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The Restless Dead: The Forgotten WFRP Campaign

January 9, 2015 17 comments

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A lot has been written about the Enemy Within campaign for WFRP, and rather less has been written about the Doomstones campaign. But the Restless Dead campaign is almost forgotten.

Restless Dead

This modest, 104-page hardback is not a common find on Ebay or elsewhere. It was never reprinted, although a good deal of its content wound up in Hogshead’s Apocrypha Now and Apocrypha 2. And much of that content was reprinted from White Dwarf.

Edited by Carl Sargent, the book falls into three parts. First is the Restless Dead campaign proper, which consists of seven adventures from WD. Carl expands my own On the Road (mentioned in an earlier post) to provide the campaign’s overarching storyline, and I think he did a pretty good job pulling together a bunch of unrelated adventures to make a reasonably coherent campaign.

Night of Blood and A Rough Night at the Three Feathers can also be found in Hogshead’s Apocrypha Now, and The Ritual and The Affair of the Hidden Jewel are reprinted in Apocrypha 2. The other two adventures, Eureka! and The Haunting Horror, have not been reprinted for 1st edition, although Plundered Vaults has a 2nd edition version of The Haunting Horror as well as A Rough Night at the Three Feathers. and can only be found in this book. The Haunting Horror has been widely criticized as too deadly even for WFRP, while Eureka! features an array of wacky inventions, including hang-gliders and a submarine, which Hogshead chief James Wallis thought were a step too far. Each adventure is accompanied by a page of campaign notes from Carl, giving advice on how it can be used in either the Restless Dead campaign or the Enemy Within campaign.

Altogether, the Restless Dead campaign takes up 58 pages, or a little over half the book.

The second part of The Restless Dead consists of a single adventure for the Enemy Within campaign, specially written by Carl (with Derrick Norton) and found nowhere else reprinted from WD98. Titled Grapes of Wrath (and known in the Studio as “Flying Death Skulls” for its defining encounter), it runs to 16 pages and features a crazed wizard terrorizing a peaceful village. It is reprinted with 2nd edition stats in Plundered Vaults.

Finally, there are 24 pages of optional rules. Jim and Phil’s Practice Makes Perfect takes a detailed look at career progression, while Hack and Slay! introduces some optional combat rules. New spells and magic items round out the rest of the book.

The Restless Dead is a curious little volume. It was put together in a hurry in 1989 with the intention of getting more WFRP material out at the lowest possible cost. The John Blanche cover art was re-used from the Skeleton Horde boxed set, a move that would be repeated in later WFRP books. But Carl’s editing and development of the Restless Dead campaign saves it from being just another miscellany like the Warhammer Companion and the two Apocryphas. First edition completists will probably want it for the bits and pieces that were never reprinted elsewhere, and while it doesn’t approach the heights of Power Behind the Throne, Grapes of Wrath is definitely one of Carl’s better adventures. There are some typically silly NPC names like Isolde Guderian, Seel Baldurich, and Knud Gropenfrotteur, and Carl claimed to have based Wuder Lechart, the village idiot, on GW’s lead graphic designer, Charlie Elliott.

While it is definitely a little brother to The Enemy Within and Doomstones, The Restless Dead doesn’t deserve to be entirely forgotten.

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