          Liked by 1 person

            1. And we’ve known for quite a while that it certainly wasn’t any more the “definitive” version than any other.

              Can’t wait for the confusion of seeing the third edition of The Enemy Within campaign (as opposed to the entirely unrelated adventure for the third edition of WFRP called The Enemy Within)! 😉

              Liked by 1 person

            2. When did it stopped to be the director’s cut by the way? Was it ever? During Death on the Reik -when something changed and Andy Laws and two other directors left-? During the Power Behind the Throne -when some memories of Gascoigne and Norton were rejected-? During the new Horned Rat? the Empire in Ruins?

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Andy Law et al left even before Enemy in Shadows was quite finished IIRC.

                There’s a very noticeable drop in ambition level from EiS to DotR. Pretty much all the new threads begun or hinted at in EiS – the weird goings-on in Altdorf, the Ubersreik connection – are dropped completely and not picked up again until Empire in Ruins, if at all.

                Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Gideon, for another review! I’m always looking forward to these (and Theo’s) as you have a very thorough approach. I feel like there’s a lack of critical WFRP reviews so please feel free to provide more reviews for Cubicle 7 content. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. As I have said elsewhere, I probably will review the Empire in Ruins Companion in detail, though not soon. I may do other reviews, but they are more likely to be shorter ones (like my reviews of the Middenheim book or RPG histories). These long reviews are a lot of work.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Just another note to say I really appreciated you (Gideon) getting round to this. I too feel that there isn’t much in the way of descents reviews of WFRP 4E products out there, and yours are excellent.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for this very interesting review. I read it some days after reading a interview by Phil Gallagher in an old french fanzine in 1994, and some hours after taking another look to Pour la Gloire d’Ulric, published in 1995, and this sentence “That adventure was a rushed and unsatisfactory conclusion, produced at a time when Games Workshop was losing interest in role-playing games” ring a bell. Coincidentally, this french official supplement was a continuation of the TEW campaign, and was published the year following the interview in which Phil Gallagher talk about WFRP, its relation to Warhammer Battle, licensing process, willingness to publish, profitability, TEW and so on.

    This storyline is so important in the history of Warhammer that it has remained a central element of the lore, with multiple iterations and continuations, but never totally conclusive or convincing. That’s fascinating.


        1. Thanks. I’d love to see a copy, if you don’t mind. If you have time for a translation, I’m sure that would be helpful, but I do speak some French, so am happy to attempt it myself.


          1. Don’t you already seen it? 😉
            “What happened was that we commissioned Ken Rolston (the co-author of Something Rotten in Kislev) to write it, and after living in England, he went to the US. At that point, we were looking at a 96-page supplement, and he sent us over 200,000 words!

            I don’t think Ken’s system matched ours in England. It wasn’t a technical problem, the rules were good, but a background problem: a lot of work was needed to make the system consistent with what we had done before.

            Inevitably when you publish, there is always a compromise between the need to release new products, write and edit them, and the desire to produce the best possible thing. We found ourselves in a situation where we needed to release new products, but the amount of work required to publish Ken’s system was simply too great.

            – Idem, interview in Le Grimoire 10 (1994)”



              1. I shall had thought that… Sorry (in fact, I did, but I failed to stand by that thought).

                Is there something that alert when you edit an article? I mean, not to see what was edited, but to know that the old article could be read again with enhanced content? Is the list of articles in the menu ranked by their last edition?


                1. It’s no problem at all. There’s no reason why you should have known that. Unfortunately, it is only possible to track changes through my comments. I usually make a comment if I have made substantial changes to posts, but do not note minor revisions. The list of recent posts is populated by a WordPress algorithm and seems to be ranked by the number of recent views.


                    1. I had forgotten about the Warpstone citation. As he basically says the same thing, with some more details in Grimoire and others in Warpstone, I personally am not sure an update would need to be advertised, since it do not change anything to the point. What I find interesting is the continuity between the two interviews. The whole Realms of Sorcery thing seems like it truly is experienced as a general failure and marked the editing process.


      1. I remember this interview. I think that I did read it about fifteen or twenty years ago in Le Grimoire -which was a Warhammer fanzine, tolerated by Games Workshop, Hogshead Publishing and Descartes Éditeur.

        However, once Hogshead and Decartes did lose the licence and when Darwin Project (then the Bibliothèque interdite) got it, it ensured that Le Grimoire would no longer publish anything on Warhammer…

        In that interview, if I’m remembering correctly, Phil Gallagher said that the roleplaying game doesn’t sell enough miniatures and that Games Workshop strategy is to let local editors (such as Descartes Éditeur and the Polish editor) to publish their own content, and indeed Descartes published few home made editions, including Pour la gloire d’Ulric.

        I presume that the interview was made by Sébastien Boudaud.


        1. It was made by Guillaume Nonain but that’s the one, although Phil Gallagher talk about other factors for the roleplaying game pause between Flame and Hogshead.

          Gideon, I will find a way to send it to you when I can. I think it has some interesting bits regarding Warhammer and GW history.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I want to point out a positive side on this. After such a long campaign everything is going to be personal and no one adventure is going to satisfy any groups needs. At least with the repeated attempts at an appropriate end to the enemy within each GM has a real treasure of plots, encounters and situations from which to pluck out his favorite choices and create his own personal end to the campaign.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re being overly charitable (though that was perhaps your intention).

