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Posts Tagged ‘the enemy within’

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.