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Posts Tagged ‘the enemy within’

Bling IV: This Time It’s War


 

It’s a funny thing about Pinterest – well, it’s probably a carefully planned, algorithm-driven, site stickiness enhancing sort of thing – but once I started looking at trick rings and other jewelry there, my feed filled up with more and more of the same. So here’s another type of cunning ring. I can see them appealing to Dwarves in particular.

 

Rings inspired by the American Civil War, by Patrick C. Walter. Sadly his website has gone offline. Image borrowed from The Carrotbox jewelry blog.

 

Gun Rings

Images from around the Internet. Copyright original owners.

 

Cased French pinfire pistol ring, 19th century. From imgur. Click image for link.

 

 

In a blackpowder fantasy setting like Warhammer, rings like these could be practical weapons. They can give an enemy a nasty surprise, though between their tiny caliber and short barrel length it’s not certain that they could do very much damage. Still, they are exactly the sort of unusual item that a group of PCs might find a Dwarf gunsmith tinkering with, and if you like a James Bond pastiche they might be issued to Imperial secret agents by their equivalent of Q Branch.

 

Just for fun, here is a quick set of weapon stats for WFRP4. Feel free to add a comment with any feedback, suggestions, or playtest experiences.

 

 

Gun Ring Stats

 

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Bling

If you like this kind of post, you’ll also want to see these:

Armillary Rings: Handy for astronomers, astrologers, and navigators.

Compartment Rings: Hide your true allegiance, or carry a secret message.

Poison Rings: An old classic.

Bling the Third: Poison Rings

March 12, 2020 3 comments

 

The poison ring. It’s one of the oldest trick rings in fiction, but who knew there were so many different designs?

 

Poison rings

Poison rings from various online sources. All images copyright of their respective owners.

 

And of course, you can put other things than poison in the secret compartment. Healing balm, perhaps (though it had better be magical for such a small amount to be effective), or even a secret message, in very fine writing on very thin paper: no bigger than the slip of paper that might be tied to the leg of a carrier pigeon. Larger cargo might be carried if it is magically shrunk down – though things could get interesting if the spell is dispelled or wears off to early!

No doubt ingenious players will be able to think of many other uses for such a tiny hidden space. Meanwhile, here are a few pictures for inspiration, and search terms like “poison ring” and “secret compartment ring” will find many more images, and quite a few vendors.

So the next time you are at a gathering, keep an eye on your drink and watch the hands of your fellow guests!

 

Poison rings 2

Poison rings from various online sources. All images copyright of their respective owners.

 

A More Serious Point

Sad to say, that last advice is as necessary in real life as it is in a roleplaying game. While you’re Googling poison rings, search for “date rape awareness,” too: I’ve added a few links below.

Date Rape Drugs: The Office on Women’s Health (U.S.)

RAINN: The largest U.S. organization campaigning against sexual violence

Sexual Assault hotlines in the U.S.

Rape Crisis England and Wales (UK)

Look after yourselves and each other, and let’s work to create a time when warnings like this – and organizations like these – will no longer be needed.

 

 

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Bling

If you like this kind of post, you’ll also want to see these:

Armillary Rings: Handy for astronomers, astrologers, and navigators.

Compartment Rings: Hide your true allegiance, or carry a secret message.

Gun Rings: Add more punch to your punch.

 

Another Bit of Bling

February 26, 2020 4 comments

While I was looking at images for my previous post on armillary rings, I came across this image. The ring has four secret doors covering a design inside – something like an advent calendar.

Compartment Ring

 

Here is a link to an article on compartment rings, as they are called. It seems they were quite fashionable at one time.

There are many uses for this type of ring in a fantasy roleplaying game. As well as covering the name of a lover (a secret lover, perhaps, constituting proof of an illicit affair that could get the wearer beaten, locked up, or even killed), a compartment ring might hide the insignia of a secret organization, and act as proof of membership. This organization might be a spy ring (spy ring! … oh, please yourselves), an elite secret agency serving a monarch or powerful noble, a society of forward-thinking academics whose ideas might get them into trouble – or, of course, an evil cult or a revolutionary movement.

 

Single message

 

A player character might be given an identifying ring like this by a patron, or – arguably more fun – they might loot it from a fallen foe (like Kastor Lieberung in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay adventure Enemy in Shadowsfor instance) and find themselves plunged into a world of intrigue and deception. In the right circumstances, showing the ring’s secret may save the party’s lives; in the wrong circumstances, it might condemn them to arrest, torture, and execution.

 

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Bling

If you like this kind of post, you’ll also want to see these:

Armillary Rings: Handy for astronomers, astrologers, and navigators.

Poison Rings: An old classic.

Gun Rings: Add more punch to your punch.

A Bit of Bling

February 19, 2020 3 comments

Astronomical Ring

 

Here’s an interesting little trinket for a scholarly character: a ring that opens up into an armillary sphere. In a game I was running, a piece like this would allow a character a small bonus to skill rolls in astronomy and astrology, and perhaps a time bonus as well, since it would help the character make the necessary calculations more quickly. If the ring were magic, the bonuses might be even higher, all the way up to instant, error-free success every time.

I found this image on Pinterest, and it turns out that rings like this are available from a number of retailers at quite reasonable prices. If you like the idea of owning one, for cosplay or LARPing or just for fun, a search for “armillary sphere ring” or “astronomical ring” should find you plenty of options.

The My Modern Met web site has short article on armillary rings, which includes photos of some items from the British Museum’s collection. Here is a link.

