Warhammer World Building creates campaign settings using Cubicle 7’s Warhammer RPGs: Soulbound, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and Wrath & Glory. Each RPG features player characters exploring a world of magic and monsters that is threatened by the forces of Chaos.
This month covers creating a river trading campaign in the Old World. River life can be part of the grand Enemy Within Campaign but also can be the entire focus of a campaign.
One way to make GMing a river-based campaign easier is if most of the PCs are Riverfolk. One way a GM can provide an incentive for a PC to choose a career from Boatman, Huffer, Riverwarden, Riverwoman, Seaman, Smuggler, Stevedore, or Wrecker is to offer the PC a bonus of 50 XP if he picks one of these professions to start the game.
PCs could just choose the normal method for picking a starting career, but this option means it is likely at least a few PCs are Riverfolk.
Once the PCs are squared away, the GM can turn to the river setting itself. Adventures on the Reik can take place in two vastly different settings. Playing through Enemy in Shadows first determines which setting to use. Or if simply setting a campaign along the river, the GM can pick.
Either the river will be traveled during relative peace, in which case the PCs can travel and trade as their leisure. Or the settlement of Bogenhafen has been destroyed by Chaos. In that case, river travel toward the ruined city will be packed with heavily armed troops as well as Imperial wizards and clerics of the major religions. Going the other way will be surviving refugees. Costs will skyrocket and lodging may be difficult to find. Merchants will take the opportunity to gouge customers and criminals will seek prey in the tumult.
A campaign set along a war-torn river will have quite a different feel from one set along one bustling with commerce. Each setting will have a unique atmosphere and present different challenges.
A final option if starting a campaign along the river is to blow Bogenhafen up halfway through the campaign, thus radically changing the feel of the setting. It will also feel like a living, breathing world as the relative stable life of river trading the PCs enjoy gets brutally upended.
The Companion also gives an alternative way to start an Enemy Within campaign with Death on the Reik. It also contains rules for riverboats, locks, river patrols, pirates, other NPCs, and trading up and down the river. GMs can easily pull out monsters, wreckers, and Red Crown cultists as foes. PCs can also meet other travelers, riverfolk, signal crews, and river patrols. These NPCs are unpredictable and will require roleplaying to deal with successfully. Disease is also a danger on the river.
PCs can use profits generated from trading to deck out their boat. They can modify and improve the hull, steering, superstructure, weapons, propulsion and more as they make more money.
With PCs created and the setting ready to be brought to life, the GM needs to get the PCs on the River Reik. This is easily done whether using the Enemy Within campaign or a homebrew. Josef Quartjin owns a barge and is looking for crew. His offer is listed at the end of page 9 in Death on the Reik. He works whether continuing from the previous adventure or kicking off a new campaign. Working for him leads the PCs to finding a riverboat called the Berebeli. And adventures continue to roll on from there.
Trade is not the only option in a river based campaign. Even if played outside of the Enemy Within campaign, Death on the Reik contains sites of adventure like the Red Barn, the undead haunted signal tower, the Devil’s bowl, Castle Wittgenstein and more.
There are also dozens of NPCs including a riverwarden patrol and several who offer training new careers like boatman, wizard’s apprentice, physician, thug, and racketeer. In addition, the Companion includes many NPCs and monsters and two short adventures. The Emperor Luitpold takes place on a luxury river liner for rich adventurers who like to travel in style and face intrigue, mystery, and adventure. Vengeance of the Gravelord introduces a theatrical necromancer to challenge and worry the PCs.
I ran the first half of the Enemy Within campaign using the Warhammer FRP 1E version. Decades later, I still remember it as a highlight of the campaign. This new version is a nice update, filling in details and providing rules that will be useful even outside an Enemy Within campaign.
The art and maps are stunning, bringing the Old World to life. I really like the full art page of the cover without any words spoiling the image. And the setting is filled not just with monsters and ruins, but also detailed NPCs and interesting settlements with all the wonders and dangers civilization brings.
A GM could run this as the second part of the Enemy Within campaign, kick that campaign off using this adventure as a launching point, or create a more sandbox river campaign pulling rules, adventures, monsters, and NPCs from both books to support the ongoing river campaign. PCs simply sailing the river might be trading one day, fighting undead the next day, and stop by a settlement to rest and get trained the next. The PCs could get to know other captains, both as possible allies or opponents, as well as riverwardens and the best merchants in various towns to trade with.
Taking the Warhammer core rulebook and combining it with Death on the Reik and the Companion will give a GM extensive support for running a river based game. Whether set against a backdrop of relative peace or the aftermath of Chaos and war, the River Reik offers adventure aplenty for eager adventurers. Current and wind may provide direction nearly as much as rumor, treasure maps, and legend.
Picture credit: Pixbay.
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