WFRP: Graeme Davis Adventure Hooks P1
Today we have a new article by legendary WFRP designer Graeme Davis. Graeme has been involved with WFRP since the very beginning and is currently working on the Enemy Within campaign with WFRP producer Pádraig Murphy and the C7 team.
This is the first in a series of articles Graeme is writing for C7 - keep an eye out for the next one soon! These articles will offer lots of new adventure hooks you can use in your WFRP games - let's get started at the Inn from Rough Nights and Hard Days!
Inn Adventure Hooks
All of the locations in Rough Nights and Hard Days were designed to be re-usable. Each place is a typical example of its type, which you can drop into your own adventures whenever you need to. As often happens, I came up with more ideas than I could use in the book itself, so here are some additional adventure hooks. Let’s start with the riverside (or roadside) inn:
The Pirates’ Lookout
One of the inn’s staff works for a local gang of robbers or river pirates. Perhaps everyone at the inn is in their employ. The lookout watches for guests who seem wealthy, well-equipped, or otherwise interesting – such as a group of adventurers with magical equipment and plenty of cash. They will be attacked after they leave the inn, stripped of all equipment and any nice-looking clothing, and left on the river bank or roadside to fend for themselves. Noble characters may be taken to the pirates’ base and held for ransom.
For an added twist, the inn’s staff may not be assisting the pirates willingly. Perhaps the pirates are holding one or more of their family members as a guarantee of cooperation; perhaps Our Heroes hear of the plot before they arrive at the inn – by coming to the aid of some previous victims, for instance – and decide to rescue the hostages and wipe out the brigands.
A Hot Night Indeed
According to tradition, the Ostrich Inn in Colnbrook, Buckinghamshire was the scene of a series of grisly murders in the 12th century. One of the rooms was fitted with a pivoting bed, which dumped unfortunate sleepers to instant death in a vat of boiling water beneath the room. The staff disposed of the bodies discreetly and kept their belongings.
Perhaps, somewhere in the Empire, an innkeeper has had a similar idea. The bed in a room above the kitchen (rooms r and s are the best candidates) stands on a large, hidden trapdoor which can only be opened from below: the bed is fixed to the floor, but any occupant will be rudely tipped out when the trapdoor opens.
The murders might be simply for the sake of robbery, or the innkeeper might be in league with grave-robbers who supply the medical students of a nearby town with fresh bodies. The victims might even be a sacrifice to some dark god: Khaine, the god of murder, perhaps, or even one of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
Instead of boiling water, followers of Khorne might position a spiked and bladed altar under the trapdoor bed, with channels for collecting the victims’ blood. Cultists of Slaanesh might drop their victims into a net, binding them for sacrifice by slow torture. Followers of Nurgle might drop them into a pool of unspeakable filth, laden with every kind of disease, from which they can escape and spread infection wherever they go. Followers of Tzeentch could have all manner of fates in store, including exposure to Warpstone.
Almost as horrifying is the possibility that the inn is the base of a ghoul cult. Like Sweeny Todd’s neighbor Mrs. Lovett, the inn’s staff turns victims into delicious pies – but if you are feeling cruel, any unwitting cannibals who eat too many of them might find themselves turning into Crypt Ghouls. For each pie consumed, the Character must make a Challenging (+0) Endurance Test. Each failed Test results in the Character gaining one Creature Trait from the following list. You can generate results randomly, or give the Character Traits in the following order: Night Vision, Infected, Bite +5, Painless, Bestial. Once the Trait Bestial is acquired, the Character transforms fully into a Crypt Ghoul, and becomes an NPC. The player must create a new Character. Traits may be removed in the same way as losing Corruption points (see pages 183-185 of the WFRP rulebook), or by appealing to Morr. Each Trait requires a separate penance (WFRP, page 220). Optionally, each Blessing cast on the Character by a follower of Morr removes one of these Traits instead of having its usual effect.
Night of Madness
A recent shipment of wine or beer has been tampered with by cultists of Slaanesh. The tainted drink causes the loss of all inhibitions, and the inn becomes a scene of wild and uncontrolled debauchery. The player characters must make the necessary saving throws or succumbing to the darkest sides of their natures and possibly gain one or more Psychologies into the bargain.
