Session Report: No Such Things As Skaven WFRPv3

By Ralzar, in WFRP Gamemasters

As allways: SPOILER ALERT. This is a fanmade scenario by Sami Uusitalo that's available online. Read no further if you might actually have the oppertunity to play this scenario some day.

I will be posting this in three parts. First a session report. Then a list of the bigger v3 conversions I did and then finally my comments about the session and the scenario.

Ok, so I just finished the session for "There are no such things as skaven" yesterday. It was a lot of fun despite us being a bit pressed for time and me messing up a bit a couple of times. Since I was running this as a one-off and I had limited time, I decided to circumvent the often lengthy character creation by making 6 characters with 15 exp, then write a short summary of each (with no stats) on some pieces of paper and then have the players simply choose from these characters. Then I could just hand each player their character sheet and all relevant cards and we were good to go.

I was supposed to have three players, but unfortunately only two of them made it:

Player1 is part of my usual gaming group where I am a player as well. We have played WFRP, so he knows the rules, but has not been exposed to it through any other channels, so he mostly only knows the bits and pieces he has learned through his characters experiences. For this game he played Holger Kochl, an Ex-Watchman turned Bounty Hunter with 4 in ST Th and Fel. Making his character a decent allrounder, good at combat and social interactions.

Player2 had never really played an RPG before, but is an old-school computer rpg player, so getting into the rules was no problem as soon as I explained to him where his primary stats and skills were and likened the cards to a hotbar ;) For this game he played Werner Mattes, an Ex-Thief turned Gambler with Fel 5, Ag 5 and WP 2. Good at social stuff and skullduggery and able hold his own with a crossbow in battle. But pretty close to a mental breakdown if things get scary.
The biggest problem this group obviously had was that the scenario is an investigation, so Observation and Intuition is bound to come up and they both have Int 3.

So, first of all, I skipped the intro where they are attacked by the lucky bounty hunter. I felt this served little purpose honestly. Just offering players gold is generally more than enough to get them going in the right direction. And I knew my players well enough that they would not try to fight the story by not taking the job. In adition I suspected I would be a bit pressed for time. So instead I had them receive an invite to von Drachensturm. Before they left, they each rolled Folklore to see if they knew anything about him. All they knew was that he was a reclusive lord outside Nuln. If they had rolled better, they could have learned that he had lost his family in some kind of tragedy. A Comet result would have let them know that he was considered paranoid and delusional, talking about hidden terrors under the earth.

The characters arrive at the mansion, as they are led through it, an Observation test from the Bounty Hunter notices few servants around. A Stealth check from the Gambler lets him notice that the mansion is just about impossible to break into or sneak around in.

They meet von Drachensturm who hides the gun in his drawer as they walked in (instead of putting it on the table) he offers them the job, the Gambler tries to use Charm to haggle but fails. The Bounty Hunter distracts him by asking about the painting while the Gambler opens the drawer to discover the gun. He understands that Drachensturm is nervous and probably pretty pressed for options since they are invited here, so he decides to haggle again, this time with Guile, and makes it.

At this time I remove all stress/fatigue and reset the stances.

On the way to Ashendorf I have each player roll an Easy Folklore test to see what they know about the town. They know it is a middle sized town of about 750 inhabitants and that the town holds a big festival each year.

The characters arrive late in the evening. I give them 2 fatigue each to represent that they are worn out from the journey.

They ask someone for directions to the Sordid Soothsayer. The Bounty Hunter rolls well, so he gets an extra comment about it not being a good idea to sleep there if they have options. So the players head to another inn to get rooms first.
They find a good inn (silver tier), but it is all booked. They ask for another inn, but the only one the innkeeper can come up with is a really high-class place (gold tier).

So the characters wait outside the silver tier inn for a little while, until a wealthy looking lodger comes along. The Gambler uses Guile to convince the lodger to move to the much fancier inn. (For someone who has never played an RPG before, Player2 is taking to it quite easily.)
A vacancy opens up and the characters get a room at the decent inn.

(I had actually put in a rule that sleeping at the Sordid Soothsayer would give them fleas, leading to two misfortune dice on social actions the next day.)

