A few weeks ago, I had occasion to scan the last AD&D adventure I wrote before I started work on the game that would become Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. You can find it here.
The adventure was called Find the Lady, and it was published in issue 2 of Paul Cockburn’s AD&D magazine GameMaster Publications, which came out in December 1985, shortly before he joined Games Workshop. Paul started GM Pubs after the closure of Imagine magazine and the rest of TSR UK’s publications department; it was written by various Imagine regulars – and several former TSR UK staffers – and lasted for five issues before Paul took over as editor of White Dwarf. Like Imagine, GM Pubs only bought first rights, which is why I feel comfortable making it available online now.
Rereading it thirty years later, I can see it has many of the qualities that would later become characteristic of WFRP: in fact, it wouldn’t require much work to covert it to any edition of that game, with the action set in Altdorf, Middenheim or Marienburg rather than the Pellinore setting that was born in Imagine and continued in GM Pubs. Three years ago, Coop over at the Fighting Fantasist blog made some very astute observations about Pellinore and the development of WFRP, and Phil Gallagher and I both weighed in with comments.
Like many of the early Enemy Within adventures, Find the Lady is primarily a city investigation. As with much of WFRP, I had too much fun creating colorful NPCs. I had been playing a lot of Bushido in the few years before I wrote it, and had fallen in love with the trickster fox-spirits called kitsune. I had also been running a first-edition Call of Cthulhu campaign which involved a great deal of investigation and NPC interaction and very little combat: after all, taking a D&D approach to Call of Cthulhu combat made for very short adventures! Both of these games were an influence on Find the Lady, and of course Call of Cthulhu would be a significant influence on the Enemy Within adventures.
Looking back, it’s easy to see Find the Lady as an intermediate step between AD&D and WFRP as far as my own work is concerned, but it’s also a reflection of roleplaying in general – especially, I think, British roleplaying – as it stood in the mid-80s. Several London-based fanzines led the “rolegaming” movement, which emphasized character interaction over combat and decried commercial success – including the success of WFRP – as somehow having Betrayed Art. Less vocally, roleplayers across the UK were drawn to Call of Cthulhu for the way it supported options other than combat. AD&D was still in its first edition at that time, and had a notable lack of non-combat skills.
Warhammer, of course, was – and remains – a miniatures combat game, so it is perhaps surprising that its roleplaying spinoff should have taken such a different course. Partly it’s because the WFRP combat system turned out to be so deadly and there was little time to fine-tune it, but in large measure, I think, it was a product of its time: a time when Call of Cthulhu had shown the way, and other tabletop RPGs were looking beyond the dungeon. Find the Lady is another sign of those times, and although it’s not as polished as it might be, I hope you enjoy it.
I recently had occasion to put together a complete bibliography of all my work on Warhammer, WFRP, and Advanced HeroQuest, so I thought I’d post a copy here for anyone who’s interested.
If I have time later on, I might add my work on Warhammer 40,000, Epic Scale, and related games, but for now this is just the Warhammer Fantasy related work.
Warhammer rulebook, 3rd ed. (1987) – Colour text
Warhammer Siege (1988) – Colour text
Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness (1988) – Contributing writer
Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (1990) – Contributing writer
“Crush, Crumble and Chop,” White Dwarf #103, Aug 1988
“The Crude, the Mad and the Rusty,” White Dwarf #83, Dec 1986
Skull Crusher Goblin Trebuchet
Lead Belcher Goblin Organ Gun
Great Fire Dragon
Elven Attack Chariot
Harboth’s Orc Archers
Man-Mangler Orc Mangonel
Great Imperial Dragon
The Nightmare Legion
Bugman’s Dwarf Rangers
The Skeleton Horde
Orc War Wyvern
