WHFRP 4E Enemy Within campaign as a player (not good)

Bourbonjack

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I’ve been playing in a WHFRP 4E campaign centered around The Enemy Within campaign, snd it’s not going very well.

The campaign is extremely linear, and it seems our efforts as characters are pretty much irrelevant to the outcome of any story arc.

As a party, we’ve put in significant effort to follow leads, only to have situations resolved either by an NPC stepping in, everting blowing up as a loss, or to simply hit a dead end with all the effort wasted.

Any else played this campaign? Is this going as written?

I’m always concerned with playing pre-packaged campaigns, as in my experience, they are usually pretty bad. This one seems particularly bad though.
 
It can be very rail-roady, unless the GM goes out of their way to mix it up. I know I'd have to make lots of adjustments if I were to run it these days, as my players wouldn't go for too much of the linear plot line stuff...
 
It can be very rail-roady, unless the GM goes out of their way to mix it up. I know I'd have to make lots of adjustments if I were to run it these days, as my players wouldn't go for too much of the linear plot line stuff...
Isn't that one of the more highly-acclaimed campaigns for WFRP:shock:?
 
I’m not familiar with the 4E version, but I ran the first 3 chapters of the 1E version back in the 80s. The first chapter was definitely linear and kind of lame (the good part of that book was the gazetteer material) though IIRC we were also able to play through it in a single session and it felt worthwhile to me because it set up the mistaken identity plot thread that came back in chapter three. But I don’t remember the second (Shadows Over Bogenhafen) of third (Death on the Reik) sections feeling that way at all. I mean, I suppose I could have run it that way and deprotagonized the players and turned them into a passive audience, but the adventures certainly didn’t require or even encourage it.
 
It is, and I think we had a thread here talking about it.
...Yes, I think there was. But I didn't remember it when posting:smile:.
Some of the material gets pretty linear unless you shake things up a bit.

For me personally, I never use anything as written, so it's not usually an issue.
Well, sure, but you know about GMs fixing stuff and there being (or not) a problem...:wink:
 
I mean, the original Enemy Within Campaign is kinda famous in WFRP circles for not really sticking the landing.

The 4th edition version, as near as I can tell from reviews, did better than the previous version of sticking the landing, but maybe didn't score a perfect 10.

And, there are people who prefer an "on rails" role-playing experience.
 
I’m not familiar with the 4E version, but I ran the first 3 chapters of the 1E version back in the 80s. The first chapter was definitely linear and kind of lame (the good part of that book was the gazetteer material) though IIRC we were also able to play through it in a single session and it felt worthwhile to me because it set up the mistaken identity plot thread that came back in chapter three. But I don’t remember the second (Shadows Over Bogenhafen) of third (Death on the Reik) sections feeling that way at all. I mean, I suppose I could have run it that way and deprotagonized the players and turned them into a passive audience, but the adventures certainly didn’t require or even encourage it.
Yes, this lines up with my experience running it. Mistaken Identity is a railroad to Bogenhafen, Shadow Over Bogenhafen is an investigative adventure in the style of of Call of Cthulhu and detailed town to explore, and Death on the Reik opens up into a sandbox adventure in the Reikland.

There are two ways to deal with Mistaken Identity. One way is to view it a kind of tutorial. The players get to interact with NPCs and understand that status matters in this game, they learn the importance of coach and river travel in the setting and get to pick up some boating skill. They get to experience a few fights. And then they get to Bogenhafen and the tutorial is over.

I'm running it on and off at the moment. We rotate GM duties, so I'm doing one volume at a time. I warned my players that it was going to start of a bit railroady, but I promised them that the adventure opened up later, and they were fine with it.
 
Yes, the campaign has always been railroady in some parts, though other parts have the opposite problem of a lack of hooks. Sadly the fourth-edition version has done almost nothing to fix these issues, and in at least one case has made them worse. They can be lessened or even solved with work from the GM. The Enemy Within is still unfortunately a campaign that requires the GM to fix a number of faults.

Where are you up to in the campaign?
 
Yes, the campaign has always been railroady in some parts, though other parts have the opposite problem of a lack of hooks. Sadly the fourth-edition version has done almost nothing to fix these issues, and in at least one case has made them worse. They can be lessened or even solved with work from the GM. The Enemy Within is still unfortunately a campaign that requires the GM to fix a number of faults.
TEW definitely runs better if the GM is willing to put more work into it.