They go to the Sordid Soothsayer. The innkeeper can tell them that Isidro rents a room there but hasn not been there for a week and offers to rent it to them for 5 silver. Surprisingly, no one tries to haggle down the rather steep price. Instead, the Bounty Hunter uses Charm to distract the innkeeper while the Gambler uses Stealth to get to the room. Here he manages to find all clues (Blood stains, knife-hole in door, crumpled note with a threat, dagger with a triangle mark). I ask the gambler to make an Intuition check, which I he succeeds very well at, giving him the following hints: Someone must have heard the fight and with that much blood, whoever was injured would need professional medical attention.

By this time, the gambler has used a lot of red dice (he kept just going all the way to max reckless stance as soon as possible all the way through the adventure) and is filled with fatigue and stress, so the go back to the inn and sleep.

As they leave the inn the next morning, the gambler steals some loaves of bread from a tray.

So, they start off by following up on the other lead from Isidros note: the ratcatchers. They easily get directions to the Grafs Undoing, but arrive to find the place deserted. I point out that it is currently morning, so the place is naturally not seeing a lot of business. They find a cook in the back who tells them that she saw Isidro talking to the ratcatchers, but does not know anything more. They ask her if she recognizes the triangular symbol they found on the knife, which she does not.

At this point the players are actually a bit stuck, which sort of surprised me. They have dismissed the note as just a generic threat (which it is) and have not paid attention to what it is printed on. I mentioned this when they found the note, but they assumed it was just a bit of colorful description. Player2 has also forgotten the result of his Intuition check, where I mentioned that the wounded man would need medical attention.
To nudge them along, I mention that I made him do an Intuition check, which jogs his memory.

They head to the physician where the wounded man is. The Gambler uses charm to allow them access to the patient in the back room.

The patient rambles incoherently and then collapses. When the players try to wake him up a bit roughly, the physician ask them to leave. The gambler does a good guile roll and manages to convince the physician that they are his friends and are allowed to take the mask and amulet with them.

Now the characters are stuck again. And I really have to nudge them to make them look at the note in the right way. They are a bit mentally locked into looking at what the note says instead of what it is written on, leading to them trying to glean some kind of coded meaning out of the threat. Finally they ask someone about the poem printed on the note, and are pointed in the direction of Tarashalares Wintermoon.

They arrive at the garden to find her arguing with three locals. The Bounty Hunter goes between them and uses a combination of Intimidate and Charm to make them leave without a fight. Tarashalares is shown the note and is helpful since they helped protect the tree and because one of her pamphlets has been misused.

After a bit of digging from the players they come to the conclusion that she is running a bordello of some kind in her house. After a while the confusion is cleared up and she tells them about the meetings of the Ordo Triangulus.

At this point, the players can not really see any other leads to follow up, so become a bit desperate in trying to squeeze more clues out of this meeting. The Bounty Hunter uses Intimidate and threatens to report Terashalares activities. They try to have her arrange another happening at her place to attract the Ordo Triangulus. Tarashalares can not though, the happenings are controlled by the moon cycles and it is another two weeks until there is another meeting.

The players finally give up and leave the elf alone.

At this point they reach step 5 on the tracker and I inform them that they are hungry. The Gambler actually pocketed some bread from the inn as they left, so they eat that and continue on their way.

Once again they are a bit stuck, so I have them go over the evidence they have collected. After a bit of back and forth, Player1 gets the idea to find out if there are any maskmakers or similar in town and is promptly pointed in the direction of Jago Stamms shop.

On the way over there, the Gambler spots a pair of eyes peering at him from under a manhole cover. They lift the cover, but there is no one there anymore. (At this time I realized I had forgotten to use the city encounters listed in the scenario. The idea was to use one each time they moved from one location to another, but it simply slipped my mind)

They arrive at the dollmakers shop and are greeted by the dollmaker.
(I had to unfortunately cut the whole sideplot with his daughter, because I knew we would not have the time. More about that in my comment about the scenario)
Jago recognizes the mask and informs them that he is making two more that are being picked up this evening. The Gambler easily manages to get the name Rottmeier out of him, which turns out to be a problem for me.

The players obviously heads next to Rottmeiers workshop. I describe the bustling street and how everything looks locked. This does not stop them though. They insist on trying to picklock the door and I hate saying plain "no" to my players so I allow it. After all, it is not impossible to pick a lock out in public, Particularly when you have someone else standing lookout. So I make it a hard test, which he still passes. Looking back, I should have made it Very Hard. I was so hoping for a fail with a Chaos Star.