Goblin Battle Chariots
The Dragon Masters
Skarloc’s Wood Elf Scouts
Gob-Lobber Dwarf Onager
Roglud’s Armoured Orcs
Prince Ulther’s Imperial Dwarfs
Skeleton War Machines
Snotling Pump Wagon (magazine ad)
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
The Enemy Within (2012) – Co-author
The Edge of Night (2010) – Author
Plundered Vaults (2005) – Contributor (reprint)
Paths of the Damned: Ashes of Middenheim (2005) – Author
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Second Edition (2005) – Contributor (adventure)
Fear the Worst (2002: Hogshead) – Developer
Dwarfs: Stone and Steel (2002: Hogshead) – Developer
Corrupting Influence (2002: Hogshead/Warpstone) – Contributor (reprint)
Apocrypha 2 (2000: Hogshead) – Editor/contributor
Gamemaster’s Screen (1997: Hogshead) – Author (insert booklet)
Apocrypha Now (1995: Hogshead) – Contributor (reprint)
Castle Drachenfels (1991: Flame) – Developer
Death’s Dark Shadow (1991: Flame) – Developer
Warhammer Companion (1990: Flame) – Editor/contributor
Doomstones: Dwarf Wars (1990: Flame) – Developer
Doomstones: Death Rock (1990: Flame) – Developer
Doomstones: Blood in Darkness (1990: Flame) – Developer
Character Pack, 2nd edition (1990: Flame) – Author (insert booklet)
Doomstones: Fire in the Mountains (1989: Flame) – Developer
Lichemaster (1989: Flame) – Developer
Empire in Flames (1989: GW) – Contributor (author brief)
The Restless Dead (1989: GW) – Contributor (reprint)
Something Rotten in Kislev (1988: GW) – Developer/co-author
Dungeon Lairs (1987: GW) – Developer (insert booklet)
Warhammer City (1987: GW) – Contributor
Character Pack, 1st edition (1990: Flame) – Developer (insert booklet)
Death on the Reik (1987: GW) – Co-author/developer
Shadows over Bogenhafen (1986: GW) – Author
The Enemy Within (1986: GW) – Developer
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1986: GW) – Co-author/developer
“The Gong Farmer,” personal blog (https://graemedavis.wordpress.com), August 2013
“Secrets of the WFRP Writers, Part 2,” Warpstone #15, Winter 2000-2001
“Secrets of the WFRP Writers, Part 1,” Warpstone #14, Summer 2000
“Secrets of the Warhammer Artists,” Warpstone #6, Summer 1997
“The Warpstone Interview,” Warpstone #5, Spring 1997
“Nastassia’s Wedding,” Pyramid #19, May/June 1996
“Pit Fighting,” White Wolf Inphobia #57, August 1995
“Social Level Rules,” White Dwarf #138, Jul 1991
“The King Beneath the Hill,” White Wolf #26, Apr 1991
“Marienburg” (ed.),White Dwarf #135, Apr 1991
“Marienburg” (ed.),White Dwarf #133, Feb 1991
“Ironstone Pass,” White Dwarf #132, Jan 1991
“The Great Hospice,” White Dwarf #130, Nov 1990
“Marienburg” (ed.),White Dwarf #128, Sep 1990
“The Emperor Luitpold,” White Dwarf #122, Mar 1990
“Marienburg” (ed.),White Dwarf #121, Feb 1990
“Marienburg” (ed.),White Dwarf #120, Jan 1990
“Marienburg” (ed.),White Dwarf #119, Dec 1989
“Marienburg” (ed.),White Dwarf #118, Nov 1989
“On the Boil” (ed.),White Dwarf #103, Aug 1988
“On the Boil” (ed.),White Dwarf #102, Jul 1988
“Fimir,” White Dwarf #102, Jul 1988
“On the Boil” (ed.),White Dwarf #98, Mar 1988
“On the Boil” (ed.),White Dwarf #97, Feb 1988
“A Rough Night at the Three Feathers,” White Dwarf #94, Nov 1987
“A Fistful of Misprunts,” White Dwarf #92, Sept 1987
“Oops!,” White Dwarf #91, Aug 1987
“Onwards & Upwards,” White Dwarf #89, Jun 1987
“Hand of Destiny,” White Dwarf #88, May 1987
“On the Road,” White Dwarf #85, Feb 1987
HeroQuest (Milton Bradley, 1989) – Contributor (initial consulting)
Advanced Heroquest (1989) – Developer
Terror in the Dark (1991) – Author
“Treasure,” White Dwarf #139, Aug 1991
“Henchmen,” White Dwarf #138, Jul 1991
People ask me about the Enemy Within Campaign a lot, and I can’t always answer their questions. Sometimes I used to know but the answer is lost in the mists of time, but more often I never really knew to begin with. Jim and Phil did most of the planning for TEW, and I wasn’t always privy to the longer-range plan. I’ve already blogged about what I do know/remember, but last October I met up with Phil for the first time in over 20 years at the Oldhammer 2014 event in Maryland. I asked him to help me fill in a few details (fill/Phil! Ha, ha! What – nothing? Please yourselves…) and he was kind enough to agree.
