Friday, February 27, 2015

Comments on Shadows over Bogenhafen (Enemy Within pt2)

Continuing with the Enemy Within theme, I am going to discuss part two of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Shadows Over Bogenhafen by Graeme Davis, Jim Bambra, and Phil Gallagher. This adventure takes place entirely within a city.

The adventure starts with an extended opener where the players explore a fair. Eventually, a mutant escapes and runs into the sewers. The PCs are made to chase down the mutant and on the way they run into some unexpected demonic activity. From there, the adventure changes format from fairly linear/forced to an open cityscape. There is a large, labeled map of all the possibly important sites for the adventure.

The adventure details Bogenhafen in much greater detail than the how Altdorf was described in Mistaken Identity. Additionally, I feel the adventure actually takes advantage how well described the city is. The different labeled locations are spread widely about, which helps building city atmosphere while also providing ample opportunity for the many non-location based encounters surrounding the strange Chaos cult.

This turns out to allows for a really fun and interesting structure used in this adventure for keeping the "plot" going. There is a long list of timed or possible encounters to keep the players interested in the actual mystery at hand. I really enjoy this as a way of allowing for non-static location-tied hooks/encounters to be integrated with the easier to run location-based adventures. These essentially fill in the space normally occupied by random combat encounters.

One of the best parts inspiration-wise from this adventure was the total number of labeled map parts. Following a similar execution approach as an earlier Dark Heresy game I ran, this is a great example of how to set up a much more extended investigation game.

This strategy for running an adventure is akin to an adventure video game or well labeled sandbox game. Essentially, the PCs know everywhere they might want to go but they don't necessarily begin with any reason why. This is totally how I'm running the basic structure of my next game. It is very similar, ultimately, to the pointcrawl approach that is best represented by the Slumbering Ursine Dunes.

A final cute touch at the end of the module is the extended section on what to do if the players fail to stop the cults activities and Bogenhafen gets destroyed.

Here's another pretty picture from the module.