As an aside, you're blog is very interesting. I haven't seen you posting here before, so have a belated welcome to the Pub.
 
So here’s my experience as a player so far:

Start off captured in a wagon by bandits, being transported into the forest to be sold to Beastmen. PCs come up with sorts of plans to attempt an escape, all completely fail. Arrive at the rendezvous, a couple of NPCs we’ve never met attack the beastmen/bandits and in the confusion the PCs escapes (i.e. run away in terror as we have no weapons, armor or equipment).

We arrive at a small village with a sausage festival. Lots of strange NPCs and general weirdness. We discover the sausage is being made from people. Present evidence to a court. I guess we don’t make our rolls because despite physical proof, we’re laughed at. Then we stop a separate plot to poison the town. But then, in yet another plot where we had no clue was happening, Chaos mutants and giant rats overrun the town, slaughtering the people burning it to the ground. PCs are helpless to stop the invasion, so we run away. Story arc complete.

We discover a wrecked carriage with a dead almost identical twin of a PC inside. We pursue a hook based on an inheritance. We are constantly stalked by assassins as well as people making strange gestures.

We arrive in Bogenhafen, finally manage to track down what we think is the husk, only to find it a dead end snd the assassin who was stalking us killed by someone else. Story arc complete.

We start following a new hook. We discover a literal temple to Chaos, complete with guardian daemon. We defeat the daemon and try to bring evidence to the authorities. We are again laughed at. Then we’re given a hook that is an obvious ambush.

We’ve tried a bunch of other approaches to gather more evidence, but all have failed. So we follow the obvious trap hook that, despite all our planning and preparations, is indeed a trap that we automatically fall into.

We are now framed for murder of a city VIP and are being pursued by most of the Watch.
 
So here’s my experience as a player so far:

Start off captured in a wagon by bandits, being transported into the forest to be sold to Beastmen. PCs come up with sorts of plans to attempt an escape, all completely fail. Arrive at the rendezvous, a couple of NPCs we’ve never met attack the beastmen/bandits and in the confusion the PCs escapes (i.e. run away in terror as we have no weapons, armor or equipment).

We arrive at a small village with a sausage festival. Lots of strange NPCs and general weirdness. We discover the sausage is being made from people. Present evidence to a court. I guess we don’t make our rolls because despite physical proof, we’re laughed at. Then we stop a separate plot to poison the town. But then, in yet another plot where we had no clue was happening, Chaos mutants and giant rats overrun the town, slaughtering the people burning it to the ground. PCs are helpless to stop the invasion, so we run away. Story arc complete.
None of this is from The Enemy Within campaign. It has it's faults, but it doesn't use the "PCs are captured no matter what they do" tactic at any point that I remember.
 
Sounds like a GM issue from what you describe as the only thing that the adventure as written really railroads is:
We discover a wrecked carriage with a dead almost identical twin of a PC inside. We pursue a hook based on an inheritance.
The GM has made a lot of other choices to shut the PCs down that are not required.
 
So here’s my experience as a player so far:

Start off captured in a wagon by bandits, being transported into the forest to be sold to Beastmen. PCs come up with sorts of plans to attempt an escape, all completely fail. Arrive at the rendezvous, a couple of NPCs we’ve never met attack the beastmen/bandits and in the confusion the PCs escapes (i.e. run away in terror as we have no weapons, armor or equipment).

We arrive at a small village with a sausage festival. Lots of strange NPCs and general weirdness. We discover the sausage is being made from people. Present evidence to a court. I guess we don’t make our rolls because despite physical proof, we’re laughed at. Then we stop a separate plot to poison the town. But then, in yet another plot where we had no clue was happening, Chaos mutants and giant rats overrun the town, slaughtering the people burning it to the ground. PCs are helpless to stop the invasion, so we run away. Story arc complete.
As Baulderstone has said, this is not part of The Enemy Within, but a separate adventure.

We discover a wrecked carriage with a dead almost identical twin of a PC inside. We pursue a hook based on an inheritance. We are constantly stalked by assassins as well as people making strange gestures.

We arrive in Bogenhafen, finally manage to track down what we think is the husk, only to find it a dead end snd the assassin who was stalking us killed by someone else. Story arc complete.
This is the most railroady part of the campaign. It just is that way, I'm afraid. At least it's a short episode.
We start following a new hook. We discover a literal temple to Chaos, complete with guardian daemon. We defeat the daemon and try to bring evidence to the authorities. We are again laughed at. Then we’re given a hook that is an obvious ambush.

