Holy cow, has it really been a year since we played WFRP? I suppose with rotating between 3 GMs, new games to try/play, real life, work, and more it has been that long. We rotate between three regular GMs that each run for three months and we've done a little bit of everything since I last ran WFRP. We went to Mars with d20 Modern, played a bunch of the new Marvel Heroic Roleplay, and are in the middle of some great modern Call of Cthulhu games right now. I decided to run an off-schedule WFRP game to get us into The Enemy Within and what follows is the report from our first session. More to follow at an irregular pace.
For those that have not played there is some information below that would technically be considered spoilers but are more accurately just results of investigations and events that are part of the adventure. However, since there are secret things going on behind the scenes I’d ask that other GMs reading this not post things like, “did you…. yet?” or other such questions that would give away more of the story that we’re not at yet.
Otherwise, hope you enjoy how our game is coming along.
The Enemy Within: Session 01
Characters present: Nori Jarlson – Dwarf Miner (Foreign Messenger)
Brunhilde Bulbadugan – Dwarf Mercenary (Battle-Scarred)
Fritz Donnerkind – Human Celestial Wizard Apprentice (Academic)
Micah Grubber – Human Initiate of Sigmar (Gently Born)
Saenier – Wood Elf Waywatcher (Outcast)
Since this was the beginning of a new WFRP campaign for our group we started with newly created characters. Everyone was given a background card and was given the option of using it or not. They all took them and started to fill in the gaps on the backside of the background cards.
The two dwarfs have been in Averheim for several days now and have found work on the docks as loaders working for the Fish. They traveled to Averheim together, with Brunhilde acting as a bodyguard for Nori, to deliver a message. Unfortunatley, Nori had forgotten who he was supposed to deliver his message to so instead of heading back to his father with this bad news they decided to stay in town for a few extra days hoping that he’d remember who the message was for.
Micah Grubber, Initiate of Sigmar, is in town proselytizing to the unwashed, and rather smelly, masses that live and work on the docks. Even with a proper temple of Sigmar in Averheim he’s trying to make sure that all are properly evangelized to and is also looking to set up a makeshift temple down here by the docks if he can luck into a small patch of land to use.
Fritz is a recent transplant from Altdorf where he studied at the Colleges of Magic. He’s met with Luminary Mauer on a few occasions and has found safety in numbers with the rest of our adventurers. Even with his magical prowess he’s looked at by the rough and ready types that populate the docks as an easy mark so he generally makes sure that he’s in the company of at least one other person from the party.
Saenier is an outcast from Athel Loren, but he’s not divulged to the rest of the group yet as to why, so he’s quite a sight on the muddy streets and rowdy taverns of the docks. He moves in and out of the crowds with a grace almost never seen in these parts and attracts more curious glances than any other member of the group.
Day 01 – Backerstag
The morning started off gloomy and overcast with a light drizzle, but the clouds parted and the afternoon turned out to be dry and not entirely unpleasant.
Early in the morning, while walking down the muddy streets, Initiate Grubber stepped on a crumpled up piece of parchment that was stuck in the mud. Out of curiosity he picked up the muddy and stained pamphlet and read about Jurgen Klinski who had gone missing. Jurgen’s wife took notice of this from her fish stall and implored the good holy man to help find her missing husband. They talked for a few minutes about Jurgen being missing for eight days now and how he went out in a driving storm to get more firewood and never returned. After much imploring from Olga Initiate Grubber ended up agreeing to look for Jurgen and even made a small donation (from his already nearly empty purse) to help Olga print up new pamphlets.
When reporting to the docks for work, the dwarfs were met by their boss Gerd Knakk. He spoke to them about increasing tension between the Fish and the Wharf Rats and an impending blow-up due to Werner Klebb, leader of the Wharf Rats, accusing the Fish of being responsible for Rolf Haller going missing. Gerd really doesn’t need more trouble with the Wharf Rats and really doesn’t need a full-blown riotous gang fight between the groups. Since the two dwarfs are really more of temporary workers on the Fish payroll and not employees that Gerd is really invested in he told them that their duties for the day would be going to meet with Werner and convince him that the Fish had nothing to do with Rolf’s disappearance. If they could, at least temporarily, reduce tension between the Fish and Wharf Rats it would be worth their wages for the day. If they could not convince him maybe Werner would take out his aggression on them instead of his regular workers. They started down the street towards the East side docks and met up with the rest of the group.
