Last night was the 6th session of the Rats in the Ranks campaign, so about my 9th session of Warhammer 3rd Edition. This time, we again were missing one of our players (Mr. Camphor) so we again decided to put off the main plot of the campaign for a random side adventure, which is fine because the PCs are waiting to get a report from their dutiful spy, and so side adventures are all the rage. I could have seeded the town with rumours and let them do whatever they want, but  in truth I haven’t had a lot of preparation time and (as I think will be obvious in a moment) I’m not yet confident making up encounters on the fly in WFRP3. It’s a bastard of a system if you get it wrong.

So, instead, I used an old Warhammer 1st Edition adventure, Fear the Worst, converted it to WFRP3, and assumed everything would come out in the wash. And it almost did.

If you’re planning on running this adventure, in any system, then it probably would suit you to read this. If you’re going to play it or at risk of playing it, then don’t read on. But if you are planning on playing it, you should note that my general preference is to avoid TPKs, and this one came damn close.

A standard mercenary advert and a sausage festival

The PCs having just returned from a near-death experience and spent most of their money on healing, they were naturally in need of a new adventure and a new chance to get themselves all killed, so when they stumbled on the following handbill posted up in some dubious corner of Ubersreik, they naturally responded immediately:

Men and women of a brave and adventurous bent needed for work of a sensitive nature. Seeking wide range of skills, from strong-armed warriors to learned scholars. Excellent opportunity for neophytes. Ask for Karl Taunenbaum at the famous Dancing Dragon Inn, Heideldorf

So, being in need of money and lacking their main meat-shield, off they went to investigate this simple Heideldorf job. When they arrived they found themselves in the midst of a sausage festival, thronging with nobles from the Reikland and full to overflowing with delicious sausage. Viewed with suspicion by these nobles, and having already had a rather unpleasant roadside encounter with some approaching nobles, they went straight to the Dancing Dragon Inn and asked for Taunenbaum. Taunenbaum in turn served them some sausage and sent a runner for the head of the village, Heinz Schiller, who turned up about 10 minutes later. Before speaking to the PCs he deigned to spend 5 minutes scolding Taunenbaum in front of his guests, complaining about the speed of service and the slovenliness of Taunenbaum’s staff, before joining the PCs. Schiller himself was an overdressed fop, noble in bearing but done up in a slightly tawdry version of last season’s fashions… in short, an overpuffed rural dandy. Not that this stopped him looking down his nose at the PCs as he explained their job to them…

[Slight cultural note here: most cafes and bars in Japan worth their coin have on the menu “sosseji moriawase,” a sausage mixed plate, and most Japanese know a little about German culinary and festive culture, so a mid-winter sausage festival where you get served a mixed plate of delicious sausage is exactly the kind of environment that makes the players feel like they’re part of a German-themed but chaotic world]

The Job

So, Shiller set about explaining the job to them, though first he needed to assure himself that the PCs were, in fact, capable adventurers. Since the group contained two girls (one just 15 years old!) and an elf, this probably isn’t surprising, but after a bit of poking and prodding and some judicious questions he was satisfied, and proceeded to tell them that this sausage festival was his own exclusive idea, built up over 10 years, and he couldn’t afford anything to destroy it. But this year,some bandits had gathered in a ruined castle near the keep and were attacking visiting nobles. If even some nobles left Heideldorf with the impression it was unsafe, he would be ruined. So he needed the PCs to visit the ruins and … deal with… the bandits.

He initially offered the PCs 10 silver coins each to do this. Given they had entered their first adventure on a 20 silver coin payment, and bargained up from there, they were kind of shocked. So they bargained, and secured a 2 gold coin payment each.

Having done this, he told the characters to head off in the morning, and then left the pub.

Investigating the Job

As we will see, the PCs are nothing if not thorough in their preparations, and promptly set about finding out more about Shiller and the town. They started, of course, by drinking with the locals. From various locals they found out the following:

  • The nearby keep has been deserted for a long time and is called Black Rock Keep
  • Black Rock Keep is so called because it was destroyed in war about 400 years ago
  • Black Rock Keep is so called because it was originally made of white rock, but a dragon came from the mountains and attacked it. The dragon’s breath weapon was acid, and turned the keep from white to black. After the attack, a bunch of elves turned up to help the village (this was a long time ago) and shot at the dragon with their bows, killing it. The current inn is named in honour of the dragon’s death throes.
  • The keep was always called Black Rock, but 400 years ago it was destroyed by an earthquake. At that time the inn was called the Black Dragon, but after the earthquake the locals changed its name to the Dancing Dragon
  • Shiller always works his staff very hard, especially his mercenaries
  • Some mercenaries came through last year
  • Some mercenaries came through two years ago, possibly including a dwarf
  • They couldn’t possibly have come through during the sausage festival, because everyone knows mercenaries investigate keeps in summer, not winter…

So… Delicious sausage… regular adventurers… the characters were becoming suspicious. Still, with no definite cause for their suspicion they could hardly refuse to do their work. And what could possibly go wrong if they went into their adventure aware of the possibility of a trap…?

Entering Black Rock Keep

The following morning the PCs headed off to Black Rock Keep. When they reached the surrounding area they entered with typical caution, surveying carefully and checking for guards, etc., but found no evidence of bandits of any kind, so entered the grounds proper. They were just about to enter the main wooden double doors of the ruined keep when a crossbow bolt thudded into the doors in front of them. This bolt had a note of some kind wrapped around it.

Unwrapping the note, they found a map, with the following note written on it:

From a concerned friend. Heinz Schiller is more than he appears. Beware the cellars!

The map itself appeared to be a detailed map of the cellars, complete with secret doors marked, and several traps detailed on the map. Unfortunately, none of my 3 players paid any attention to the map. They didn’t really even look at it.

They explored the ground floor of the keep, finding some evidence of habitation but no living things, and then entered the aforementioned cellars. The thief moved ahead to investigate rooms as they found them, and so within a few minutes he encountered the first trap – a 10′ deep pit filled with spikes, which he managed to avoid through a feat of dexterity that left him clinging to the floor under a door while the remainder of the party threw out ropes for him to grab onto.

After they had overcome this trap, rather than checking their map or checking for traps, they moved on, soon stumbling onto two more. Both of these traps were hammer traps, huge warhammers falling from the side of doors, and one delivered a nasty blow to the thief, knocking off quite a few wounds[1].

Having sprung all the traps and ignored their map, the PCs finally managed to discover a secret door and loot some sarcophagi of about 4Gps worth of gems and jewellery (this is a lot of money in WFRP3). However, they hadn’t found any outlaws, just evidence of an ancient, well-looted tomb. So they decided to leave, and returned to the entryway.

The Mutant Ambush

When they reached the stairs the PCs were ambushed by a grotesque pair of misshapen mutants, who dashed out of the stairs to lay waste to the thief and the roadwarden. These mutants were vaguely human, with huge bodies, massively strong arms, and tiny tiny heads, inset with vacant, staring eyes showing no intellect of any kind. Perhaps one was a woman; perhaps they were a couple. The thief and the roadwarden didn’t have time to tell, as a single blow from their huge arms was sufficient to cripple normal people.

Battle was joined, at which point another five mutants burst from the secret door in the stairwell, to attack the PCs from behind. These mutants were:

  • A wizard with eyes floating on tentacles
  • A normal-sized man, with a St Bernard Dog’s head that constantly drooled as it fought
  • A completely normal man, carrying a pistol
  • A human with a normal-sized body, but very long arms and legs, who could use his arms to punch as if they were missile weapons
  • A horrific, bloated man whose entire lower body had shrivelled and atrophied to become a mere bulbous waste of flesh, so that the man had to flop and flip about like a seal in order to move

The battle that followed was evil, bitter and desperate. The PCs realized they had only one hope of survival, which was to block the stairs so they only had to fight two mutants at a time; but even then they still had to face two ranged fighters and a wizard, though fortunately the wizard was a Tzeentch Wizard, and Tzeentch’s magic is disgusting but weak. Nonetheless, the PCs found themselves in a desperate situation, with the Cleric falling unconscious and recovering (through her own magic, mostly) three times; the Roadwarden fallign unconscious and recovering once, and the thief being knocked out just once (and staying there). The battle ended with all the PCs except the wizard unconscious, and all the mutants except their wizard; the final three rounds were an old-fashioned magical duel, which the party’s wizard won by perhaps one round – at the end the mutant wizard was so low on power and so desperate that he was forced to charge into melee with a knife. This didn’t end well for him, and the session ended with the party down to its last 6 hit points – all of them belonging to the wizard – while a pile of mutant bodies slicked the floor with blood, and the players all cursed their stupidity for not using the serendipitous message they had been sent.

Next session, we will find out why they met mutants not bandits, and what exactly was happening in this remote outpost…


fn1: I actually messed up here, giving the thief an agility check instead of doing an attack roll. The thief’s agility is impeccable, so nothing touches him when he gets to do a save. An attack roll, though, would have left him in a sorry state indeed. I realized during this session that in addition to WFRP 3’s many other flaws of incompleteness, it has no rules for traps and no suggestions about how to do traps.