So here we go:
What was the original plan for the Enemy Within Campaign after Power Behind the Throne?
The original plan? We had a plan? I think the “plan” was to keep creating linked, campaign-style rpg adventures with some great role-playing scenes, and plenty of action…
Did you and Jim get as far as a plot for The Horned Rat? If so, what was it? How far did it get? Anything else you can tell us about it?
The Horned Rat idea was all mine. Mine, I tell you. Who knows how it might have panned out, but I had this idea that a bunch of Skaven were developing a means of bringing Morrslieb down to earth… and/or they had created a portal to enable them to teleport to the surface to mine it… Chaos-mutations a-plenty!
In particular, what was the plan for the Purple Hand? They kind of vanish after the events in Middenheim, but it seems to be implied that they have active cells elsewhere.
The Purple Hand were supposed to be just one of a number of underground cults all working to related but slightly different ends – a sort of SPECTRE for the Warhammer world; probably never the focus of a scenario, but always there in the background to complicate life for the PCs.
How close was Carl Sargent’s published Empire in Flames to the original intention? Did you have much input into the brief Carl worked from?
Jeez… Empire in Flames… I’ve no idea… that was you and Mike, Graeme – all you and Mike! ;) I think it was probably the usual convoluted Carl Sargent adventure, that you and/or Mike undertook to shoe-horn… er… adapt to fit into the existing campaign.
Hmm… I don’t think it was me, so it must have been Mike. I must remember to ask him one day.
Apart from The Horned Rat and Empire in Flames, were there any other Enemy Within adventures planned that never came to fruition?
Any other ideas? I’m sure there were – but it’s all so long ago, now… it was all probably going to come to a head with a major chaos incursion and a WFRP-meets-WFB big climactic battle…
And I’m sure that any digressions and random memories you feel like throwing in would be more than welcome, too.
Random memories: it was Hal that gave the Drakwald forest its name. He was taking the piss for the way we came up with names for places in the Empire. He suggested that all we were doing was taking English words, changing them a bit, and then adding “-heim” to make town names, and “-wald” to name forests, “So, the Dark Forest, could be Drakwald?” he joked. And so it did.
Many thanks to Phil for taking the time to reply. If you want to read more of his WFRP memories, check out the interview he did for the excellent Realm of Chaos 80s blog.
A couple of years ago, tabletop gaming luminary Robin D. Laws ran a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for his DramaSystem game, and I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute a stretch goal reward. My “Series Pitch” (DramaSystem lingo for “campaign setting”) was called Pyrates (the “y” spelling makes it 20% more piratical), and I pitched it to Robin as “Firefly of the Caribbean.” Here’s a link to the blog post I wrote at the time.
Now, thanks to the Hillfolk Bundle of Holding, you can sample Hillfolk, Pyrates, and many more settings – and explore the innovative and inspiring design of DramaSystem – for a bargain price. Check out all the goodies here.
For my money, Robin is one of the very best designers working in tabletop RPGTs today. His ideas are always fresh and thought-provoking, and make for great games as well as pushing the art and craft of game design beyond the normal envelope. You won’t be disappointed.
Sometime last night, my blog reached 30,000 views. I know that’s not a lot of traffic by most standards – certainly it’s not as much as I would like – but it’s still a milestone. To commemorate it, here’s the story of this blog so far.
I started it in March 2011 with a post about my first videogame work in 1991, but it’s my posts about tabletop roleplaying games – and especially my memories of Games Workshop in the 80s – that have consistently proved the most popular.
My most popular post so far is the announcement that I was working on FFG’s new Enemy Within campaign for WFRP 3rd edition, which included a lot of memories and random thoughts about the original Enemy Within. That post still gets regular views today, and it accounts for almost 15% of the blog’s total visits. Next comes my rumination On the Economics of Tabletop RPGs, which is slowly but steadily catching up. After those two comes a large block of GW memories, and after them come the posts about my current work with Colonial Gothic, Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North, Of Gods and Mortals, and various other games, as well as my work for Osprey Publishing (Note: only the top four books are mine: I don’t know how the Osprey web site’s search function found the others, but I don’t pretend to know that much about modeling).