      I don’t think Empire in Ruins fails because gamers’ expectations are too varied. I think it fails because it is a mediocre adventure. My criticisms of its linearity, failure to develop plot elements, dull political cut scenes, funhouse dungeon, etc are all failings of the adventure itself and could have been avoided or fixed.

      While gamers’ tastes obviously vary, they are consistent enough for there to be considerable consensus about the strengths and weaknesses of all the other adventures. And while the details of individual campaigns vary, the general outlines are substantially fixed by the published adventures. If GMs want to deviate significantly, that is their choice, but the campaign should at least work well if run as written.

      That some parts of Empire in Ruins might be usable is a silver lining, but to my mind it’s a poor return. With proper planning and development freedom, I believe a suitable finale was achievable, but both seem to have been lacking in this case.


      1. Yeah, I see I wasn’t clear in my first post. I have not yet read the Empire in Ruins thoroughly, but I understand your criticisms in the review. From my initial flip through I was disappointment on the flying dirigible, the surviving Emperor and the Dungeon, but I didn’t get into more structural matters. I am not arguing in favor of it.

        I wasn’t referring to the empire in Ruins specifically, but on the wealth of information that exists for the finale of the campaign between all the different publications as well as your post The End of an Empire a GM can do a collage creating his own Frankenstein’s monster of an adventure that would suit his own final chapter in the Campaign that would fit his own needs and tastes. At least for me, not n=being satisfied with any of the publications, this is what I plan to do.

        An enormous thanks for this colossal undertaking, reviewing all these tomes that far.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Spyros may be overly charitable, but I’d agree he (?) has a point. While Empire in Ruins could (and should) certainly have been better, I’m not at all sure it would be possible to complete an official finale to TEW that didn’t end up disappointing in one respect or another. The accumulated decades of expectation are just too high, especially if you also factor in the albatross of having to conform to later Warhammer canon.

        Home campaigns, of course, don’t have the latter problems. I was always expecting to have to cobble together my own finale, and I suspect that goes for many others.


        1. Among the material I excised from this review in an effort to get the thing actually finished was a discussion of the challenges of concluding long campaigns in general and The Enemy Within in particular. I think it is tempting to conclude that a satisfactory conclusion is unachievable, but my view is that such a temptation should be resisted.

          I would agree that it is impossible to avoid “disappointing in one respect or another”, but that’s probably true of any adventure. I think all of the adventures in the campaign disappoint in some ways, but that does not stop the first four parts being great adventures. The problem is Empire in Ruins disappoints in several important ways. I appreciate you recognise this, but I think it is an important distinction to emphasise.

          In my opinion a satisfactory conclusion requires a number of elements. The first is that the scenario is in its own right a sound adventure. There is no intrinsic reason why this requirement cannot be met, and I feel this is an area where Empire in Ruins particularly fails.

          The second requirement is to tie up loose ends. With careful planning this is achievable. It is interesting that both the first-edition and fourth-edition versions were derailed in the course of publication. Commercial pressures can disrupt plans. However, it is in principle achievable and has been achieved in other campaigns (eg Masks of Nyarlathotep). I would also note that most of the campaign was already written before the project started. Only two parts needed to be written from scratch.

          The third and fourth requirements are that events should be momentous and that there should be player agency. These two requirements can sometimes seem to be in contradiction, and it is easy to fall into the trap of preconstructed narratives. However, contradiction is not inevitable. The creation of momentous scenes in which the players can direct outcomes satisfies both requirements. That may be harder, but it is absolutely possible.

          Of course, the complication for The Enemy Within is, as you correctly point out, the role of GW. I do not know what constraints GW imposed, but I clearly made some guesses in this review. If those restrictions are particularly stringent, it can become very difficult to satisfy the third and fourth criteria without upsetting the WFB apple cart. I suspect that is what happened in this case. However, even in this situation there is an option. As I mentioned in the review, a scenario investigating the Nine Eyes and foiling the conspiracy to possess the Crown Prince could have satisfied all these criteria using only plot elements already approved in Empire in Ruins.

          I also will not give GW an entirely free pass when it comes to imposing restrictions. If Empire in Ruins was crippled by restrictions imposed by GW, GW bears some of the blame. There is room to explore momentous events even within established WFB history. I note GW seems to have been happy to allow greater flexibility in the early days of WFRP4, and it allowed a range of counterfactual histories in the Empire in Ruins Companion.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Fair enough – I can’t really argue with most of your points, and in fact I’m not even sure how much we’re really disagreeing. I suppose my pessimism is more based on disillusioning experience and a touch of superstition (it does kind of look like the campaign is cursed or something, doesn’t it? 😉 ) than on sound argument. I’ve also come to sort of embrace the flawed and incomplete nature of TEW as a paradoxal part of its strength – it’s a fixer-upper to make your own thing out of.

            Assuming it ever actually gets going, it will be quite interesting to follow Andy Law’s home TEW campaign, which he’s stated his intent to post AP streams of. I understand the plan is to plow quickly through the first four adventures to focus most of the time and energy on an expanded Empire in Ruins. This will probably be the closest we get in the near-ish future to seeing the original plan for the new version.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I think we probably do agree on this. I also agree about your point on The Enemy Within as a fixer-upper. I just don’t think we should let GW and C7 off the hook and lower our expectations without very good cause!

              I don’t usually listen to actual-play recordings, but I hope to make an exception for Andy Law’s, whenever it begins.

              Liked by 1 person

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