The campaign I lovingly refer to as The Apocalypse Campaign was a campaign I ran in the early 2000s in Sydney, Australia with a combined group of inexperienced friends and experienced players. It started off, I recall, using a tarot-card based system whose name I forget and which was, unsurprisingly, terrible. I then moved rapidly to a non-tarot system of my own devising that was intended to be very simple and was, correspondingly, probably quite useless. This system was characterized by now character classes and skill-based magic (i.e. no spells – players just say what they want to do and I set a difficulty).

I think of this campaign as a kind of story seed with sandbox, in that I placed a few key story elements in the first adventure with no clear plan as to how they would unfold, an initial plan for one or two unrelated adventures, and a plan to build a strong story based on whatever happened next. The story seeds were quite powerful and gave me a backdrop within which I could easily control the PCs actions whenever I felt the campaign needed a kick, but the setting was quite powerful and the PCs good at exploring and controlling it themselves.

The Setting: Post-apocalyptic fantastic Europe

The setting was Europe after some kind of combined arcane cataclysm and apocalypse, in which the seas had risen (possibly due to global warming, though it wasn’t clear), advanced civilisations had collapsed and magic and monsters had entered the world. The cause of the collapse was unknown, with all knowledge of that time mysteriously lost, and the events were generally blamed on “science” so the world had retreated into a kind of neo-luddite mediaeval system, ruled by feudal kings under the wise guidance of the Catholic Church. This is the campaign for which I carefully constructed maps of a flooded Europe using just paint and a photocopier. I don’t think I have those maps anymore but the rich detail they provided was very useful for keeping my players engaged in what turned out to be a complex and interesting post-apocalyptic scenario.

In fact, the true history of the apocalypse was that the Catholic church, seeing their grip on the world slipping away with the increasing influx of technology and scientific knowledge, unleashed the catastrophe of the apocalypse deliberately into the world, breaking barriers between the material plane and some other planes to allow demons, monsters and magic in. The ritual they invoked led to the destruction of the modern order but preserved their own temporal power, enabling them to assert themselves in the aftermath as both the ruling powers and the first custodians of magic. In the new era, they hunted down those who were not officially licensed to use magic, destroyed heretics, and carefully shepherded all knowledge of “before” to hide their complicity in the world’s downfall. They held all of Europe in subjection under an undying pope, whose soul was reincarnated in a new boy child every 90 or so years. They also sought out and destroyed pre-collapse technology, and controlled a pan-European army of religious inquisitors (the Falcons) whose job was making sure everything went smoothly. All more advanced magical items that would replace the role of technology in the new era were also controlled by the church or its secular representatives. The model society was similar to that in the flooded post-apocalyptic Europe of the White Bird of Kinship novels, with demons.

The Plot Hooks

The basic plot hook for the adventure was simple: the characters were in a pub waiting for a ship from a fragment of England to Brittany, when Falcon soldiers descended on the pub and attempted to destroy it and abduct a child. The PCs rescue the child and the old man protecting it, and flee, but are chased and in a brief battle kill the soldiers but lose the old man. His last dying words are a request for them to save the child, which they agree to do, and they begin hiking overland to a different port to take ship to Brittany. The child, of course, is the next pope, and their act of charity has put them in direct conflict with the church. They then go to Brittany, meeting a Hungarian Fire Lancer along the way (and stealing his gene-coded fire lance), then in flight from the Church they travel to somewhere in Germany. On the way they are stranded on a haunted Ocean Thermal Energy Collection platform, where the haunting ghost shies away from them in terror at the mere sight of their baby. Much of the rest of the adventure involved them slowly discovering that yes, the child harboured an intensely evil being and yes, the being was the next Pope. From there they began to discover details of the history of the collapse, the Church’s power and how evil the Church really was.

Settings and Adventures

I managed to put some pretty memorable settings and scenarios into this campaign, some of them based on rediscovered tech and some of them based on the new magical world and its links to hell. Some examples:

  • The Ocean Thermal Energy Collector, which the characters wash up onto during a storm. While seeking shelter they stumble on the undead guards of its last occupants, killing them, but they are unable to defeat the chief ghost in the OTEC tower; however, they are able to steal his treasure because he shies away in terror from the infinite evil of the baby they are looking after. This gave them the first hint that they needed to investigate the baby magically for clues as to why the church was chasing it
  • Hungarian Fire Lancers, which I made up on the spot but proved very useful. A Hungarian fire lance is a pre-collapse plasma cannon of awesome power, gene-coded to a particular family so essentially an heir loom. The lance’s owners are allowed to keep these artifacts in exchange for service to the church, and they are legendarily powerful. The PCs, meeting a lancer early on in the campaign, were way too crafty for me, and turned an NPC meeting I had intended as a bit of flavour into a chance to empower themselves mightily. One of the PCs was a technomage, and the PCs thought that he might be able to hack a genecode. So while the fire lancer was distracted during a battle with some pirates, this PC slipped down below and recoded the fire lance to his/her own DNA. The fire lancer died when he next touch his own lance, and the PCs stole it.
  • The Time Bomb: Passing through an area of Southern Germany in their skyship, the PCs stumbled on a region deep in the mountains where birds hung in the air, slowly collecting moss; and on the ground below were the scenes of a battle between tanks and soldiers, all frozen in the midst of their actions. So dirt was frozen in the middle of an explosion, soldiers caught in mid-air halfway through a leap, a tank in the middle of being destroyed. The PCs investigated and found they couldn’t move anything or interfere with anything except a single bomb. The technomage disarmed this bomb, and suddenly all the previously-frozen soldiers and animals collapsed, dead, to the ground; the tank completed exploding and the dirt flew to its natural trajectory. The PCs had discovered a bomb that freezes time in a small area, causing all living things in the area to die instantly, and freezing everything in the state it was in when set off. Very useful for, say, killing a very powerful pope… but with only one use. They took it, and a grav tank.
  • Conversations with Orc Lords: The PCs did a bit of trading and passenger-carrying with their skyship, and in one memorable journey carried an Orc lord who turned out to be a very civilized and sophisticated chap, with a taste in fine wines and art. He hailed from a kingdom in Southern France that was entirely Orcish, and described their society of ritual duels, slave-owning, and continual internecine conflict. I re-envisaged Orcs as sophisticated, intelligent and yet still brutal and cruel, denied access to any form of trade with their neighbours and so only able to obtain magic items and technology by conquest. The PCs, of course, formed an alliance and immediately traded tech with this chap, and the Orcs – in all their brutality and sophistication – became a prominent feature of this campaign.
  • The Dragon Battle: I do dragon battles very rarely in my campaigns, preferring to keep dragons for near the end, when things are really out of control, and usually making them so awesome and inspiring that they only ever need be met once. So once the PCs had set up a kingdom for themselves in the pyrenees, discovered the truth about the Catholic church and were starting to coordinate resistance to and war against the pope, the pope sent a dragon to destroy them. This dragon, longer than London bridge and louder than a steam train, descended on their tower in a storm of its own making and killed one of the PCs instantly in a surprise attack. It then set about destroying their skyship, wasting their castle and slaughtering their followers in quick order, and they had to use all their wits to defeat it. It was only finally defeated by the technomage, who very quick-wittedly grabbed a grav bike and flew to a neighbouring cliff face, from where he took sniper shots at the dragon using the Hungarian fire lance, while the dragon tore the top off of their skyship, trying to kill their fighter. They lost two of their party to the dragon, half of their followers, one of their grav bikes, the skyship and a chunk of their tower, and even when it was dead and had fallen to its doom in a valley it was still dangerous – two PCs went to look at the corpse and with its dying gaze it mesmerized one, trying to get him to attack the other one. This dragon was a really stunning and powerful encounter for everyone involved, and really impressed on me the joys of high-level adventuring (which I do rarely).
  • The Shrike Tree: The PCs discovered that the Pope and the church had taken control of the earth and controlled access to a lot of magical power, as well as holding open the gates between the planes, through a deal with hell. Particularly, an innocent figure was being eternally crucified in hell, and while this figure was there there was no way of stopping the pope from reincarnating. So the PCs entered hell and found the figure, which I think was Judas (my memory doesn’t serve me well now). Judas was pinned to a tree of thorns that grew in the centre of hell. The rest of the tree was covered in thorns too, and on every one a fairy was impaled (or some other good creature). In order to stop the reincarnation, the PCs had to kill Judas and then impale their own baby on the Shrike Tree. I got this idea from Dan Simmons’ Hyperion, which I’d been reading at the time. The PCs’ journey through hell to here, and the subsequent mercy-killing of Judas and infanticide, were the first time I had ever set an adventure in another plane.
  • The River Styx and the Starbound Sea: After killing Judas, the entirety of hell turned on the PCs and they fled. They crossed the river styx and reached the gates of hell as they were closing, but a final, huge monster (the gatekeeper) attacked them and they had to flee, back into hell. Finally they somehow all got hurled into the river styx, where they were washed away downstream, until they all woke up, without their memories, on a beach of dark sand under a perfectly black sky. The beach was being gently lapped by waves from a sea that seemed to be teeming with stars. They knew nothing, but walking along the beach towards them was a character from a distant monastery – a monastery on another plane that the characters had previously visited to get information about the Shrike Tree. And it was here that the campaign ended, with the PCs having been successful, and lost everything.

