The Enemy Within, Again
In 1986 I was hired by Games Workshop to help develop a tabletop roleplaying game based on their Warhammer fantasy miniatures game. I had done some freelancing before then, but this was my first job in the games industry. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was released in time for Christmas that year, and one of the first priorities was to produce an adventure campaign for the new game that would allow players to explore the Empire and other parts of the Warhammer world. The campaign was called The Enemy Within, and it dealt with the less obvious face of Chaos: secret cults and corruption in high places that threatened the Empire’s very existence.
The campaign was largely planned by Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher, two recent recruits from TSR UK’s roleplaying games design team. Together with Graeme Morris, for whom I am sometimes mistaken, they had been responsible for a number of successful adventures, my personal favorite being B/X1 (reprinted as B10), Night’s Dark Terror. Jim and Phil wrote The Enemy Within to set the scene and kick off the campaign, and I wrote Shadows Over Bogenhafen. We divided Death on the Reik, with Jim and Phil writing the main adventure while I wrote the River Life supplement and adventure seeds.
These first three episodes came out pretty much as planned, but then certain commercial realities set in. The first edition of Warhammer 40,000 came out at the same time as WFRP, and because it introduced a whole new range of miniatures it was far more profitable. Gaps between new Enemy Within adventures became longer, and GW started to look for ways to defray the expense of in-house development.
Power Behind the Throne was adapted from an AD&D adventure written by prolific freelancer Carl Sargent, and span off the Middenheim city sourcebook. Something Rotten in Kislev was commissioned when renowned American RPG designer Ken Rolston became available, and was loosely tied into the Enemy Within campaign to maintain some kind of continuity. A Skaven-based adventure provisionally titled The Horned Rat was cancelled before inception.
When GW spun off Flame Publications in 1989, the first directive was to wrap up The Enemy Within quickly, using a manuscript for the previously-announced Empire in Flames that Carl Sargent had written with his usual speed. Flame went on to publish several more WFRP titles: many, like the four-volume Doomstones campaign, were adapted from existing materials that had been written for AD&D or the Warhammer miniatures game.
After Flame was shut down in 1992, it seemed as though WFRP – and the Enemy Within campaign – were dead. But the game’s fans just wouldn’t let go. Through fanzines like Warpstone and on early internet mailing lists, they kept the game alive for three years until Hogshead Publishing picked up the license in 1995. Hogshead reprinted all the Enemy Within adventures except Empire in Flames, which had never been a fan favorite and which Hogshead owner James Wallis wanted to replace with a new campaign finale. Alas, that never happened and Hogshead returned the license to Games Workshop in 2002.
When Black Industries and Green Ronin Publishing collaborated to produce a second edition of WFRP in 2005, it was decided to concentrate on all-new products rather than revisiting the Enemy Within campaign. I wrote Ashes of Middenheim, the first episode in the three-part Paths of the Damned campaign, but despite much tighter game mechanics, the adventures for second edition WFRP failed to achieve the success of The Enemy Within. Black Industries pulled the plug in 2008, and the license passed to Fantasy Flight Games.
And thanks to Fantasy Flight, The Enemy Within is back – in a way. Their new campaign set shares a title with the classic first edition campaign and explores the same themes through all-new adventures. There are still grave threats lurking in the heart of the Empire, but don’t expect to encounter Johannes Teugen in Bogenhafen or discuss philosophy with the half-cockroach mutant Ludwig von Wittgenstein. There are new enemies and new plots to uncover and thwart as the adventurers save the Empire from the forces of Chaos.
As the only one of the original Enemy Within authors who is still active in the tabletop RPG arena, I was very pleased to be asked to help develop this new Enemy Within. I did my best to be true to the tone and themes of the original, mixing humor with horror and confronting the players with moral dilemmas as well as physical challenges. My co-author Dave Allen and I wrote alternating chapters in the campaign, and the whole project was very ably and sensitively coordinated by Chris Gerber at Fantasy Flight.
As WFRP grognards know, Fantasy Flight’s third edition is a very different game from the two editions that preceded it, at least in terms of game mechanics and components. While writing for this new Enemy Within campaign, I took particular care to ensure that the adventures would be easy for an experienced GM to adapt to the first or second edition rules. My intention was that it should work well as a WFRP adventure, period, whichever edition of the rules a particular gaming group prefers.
It’s been a few months since I finished work on the campaign, and I’ve been bursting to tell the world about it. Now that Fantasy Flight has formally announced the release, I can. I’m very proud of it, and I hope that WFRP fans will find it worthy to bear the distinguished name of The Enemy Within.