Determined not to let them get into the shop before they are supposed to, I have a guard stationed by Rottmeier notice them and demand to know what they are doing. The Gambler uses his exeptional social skills to once again get them out of a sticky situation, but I am simply not letting him convince the guard to let them enter, so they leave.

Only to go around to the back of the building to see if they can get in this way. I describe the back of the building as a brick wall with windows only on the second floor, this street is also full of people.

Player1 asks if the guard has followed them. I answer yes, trying to pressure them into moving on. Instead though, the players hide in an alley and manages to ambush the guard. The Bounty Hunter throws him to the floor, and the Gambler cuts his throat and hides his body in some rubbish...

So, the players walk back to the front of the building and enters. The building is empty of people. I decide to not have Isidro be there yet to try to salvage the flow of the scenario. That does not make complete sense, but the players do not know that, so I just go with it.

They find Rottmeiers private room and the map with the saints marked. None of them have the Education skill, so they do not even get to roll to try to understand the formula. They also find two green robes in the closet.

In the glassworks everything seems normal and mundane. In the description of the room I also mention a big metallic press of some kind. They inspect it, but can not figure out exactly what it is meant to produce. Finally they leave Rottmeiers shop.

Now it is late enough to go to the Ratcatchers. So, they arrive during the funeral for poor Raff. They express their condolances and ask about Isidro. In short order they agree to pay the ratcatchers to take them to the same room they took Isidro to.

While in the sewer, all Int, Wp and Fel tests receive 1 Misfortune Dice.

The ratcatchers lead them to the room which stinks so badly they need to do a Resilience test to not recieve another Misfortune Dice to all tests while in the room. Only the Bounty Hunter makes it. They find a few of the warpdust infused coins which they take with them.

As they are leaving they are attacked, all the lights go out and I describe screaming, sounds of fighting and screeching all around. I let the characters decide themselves to try to flee. Both manage their rolls, which is disappointing for me since I was hoping to dump someone in the sewage and give them a Disease.

When they emerge up top, it is starting to get dark and the festival is under way. All the ratcatchers make it out, but one dog is gone missing.

At this point, the players actually have no idea where they are supposed to go. They have one mask and a robe, so the gambler decides to don this and walk the streets towards to town center, hoping to illicit a reaction from someone or spot someone else with the same mask. The Bounty Hunter follows a bit behind him. I decide that if they manage to roll an exceptionally good Observation roll they will spot a cultist, but unfortunately for them, they see no one. After a little while of this, they start realizing that they are probably supposed to be somewhere else.

At this point I have to start doing some pretty heavy handed nudging to get them to realize that someone will come to pick up the masks from Jago Stamm. Seems that once they got the name Rottmeier out of Jago they sort of glazed over everything else from that encounter.

So they head to Jago Stamms shop, where they spot two cultists through the shop window. As they leave, the Gambler, still wearing the mask and robe, pretends to be one of them and follows them to the Glassworks. The Bounty Hunter follows a little bit behind.

(At this point I make a really annoying blunder. Since the whole "follow the cultists" thing is not really happening as planned, I forget to introduce the stuck carriage with the Eshin assassin.)

At the Glassworks, the cultists unlocks the door, enters and locks it behind them. So the Bounty Hunter is locked outside. He waits for a while, until another cultist shows up, manages a Stealth roll, knocks him out and carries him. Inside, the Bounty Hunter takes the unconscious cultist back to the empty office, which now contains Isidro. The Bounty Hunter frees Isisdro and uses his chains to secure the cultist instead. Isidro gives his dying words about a letter and Drachensturm being in danger and then dies. Player1 misunderstands and assumes that this is a trap to get Drachensturm to Ashendorf to kill him. He heads into the Glassworks where the ceremony is under way.

Both players hang back a bit as the cultists chant and burn incense. I make sure they notice the bag next to the coin press. As the first skaven sticks his head over the rim of the well, the Bounty Hunter draws his zweihander, and cleaves its skull in two, at the same time, the Gambler sneaks around behind Rottmeier, puts a knife to his throat and tries to use him as a hostage to make everyone surrender. Rottmeier, being convinced he will be reincarnated as a Grey Seer, obviously does not care and screams at the cultists to slay the intruders. The Gambler slices his throat open. Some cultists flee, while the rest attack.