We’ve tried a bunch of other approaches to gather more evidence, but all have failed. So we follow the obvious trap hook that, despite all our planning and preparations, is indeed a trap that we automatically fall into.

We are now framed for murder of a city VIP and are being pursued by most of the Watch.
This doesn't quite sound like the campaign as I know it. This part has some railroady points, but it also has open-ended parts.

The rest of the campaign should mostly be less railroady. It might also be worth discussing it with the GM, as the railroady parts can be adapted.
 
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Sounds like a GM issue from what you describe as the only thing that the adventure as written really railroads is:

The GM has made a lot of other choices to shut the PCs down that are not required.
I actually enjoyed this hook a lot. Yes, it’s a huge coincidence. But it was fun to pursue the inheritance. And as we gradually discovered the deceased double was involved with a cult and being stalked by an assassin, it became more snd more interesting.

Which was a frustration when we thought we’d finally have a big confrontation with the conspiracists, only to discover all the people apparently plotting against the double were already murdered.
 
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Which was a frustration when we thought we’d finally have a big confrontation with the conspiracists, only to discover all the people apparently plotting against the double we’re murdered.
Without giving spoilers, this plot hasn’t resolved yet, especially if you are playing the 4e version.
 
This doesn't quite sound like the campaign as I know it. This part has some railroady points, but it also has open-ended parts.

The rest of the campaign should mostly be less railroady. It might also be worth discussing it with the GM, as the railroady parts can be adapted.
SoB has a number of these elements but it sounds like the GM is running the material unnecessarily defensively to avoid diversions and tangents. I think the railroad vibe could be avoided if the GM relaxed and followed a few of the player initiatives.
 
SoB has a number of these elements but it sounds like the GM is running the material unnecessarily defensively to avoid diversions and tangents. I think the railroad vibe could be avoided if the GM relaxed and followed a few of the player initiatives.
Yes, just because you are running a published adventure, you still need to be ready to respond. SoB is actually especially easy in this regard. It revolves around the players either succeeding or failing at stopping [REDACTED] from happening, and the campaign has provisions for either possibility. The adventure has a few exciting set-pieces, but it still works even if the players take actions that result in them not encountering them. The players can completely refuse to engage with any of the main hooks in the adventure for the whole festival, simply playing all the side encounters or doing their own thing, and there will still be a dramatic conclusion.
 
This is good feedback. I think we’ll have a discussion soon about campaign direction. We all enjoy our characters, but there’s a growing frustration level.

We, as players, want more agency with our characters chosen paths, and also we’d just like a “win”.

we’re all moving towards our third career snd we have yet to have a major in game “win”,
 
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Shadow Over Bogenhaven was the first, proper, roleplaying campaign I played in, so for that reason alone it was memorable for me. I was given one of the pregens from the WHFRP 1e book, Wanda the wizard. I can't recall exactly what happened, but the end all the player characters were dead or on the run (wanted for the murders of the various Bogenhaven elite). As such we never got any further into the TEW campaign.

I often wonder how these old, classic campaigns ever got played through to the end, especially as they generally associated with gritty, unforgiving systems. I guess the Great Pendragon Campaign, it's meant to be a generational thing anyway.
 
Shadow Over Bogenhaven was the first, proper, roleplaying campaign I played in, so for that reason alone it was memorable for me. I was given one of the pregens from the WHFRP 1e book, Wanda the wizard. I can't recall exactly what happened, but the end all the player characters were dead or on the run (wanted for the murders of the various Bogenhaven elite). As such we never got any further into the TEW campaign.

I often wonder how these old, classic campaigns ever got played through to the end, especially as they generally associated with gritty, unforgiving systems. I guess the Great Pendragon Campaign, it's meant to be a generational thing anyway.
TEW has the advantage of the players having Fate Points, but we still only made it to Something Rotten in Kislev before the TPK. That was completely unsuitable to be part of TEW.
 
Shadow Over Bogenhaven was the first, proper, roleplaying campaign I played in, so for that reason alone it was memorable for me. I was given one of the pregens from the WHFRP 1e book, Wanda the wizard. I can't recall exactly what happened, but the end all the player characters were dead or on the run (wanted for the murders of the various Bogenhaven elite). As such we never got any further into the TEW campaign.

I often wonder how these old, classic campaigns ever got played through to the end, especially as they generally associated with gritty, unforgiving systems. I guess the Great Pendragon Campaign, it's meant to be a generational thing anyway.
Well, my current run as a player in the 4E TEW campaign might be headed in this direction.
 