Conclusion: Story-seeded sandboxes are fun

These settings were a lot of fun to think up and throw at the PCs, and really none of them (except the OTEC) were planned before the adventure started. We explored post-apocalyptic Europe together, and I made it up as I went. The only story goal I had when the campaign started was that the PCs would uncover the truth about the apocalypse, and maybe kill the pope. In the end they did much more than that, destroying the power of the church and establishing their own kingdom in the temporal world (which they then lost). But the details of all of that kind of drew together as we went, with me crafting the next stages of the plot from what the PCs had already done and found. It was a roller-coaster of a ride in a really dense, richly detailed science-fantasy world. If you have a strong setting, a vision of a final goal, interested players with interesting PCs, and a story seed that is both mysterious and compelling (and offers a lot of plot-intervention moments) you can create a truly exciting, long-lived and powerful campaign that is both sandbox and story. Well worth the effort!

Last Wednesday was the culmination of the PC’s incursion into the Wizard’s Tomb, a small old tomb just outside Ubersreik, situated in the middle of an orphan’s graveyard and defended by zombie children. The PCs had already explored all the major rooms, and only two remained – a large room on the southern edge of the complex, and a large room reached by a set of stairs to the North. They decided to investigate the southern room first. But first…

Our First Experience of Career Advancement

In their previous incursion the PCs got enough experience points for Mr. 123 to advance his Initiate, Suzette, to her next career, Disciple. He spent 1xp for a Dedication Bonus, which enables Suzette to retain her Initiate’s special talent when she becomes a Disciple, as well as to choose a specialization in every skill she trained during her first career. So we have our first character at the next level. Mr. Shuto chose not to advance, because he wants to use the non-career advances available to his apprentice wizard to enhance toughness and get some extra training. Mr. Shop Owner chose not to advance because a) he was indecisive about where to go and b) he wants to spend some accumulated xp on increasing toughness. So we currently have one PC in their second career, meaning they can purchase higher-level spells and more skill training. Will this lead to an invincible party? I’m not sure yet, but stay tuned…

The Demon Tomb

The PCs entered the Southern room using the standard method – send the thief in first and wait for the sounds of frenzied slaughter. The Thief found himself in a large room with a raised plinth at the far end on which stood a huge, faintly glowing statue of a demon. This statue loomed over a tomb – the wizard’s grave – and the rest of the room was largely empty except for some decaying boxes near the door, and in one corner.

The thief hid behind the boxes to survey the room. A group of 3 imps burst from these boxes and attacked him, and combat was joined. Everyone else rushed up to help him, and from the shadow-enshrouded roof there emerged a fury, a much larger, winged demon-like creature, that went straight for the Roadwarden.

These enemies were supposed to be much stronger than the zombie children, but they went down like hapless rags. The thief slaughtered the imps with two arrow shots, and after one vaguely effective strafing attack, the demon settled in for a good melee stoush, only to be destroyed by the roadwarden and Suzette the Disciple. The whole battle was done in two rounds, with very little damage for the characters. I think I may have mishandled the surprise element of the imps’ attack, but basically the fury is a poorly-named monster, doing very limited damage and not being all that much cop. So the PCs left its steaming body near the door and searched the room. They lifted the lid off the wizard’s grave and found his corpse, along with its magic items:

  • A robe (+1 defense)
  • A gold-plated wand, not magical but designed to be easily enchanted
  • A book, which if read successfully will grant the reader a new spell, probably Dark Magic (but carries a risk of madness)
  • A bottle of superior healing potion

They fully expected the wizard’s body to come to life and attack them but it didn’t, it just crumbled to dust. Why?

When they explored the room, the mysterious silver key they had picked up earlier began to glow when held near the crates in the corner, and to emit a soft sound. They searched carefully until they found a key hole and opened a secret door to a final room. This room was reached by a short corridor, and was empty but for a large, shallow pool in the centre of the room.

Breaking the Wizard’s Enchantment

The pool glowed with the same vague light as the statue, and in its centre was a small coin held inside an obviously magical circle of some kind. They debated for a while but, eventually, it had to happen – the thief took out the coin. Immediately, the glow that suffused the pool (and lit the room!) snuffed out, as did the glow on the nearby statue in the main room, and the PCs were plunged into complete darkness. Aruson the Thief started scrabbling around in the pitch black for a light for his lantern, but the walls and floor had started to shake and he couldn’t get it to work. In the distance they could hear something falling. In desperation, Shultz the wizard called forth a cantrip of light, and they realized that the walls and floor of the tomb were quaking and making a bad noise.

They decided to run. As they exited the main room the quaking got worse, and they suddenly found themselves in a race against time, as parts of the tomb began to collapse around them. Staggering on the shifting earth, they helped each other through the gathering dark, Suzette preying to Morr to protect them from the worst of the rubble and Shultz using his celestial magic to predict the safest path through the quaking. In the end, near the entrance, they just had to burst into a run and so they emerged from the crypt into the frigid outside air, Aruson dragging Suzette through just as the entrance collapsed and the entire tomb was swallowed up by the uncaring earth.

Save or Die

That’s right folks, that was a save-or-die scenario, played out against the progress tracker. This is another skill check/technique I came up with on the fly, and I’ll explain it separately. I might not have actually killed the entire party (I am not so wrathful) but I put myself on the spot and that’s how it worked out. They really had to scrabble through all their abilities to get out too – Suzette burnt all her available favour points, Schultz used up his magic points, and two characters used their one-time-per-session skill bonus to get through it. It gave a nice sense of panic to the ending!


The characters returned to town, and paid a local magician a lot of money to identify their magical items. They’re now ready for a few days rest before they look for something else suspicious to get up to. They’ve survived their first ever Warhammer dungeon incursion in typical contrary style, being nearly slaughtered by the easy monsters and destroying the hard ones in the blink of an eye. Continual surprises for the GM, and further ponderings on how to balance monster power for encounters in such an unfamiliar system.

The Coin: “Wizard’s Last Wish”

The coin the PCs grabbed from the pool turned out to be the key ingredient in a ritual to bring the wizard back from the dead, perhaps as a lich or other undead. One side was blank, the other side inscribed with the invocation “Do not Die” (shinu na – this comes out better in Japanese I think). Unfortunately, the wizard lacked the power to make his ritual work and so after he died he just crumbled to dust – but all the servants he had prepared for himself remained around forever to guard his crumbling remains.

Last night was the 4th session of our WFRP 3rd Edition campaign, Rats in the Ranks, which is meant to be an urban semi-sandbox but has run into a little bit of trouble: a player strike. Specifically, one of my players, Mr. K, who is responsible for the Soldier (Heinze), has run into a bit of difficulty in his study schedule and can’t play this month. The remaining players refuse to continue with investigations of the main story if he isn’t there, so we have had to switch from a semi-sandbox to a sandbox. Fortunately I have a few adventures ready, and the players are happy to do bit-part sessions for a few sessions while we wait for Mr. K to educate himself. Our justification for this is as follows:

  • In session 3 the players converted a member of the Secret Rat-Catchers Guild to being a spy, and so now they don’t really want to do further investigations until he delivers his first report
  • Heinze has received a request from an old regiment he belonged to, to help them fight a Greenskin incursion in the Southern Grey Mountains, a short journey from Ubersreik, so has headed south for a bit of old-fashioned monster slaying
  • In exchange for Heinze’s time, the regiment have dispatched a newly-minted roadwarden, Birgitta, to help the characters. She’s a 0-Rank NPC road warden, so weaker than Heinze, but will work as a nice meat shield in the adventures to come

So, with the Roadwarden working alongside them, our characters decided in this session to head off to the wizard’s tomb that they had heard about, for a basic dungeon crawl. They have also come very close to their first career transition, which will probably happen for 2 of them at the beginning of next session, and will happen for the Thief in the following session (he is doing a non-career advance first).

The Orphan’s Graveyard

Birgitta had learnt of the location of the tomb, so the PCs headed out of Ubersreik’s Mountain Gate and North into the foothills of the Grey Mountains. After a day’s journey, as sun was setting, they came to the location of the tomb, in an old and long-abandoned cemetery set in a clearing inside a forest. This cemetery was clearly a graveyard for children – all the headstones were tiny, and occasionally carved in forms that suit children. A lot of them were also clearly pauper’s graves, having often nothing more than a birthdate carved on them. After checking the environs for monsters, the PCs entered the graveyard and approached its centre. Being now late Autumn, it was snowing slightly, and with the sun sinking behind the mountains the world was rapidly plunging into shadow lit only by a weak and distant half-moon. The PCs stepped gingerly through the haphazardly-scattered graves, saddened by the spectre of so much senseless death, until they reached the centre of the cemetery, where a large Crypt stood ominously amongst the otherwise innocent graves.

This crypt was clearly the entry to the wizard’s tomb. The size of a small hovel, it was built of solid stone with a heavy metal door, above which was set a large brass plate. On this plate, the following inscription was written:

Born of neglect, killed by neglect, they will forever be watchful against neglect. Unloved, never having loved, children of a cold life have a cold fate.

Entry prohibited!

I think we all know what’s going to happen in here… nonetheless, the PCs dusted the snow off the door and pushed it inward to reveal a flight of stairs leading down into the unkonwn. They formed up with Birgitta in the lead, and headed down the steps, lanterns lit, as outside the sun disappeared beyond the mountains, and the world plunged into darkness.

