Friday, June 27, 2014

Middenheim NPC Cards

SPOILER ALERT: This blog post reveals plot points and NPC stats for The Enemy Within for Warhammer FRP 3rd Edition. If you're a warhammer player and haven't already completed Book 2 of that adventure, you should probably skip this post.

This weekend my play group reunites for some more Warhammery goodness after about a month-long break. We're on Book Three of The (New) Enemy Within, which takes place in Altdorf. Since we've left Book Two behind, I can safely post a few GM's aids I put together for the Middenheim section.

The rest of this post is mostly NPC stat cards for plot-relevant characters (plus a few other related bits). The adventure really should have come with cards for all of these characters, but (probably for budgetary concerns) didn't. It's especially annoying because the index of monster and NPC stats at the back of the adventure doesn't include them either. For reasons that completely boggle my mind, it only includes stats for NPCs from Books 1, 3, and 4. As a matter of fact, many of the important NPCs in Book 2 lack stats entirely, or list only the difficulty to sway them with a Fellowship check and leave any further interactions up to GM improvisation.

NPCs for "The Wizard's Task" in Book 2
Let's start with a gaggle of Ulrichian Priests:

 Acting High Priest Weiss is the guy you really want to talk to.  He appears on pages 89-90 of The Enemy Within, but doesn't really have stats there other than those specifically pertaining to the social rolls needed to sway him to the cause. I filled in the rest of his stats as befits a career official in one of the most macho cults in the empire. The art for the card I screenshot-ed out of some fan supplement for Warhammer Fantasy Battles, but I'm afraid I've lost track of where that came from or who the artist was. My bad.

 Unfortunately, getting to Weiss is complicated because he has a number of gatekeepers in the way.  Priest Frost is the more capable and sympathetic of the two. I based his stats on the generic Priest card, which I then upgraded a little to represent that he was an up-and -coming Priest before his tragic accident (the lingering effects of which I loosely based on the rules on page 14 of Liber Carnagia).

Priest Albrecht, the first gatekeeper the PCs encounter, is not sympathetic at all. He is likely to be played as either annoying or farcical, depending on the GM's whim. Correspondingly, he's actually a down-graded version of the NPC Priest card. I never saved nor used the art for the other side of the card, as it was far too manly and competent looking for the character as written up. Instead, when I went to introduce the character to the players I used a Paizo Gamemastery "Face Card" that showed some old fat guy in robes.

To even get an audience with the Priests the PCs first have to meet up with Professor Robertus von Oppenheim. There's a good chance the players will haul him off on a wolf-hunt, so he needed stats and again the adventure doesn't really provide any. I considered giving him some dreadful "2" ratings in attributes, but was worried it would make him too likely to die and stall out the plot. I decided instead to simply make his stats very average with modifiers depending on his access to reference materials. This resulted in the PCs carrying around an amusingly large stack of books to help him out, so I consider it a success. Again I used a card from Paizo as a visual aide for the players. I find their face cards extremely helpful as reminders, especially when running a complicated scenario with as large a cast as The Enemy Within.

NPCs for "The Noble's Task" in Book 2
 One of the other major plotlines going on in the adventure involves the trial of Graf von Aschenbeck, so I made cards for him and his daughter. His cards (and most of what follows) are devoid of artwork, because by this point I'd decided to just use Paizo cards for all my remaining major NPCs. I made the Graf's stats deliberately underwhelming since he's effectively just filling the "damsel in distress" role. The rules for Noble Rank presented here aren't technically correct (or at least are a liberal interpretation), but they're close enough for NPCs and somewhat more elegant than what's in the Lure Of Power rulebook. The other special ability is of functionally identical to having socketed one of the least practical Talent cards in the game.
Chances are I'm mistakenly applying the Freiin title to Margarete, I don't claim to be an expert on the noble titles of Germany, the Holy Roman Empire, or the Warhammer Empire. Sadly she's a relatively minor bit of set-dressing / clue-giver / damsel-in-distress / red herring, without much depth. In retrospect I wish the scenario did more with her.