At the height of the revels, cultists invade the inn and, offering up the occupants’ unbridled hedonism as a sacrifice to the Prince of Pleasure, they attempt to summon a pack of Daemonettes, a Keeper of Secrets, or some other creatures of Slaanesh whose power makes them a challenging but not overwhelming foe for the adventurers. If Our Heroes survive the night, they may decide to follow the trail of the tainted drinks and uncover a Slaanesh cult that spans a number of towns and cities.
The Press Gang
The Elector Count is raising an army, and has called upon each of his nobles to provide troops. However, the ruler of this particular area is unable or unwilling to do so. Perhaps the demand is simply too heavy for the local population; perhaps the lord prefers to keep his peasants at home where they can work and be taxed; or perhaps the locals themselves see no reason to risk their lives and those of their neighbours for the sake of some distant toff’s war, and have persuaded their lord to look the other way.
The near-constant traffic of strangers passing through the inn makes it an ideal source of unwilling recruits. Drugged into a deep sleep, they wake up in an isolated training camp with no possessions, no means of identification, and no idea where they are. If this is too cruel a fate to inflict on the PCs themselves, they might stumble across the operation while investigating a disappearance.
A Hostile Takeover
A brewery from a nearby town has fallen into the hands of a gang of racketeers, and is expanding its market aggressively – by targeting inns and terrorizing the innkeepers until they sign an exclusive contract. Most inns brew their own ale, but the racketeers will burn down their brew-houses and threaten worse destruction if the owners do not cooperate.
The adventurers might come upon a gang of thugs in the process of “acquiring new business,” or they might revisit a favourite inn and find the beer there is not what they remember. Hearing the story from a terrified landlord, they might decide to take action.
Some beers – like Bugman’s Dwarf Ale – are famous throughout the Old World, and command a high price. Every so often, an unscrupulous landlord will advertise some other beer as Bugman’s. Most patrons will be none the wiser, but if the Dwarfs get wind of the deception, the consequences can be dire.
The adventure can develop in several different ways, depending on who uncovers the deception and who comes to deal with it. A passing Troll Slayer will take immediate and violent action, smashing the false casks and subjecting the inn’s staff to a savage beating at the very least. Dwarfs from a nearby town or city might send a deputation threatening legal action unless the false ale is poured away and compensation is paid to Bugman’s Brewery: they may further demand monetary compensation be paid to every Dwarf in the area for the damage to the reputation of their race, and a full refund to every customer who bought the ale thinking it truly was Bugman’s.
The innkeeper might have acted in good faith, having been taken in by a dishonest merchant who will also have to face Dwarven outrage. The situation could spiral into a legal and diplomatic crisis, requiring sensitive handling lest the offended Dwarves decide to cease doing business with Manlings altogether. They have been vital Imperial allies since Sigmar’s day, and have fought wars over less.
Genuine Bugman’s was stolen from a Dwarven trader some weeks ago, and the renowned brewing family has hired Dwarven adventurers to recover it. The innkeeper may not know that he is serving stolen beer until a group of Dwarves presents him with a Warrant of Recovery; he may have paid so much for the renowned ale that he cannot afford to simply hand it back.
Once again, legal and diplomatic skills will be needed to resolve the situation peacefully. Dwarves take their friends as seriously as they take their enemies, and will not forget an adventurer who helps them. The favour of a local Dwarven community – or of the Bugman clan itself – could be very useful.
Elven dal-neafh (“dew of paradise”) is a legendary wine made by the Wood Elves from wild grapes and other, secret ingredients. It is strictly forbidden for any outsider to possess it, much less drink it, and the Elves are swift to punish anyone – of any race – who flouts this law.
Any wine sold in an inn as dew of paradise is probably nothing of the sort. It may be a very fine wine, and very expensive under its true name, but adding the Elven name and selling it under the counter (“for both our sakes, sir, as I’m sure you’ll understand – a wicked unforgiving lot, those Elves”) can increase the price five or tenfold. When a genuine bottle appears in the human world, it can command immense prices – but it can also attract trouble.
Until next time,
Part two - Courthouse Adventure hooks by Graeme Davis coming soon!
You can order Rough Nights and Hard Days here and receive the included PDF straight away!
Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd. © Games Workshop 2020