The Orphans

The stairs ended in a corridor, which ran straight off into the darkness. The walls and floor of the tomb were slightly colder than expected, and in the distance strange, muted sounds could be heard – not unlike the desolate cries of an abandoned child, though faint and soft. The PCs lit a lantern and proceeded carefully, until after a few metres they encountered a corridor branching left. Just ahead, they could see another corridor to the right, and then the main corridor disappeared into the darkness. Following the initiate’s suggestion, they headed left and followed the corridor a short distance to its conclusion at a small, square room. This room was wide enough for 5 or 6 humans to stand in a line inside it, and was old and trashed. On the left hand side of the room were piles of rubbish, and on the right three beds. From amongst the rubbish emerged a tall boy, and from the beds to their right three smaller children stood. All were zombified, ruined and dessicated bodies that bore the marks of their deaths. The three children had died, separately, from animal attack, starvation and being shaken; the taller boy had clearly been stabbed to death, for the weapon that killed him was still embedded in his rotting ribs, and as he charged into the fray he tore it out to attack the characters with.

So battle was joined, with the three smaller children attacking Suzette the Initiate and the larger boy attacking Birgitta. These children were very weak though, and despite the horror they felt, the PCs killed them all quickly. Unfortunately the children’s unearthly wails and the retort of Birgitta’s blackpowder pistol were sufficient to draw more zombie children from the other room, and the PCs found themselves given barely a moment’s rest (a rally turn!) before the next horde of children was upon them. Trapped now inside the room by the fresh wave of child zombies, the PCs had no choice but to fight to the death, and in this wave there were 9 zombie children.

I described these children in 3 groups:

  • An older boy who had clearly died of starvation, and was the leader of the group
  • A group of 4 girls, who must have died in an orphanage, who came into the room in a crocodile formation, holding hands in a line and singing a children’s song, their eyes black pits and their faces contorted with hatred
  • A group of 2 boys and 2 girls, all naked and horribly burnt, who must have died in a house fire

This battle proceeded quickly too, with the leader cut down in a round and Suzette using a wicked spell, Defy Undeath, that made all the children’s actions much more likely to fail. Unfortunately, the one action that didn’t fail was a team attack on Suzette by the burnt orphans, that didn’t do damage but attempted to drag her down and terrify her. The result of this was a huge increase in her stress and fatigue levels, so she became officially strained, all her physical and mental actions became virtually impossible to complete, and incurring even one more point of fatigue or stress would cause her to draw an insanity. Happy days! She tried casting a spell to reduce the fatigue and stress but this failed due to her stressed state (we interpreted this as Morr’s anger at her failure), and basically the remainder of the battle proceeded as if she were hors de combat. Other PCs quickly eliminated the zombie children, though, and they were able to survive the battle relatively undamaged. Suzette then tried first aid on Birgitta, who was injured, but to no avail. At this point the party had explored one room and were already in a sorry state – Birgitta on half hit points, Suzette and Aruson slightly injured, and Suzette desperately wearied and panicky. A decision was made to retreat to the outdoors and camp the night so that Suzette could recover her equilibrium and heal Birgitta.

Camping and Random Encounters

I pointed out to the players that camping would involve a risk of random encounters, and came up with a mechanic for handling them (there are no rules for random encounters in the books, and no numbered dice for simple tables). While the players had a quick smoke, I cobbled together two actions:

  • Camp finding, in which the PCs locate a good location for a camp; success in this action improves the establishment of the camp
  • Camp setting, in which the PCs attempt to set up a camp that is invisible to wandering monsters. Success indicates no encounters; big success indicates that the PCs sleep well enough to recover some wounds; failure indicates an encounter with nearby monsters, in this case either a group of zombie children or a giant spider. Banes rolled in this check would improve the wandering monster’s initiative check or even give them a surprise attack (due to the PCs setting up the camp in such a way as to make it easy for the monster to sneak up on the person on watch)

Fortunately the group contains a wood elf, who not only gets bonuses on nature lore rolls, but also can see in the dark, so these rolls both proceeded well, and in the morning the PCs awoke slightly refreshed. Suzette failed a first aid check on Birgitta, who took a healing draft, and they ventured back into the dungeon.


The remainder of the session was spent exploring the dungeon and mapping the rooms, preparatory to conflict. Most of the rest of the rooms were either empty or trapped, and all the rooms radiated off of a central corridor running in a square-shaped loop. At the “south” end of the loop was a large room with double entrance doors that they studiously avoided entering; at the north end are stairs going up to some kind of larger room they also avoided; and at the “west” end was an area of rougher tunnels occupied by giant rats. These rats weren’t interested in fighting, and the PCs were able to scare them off while investigating the body of a dead adventurer, on which they found some magic items (that they can’t identify!) and some holy water. There were no other significant monsters in the dungeon and only a total of about 12 rooms. The PCs also found a mysterious silver key, and are now preparing to enter the remaining two larger rooms, where they expect to meet the main denizens of the dungeon – presumably the wizard himself, and some of his nastier servants.


Even simple tasks in this dungeon proved challenging for the group, so my prior fears that they have become too powerful were unfounded. The weakest creatures in the dungeon drove them outside for a night of rest, and it’s not clear whether they will actually survive the final two rooms – in fact it might be worth their while to go back into town and try to get the magic items they have identified. However, they probably won’t do this, but will go back in fully healed. Next session at least one of them will be able to start a new career, but this will make little difference to their practical skills at this stage. They’re going to need to be very careful about their adventuring style if they want to return to Ubersreik whole and sane!

Come to my kingdom, he said...

Today was the monthly Oita Devil Spirit Convention, and on the promise that one of my warhammer players would be presenting a second session of the Japanese RPG “Make You Kingdom,” I attended during an otherwise very busy weekend. Along with an apparent horde of other people trapped in the pre-christmas work rush, my player couldn’t attend, but a different chap stepped up to the plate without any preparation, and offered to run a Make You Kingdom adventure entitled “All Random.” The premise was that the adventure would be genuinely, from start to finish, entirely randomly generated. This, as it turns out, isn’t such a great plan for a convention.

Character Creation

This session I chose to play a priest, and we also had a Knight, a Servant and a King. For my Priest I chose the skill “Faith,” which heals everyone in the party, and my job was “cook,” which gave me the phenomenally useful power of “Apron”:

If a monster I kill leaves behind a raw material of any sort, I can convert this raw material into “meat,” which can then be used to make a “lunchbox.” This lunchbox can be imbued with a single skill that the monster originally possessed, and anyone who eats this lunchbox gains the skill for one turn

Also, when anyone in the party eats a “lunchbox” or a “full course,” in addition to its normal effects they gain +1 to their Bravery for one turn. Who knew cooks could be so powerful?

I rolled randomly (of course) for my character’s name, history, motivations, etc., and this is what I got:

  • Name: Hairan, who cannot even kill an insect
  • Background: Owes a huge debt (11 Gold Pieces) and is in trouble because of it
  • Fate: If he pays back the debt, Hairan will gain much favour
  • Age: 46
  • Favourite things: Medicine, his own country
  • Hated things: Being alone, people’s rumours
  • Item: a fragment of a star (swapped subsequently for a lunchbox)

So I decided on the basis of this that my character was a perfectly-dressed gentleman, who somehow manages to be wearing a different suit and hat every day, carries a cane with a sword hidden in it, and is something of a drug-addicted nationalist. Tally ho!

My character had 21 followers. Because the King’s job was “happymancer” I decided that my characters were all part of a carnival, consisting of a marching band of 10 members, 5 clowns, 5 pretty girls, and a giant.

The Kingdom

Our Kingdom, also rolled randomly, contained a palace, a casino and a ranch, and was called “The Ancient Empire.” It was in an alliance with another Kingdom called “Imperial Konparu Kingdom.” Konparu is a word used a lot in Japan (the hall we play at is called “Konparu hall”) but I can’t find a translation for it in any dictionary.

Our kingdom only had 56 citizens, so if all 4 PCs took their full complement of citizens with them on an adventure, only 2 would remain in the city. Not good! This meant we had to ration our supply of followers (except me, because my healing prayer was directly related to the number of followers I had, which was perhaps a mistake).

The Adventure

There was no beating around the  bush – the adventure was introduced as “We have learnt of a new kingdom, let’s go conquer it!” So, we set off to conquer it. First we did a bit of exploring, and discovered that most of the distant kingdom was empty rooms full of traps, but for one room that had 4 Foxes and a Boar in it. I then went for a wander through our kingdom, which proved pointless, and off we went for an adventure.