The red image here is my interpretation of the von Aschenbeck crest as described in the book, useful for marking the Graf's properties and businesses, and for marking the Bravos when they first show up.
The lives of those poor nobles above are being ruined by this fellow. He's the weaker of the two villains of Book 2. He's also rather less dangerous than the thugs and mutants he can throw at the PCs if he realizes they're on to him. The adventure is heavily stilted towards him escaping in the night, and I imagine if the PCs got their hands on him it would be a little anticlimactic, as he's a pushover in combat. Good thing there's bigger fish to fry and a Book 3.

Ilse the con-woman is a minor criminal caught up in Markheim's scheme. I only used one of her prepared scenes, personally, as my players were pointed straight at Markheim and the Bravos without her testimony. I was a little torn about whether or not to include the bit where the villain tries to tidy up loose ends. The Bright Wizard in my party could have used the spotlight moment, but stopping the arson/murder would have taken exactly one easy die roll (he has the spell that controls fires and renders them harmless) and thus had zero dramatic tension. For the record, one of the Paizo decks has a perfect Ilse card, but I never used it because it was only going to draw attention to her before the PCs learned she was a baddie. I wanted her to feel improvised and unimportant until the PCs had reason to suspect her, which is probably a dirty meta GM trick on my part. So sue me.
The Aschenbeck Bravos are the most legitimate set of goons that Markheim can send after the PCs.
The adventure says to use the generic Soldier card with a couple modifications based on equipment and (for the officers) skills trained. I didn't want to have to consult both a card and a page in a book at the same time to run the scene, so I made cards out of them. For all the cultists and mutants I could basically just use pre-existing cards (though I did stack the "Monstrous" Upgrade sheet under the especially leggy Mutant boss), so I didn't feel the need to make cards for them.

NPC for "The Captain's Task" in Book 2

Gregor Helstrum is a potential ally for the PCs, and an escape hatch / safety valve for the GM if things are getting out of hand with Adele or any of the other plots. But again, like so many of the NPCs in Book 2, he has no stats. That's fine if you plan to use him as a Deus Ex Machina, but I wanted to make sure the PCs could fight at his side should that be their intent. (In the end I didn't really need stats for him because the PCs at my table are pretty badass in a fight and also did a good job of following the clues. They put down two entire cults that the adventure script didn't really expect them to get anywhere near, so I was quite proud of them. But, I digress...) His "bad eye" isn't in the book at all. It corresponds to the eyepatch of the Paizo Face Card I used for him, and I think was based on a Critical or Serious wound card, but I don't remember whether I chose the image first and picked a wound to match or dealt a random serious wound and found a face to match it. Either way, GMs who want a less grizzled version of the character can freely ignore it. It's not present in the official picture of Hellstrum on pg 79 of the adventure, but that page has serious spoilers on it so I didn't want to flash it at my players anyway so a Paizo card was in order. Exactly which 2 insanities you attach to his NPC card will greatly color the character. (The same can be said for Adele Ketzenblum, for that matter.) I played Gregor as very shell-shocked and burned-out in the one scene I used him, which probably contributed to the PCs deciding not to ask him for additional help.

In closing:
I think that's all the official Enemy Within Middenheim NPCs that I made cards for. Hopefully they'll save some other GM a bit of work. I clearly had too much time on my hands.

I also made this Talent-sized card based on the Middenlander rules from Hero's Call. In practice it was rarely relevant or needed. I present it as a possible upgrade should the GM desire making the fights a little tougher, or if you really want to emphasize the differences between the various Imperial Provinces.

Beyond the above, I made stat cards for a few more NPCs that weren't in the adventure as written, introduced to give my PCs some spotlight moments and interesting subplots, or to build out the city into something a little more sandboxy and show more of the greater Storm of Chaos metaplot. That's probably worth a whole additional post some other time, as there's a lot of backstory to convey if I want them to be useful to other GMs.


Dan said...

Books one, three, and... four? There's a book four? ^_^;

Rolfe Bergstrom said...

Yes, the fourth book is an optional Epic-level epilogue with a very cinematic high fantasy feel. Following as it does after three books of low-fantasy slow-simmering mystery, it could be a little jarring, so many GMs skip it.