The Bounty Hunter handles himself well in melee with his zweihander, while the Gambler manages to pull off a "Perform a Stunt" to get himself up to the second-floor stairs and balcony where he covers the fight with his crossbow. Foulsqueek is at the bottom of the well, screaming at his minions to get the bag of coins. So while the cultists are fighting the players, one group of henchmen skaven attack the Bounty Hunter to keep him away while another skaven runs over to the machine and retrieves the bag before they all flee down the sewer.

Once all the cultists are dead, I let the last dying cultist gloat a bit about Drachensturm already being dead. Realizing that there is something more going on here, the players head back to the cultist prisoner left with the body of Isidro.

Before they leave, they take a look down the well, to see if they can see a way down, but I say no, both because it is supposed to be hidden and because we are getting a bit pressed for playing time. The characters proceed to throw barrels and crates down the well to block it up and then head over to the captured cultist.

They wake the chained cultist and easily Intimidates some information about the plan out of him. I play the cultist as being a new member that does not know many details and mostly just joined to give himself a leg up in the social ladder of the town and then having no way to get out when he realized what was going on. The Gambler slices his throat anyway.

They steal some horses and ride through the night back to Drachensturms mansion where everyone is dead.

The end.

Here are changes/additions I made in converting this to WFRPv3. I did not get to use all of them myself, but I think they're generally good ideas, so I'll include them all.

I made several tables to be used a long the way for various tests that could give the players information.

Knowledge about von Drachensturm, Normal Folklore test:

1Hammer: He's a reclusive noble living outside Nuln.
2Hammers: Some family tragedy made him a recluse.
Comet: There are rumours that he suffered a mental breakdown and suffers from paranoia and dilusions.
Knowledge about Ashendrof, Normal Folklore test:
1Hammer: It is an middle-sized town with about 750 inhabitants.
2Hammers: The town holds a big festival each year.
3Hammers: There's an old myth that ratmen once stole the towns children.
2Boons: There is a maskmaker in the town that delivers masks to Nulns upper class.
Comet: The character knows someone in the town (GMs choice of any fitting NPC).

Inspecting the door to Isidros room. Normal Observation test:

1Hammer: There are old blood stains outside the door, leading towards the exit.
3Hammers: There is a thin hole in the middle of the door.

If the blood by Isidros door is noticed, Hard Intuition test:

1Hammer: Someone must have heard or seen something during whatever cause the bloodstains.
2Hammers: With that much bloodloss, the person would need professional medical attention.

Inspecting one of the black masks, Simple Observation test:

1Hammer: The mask smells strongly of herbs.
2Hammers: The mask is of very good quality.
Comet: The mask must have been made by a talented craftsman.

Trackers used:

The Investigation.

I decided to let the investigation span one day, not counting what the players did before going to bed on the evening they arrived.

10 spaces, 1 marker indicating the time of day. Each time the characters move to a new location, move the tracker one step. Any long delays or excessive "delay" results on the conservative dice can also lead to moving the tracker one step.

Step 3: The Dollmakers shop opens.
Step 5: MId day. Give each character 1 Fatigue and inform them that they are hungry. If they go somewhere to eat, remove the fatigue and give them a Rally Step.
Step 8: It's getting darker and the festival is starting up.
Step 9: A cultis picks up the pamphlets from the printer.
Step 10: The cultists pick up the masks from Jagos shop.

Confronting the thugs threatening Tarashalares.

4 spaces, 1 marker for the players, 1 for the thugs. Players and thugs use social skills each after the other, each successful roll moves the tracker one step up. If the characters marker reaches the end first, the thugs leave. If the Thugs reach the end first, they attack.

Fleeing the skaven attack in the sewers.

5 spaces, 1 marker for each character and one neutral marker.

Each round, each character gets to choose Athletics, Coordination or Intuition (or you can just let them make up their own explenation for what skill they're using to find their way out.) They do a Normal test with their chosen skill and consult the table below. ONce everyone has rolled, move the neutral marker one step foreward.