Shadow Over Bogenhaven was the first, proper, roleplaying campaign I played in, so for that reason alone it was memorable for me. I was given one of the pregens from the WHFRP 1e book, Wanda the wizard. I can't recall exactly what happened, but the end all the player characters were dead or on the run (wanted for the murders of the various Bogenhaven elite). As such we never got any further into the TEW campaign.

I often wonder how these old, classic campaigns ever got played through to the end, especially as they generally associated with gritty, unforgiving systems. I guess the Great Pendragon Campaign, it's meant to be a generational thing anyway.

TEW has the advantage of the players having Fate Points, but we still only made it to Something Rotten in Kislev before the TPK. That was completely unsuitable to be part of TEW.

I mean, my experience playing WFRP 1e was that TPK was always a looming possibility. I remember one game where the PCs all died in what amounted to the opening scene of a one shot scenario thanks to some ill-advised in character choices and some unlucky dice rolls.
 
I mean, my experience playing WFRP 1e was that TPK was always a looming possibility. I remember one game where the PCs all died in what amounted to the opening scene of a one shot scenario thanks to some ill-advised in character choices and some unlucky dice rolls.
Were you using Fate Points? If not, that's not really surprising.
 
Were you using Fate Points? If not, that's not really surprising.
Yeah, WHFRP 1E was very dependent on Fare Points. One exploring “6” on a damage roll with a bad critical would be the end of a character.

In my experience over a dozen sessions or so of WHFRP 4E, the newer system’s Fortune, Fate, Resilience and Resolve points go a step farther towards character survival.
 
Were you using Fate Points? If not, that's not really surprising.

Yes, but these particular characters had already run through their initial supply.

In those days, we invested on the order of 60% of our free time roleplaying. We rotated games and GMs.

Person 1: "What're going to play today?"

Person 2: "I've got a Warhammer thing I want to run."

All others: "Cool. New characters or existing?"

Then every player would make an idiosyncratic decision about quickly creating a new character or pulling one of their stable of characters out of their binder/folder/what have you. The GM of the day would quickly review the characters, or help creating a new one, and we'd start.

Essentially, we didn't play proper campaigns, we played a series of unconnected 1-shots across an often evolving selection of TTRPGs.

Then, mostly, each adventure started with an implausible "this is how this random selection of characters end up in the same place to start the adventure".

In this case, we decided all the characters owed a debt of some kind to the same underworld mob-boss type, and she'd called the debts in, and was going to clear the characters' debts if they did a job for her. One of the characters refused, and insulted her to boot. Recriminations and verbal sparring followed, the PCs predictably all siding together.

Eventually a punch was thrown, which drew the mob-boss' blood, and then she and her lackeys drew steel, the PCs followed suit, and a hilarious series of fatal critical hits followed (all rolled in the open, as was our custom). If I recall correctly, from first punch to last death, the whole combat portion maybe lasted 3 rounds.

We all had a blast. No one lamented the loss of their characters.
 
Well, the adventure experience got better.

Our PC’s, despite being wanted (framed) for even more crimes beyond the murder of Magirius, tracked down the final ritual. We opted for the direct approach, kicked down the doors and proceeded to have a pitched battle with the chaos sorcerer, his cult plus some hired mercenaries.

The PCs spent many of the various points 4E puts at your disposal and emerged battered but victorious.

Unfortunately we ended up with a burning warehouse full of dead members of the town’s elite and no way to clear our name.

The PCs are planning to sneak out of Bogenhafen and adopt new names.

One PC/Player is very upset at this occurrence, as he/his character was working his way into the physician’s guild and was hoping to stay in Bogenhafen.

The Coachmen, Slayer and Racketeer/Witchhunter PCs are pretty excited about the prospect of life on the road. We’re going to follow a clue towards Nuln and see what adventure we can find.

GM was open to some post-session feedback, and future sessions will feature more action snd exploration with less impenetrable conspiracies.
 
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Well, the adventure experience got better.
Glad to hear it.
One PC/Player is very upset at this occurrence, as he/his character was working his way into the physician’s guild and was hoping to stay in Bogenhafen.
That is the biggest issue with TEW. It often gets in the way of players embracing their careers in the way the core game encourages. The good news is that the next chapter, depending on how your GM handles it, should give you much more freedom to pursue your own agendas.
 
One PC/Player is very upset at this occurrence, as he/his character was working his way into the physician’s guild and was hoping to stay in Bogenhafen.

