The Enemy Within – The Ritual

Well, I decided I would rock it Old School for the next RPG campaign, and decided to run the Enemy Within campaign for 1st edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay because… well, because I could, really!

Worryingly, I last ran this campaign when I was at school about (gulp) 25 years ago. In fact, I was very conscious that some of the books on the table were actually older than some of the players.

EW1

For the first session, we kicked off with character creation. None of the players were amazingly familiar with the game but all were keen Fantasy Battle players and were looking forward to plunging into a different aspect of the Warhammer World. They ended up with the following characters;

Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Warrior
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Scholar (wizard’s apprentice)
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger

So, lop-sided to the non-humans and yes, we had a guy playing a female character and a girl playing a male character. We also had two characters (the elves) with Good alignments, and we had a little chat before the campaign started about what Good meant. This, as it turned out, would be important later (I had a feeling it would be, but I am getting ahead of myself).

All those years ago, there was a short adventure printed in White Dwarf meant to be used as an introduction to the campaign, called the Ritual. It is a simple little dungeon bash and I figured it would get everyone into the swing of the rules before we dove into the campaign proper.

The basic premise of the campaign was that the players were all friends and were bored with life in the quiet town of Delberz (a little north of Altdorf, for those of you familiar with the Empire). They had read a pamphlet advertising a prince’s expedition in the mountains and all they needed to do to earn good money and start a life of adventure was travel to Altdorf and sign up. Easy.

However, first things first – the night before they were set out for Altdorf they went out on the town to celebrate the start of their new lives. This is where the campaign began.

 

The Ritual

Walking back from the tavern late at night, the adventurers were cutting through a fairly well-to-do area of Delberz when a young man ran out of a house in his night clothes, screaming for help. There was a whistle and thud, and the man collapsed in the arms of Amy, dead. In the shadow of the house’s front door, they saw a figure dart back inside. With a cry, they rush in to apprehend the killer.

The shadowy figure legged it up the stairs with James and Alan close behind. As they race up the stairs, they became aware the figure had stopped at the top and was pushing a big barrel down towards them. James was winged by the barrel as the figure leapt over the bannisters and ran towards the rear of the house.

The players followed up behind, though Ed was distracted by an open door. While the others caught up with the man in the kitchen (gutting him quite thoroughly when he tried to brain them with a club), Ed was going through a storeroom where he discovered, among other things, a box of, umm, bombs. Having absolutely no idea how to use them, he gathered up as many as he could, saying they would undoubtedly be useful.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the others had noticed the man they had apprehended had been trying to escape through a trap door. James rummaged through the dead man’s pockets, deciding to take his cloak and a charming clasp (three bones in the shape of an upside down triangle…).

The players decided to investigate the trap door and quickly find themselves first in a network of natural caves and then, one secret door later, the town sewers. At this point, there was much grumbling from the two dwarfs about lesser races needing torches and lanterns when underground. The elves were also somewhat superior until it was pointed out that they needed at least a little light for their night vision to work properly – it was not going to cut it underground.

James was keen to lead, and took the party down the sewers. They saw an open door leading into another cave complex, but James had spotted a dead body on the walkway of the sewer just a little further on. Not wanting to leave any corpse unturned, he went over to inspect  it, rearing back quickly as the corpse (actually a very hungry but injured ghoul) lashed out at him. His battle with it did not go too well, until Alan stepped in to finish it off.

Unperturbed by this, James declared he would once again take point as they entered the new cave system. James had just mentioned that his (very) low Initiative would not allow him to sport traps very well, when he triggered a trap!

Catching his foot on a trip wire, the party quickly ran back out of the caves as a yellow gas filled the tunnel and a bell rang out further into the darkness. It was not until they had reassembled themselves that they realised they were down a dwarf – James was missing.

Off camera, James had been knocked unconscious by the gas and, alerted by the alarm, a group of mercenaries had dragged him off to their cells.

A little more tentatively now, the adventurers went back into the tunnel with Amy leading, this time paying a great deal of attention for more trip wires. Padding softly forward, they discovered a guard room of sorts, with the aforementioned mercenaries having settled back down to their game of cards – but no James. With a quick bit of planning, they launched their attack.

They were efficient enough in their first real fight. Ed managed to restrain himself from lobbing a bomb into the chamber, while everyone else discovered just what kind of wizard they had with them – Andy knew a single spell which allowed him to lower the temperature of the surrounding area by ten degrees. Amidst a few jeers about his old master using him as an air conditioner, Andy drew his sword and waded in. It was at this point that Andy and Ed both discovered that starting level Scholars really suck in close combat.

Still, the three men were finally dispatched and they started to scout out for James. They found an adjoining corridor that featured a few cells, guarded by a giant of a man, who was also plainly a simpleton. James realised they had turned up and shouted out for help while they attempted to talk to the jailer. It was going well until Amy finally lost her patience and spitted him on her sword.

Back together again, our brave adventurers made their way deeper into the caves, hearing some strange squeaking voices singing or chanting. Following the sound, they came across a larger chamber filled with Skaven and corpses, led by a robed rat who was leading the chant. Strapped to table and about to get a knife plunged into his chest was an older man (the father of the young man killed at the start of the adventure).

Confronted by what they thought was a Grey Seer and his entourage, the players leapt into somewhat panicked action.

In reality, this was no Grey Seer, just an ordinary Skaven who thought he could claim power among his fellow rats by performing a lot of sacrifices and becoming a powerful sorcerer. However, he was, in fact, utterly mad and knew nothing about magic. He did, however, have one trick up his sleeve…

Ed once again restrained his use of the bombs and while Amy waded into the Skaven warriors, the others tried everything they could to deal with the ‘grey seer’, Yvette being the most effective with her bow. As they fought, the ‘grey seer’ used a magic ring (the only thing magic about him) on the corpses to bring half a dozen skeletons into the fight.

Now things were looking a bit more desperate. Amy and James were battling away against both Skaven and skeletons now and while they were making headway, a few Skaven knives and swords were starting to slip through their defences.

Finally, a superb shot from Alan (causing a critical hit) struck the chanting Skaven leader, ending both his life and his spell. The skeletons crumbled the remaining Skaven were quickly dispatched and the gentleman who was to be sacrificed was rescued.

Despite having lost his son, he was glad to have retained his own life, and gave the adventurers a fairly reasonable reward. This, along with enough XP for an advancement or two, marked a successful first adventure for the players.

In the next session, we would be playing Mistaken Identity, the first ‘proper’ adventure of the campaign,,,

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