1Hammer: You think you're moving away from your attackers. Move your marker one step foreward.
3Hammers: You recognize a bit of the tunnel and head in the right direction. Move your marker 2 steps foreward.
2Boons: Add a Fortune Dice on your next roll.
0 or 1 Failure: You stumble and fall into the sewage, your marker stays put.
2 Failures: You bump into one of the attackers, it hisses at you and slices at you before you manage to stumble away. Recieve 1 Wound and 1 Stress.
Chaos Star: You've reached a dead end. You have to turn around. Move your marker one step back.
2Banes: Add 1 Misfortune Dice on your next roll.

Once a character reaches the end of the tracker, he manages to find a manhole cover to climb out of. When the neutral tracker reaches the end, the attackers dissappear. Do a Disease 1 test, with an added misfortune dice for falling in the sewer or being wounded.

Following the cultists to their meeting.

10 spaces. Character marker on space 1, Cultist marker on space 2.
Each round, the cultist starts by moving one step, then the players can follow by moving one step. Each time they enter a new space, use one of the festival encounters.
If there are more than two spaces between the characters and the cultist, they must succeed at a Normal Observation or Intuition test (1 Misfortune Dice for each space between them) to be allowed to move. The players can skip over 1 spaces in one round if they succed at a Normal Athletics test.

Skaven trying to untie the raft.

4 spaces, 1 neutral marker. Move the marker one space each round. Once it reaches the end, theraft is free. If the bodyguards are distracted away from helping to unty it, add 2 spaces at the end.

Driving the raft into the underground river.

5 spaces, 1 marker.

Whoever is controlling the raft rolls a Hard Intelligence check each turn. If it is controlled by the Engineer, add 2 Expertiece dice.

1Hammer: Move the marker one space.
3Hammers: Move the marker 2 spaces.
2Boons: Add a Fortune Dice to the next roll.
0-1Failure: The raft doesn't move.
2Failures: Move the marker back 1 space.
3Failures: The raft crashes into the cave wall and sinks.
2Banes: Add a Misfortune Dice on the next roll.
Chaos Star: The engine explodes. Everyone on the raft dies, everyone else must make a Normal Resilience check or be Stunned for 2 rounds.

So, looking back, if I was going to run this again. What would I have done differently?

Well, first of all, I would have taken more time. We spent about 4 hours playing and barely got though a slightly shortned version of it. This scenario probably works best if you have a whole day at your disposal, or two sessions.

I noticed that the way the players experienced it, it seemed like most of the clues only led to bits of interesting, but not particularly helpful, pieces of information instead of things that actually advanced the investigation. Which led to them desperately trying to squeeze clues out of each encounter, because they were probably thinking "Well, there aren't really any other places to go, so this has GOT to be the place where we get the next clue."

As I discovered, you had better be prepared for players to be very insistent on getting into the Glassworks once they hear the name Rottmeier. Since they problably don't have many other clues to go after, it seems natural to them that they HAVE to get in there somehow. I simply realized after a little while that there was no way to deter them from entering without derailing the scenario myself, so I finally just let them. So, it's a good idea to decide ahead of time if they should actually get to know about Rottmeiers connection to the masks at all. And if so, what will they find if they get into the Glassworks? Isidro should really allready be in there and if they find him before he's forced to write the letter and eat the poison, then you need to write a new scenario from that point on. Thinking back, I should probably have filled the glasswork with labourers and clerks taking inventory or something, but I'm not sure if my players wouldn't have been so dead set on getting in there that they'd just killed everyone to gain access.

What I lacked, was really a bit of a juicy and distracting red herring. Somthing for the players to do that give them a sense of progress, even if it turns out to be a dead end, until they can go talk to the ratcatchers and then go on to follow the cultists to the Glassworks. There are two obvious candidates for this: Trashalares Wintermoon and Jago Stamm. Now I removed the whole Jago Stamm side plot, partially because of time constraints and partly because I generally prefer to not have more than one supernatural factor in my scenarios. I feel that putting more of them in sort of cheapens their wow-factor. Particularly if they are in no way related. In this scneario, the Ordo Triangulus and the Skaven are in the spotlight and I preferred to keep them there. I was actually planning to turn Tarashalares into a human seer, but never got around to it. I was also planning on changing Jagos sidequest into either Jago or his daughter having got a mutation because they had been paid in warpdust infected coins or simply because they had been in contact with Ordo Triangulus members. This way I would keep the red herring effect while still tying it into the main plot. Perhaps next time
I wish I could have been more diligent with the town encounters, I only used two or three of them. If I run this again I just have to remember that every time I move the tracker, I start off with one of the encounters before the players actually arrive at their destination.