In the Old World of WFRP, rings like this might have variants that chart the movement of the Chaos moon Morrslieb, and allow cult magi to make the sort of calculations that could get a person burned. The Enemy in Shadows Companion, now available as a PDF and coming soon in dead-tree format, includes a chapter on the dreaded Purple Hand cult which includes a new Cult Magus career.

 

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Bling

If you like this kind of post, you’ll also want to see these:

Compartment Rings: Hide your true allegiance, or carry a secret message.

Poison Rings: An old classic.

Gun Rings: Add more punch to your punch.

Just in Time for Christmas

December 14, 2012 2 comments

December has been a busy month, but I can’t talk about any of that. Not yet.

Here’s what I can talk about, though: a lot of things are finally seeing the light of day this month, and that’s very exciting.

New Fiction

I’ve already posted about the Aesop-inspired anthology The Lion and the Aardvark, which includes stories from 70 – count ’em, 70 – of the best writers out there. I have a short-short tale in there called “The Lemmings and the Sea,” and I can’t wait to see what my 69 co-writers have come up with.

The Hobbit Social Games

I should have posted before about The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth and The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age. I’m very proud to have worked on these two social strategy games tied into Peter Jackson’s new movie. By the bye, Apple has just named Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North as the top-grossing free iOS app of 2012. That was my first project for Kabam, and it’s great to see it doing so well.

I’ve also been involved with two tabletop RPG products that are out just in time for Christmas. Although I don’t work much in that medium these days, I’m proud of both of these new releases, for different reasons.

Colonial Gothic

The Colonial Gothic 2nd Edition Rulebook was released on 12/12/12 at 12:12:12, in reference to the 12 Degrees roleplaying system that powers it. It has been a long, hard labor of love for Colonial Gothic creator Richard Iorio. I’ve offered support and feedback, but the work is all his.

You may not have heard of Colonial Gothic, or of Rogue Games. I first met Richard at GenCon more than a decade ago when we were both working the Hogshead Publishing booth, and we kind of stayed in touch. When I first heard about Colonial Gothic in 2009, I was so impressed by the idea that I offered my services. Since then the Colonial Gothic line has swelled to eight books and a number of e-books, and the game has gathered a small but passionate following.

According to Richard, the Colonial Gothic concept started out as “Cthulhu 1776,” but it has come a long way since then. It now covers the whole history of Colonial America and the War of Independence. The work of H. P. Lovecraft still inspires the growing Colonial Gothic mythology (and I wish I could talk about a new development in that direction), but there’s more: scheming Dan-Brown-style Freemasons, Bigfoot and other cryptids, local legends like the Jersey Devil, Native spirits, and much, much more. If you liked Sleepy Hollow (the story or any of its movie versions), National Treasure, The Last of the Mohicans, The Patriot, or The Brotherhood of the Wolf, you’ll enjoy Colonial Gothic.

The second edition rulebook will be vital to the line’s future growth: previous editions were plagued by typos and minor inconsistencies, and Richard has taken the time to go through and fix everything. The rules have been reorganized so that information is easier to find; typos and inconsistencies have been fixed; and Richard has done wonders with the layout. It’s also 100% backward-compatible with the entire Colonial Gothic line. Richard has worked incredibly hard on this and the hard work shows.

The third instalment of the acclaimed Flames of Freedom campaign is planned for 2013, along with a couple of other things that, frustratingly, I can’t talk about yet. Keep an eye on Rogue Dispatches for announcements.

The Enemy Within, Again

Many months ago, Fantasy Flight Games caused an enormous stir when they announced a new campaign for 3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. It was the title that got people excited: The Enemy Within. The new Enemy Within is not an adaptation or an updating of the original, but a whole new campaign that explores the same themes through new adventures. The entry I wrote about it back in March remains the most-viewed entry on this whole blog.

After the frenzy that greeted the announcement, there was a long, long silence. Based at least in part on my feedback when I saw the galleys, The Enemy Within went through a lot of editing and development. Now, at last, it has been released.

When I started writing my part of the campaign, I worried about how I would top the completely unforeseen success of the original Enemy Within. I came to the conclusion that nothing could ever top the fond memories that many people have for the original adventures, memories that are tied up with where they were in their lives when they first played them. It’s impossible to recreate that; I just took my two chapter briefs and wrote the best adventure I could.

Since the new Enemy Within was announced, a few people have asked me about running it with 1st or 2nd edition WFRP, and also about running a mash-up of the old and new campaigns. I think both are possible. Although the three editions of WFRP have different rules, the setting and the cast of monsters are the same: with a little work on the GM’s part, stats can be massaged into the preferred edition. When I was writing, I made a conscious effort to write a good WFRP adventure, rather than focusing on the 3rd edition rules.

A mash-up “Total Enemy Within” campaign is equally possible. The new campaign has a strong structure, and if I were running an Enemy Within mashup I would use that as the main plot. The original adventures, up to and including Power Behind the Throne, can be added as side-plots and complications: Death on the Reik, in particular, could flesh out some of the travel sections, which are somewhat abstract in the new campaign. I can even see ways to add Something Rotten in Kislev and Empire in Flames, but going into any detail would involve spoilers so I’ll refrain for now.

Reaction to WFRP 3rd edition has been mixed. In its own way, the WFRP community is riven by an edition war as savage as anything D&D/d20 has seen. I expect at least a few people will eviscerate me online because the new Enemy Within doesn’t live up to their long-held memories of the original, because it’s 3rd edition, because of any number of things. I hope that a lot of people will like it, or at least find something they like in it. I will say that it looks good, and I will be excited to hold it in my hands.

The Enemy Within, Again

March 1, 2012 48 comments

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.