While walking down the street with the dwarfs Fritz noticed a woman, Ute Herz, standing outside The White Horse tavern sizing him up. She struck up a conversation with him about the recent goings-on around the docks and after a few minutes they parted company as the dwarfs grew tired of their banter and wanted to get their discussion with Werner over with.
As they approached Werner Klebb the group noticed that almost twice their number of dock workers crept out of the shadows, came out of buildings and alleyways to walk close to them as they approached the leader of the Wharf Rats. One called out to Werner who looked up and saw the party approaching. Not really seeing them as a significant threat he waved off his cadre of bodyguards who moved away, but not too far in case hostilities broke out. A long, and apparently convincing, discussion took place and while Werner seemed to believe that the Fish had nothing to do with Rolf’s disappearance he also basically enlisted the party to help find him. The tense meeting broke up without any bloodshed or worsening of relations between the two factions of dockworkers.
A couple of times today Saenier noticed a red-headed dirty fellow looking his way from time to time. When Saenier would look back his way this supposed stalker would look away or disappear into the crowd or disappear down an alley. On one such occasion, while in The White Horse, Saenier discovered that his purse was missing and he lamented that some of his prized acorns from trees in Athel Loren were now gone. He saw the red-headed thief making way out the front door and into the crowd outside. The party made quick chase, but were hampered slightly by the crowd in the tavern and were accosted by a local beggar as they burst through the front doors. By the time they dealt with Kurt Guth, the beggar, by throwing him a copper penny or two, the thief was gone, but a cry had gone out that a body had been found.
Immediately, Olga ran towards the gathering crowd and arrived there at the same time as the party. She was relieved that it was not Jurgen, but continued to implore Initiate Grubber to look for him. Through talking with those in the crowd they discovered that the dead man was Klaus Keller, a local criminal who ran a protection racket. The non-criminal locals really didn’t mourn his passing but a few of the more obvious bad-element in the crowd were visibly distressed. An examination of the body found several small holes in his back and terrible slashes to his chest and neck. The wounds on his back also bore tell-tale signs of some kind of poisoning, but none that they were familiar with. One of the disturbed local scoundrels, after several drinks away from the rest of the crowd, gave up a bit of information about a new criminal element in town that was trying to consolidate power of the criminal element. Many higher-ups of the local criminals were given the opportunity swear allegiance to the Black Cowl. This opportunity was really more a choice between becoming subservient to the Black Cowl or ending up like Klaus. The more they talked the more nervous the local became until he eventually left a round of drinks on the table and left.
Day 02 – Bezahltag
The weather this day was downright miserable. It was foggy and overcast in the morning and it did nothing but get worse as the day went on. Eventually, the skies darkened and rain poured down for hours.
Early in the morning, before the really heavy rain came down, they met Beatrice Knox who was sobbing outside The Upright Pig. She saw Initiate Grubber as the one who would probably be the most sympathetic to her plight and she told him of her debt to local moneylenders and her desperate need for money. While he was probably the kindest ear he was also the least able to help her. He gave up a brass or two and told Beatrice that Fritz was flush with money. Fritz was buying none of her story and questioned her mercilessly trying to trip her up and get to the truth. She was able to give him answers for every question, but he was still unconvinced. The story-telling, sobbing, begging, and questioning went on for a few more minutes until a loud “whooooooomph!” got everyone’s attention.
Turning around towards the docks they saw the merchant’s ship erupt into flames. Two grubby types, who looked much like the all of the other grubby types around the docks, were running from the ship towards the safety of the many buildings and alleyways near the docks and the owner of the ship, Adolphus Stark, was seen running in a panic from The White Horse tavern towards his ship.
Only Saenier, the wood elf, ran to the pier and jumped on the ship after hearing cries of help coming from within. The rest of the group pursued the suspected arsonists into the maze of buildings and alleyways and cornered them after a few minutes of running. The suspected arsonists made it clear that they would not go easily as they drew rusty swords from their belts but before a fight in the tight alley could be met two of their friends joined the fray. Surely they must have followed the party that was following those that set the boat aflame. A short battle ensued and even with the dwarfs hindered by the cramped alley the brigands quickly found themselves on the losing end. The last remaining arsonist tried to make a run for it, but he was met with an arrow from Saenier who had finished helping rescue Adolphus’ family and putting out the fire.