Many visitors, understandably, come from the U.S., Britain, and other English-speaking countries, but almost half come from elsewhere in the world. Germany, France, and Poland seem to have a lot of WFRP fans, and the Scandinavian countries are not far behind. Most visitors find me via search engines: though it’s frustrating that so many search terms are encrypted, most of the ones I can see related to tabletop RPGs in general and WFRP in particular. Facebook, Google+ and Twitter have also led a lot of people to my blog, as have links in other people’s Warhammer and RPG blogs.
So there you have it. I’m very happy that my work for WFRP still interests people despite most of it being 25 or more years ago. That’s obviously what draws in the eyeballs, and I plan to add more GW memories and other Oldhammer-related material even as I continue to keep viewers up to date with what I’m currently working on, and other things that interest me. Although it’s clear that most visitors come for the Oldhammer, I hope that many people will find other things that interest and surprise them, and be moved to check out some of my more recent work.
Oh, and – tell your friends. Thanks.
Known in English as the Weeping Woman, La Llorona (pronounced “yo-RO-nah”) is a legend of Mexico and the Spanish Southwest. The Weeping Woman is a type of ghost or demon that can be encountered anywhere in New Spain. According to the TV series Sleepy Hollow, a sub-type is also found occasionally in the Thirteen Colonies.
This article explores the legend of La Llorona, looks into a few variations, and suggests a range of ways to use this legend in Colonial Gothic adventures.
Almost every Spanish-speaking population north of Mexico City has its own version of this tale. The details vary, but the ending is always the same.
Her name was Maria, she lived a long time ago, and she fell in love with a handsome ranchero. Because of him, she drowned her own children in a river.
Some say she killed them – and then herself – out of grief and rage when her ranchero abandoned her. Others say these children were from an earlier marriage, and she killed them so she could be free to marry again. According to a third version of the tale, her children drowned by accident when she left them alone to go to a dance with her new beau. All versions agree that her spirit cannot rest and she is cursed to spend eternity wandering and weeping, searching for her lost children along the banks of rivers and canals.
Ever since, people have seen a beautiful woman dressed in white walking beside rivers and canals at night, her hair disheveled and her eyes red from crying. Many have heard her weeping, and a brave few have gotten close enough to hear her sob “Ay, mis hijos!” – “Oh, my children!”
Some versions of the tale are darker still. It is said that bad luck will soon befall anyone who sees the Weeping Woman, or that she will steal, and even drown, any children she finds in the course of her wanderings.
It is not known whether the legend of La Llorona is based on an actual event. However, it is enticingly similar to both an Aztec legend and a story from the life of Hernan Cortez. It also evokes an even darker being from Mexican folklore.
La Malinche (also known as Malinali, Malintzin, and Doña Marina) was one of twenty women given to Cortez by the people of Tabasco in 1519. She served the Conquistador as a translator and advisor, eventually becoming his mistress and bearing his first son, whom he named Martín. She spoke Mayan as well as the Aztec language, Nahual, and helped Cortez form local alliances and head off potential rebellions. Cortez is reported to have said that after God, Doña Marina was the main reason for his success in Mexico. Contemporary Aztec records almost never depict Cortez without her by his side, and they sometimes show her alone, apparently acting on her own initiative and authority.
Unlike Disney’s Pocahontas, though, Doña Marina did not keep her European paramour. Cortez abandoned her to marry a good Spanish lady. While it is not recorded that she killed her children, and some sources claim she died in 1529, other sources hint that she did not suffer her abandonment meekly. In some later fiction she lives on as a vengeful resistance leader, and even as a vampire.
Cihuacoatl was an Aztec goddess, the most prominent of several patron deities of childbirth and motherhood. It has been said that the Aztecs honored a woman who died in childbirth as highly as a warrior who died in battle.
According to Mexican folklore, the goddess was seen shortly after Cortez appeared, weeping for the loss of her children – an omen of the fall of the Aztec empire at his hands.
Cihuacoatl had a son named Mixcoatl, who became a god of the hunt and the stars. She abandoned him at a crossroads, but regretted her decision and returned weeping, only to find a sacrificial knife where her son had been.
The spirits of women who died in childbirth serve Cihuacoatl. Known as civitateo (“divine women”) they haunt crossroads at night, steal children, and cause seizures and other illnesses.
Although these Aztec legends do not correspond exactly with the commonly-told story of La Llorona, it is easy to see how they may have influenced its development.