On the way we were attacked twice by other monsters, and suffered some damage that wasn’t serious. We arrived at the destination kingdom, and entered the first room. Here are the rooms in order:

  1. The Collapsing Ceiling: This room was empty, but had a collapsing ceiling trap that nearly killed our Servant. Nothing else was in this room, whose description I forget
  2. The foxes and the boar: This room contained 4 “Quick Foxes” and a “Sawing Boar,” and also a rose trap that puts its victims to sleep. We avoided the rose trap and attacked the resident beasts, two of whom were asleep, but unfortunately the boar woke up and nearly killed the knight. I used my single “wish” to enact my healing prayer, and healed everyone. We only just survived this room. The boar was turned into meat, which I attempted to use my “Apron” power on to convert to magic meat that grants the Knight the charge skill, but I failed. We then chose to rest here and eat a “lunchbox,” and I attempted to use my special skill (“Dungeon Feast”) to give everyone a +1 to their Bravery. This resulted in a fumble, which caused some kind of disaster that killed all 5 of my clowns, 1 of my pretty girls and the giant. So much for our carnival entry.
  3. The Dead Letter: We moved on to the next room, where the night stumbled upon a letter in an envelope. This was also a trap, and she had a choice of taking 2d6 damage (she only had 12 hps) or everyone in the party losing 1d6 followers (most people only had 5). She chose the damage, and survived, so we decided to rest again in this room so we could disarm the trap in the following room. We rested, and some of us decided to roll on the rest table. I went wandering through the room, rolled up some kind of excellent effect that depended on a skill check, and fumbled the skill check. Result: we all took damage from a dungeon disaster.
  4. The Escape Route: By now we were all down on hit points, running low on followers, and out of wishes. I was borrowing dice from my neighbour because of the huge fumble rate on my own dice. The room we were in was linked to a room that had a “trap” that sends you straight back to your own kingdom. We chose to go down that trap, and return home…

Returning home we rolled on the “return home” table, gaining a few followers and quite a bit of money. We spent the money on building a Watchtower, which increases our available total wishes, and we also gained a level. By the time we had made these decisions, it was 4pm and not worth returning to the Dungeon, so we all gave up and decided to wait the hour till the other groups at the convention finished their sessions.


Rolling a random dungeon was not such a good idea, if there was any risk of the dungeon being filled entirely with traps. Traps aren’t that interesting as an obstacle. So, we had a slightly boring adventure that finished early. Make You Kingdom adventures are certainly deadly – this is the second time I’ve played, and the second time we’ve survived by the skin of our teeth, consuming our fellow citizens and all our items in the process – but this time around a large part of the deadliness was random.

Make You Kingdom remains a really interesting and fun system, but this session made me think that it’s real strength will show in a campaign, not single adventures. Gaining levels and building up your kingdom is a really essential part of this game, as is achieving your fate, and a campaign where you get to do this would be really fun. I think this is going to be my next campaign after Warhammer.

マスターのコメント:今回の題目は英語の参照である。「秘密の警察の舞踏会」という映画は「The Secret Policeman’s Ball」というコメディーである。






  • ネズミ捕り1:オレが、部長にこの冒険者に着いて伝えに行くぞ!
  • ネズミ捕りの皆:はい!!行け!



こんばん、「Prisoner’s Dilemma」の翻訳を習った!でもネズミ捕りの囚人ジレンマは普通より大変だった。PC達は、暴力的な尋問の意図も持てるから、囚人ジレンマの失敗は、死亡だった。ネズミ捕り達がは両人同じ選択枝を得た:真実を教えないと、死ぬ。これは、もちろん、「Grim and perilous world」だ。







  • 組合は普通ではなくて、いる貴族にいろいろな怪しい行動をする組合である
  • 冒険者みたいな行動をする組合:冒険、スパイ、暗殺など
  • このネズミ捕りは普通に下水の部分の警備兵だった
  • 組合のメンバーは、普通人30人、数人の特別な人
  • このネズミ捕りの最悪の行動は、他のメンバーの娘を激しく殺すこと。理由は、彼女が組合の秘密を出した
  • このネズミ捕りの同僚の最悪の行動は、シグマー神殿に入って、神々のアイテムを盗んだ。
  • アルソンが見つけたアジトのトンネルは、ほかのアジトに行っても、このネズミ捕りの上士に行った








The last session ended with our heroes capturing clues about the mysterious rat-catchers’ guild – a second prisoner and a safe house, in fact. We rejoined them this week in the midst of their inquiries, with Heinze, Shultz and Suzette dragging their second prisoner to their dubious makeshift prison in the Labour Quarter, and Aruson the Elf spying the front of a Ratcatcher safe house.

Infiltrating the Safe House

The safe house was a warehouse on the docks of the Warehouse district, that could be entered via a highly conspicuous front door, or through a delivery door at the rear which, sadly, could only be accessed by boat. Aruson being a thief, he immediately set off in search of a suitable boat, and soon found a nest of rowboats suitable to the task. His first attempt to get onto the pier at the back of the warehouse succeeded, but in tying the boat to the pier Aruson managed to entangle the ropes of the delivery bell in the boat-ties, and alerted all inside to his presence. He aborted his attempt and leapt back onto the boat, flowing downstream in time to appear as nothing more than an annoying passer-by. He tried again, stealing a second boat; and this time he stopped the boat at an upstream warehouse, intending to climb onto the roof and cross to a top-floor window by that means. However, he realized upon alighting on the pier that his climbing ability is very poor, and he couldn’t identify who (if anyone) was inside the targeted warehouse; so he cast off from the pier and drifted downstream, only to find the same problem. So, he gave up, and entered the warehouse through the door, unable to discern its occupants. Luckily for Aruson (who regularly gets beaten near to death), noone was there. He exited to the warehouse rooftop and ran along to the target warehouse, where of course the same problem applied – he had to climb down. But this time he could use rope, so the problem was trivial (and anyway, there was a river to catch him), and he soon found himself inside the safe house.

Passing through the upstairs room, he opened an inner door to find a set of steps leading down into a warehouse full of crates of apples. In the middle of the warehouse floor sat a group of ratcatchers around a fire. One of them was heartily declaring “I will tell the Lieutenant about this situation,” with the others urging him on. Without further ado he marched up to a crate of apples, opened a secret door in its side, and disappeared down a flight of stairs…

With this knowledge, and a sure suspicion that this crew are not normal rat-catchers, our suspicious elf returned the way he came, and thence to the dubious prison for act 2…

The Rat-catcher’s Dilemma

Tonight I had a chance to learn the Japanese for “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” though it passed me by in a blaze of mumbling. Fortunately wikipedia serves as an excellent translation device for concepts and phrases, so I now know it. Because it turns out that my players are not shy of a little bit of rough play, and their version of the prisoner’s dilemma involves death rather than release or imprisonment. Both prisoners were offered a simple choice – if you don’t talk, your friend will, and then you’ll be surplus to requirements. And this is a grim and perilous world.

Both prisoners chose to cooperate with each other, because they appeared to have a supernaturally strong trust in their guild. They both initially refused to offer any information about their guild, being sure that the other would not either[1]. However, the characters noticed that one was looking a little shaky, while the other was looking very solid indeed. They threatened the shaky-looking one, and broke the tough-looking one’s finger, just to make a point, then decided to wait a day to soften them both up.

Rat-catcher attack

After 10 hours of waiting, the unexpected happened – a ratcatcher attack. Suzette, on guard duty, heard it, and had a moment to warn the others before the 4 ratcatchers struck. Although their foes weren’t strong – in fact, incapable of hurting Schultz through his armour – they took time to grind down, and after 3 rounds the characters’ prisoners somehow escaped, running for a window at the end of a hallway. Three of the PCs followed while the Soldier took on the remaining two ratcatchers, and they managed to recapture all the escapees and hold them back from the window until Schultz could eliminate the remaining two ratcatchers and come to their aid. They restored the prisoners to their cells, and decided to have a frank exchange with the weaker-looking one. By now they had killed or injured or captured 10 of his colleagues, defeated one escape attempt and uncovered his safe house, and he could be fairly confident that ultimately they were going to find and destroy everyone else in his guild, so he decided to talk.

The Rat-catcher’s Guild

The rat-catcher told the characters that

  • His rat-catcher’s guild was not a normal guild, but did sinister jobs for a local nobleman, whose identity he did not know.
  • The members did adventurer-type things, such as spying, assassinations, and investigations
  • He was largely responsible for security in a part of the sewers
  • This guild had about 30 or so normal members, and a few exceptional folk
  • The worst thing he had ever done was visit the daughter of another member, to admonish her against foolishly leaking their secret – by killing her horribly
  • A colleague of his had broken into Sigmar’s Temple to steal a holy item
  • The safe house that Aruson had seen gave access to a tunnel that led to a different safe house and also to his superior

The rat-catcher, now convinced he was at risk of death, begged the PCs to spare him, and offered a deal – he would turn spy for them if they promised to spare him. The PCs weighed up his situation – 1/3 of his guild slaughtered, the likelihood more would die, them threatening to deliver him to Sigmar’s church, and him in their custody – and decided he was probably being honest. They agreed to do this if he would meet them in three days time. He then asked them to kill his friend, to ensure the story of his escape would make sense.

Nice folk, these rat-catchers.

The PCs agreed, and originally intended to actually kill the man in cold blood. I pointed out to them that such an act carried a risk of insanity, so instead they arranged a trick hanging (using Aruson’s guile skill), which would preserve the victim so that they could hand him over to Sigmar’s Shrine (who would almost certainly execute him). Aruson arranged this fake hanging so well that not only did they convince their prisoner that his friend was dead, they horrified and terrified him with the violence of the death, and further convinced him that he had escaped a terrible fate. He left their prison eager to prove his worth and so avoid an equally awful fate.

Here the session ended.