The other thing I should have been more diligent in doing is pointing out the Imperial peoples attitude towards the skaven. Neither of my players know very much about Warhammer lore, so neither even knew what the triangle mark actually was. Which was a bit cool, making the whole thing very mysterious for them, but at the same time, the scenario ended up lacking a bit of a punch to the whole "The Skaven Are Real!" reveal at the end. This will vary greatly from gaming group to gaming group though. And it's kind of dangerous to harp on too much about the skaven during the scenario or you'll give away too much. For this game I should probably have included a crazy agitator ranting about the skaven, to give the players a bit of insight into what the conspiracy theories are and that most people consider them crazy.

All in all, I'm a big fan of this scenario and wish there were more like it. I might go so far as to say I'm hard pressed to choose the favourite between this and "Grauschloss" as my favourite fanmade scenario. While there are some parts I want to change to fit my tastes better, the overall story is great. It sort of opened my eyes to how cool an adversary the skaven can be if used right.

Both players were very pleased with the session, and it wouldn't surprise me if I see the newbie player back at my table again some day.

Great work Ralzar. All your hard work will help me out after we finish Dog Eat Dog.



Thanks Ralzar for the session report and on your work on converting the scenario to 3rd edition. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really liked your idea of having Jago Stamm being mutated from handling the coins.

@Emirikol: Taking heed from Ralzar's report, to avoid having the players feeling stuck, maybe you should have the printed note found in Isidro's room also clearly mention the printing house and its location in Ashendorf. This would give the players another clue to follow.

Also, if you have Dave Allen's excellent An Inclusive Introduction to Agitators career pamphlet, there is a great example pamphlet about the Skaven conspiracy in it that you could use to create proper mood and inform your players about the Skaven conspiracy.

Thanks guys :)

Having had some time to mentally digest the session, I got an idea for a rule I'm probably going to include in the future for this or any other investegative scenarios I run: I dislike all the nudging I had to do to get the players to go in the right direction. It felt a bit too much like me solving the mystery for them and can lead to the players feeling stupid and like they're not really contributing to their own game. So instead of me just starting to drop less and less subtle hints, I'm going to offer the players the option to buy hints from me. For one Fortune Point per hint.
So they can basically buy the same result as a very good Intuition roll. Where I can point out that there might be something they've missed about a clue. Or remind them about something an NPC said or similar. Since Fortune Points generally are in limited supply, players probably won't feel like paying one every time they're stuck for a few seconds.

I've been thinking about how to do the Jago Stamm bit with the corrupted coins, and this is what I've come up with so far:

The cultists need to check the effctiveness of the coins, and so each time they visit Jagos shop, they also give a coin or two to his daughter and tell her what a cute girl she is. After a while, the daughter develops a facial mutation. Jago hides the mutated child in his home and only lets her go out with one of his masks on.
So, when the players visits the dollmakers shop, his daughter also makes an appearance. She makes a comment about the nice mister Rottmeier giving her coins when he visits, and Jago is strangely insistent that his daughter is not to take off her costume at any cost.
The physician might also know of the girls deformity, but is sworn to secrecy.

This might make the players suspicious and lead to a bit of extra investigating and even a moral dilemma if they discover the girls secret.
The sideplot does also actually give them some more information about the main plot, seeing as it's very easy for players to miss the point about the coins. My players still had no idea what the deal with the coins were when the adventure ended, seeing as Ordo Triangulus was dead and Foulsqueek wasn't particularly interested in their plan, so it's unlikely for them to ever hear any more about it.

Edit: By a simple google search, I found the Agitator PDF by Dave Allan here:

I'm going to borrow that pamphlet I think :D

Discussing the Skaven and the Skaven conspiracy with Ralzar and Emirikol in this thread inspired me to try and make a prop regarding the subject. My goal was to make a more tactile prop as an alternative for the usual printed hand-outs.

It turned out okay, so I thought I’d share it with you guys. Imagine it being nailed to a tree or a post in a small village where such fancy things as pamphlets are not available.

You can see it here:

That is too cool!