Quite common in fiction for characters to be turned away from the life they wanted, or were suppose to have, as events over take them. Perhaps this will lend a certain pathos to his future performances in the role!

I am a bit jealeous. Never had a chance to play Enemy Within, but the Old World is a pretty cool setting.
 
I recently started reading the Gotrek & Felix omnibus, and that's basically their life: saving the world from Chaos and getting chased out of town for their efforts.
Or losing all allies and henchmen in another near-TPK, and getting blamed for their deaths.
Very PC, all that ::honkhonk:
 
Quite common in fiction for characters to be turned away from the life they wanted, or were suppose to have, as events over take them. Perhaps this will lend a certain pathos to his future performances in the role!
Yes, ideally the player and GM can embrace that. There is a lot of good roleplaying material there.
 
Tl;Dr is the 4e EW the same story as 1st edition? Iirc the 3E EW was a completely different campaign, in a different time period.
 
Never had a chance to play Enemy Within, but the Old World is a pretty cool setting.
Personally, I think the setting rather than the scenarios is the best thing. I rather enjoyed the Warhammer Quest mobile game for that reason (avoid the sequel, it’s dreadful). Because the atmosphere and tropes are so strong it’s possible to knock up some effective random tables.
 
Tl;Dr is the 4e EW the same story as 1st edition? Iirc the 3E EW was a completely different campaign, in a different time period.
It's the same story through Mistaken Identity, Shadows over Bogenhafen, Death on the Reik and Power Behind the Throne. They have tossed out and replaced Something Rotten in Kislev and Empire in Flames.

Ken Rolston didn't write SRiK as part of TEW. It was meant to be a standalone campaign, but GW was getting bored with RPGs and just wanted to get the last TEW books out the door and be done with them, so they shoved it in, and EiF had a lot of issues. I haven't read the new parts, but one great benefit is that players don't get kicked out of Middenheim after a few days now, so you actually get some real use out of the Middenheim book. It also provides a second part of the campaign, like DotR, where players can do their own thing for a while.
 
Personally, I think the setting rather than the scenarios is the best thing. I rather enjoyed the Warhammer Quest mobile game for that reason (avoid the sequel, it’s dreadful). Because the atmosphere and tropes are so strong it’s possible to knock up some effective random tables.
Yep, I have old devices I have kept just so I can keep replaying the original WHQ iOS game once a year. It is as close to the WHQ boardgame as you can get.
 
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I recently started reading the Gotrek & Felix omnibus, and that's basically their life: saving the world from Chaos and getting chased out of town for their efforts.
Or losing all allies and henchmen in another near-TPK, and getting blamed for their deaths.
Very PC, all that ::honkhonk:
This campaign is definitely taking on a "Gotrek & Felix" feel to it.

Our site based adventure record so far is:

1. Altdorf - PC's defeat a daemon but framed for murdering students and leave city as wanted fugitives one step ahead of the guard

2. Heideldorf - PC's stop several conspiracies, defeat mutants led by sorcerer but the town is overrun by chaos mutants and giant (horse sized) rats, then burned to the ground. PC's narrowly escape.

3. Bogenhafen - PC's stop a powerful chaos ritual, defeat coven sorcerer and destroy multiple daemons. Also happen to kill 8 members of the town's ruling elite, burn down a warehouse and are framed for murder, arson and possibly other crimes. Are about to leave town as wanted fugitives one step ahead of the guard.

Perhaps with new identities we can find a major urban center, conduct some business and then leave without burning anything or being wanted for crimes (particularly any crimes we didn't actually commit).
 
Glad to hear it.

That is the biggest issue with TEW. It often gets in the way of players embracing their careers in the way the core game encourages. The good news is that the next chapter, depending on how your GM handles it, should give you much more freedom to pursue your own agendas.
Yep, that's a definite problem with certain careers.

My character started as a Racketeer (Thug). I'm well into the second "level" of the career path. And while I've actually had success at various criminal side pursuits and see a certain appeal to setting up my character as a crime lord, I quickly realized (see list of urban locations above) that we would never be in one place long enough to really set down roots.

So I did some in game work to lay a path to obtain GM approval for a career exit into Witch Hunter. I think an itinerant Witch Hunter will be a better fit for this campaign than a Racketeer.

This campaign has basically forced us into the MurderHobo lifestyle, which as you say, is in many ways a contradiction to the career system at the heart of the WHFRP.
 
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