Other notes

The characters all reached Rank 2 tonight, so a frenzy of spending xps on skill training ensued. The PCs remain greatly afraid of even minor battles, and are desperate to improve their skills, and the best way to do that is through skill training (it really matters in this system!) Soon some of them may choose to progress to the next career – which may mean purchasing new spell books…

fn1: the original prisoner’s dilemma doesn’t include a third game theoretic option, a fate worse than death.

Promises, promises…

Last Wednesday was the second session of the urban semi-sandbox campaign I am running in warhammer 3rd edition. It was held, as usual, in the upstairs gaming room of the local gaming store, Ringtail, which is currently in the midst of being refurbished to look more like a mediaeval tavern.

I had expected this session to run as a complex series of investigations, but my players proved very swift, and got to the heart of matters pretty quickly, and got quite a bit done in a short session. Today’s session started a little late because the Ringtail shop owner wanted to discuss a new game, Mallifaux, that he wants me to translate so we can play it together. One of our players, Mr. K, was running late so he was replaced by a nameless schoolboy who happened to be in the shop and is friends with the owner. For the first two hours or so while we waited for Mr. K to come, this chap watched; but when Mr. K confirmed it was too late for him to come, the schoolboy took over Heinze, the soldier. As we’ll see, the soldier is a really important character to have around…

Visiting the Temple of Sigmar

The PCs remembered that they are carrying a rather nasty Chaos artifact, the Unseeing Eye, that they can’t destroy, so they took it immediately to the Temple of Sigmar to entrust to the High Priest. The Temple itself is unusually large for a town of the size of Ubersreik, which fact the PCs put down to the fortress-like nature of the town, and inside they received a calming aura that, had they been actually stressed (rather than just wounded) would have been very helpful. The High Priest, a middle-aged woman with gentle eyes, took them into a side room where 4 rather scary-looking soldiers of Sigmar and two initiates stood guard while she inspected the picture. She told the PCs that a comet will appear in the sky in a month, and at that time she will be well able to destroy the artifact, and asked them if they would entrust it to her. The movement of the soldiers behind them suggested that at this point they had a choice to request its return, but that they wouldn’t be leaving the room alive with their prize. Fortunately for all concerned, they had no desire to keep it and handed it over without a hint of regret. No-one in the world of warhammer doubts the church of Sigmar’s willingness to commit cold-blooded murder in its sanctuaries to preserve the world from chaos, but in this case it was far from necessary.

In exchange for the picture the High Priestess revealed some history to the characters:

The Cult of the Unseeing Eye was driven out of Altdorf by a large assembly of soldiers and priests of Sigmar some years ago, but we never captured its leader or its most sacred paraphernalia. We never even really learnt how organized it was or what its purpose was. They must have fled to the forests where you found them, and in such a weakened state were ripe for infiltration and destruction. This picture is undoubtedly at the core of their religious enterprise, and without it and the enterprising servant of Chaos who set up that outpost, they are surely done for.

In exchange for the picture she gave each character a letter granting them a single free visit to the Shrine of Shallya (for healing), and a magic item called “Sigmar’s Promise,” a necklace of a platinum hammer that can be worn by any initiate of any religious church, and which grants the initiate +1 Willpower for the purposes of calculating their equilibrium state of favour while worn. Obviously Suzette took this item.

The characters then immediately set about their main purpose in Ubersreik – they went to the Temple of Shallya for some free healing.

Finding the “Wife of the Remains”

That evening the PCs started trying to locate the relatives of the dead man they found on the road to Ubersreik. They had a locket with a picture of a woman in it, and a game token with “The Sad Shield” written on one side. They soon discovered that the Sad Shield is a pub in the Labourer’s section of town, so they took the token and the locket and headed across the river to the labourer’s section. This section, on the poorer south side of the river, is a mixture of factories and workshops, interspersed with cheap houses and occasional slum areas. It is not the cheapest part of town to live – that sad distinction belongs to the Southbank Slums – but it is still quite poor, and on many street corners were suspicious looking men, loitering and spitting.

In the pub they soon found out what they needed to know, though not cheaply. The man was called Manegold Stolzer, a Ratcatcher, and he lived with his wife and child in the Northern River Quarter. The PCs didn’t learn this cheaply though – the tavern keeper was unforthcoming and they had to spend a lot of money on alcohol for the Ratcatcher he directed them to before they learnt what they needed to know. Having determined this they went home, and the next night they went to the Northern River Quarter to visit the wife.

Rumour: At this tavern they also heard a rumour that a long forgotten wizard’s tomb has been discovered outside of town, with rough directions on how to find it.

Visiting the bereaved

Things immediately struck them as suspicious as soon as they got to the Quarter. The Northern River Quarter is a suburban area on the north side of the river, populated with a mixture of classic Germanic courtyard-style apartments, English-style terraces, and stereotypical fantasy-world garden houses. These were clean, well-established and quiet, in a civilised, upmarket suburb.

What was a Ratcatcher doing living here? In every other town of the Empire, Ratcatchers live in rough shacks near the sewage outlets. They don’t live in quaint, trimmed-hedge garden houses in the most expensive non-noble part of town.

So, by the time they reached Mrs. Stolzer’s little house they were very suspicious. After they had informed her of her loss, and she had cried a little, she offered them a ring as payment for their work – they declined but she pointed out to them that they had ensured his soul’s rest by burying him like a civilized man.

This was also suspicious. Mrs. Stolzer, just-widowed, was offering them a platinum ring[1] as payment for something as abstract as a soul’s rest, when she was looking at a future of potential destitution.

What manner of Ratcatcher was she married to?

Sadly they didn’t get to find out because Suzette the Initiate asked a few too many probing questions, causing Mrs. Stolzer to get angry and take back the offer of the ring.

Spying on the bereaved

Naturally, they took the next best option to direct investigation, and stationed the elf on watch at Mrs. Stolzer’s window to find out who she really was. Sure enough, within a few hours of their departure, three men turned up at her door. She let them in, and the following conversation ensued:

  • Men: Mrs. Stolzer, we’ve just heard of your loss and we’ve come to give our condolences. Manegold was a good man and a fine colleague, and we all hurt for his departure
  • Mrs. Stolzer: Thank you, thank you. I am very saddened by his loss
  • Men: And we are aware that now you think your future must be very grim. So we have been sent by The Organization to give you this bereavement money in thanks for his work and effort [sound of much money clinking, some crying]
  • Mrs. Stolzer: Thank you, thank you. I appreciate the efforts that The Organization has made to look after us through these years of his service. I am told that he died in the forests outside of town – is it possible for you to tell me what he was doing out there?
  • Men: As ever, Mrs. Stolzer, we are unable to tell you anything about his work, even at this sad time. Suffice it to say that what he was doing was dangerous and important to us, and he lost his life in service to The Organization. We offer him our respect and thanks.
  • Mrs. Stolzer: Thank you, then, and I’m sorry for asking
  • Men: It’s perfectly okay Mrs. Stolzer, we understand that you wish to know more about your husband’s sad death. What did the adventurers who came here tell you? Please tell us everything they knew
  • Mrs. Stolzer: Only that they found him being disposed of by orcs, and buried him like a man deserves.
  • Men: Ah, so then. Mrs. Stolzer, we trust that you told them nothing of The Organization, and it pains us to have this conversation at the time of your new grief, but our seniors direct us to it. We must remind you that, just as you were sworn to secrecy about your husband’s involvement with us during his life, now even after his sad death you are bound to secrecy about his membership of The Organization, about its existence and about anything you have noticed of it during your life with Manegold. We have been asked to remind you that your responsibilities to us do not end with your husband’s tragic passing, even though our connection does, and it hurts me to say this but I must remind you that any breach of our secret is punished swiftly, cruelly and fatally. From now there is no further reason for you to have any entanglement with The Organization, and we will have no more such visits, but we must remind you that your responsibility to maintain our secret carries with you to your grave. I’m sorry to have to burden you with threats and dire warnings at this time, but it is our way, but I must ask you to forget that we ever existed in your life, or that your husband was anything but an ordinary Ratcatcher.
  • Mrs. Stolzer: I understand the need for this warning, and I don’t begrudge you your cold words at this time. I can only thank you for your assistance, and I hope that I will respect your secrets forever.
  • Men: Then we will take our leave of you, Mrs. Stolzer, and again offer our condolences on your loss and our hopes that this small offering will see you well into your dotage. We’re ever your servants

And with this they took their leave…

The PCs were naturally very interested to hear about this “Organization,” so decided to go back to the Sad Shield and see if they could rustle up a Ratcatcher to answer some questions.

The Rat’s Tail

The elf tailed the PCs back to the pub, and outside the pub he noticed someone else tailing them. A short and nasty scuffle later they had him under control, and dragged him out of sight for a bit of a beating and some intimidation. They soon discovered he, too had exactly the same rat tattoo as the body they found in the woods, but he refused to speak of any organization, and when pressed claimed he was just an ordinary ratcatcher. They dragged him to the Labourer’s Quarter, sought out a suitably dodgy rooming house, and locked him in a room obviously well-used for similar purposes by various criminals, before heading back to town. They then went back into the Sad Shield, and located two more ratcatchers with the intention of offering a hostage-for-information swap. Unfortunately these two tried to flee, so another short fight followed. For some of this fight the Soldier was on guard at the door, and things were looking unlikely to resolve themselves until he came charging inside and flattened one of the ratcatchers. They allowed the other to flee, and the elf followed him under cover of stealth.