Coming back to the docks they found Adolphus attending to is family and they checked to see if everything was ok and Initiate Grubber reported that the arsonists had been dealt with in the harshest possible means and had met with Sigmar’s justice. He was profoundly thankful for their assistance, especially to Saenier who helped with the fire and rescue his family, and asked to speak with them privately if they could spare a few minutes. They did, and at The White Horse tavern he bought them a few rounds of drinks and said that he wished he could offer them more but his funds were nearly depleted. They talked about the protection money that he paid to Klaus Keller (found dead yesterday) and of new racketeers that had pressed him for more money but he was unable to pay. He believes this was the cause of them trying to torch his boat. He would have had money to pay, even though he’d rather not have done so since he already paid once for protection, if a shipment of silk had arrived that was now missing. He asks them not to relay what he told them to his wife or kids so as to not worry them and again thanked them for their help.
With the storm outside getting worse they stayed in for the rest of the day drinking (dwarfs), studying (Fritz and Initiate Grubber) and resting (everyone).
Day 03 – Konigstag
The morning saw a heavy fog settle over the docks. In the afternoon it cleared up and became sunny but the River Aver was quite swollen with the heavy rains from the previous day and night.
The morning began solemnly with news that Ute, who has stuck up a conversation with Fritz two days prior, had gone missing. She was not at her home and those that knew her are quite worried due to the other recent missing persons and apparent murder of Klaus Keller.
Our mysterious red-headed dirt bag, and supposed thief of Saenier’s acorn-purse, was seen around the docks today but nobody’s purse was any lighter.
A large crowd gathered around the docks and word of another body being found spread quickly. The crowd was visibly split by Luminary Mauer who began an investigation as the body was pulled from the mudflats. It bore the same type of wounds as those on Keller and he was identified as Herman Halheimer, another criminal. Talk in the crowd centered on that Herman was probably also a victim of the Black Cowl and obviously gave him/her/it the wrong answer about coming under his control. They were able to meet up with Lumiary Mauer for a few minutes and discuss the bodies and murders. Mauer did not feel that the other missing persons had any relation to Klaus and Herman since they were ordinary folk and not involved in any serious criminal activity.
Later in the day they were approached by Curd Weiss of the Red Arrow, a delivery service, who had heard a bit out their investigations of missing persons and coming to the aid of Adolphus and his family. He had need of some competent investigators and could provide them with a day’s work if they had interest. They were to meet him tomorrow morning at the Red Arrow office in Averheim. This was a welcome diversion that would get them away from the grime, mud, and smell of fish and filth of the docks if even for just a day.
Day 04 – Angestag
A somewhat uncommon, and welcome, sunny and fair day welcomed our party.
The group met Curd Weiss at the offices of the Red Arrow (What can Red do for you?) and he gave them some more information about the missing delivery that he wants them to track down. Payment was agreed upon and he gave them a letter bearing the Red Arrow seal that would afford them a free night’s accommodations and food at the Welcome Rest Inn. They set out on the road and soon saw a gypsy (gypo) wagon coming down towards them. After some light banter, and payment for information, they discovered that the wagon they were looking for could be an hour or so up the muddy road that was still drying out from recent rains. The gypsy woman driving the wagon tried to sell Initiate Grubber a charm that she described as an actual vertebra of Sigmar but he did not fall for her sales pitch and they moved on.
Before too long they found deep ruts in the mud that led into the woods where they discovered a wagon that had seen better days and two dead Red Arrow employees. The horses that were pulling the wagon were missing as was just about anything of value that it was carrying. A small amount of black powder was seen next to a broken wooden barrel. Saenier’s tracking ability quickly led them to a small camp where a band of mutants was found. From their hidden position in the trees they saw slaughtered, and partially eaten, horses, crates of mostly drunk wine and some other unopened crates, and five mutated humans. Saenier (bow) and Brunhilde (crossbow) took aim at the furry mutant with donkey ears and let fly. He was killed before he or the other mutants knew what was going on and the battle was on. Divine and arcane magicks erupted from the woods along with crossbow bolts and arrows before close quarters fighting took place. The dwarfs, with axe and pick, met the mutants in hand-to-hand combat as the rest of the party provided support. After gorging themselves on horse meat and drinking copious amounts of wine the mutants were no match for the adventurers and were quickly dispatched. A search of the campsite found unmolested boxes of silk, some more spilled black powder that had mixed with some puddles of rain water to produce a muddy black mix, and lots of broken bottles of wine. Confident that they had found and dealt with those responsible for the missing delivery wagon they got back to the road and continued on to the Welcome Rest Inn to rest and recuperate before heading back to Averheim the next morning.
And with that we finished up our first session of The Enemy Within.