La Llorona can be many things, ranging from a tragic ghost to a vengeful goddess. Providing full Colonial Gothic statistics and rules for every conceivable variant would take an article far longer than this one. Instead, the following paragraphs suggest a range of possible approaches to creating a version of La Llorona that fits with the tone and magic level of the individual campaign.
The Colonial Gothic rulebook provides 2nd Edition rules for ghosts, and the Bestiary covers banshees. Either one would make a good basis for La Llorona, though the banshee’s Moan trait should be cut. For a more corporeal version, the GM might use the vampire from the rulebook (without any traits except for Night Vision and Undead) or the revenant from the Bestiary. Having selected the basic stats, the GM can then add traits as desired, to create his or her own vision of La Llorona.
The Weeping Ghost
When creating La Llorona as a ghost, the main decision to be made is how (or indeed, whether) the living can interact with her. At her most harmless she may be a spectral vision as insubstantial as smoke, to be laid to rest when the Heroes learn her sad tale, find her remains and those of her children, and give them a Catholic burial.
A more dangerous version may use mind-affecting magic of some kind to hypnotize children and send them walking glassy-eyed into the river – or to possess single mothers, especially those driven to the brink of despair by their circumstances, and force them to re-enact her crime. The lives of those she kills may be an offering to the angry spirits of her dead children, or she may simply be locked into an obsessive pattern of behavior, condemned to repeat it endlessly until she is stopped.
A solid, physically manifested version of La Llorona presents a different kind of threat. She has the inhuman strength of a lunatic and high grappling skills, which she uses to drown interfering mortals or simply break their necks. In a simple adventure, destroying her physical form stops her for good; for a longer and more challenging campaign thread, she simply comes back the following night, or month, until her tormented spirit is laid to rest by a Catholic priest or by Aztec-derived magic.
In a higher-powered campaign, La Llorona can be a vengeful manifestation of the goddess Cihuacoatl, imbued with all the terrible power that implies and determined to take the life of one Spanish or Anglo child for every Aztec who died at the hands of the Conquistadores. Alternatively she could be another Aztec deity, taking her own sacrifices since Catholicism replaced the bloody Aztec rites by which she was formerly appeased. In a Robert E. Howard-style horror story, she could be one of the last priestesses of such a terrible deity.
The GM has free rein in designing such a powerful entity. The legends of the civitateo give these creatures a shifting array of attributes including clawed hands and feet and the ability to wither limbs and cause fits and wasting diseases. One interpretation of these creatures may be found in my own Atlas of the Walking Dead, published by Eden Studios for their zombie survival RPG All Flesh Must Be Eaten.
In a low-magic or no-magic campaign, La Llorona may be entirely mortal – an 18th-century serial killer driven to madness by a life of abuse, or by the horror of having killed her own children to save them from an abusive father, or starvation, or some other threat. She may even believe that she has become La Llorona of the stories.
An encounter with La Llorona can enhance even a non-fantastic Colonial Gothic campaign. Rarity gives supernatural incidents – or incidents that merely seem to be supernatural – a greater impact in a non-magical setting.
Of course, the GM can always decide, in the best Scooby-Doo tradition, that the apparent haunting has a perfectly mundane cause: the “ghost” turns out to be a madwoman escaped from a local asylum, a kidnap victim leading into a mundane plot, or an attempt to play on a local legend to keep prying eyes away from a hidden gold strike or a planned robbery.
In a more fantastic campaign, La Llorona might be one of several types of restless dead, given an added authenticity by her ready-made backstory and her long history in the real world.
De Aragon, Ray John. The Legend of La Llorona. Santa Fe: Sunstone Press, 2006.
Beatty, Judith S. La Llorona: Encounters with the Weeping Woman. Santa Fe: Sunstone Press, 2004.
Davis, Graeme. Atlas of the Walking Dead. Loudonville: Eden Studios 2003.
Perez, Domino Renee. There Was a Woman: La Llorona from Folklore to Popular Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008.
“La Llorona,” Handbook of Texas http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lxl01
“La Llorona – Weeping Woman of the Southwest” (3 pages), Legends of America http://www.legendsofamerica.com/gh-lallorona.html
TV and Video
The Crying Woman (Spanish La Llorona), dir. Ramón Peón , 1933.
Supernatural, Season 1 Episode 1, The CW (Warner Bros.), 2006.
Grimm, Season 2 Episode 9, Universal, 2012.
Sleepy Hollow, Season 2 Episode 5, Fox, 2014.
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.
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.