The night ended here, with the PCs in possession of two hostages from “The Organization,” and the elf watching the doorway of one of “The Organization”‘s safehouses. Next time: finding out what this organization of ratcatchers is. The players aren’t yet convinced that it is even a bad group, though it certainly has been behaving in a shadowy way.


Again despite a bit of faffing and a late start things went smoothly and  a lot was covered. As usual I dropped any role-playing of shopping etc (I find this sooo boring). This was the only chance the PCs will get for healing – in fact, they don’t have enough money for much healing from now on, so they’re going to be slowly getting in trouble. They discovered a lot more than I expected, largely through quick decision-making, but there’s still much for them to do.

I invented a new rule for this session, enabling the PCs to do submission damage at increased difficulty, to avoid the situation they were in last time where they had to knock someone out with lethal damage and then heal them in order to talk to them. This isn’t a good way to do things in town! So now they can club people into submission before they talk to them. I also made up some grappling rules on the fly, which everyone seemed satisfied with. I need to investigate that a little…

Rules notes and comparisons

Finally, I should add that many decisions made in this adventure would have been impossible in Warhammer 2nd Edition, because the PCs would have had such low chances of success that they wouldn’t have done them. Particularly, anything involving stealth or information gathering is impossible for first level PCs in 2nd edition, even for a thief character. Hiding under Mrs. Stolzer’s window, following the tail, would have been impossible. Also, the battle in the inn – between two relatively weak ratcatchers and 3 PCs who are also weak in melee and penalized for submission damage – would have lasted about 2 hours of real time (I’ve experienced this phenomenon before). In 3rd edition this was the slowest and most frustrating battle we have had yet, and couldn’t have lasted more than half an hour. It probably would have stretched for an hour without the Soldier’s intervention, whereas in warhammer 2 it probably would have taken an hour with the soldier’s help. This sort of thing was really frustrating in 2nd edition and makes a big difference to how enjoyable the game is. I want my players to make decisions about what they will do within their core competencies on the fairly safe knowledge that they can succeed if they plan well and are better than their opponents. It doesn’t work that way in 2nd edition!

I think some of the spells in 3rd edition are a bit strange. The spell Shooting Star, for example, is completely useless compared to Magic Dart. Shooting star is higher level than Magic Dart, so it’s a bit weird. I removed Shooting Star from the Wizard’s list and offered him a choice of a new spell or an increase in attribute by one point (this spell was chosen at character creation) and he chose to increase willpower, which was a wise decision for the battle.

Also, I screwed up the progress tracker a bit today, so I need to review that rule a little and think about how to handle it. Otherwise, things are going more smoothly

fn1: In fact, Schultz cocked up his appraisal check –  he got successes, but also a chaos star. This was sufficient for him to identify that the ring was worth more than a standard ratcatcher’s wife should own, but also put a bit of confusion into the mix. The ring is really silver, not platinum, and worth 10% of what Heinze believed it to be worth.

Our Dungeon Tectonics Expert and Eunuch Servant

This is the session report for yesterday’s Make You Kingdom adventure. Because we covered a lot of ground and my notes were being taken hurriedly, this report needs to be quite light on details – probably a good thing, since I didn’t understand what was going on about 50% of the time.

The PCs and the Kingdom

There were 4 players, who as usual didn’t introduce themselves – in fact one player referred to another player as “Honourable Older Sister” throughout the session, because he didn’t know her name. We played the following characters:

  • The King, previous job “Doctor”
  • A servant, previous job “Eunuch.”
  • An Oracle, previous job “Sex worker” (Or something similar – performer of dubious origins, perhaps?)
  • A Ninja, previous job “Hunter,” played by me and named (by random roll) “uwasa wo sureba Oboe,” which in English would be something like “The Oboe of which everyone speaks”

I decided that my ninja was of unspecified gender, being so heavily wrapped in black that only his/her eyes show, and wrapped in a great black cloak (part of my equipment). My ninja starts with Quest 5, Wit 2, Bravery 2 and charm 1. This means he/she has 7 followers, who I decided (in keeping with the ninja theme) are all members of the same Visual Kei band. My Ninja had two skills:

  • Hunting, by which he/she can gather food with a good skill check
  • Disruption, by which he/she can expend a wish and prevent 1d6 of damage to a fellow PC

My ninja had the following equipment, all rolled up on random tables:

  • A fragment of a star
  • A used magic item
  • A cloak
  • Some shuriken (throwing stars)
  • A warhammer
  • A full course meal

No character can have more than 6 items. No one carries mundane items. I’m not sure what these items did, and I didn’t get a chance to use any except the shuriken, hammer and meal.

To give an idea of the dangers of combat, my Ninja had 14 hps. My ninja’s shuriken do d6-1 damage. To hit my ninja an opponent needs to roll over 12 on 2d6+bravery, and usually a monster’s bravery is roughly equal to their level. We were all level 2.

Our Kingdom was called “Eastern Champion Land” (also randomly rolled). Within it we had a Palace, Temple, School and Hospital, all randomly rolled.We also rolled up its location in a larger labyrinth section (like a Gormenghastian Traveller sector map!).

The Adventure Starts: The Kingdom Phase

A spy came to our kingdom and told us that nearby was a kingdom called “The Forest of Harvests” that was having a little trouble and was also the holder of a rare magic item. We decided to explore this kingdom, so first of all my ninja used his/her Exploration skill to map out the kingdom. I rolled so well on this process that I learnt the number of traps and monsters in every room, and the layout of the whole kingdom, as well as the type of monsters in one room. With this knowledge our job was made considerably easier. While I was doing this two of the PCs decided to go for a wander around our own kingdom; this is handled by rolling on special “roaming” encounter tables and can only occur during the “kingdom phase,” which happens when you’re in your kingdom. One player found some kind of magic berry or something and gained a permanent increase in hit points (+5!), while the other found us all some money. You can make these rolls any time you are in the kingdom phase, but you can only ever get each result once, and there are some risky outcomes (I think). It’s an example of your kingdom giving you benefits, basically.

Once these things were out of the way we set off. On the way one player rolled a random encounter, which we managed to avoid by making successful bravery checks, and then we arrived at our destination, The “Forest of Harvests” Kingdom.

Room 1: The Entry

There is usually only one way in or out of a kingdom, and the way in is always the first room you enter. The Forest of Harvests’ entryway contained some rolling hills and a road rolling between them, which happened to be blocked by a giant tree. This tree happily moved out of our way after some negotiation (I’m not sure what was said; my hangover was still going pretty badly at this stage)[1], and we proceeded without further trouble into room 2.

Room 2: The Road of Meals

In this room we were attacked by a pair of Ogrekin, who we killed quite quickly. We then explored the room, finding a road running through the middle and a field of mushrooms. Some investigation revealed that the yellow mushrooms healed damage, the red ones exploded on impact, and the blue ones were poisonous to touch. We couldn’t take the red ones with us because they were a little unstable. We travelled to the next room.

Room 3: Fisherman’s Lake

On the road to room 3 we discovered a Black Spot trap, which I disarmed. A Black Spot trap causes any who fail a Quest DC 9 test to be trapped in the black spot. Every quarter they have to make another test to escape it, and everyone else has to wait. This wastes time, but also food; every 4 quarters everyone has to eat one meal. Fortunately we didn’t trigger it, and ended up in the third room, which contained a massive lake. This lake was populated by Kappa, with whom we chatted. They revealed that they catch fish and trade them with a princess called Princess Mira, and told us about the dangers on the road to her room. We thanked them and did a spot of fishing: the Oracle hauled up a rare and splendid “Dungeon Maguro,” which can be used as trade with Princess Mira (or anyone else!) and a rare item (I was writing this so I don’t know what item came out of the tables).

Room 4: The Forest of Relaxation

This room wasn’t very relaxing at all, being gloomy and filled with Giant Squirms, a Chowhound and a Minotaur. We killed all of them. The Chowhound had a special attack called “Warm and Snug” which reduces everyone’s Resistance, making them easier to hit, but we dealt with it. There was nothing else in this room, so we proceeded to the room of the Princess.

Room 5: Mira’s Forest

Here we met Princess Mira, in a room with huge trees and lots of harmless flying monsters. Princess Mira spoke to us when we gave her the Dungeon Maguro, and revealed that the Kingdom was in trouble due to something happening at the “Small Shrine.” We offered to help, and set off to the next room.

Room 6: The Forest of Confusion

In this room we were attacked by 5 Scum and 2 Bad Company. Someone also set up a trap in the battle zone, which was a problem because this trap did 2d6 damage to anyone who triggered it, and was between us and the enemy. Only two of our members had missile weapons, and the Bad Company are pretty solid ranged fighters. However, our Servant had a special skill, “Dungeon Tectonics,” which enabled him to set traps in battlezones from a distance (it’s a type of magic). He used his Dungeon Tectonics skill to set traps, which killed the Bad Company and half the Scum; I then took out the rest with Shuriken. From their bodies we looted a rare magical Business Card that gives a bonus on diplomacy; this we gave to the Oracle. Every ex-prostitute Oracle should have a magic business card.

Every room has a Camp Phase, if you choose, in which you rest or explore. I chose to risk a “Rest Event” and rolled on the Investigation Table; it turns out that during the rest period I explored the room and stumbled on a Rust Samurai’s grave, and from this I looted a few pieces of iron, which I gave to the Oracle to use in her magic item construction powers.

Room 7: The Forest of Nightmare

This room was not actually a forest, but had lots of small buildings and contained some Dwarves. We talked to them and they told us that the next room – the Small Shrine – was occupied by 3 “Hurry Foxes” that could be very bad news. They gave us a bitter potion that we had to make Bravery checks to keep down, and with this we regained a few hit points. We rested here and moved on to the Small Shrine room.

Room 8: The Small Shrine

In the Small Shrine we were met by the 3 Hurry Foxes, who were called Umi, Soru and Chan. They refused to help us unless we answered 3 riddles, which were

Riddle 1

Consider the following equations. What is the answer to the 4th?

  • Bx4=1
  • Ox3=C
  • Sx3=O
  • Dx1=?

This is a baseball reference, and one of our players got it. 4 bases = 1 run, 3 outs=change sides, 3 strikes = Out, so 1 Deadball=Take 1. Thus the answer is “1”.

Riddle 2

In every survey ever done, which planet in the solar system is the most popular with firefighters? Is it Venus, Saturn, Earth or Mercury?

The answer was Earth. The reason: the emergency number for firefighters in Japan is 119, ichi-ichi-kyuu, which sounds very much like ichi-chikyuu, which means “1 Earth.” One of our players got this. I was flabbergasted.

Riddle 3

This involved completing a sequence of kanji I couldn’t read. The players got this in moments (Japanese love kanji quizzes).

With these three correct answers the Foxes told us of a secret road to an 8th room, where a Mushroom Dragon and its followers had set up and were terrorizing the Kingdom. So, off we went… but first a rest… I rolled on the Exploration rest table, and found a secret path to any room of my choice; we set this secret path to shorten our exit route. Then, onto the next room…

Room 8: The Mushroom Dragon

This room was gloomy and foggy, and occupied by a Mushroom Dragon, some Primal Ogrekin, some Ogrekin, an Ogrekin Shaman and a Minotaur. Battle was joined.

This battle was nasty. The Dragon’s breath caused poison damage (1 HP every round) and the Ogre Shaman kept summoning Ogrekin between us and the Dragon. Because the rules don’t allow us to move through occupied spaces of the battlezone, this stopped us from neutralizing the dragon. At one point the King was trapped in the Dragon’s zone, with a wall of Ogrekin summoned between us and him. I had to use all my wishes deflecting damage with my disruption skill, and I also sacrificed 4 of my band members to improve an attack roll; in the spirit of things I made a random table of band members and determined that the sacrificed members were the singer, both guitarists, and the Strange Male Dancer. The battle finally came extremely close to a TPK. The King was on 4 HPs, the Servant on 1 and the Oracle on 2, and me on 10; but Oracle and Servant were both poisoned, so one would die next round regardless of his actions, and the Oracle the round after. The Dragon was a 2d6-damage monstrosity, so likely to kill the King, and the King was our only way of winning initiative – and to do this he had to sacrifice an elite follower every round. Only the King and I were close enough to the Dragon to hit it. If I missed the Dragon its HPs would be too high for the King to kill it, and then it would kill him; if he missed it then it would probably kill him next round anyway, and even if it didn’t the Servant would be dead. For me to hit it I had to roll over 11 on 2d6. At this point the Oracle chose to expend her “loyalty points” on me, doing a kind of mad prayer to give me all the support she could. This effect can be used once a session, and gave me a +2 to my bravery. With this I hit, doing 3 damage; the King then managed to hit, and killed the Dragon. Had he missed, it would almost certainly have been a TPK, and had I missed he probably couldn’t have killed it even with a successful hit.

When the dragon died the gloom of the forest dispersed, revealing a beautiful and happy forest full of fruits that healed our injuries. The dragon was carrying a special rare item that could grant much money on a successful Wits check, which the King failed.

Returning to our Kingdom

The return journey has its own special random table, and rolling on this we got lost for a few quarters (no big deal), and I fell in love with the Oracle. We avoided random encounters on the way home, and when we got back to our own Kingdom we each rolled on a special encounter table for the response of our citizens, who thought I was a hero and granted me an extra follower, and then finally we rolled on a table for our party’s return to the Kingdom; this granted us extra followers. We then used our money to purchase a new building – a Harem. Finally the King rolled a wits check and recovered my band members for me.

Once the game was up there was one final, cute mechanic. Everyone had to close their eyes and, on the count of 10, point to the person they thought was the most effective player. This person gets a single “MVP point.” That person was me!


Including character and Kingdom creation, and an hour for lunch, we got through all those rooms, combats, talks and events in 7 hours. I think that’s an excellent amount of progress, and we had a lot of fun while we did it. This is an excellent system for megadungeon madness, and I think with a bit of GM input it could lead to some really excellent and hilarious dungeon settings. For example, there is a monster called a Red Giant that is essentially some kind of construct of Communism. This could be the final boss for a level 1 adventure, in a kingdom full of enslaved and crazy humanoid and magical creatures with a communist theme. Alternatively, the level 5 Dungeon Geek monster could lead to a kingdom modelled on a D&D dungeon and stocked with suitable monsters. For the times when the GM is not feeling imaginative there are a wide range of random dungeon tables by which a whole Kingdom can be stocked for play.

The game also has an excellent campaign mode, with the Kingdom phase between adventures enabling players to grow their kingdom as well as their characters, and relations between the PCs growing dynamically at every rest point. The final results of a campaign run this way would, I think, be truly hilarious. I think I might invest in this game and try it out on some people to see how a campaign runs – or try and force the GM from the convention (who plays the Soldier in my WFRP campaign, coincidentally) to run such a campaign outside of the convention. This probably won’t happen though, since he’s running Sword World campaign too (which I may be joining).

fn1: An interesting fact about the players in the convention that I really should dwell more on is that they are really kind and friendly, and if I had stopped at this point and asked for a simple explanation of the negotiation, they would happily have done so, and continued to do so through the whole game; in fact at later points “Honourable Older Sister” did this, as did the GM. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad encounter at this convention, which differs remarkably from the pub-based experiences I had in London; furthermore, I’m very confident that a British or Australian group would be nowhere near as supportive of someone with my level of language skills. The players were even interested in my reading method, since I had to translate things as I went and this is a fiendishly slow task. They’re genuinely helpful and warm-hearted.


(翻訳ポイント:このキャンペーンの名前は「rats in the ranks」である。「Rats in the ranks」っていうのは「裏切り」である。「Rat」は「裏切りをする人」だから、軍隊が自分の隊列にいるメンバーに裏切った意味を持つ。一番近い翻訳は「隊列を乱す者」だと思っていますが、完璧な翻訳が見つけられない)。




グルーンヴァールド城を出発したときに、基本ダメージがだいたい回復したが、まだクリティカル傷が多かった。旅の間の複数の企ては不成功し、グルンバーグ城に泊まり過ぎのに治療ができなかった。だから、ウーベーズレイクの到着の2日前のオーク要撃は死中みたいであった。ゴブリン射手もオークも見なくて、森に隠れたゴブリンの矢を集中したからオークの白兵要撃を見送った。オーク1匹は前にいる兵士を攻撃し、1匹は後ろにいる魔法使いを攻撃した。オーク達はイニチャチブが勝って、激しく傷をした。2ラウンドが回って、魔法使いはクリティカル傷2点で無意識し、兵士は傷された。次はゴブリンに強打された盗賊だが、「Da Big Smash」というアクションで新入者を殺してみたときに、オークが2匹目のゴブリンを殺してしまった。このアクションも新入者を殺しそうだったが、新入者が「モールタッチ」の祈りを使っていて、オークをモールの天罰の冷たい火で全身火だるまができた。そして兵士と新入者が次のオークを殺して、残るゴブリンが逃げた。




  • 立ゴブリン:食べるな
  • 座ゴブリン:なぜ?美味しいよ!ほら!見て!虫だ。うまそう!
  • 立ゴブリン:酋長が「自然に死んだように見せる」って!食べたら自然死に見せかけられない!!!!食べるな!
  • 座ゴブリン [もう1回食ってみているところで]:わあ!ちょっとだけでいいよ!
  • 立ゴブリン [また撃っているところで]:食べるな!酋長がそう言ったから!じゃあ!捨てろ!




  • 小さい刀
  • 中に女の絵のあるロケット
  • ネズミ落としの2つ
  • ネズミのイレズミ
  • 1面に蛇が書いてあり、一面に「悲しい盾」が書いてあるゲーム札



ウーバーズレイクと ゲーリンダ ニーダ





ウォーハンマー3版はまた危なかった。戦闘1階にTPKをしかけた(TPK=皆殺し、Total Party Kill). 旅の大きい部分は治療の企てを含んで、オーク要撃でまた傷されたから治療の成功は意味が無かった。PC達の2人は、無意識になってクリティカル傷2点超えたら死ぬうえに、オークに2回だけ撃たれて無意識になる。私はウォーハンマーのオークの危険性を忘れたが、今回の戦闘で覚えた。プレイヤー達は早く戦闘にたいしての注意的な意見を開発している。