Actual Play, Death on the Reik, Fantasy, OSR, Rough Night at the Three Feathers, RPG, Shadows of the Ruinous Powers, The Enemy Within, Warhammer Fantasy, WHFRP, WHFRP1e
(Being a series of quick game notes trying to account for the events of many sessions of playing through The Enemy Within using the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1e rules.)
I chose to run this particular adventure because I had the issue of White Dwarf containing it – not realizing at the time that it is one of the best-known and best-regarded WHFRP adventures and has shown up in one form or another for most editions of the game.
It was distinctly some of the most fun we’ve had in the campaign to this point (we are going into session 40 as I write this).
Sessions 16 & 17
Rough Night at the Three Feathers
- Wilfried [Fence]
- Larry [Bodyguard]
- Martin [Scout]
- Talbberry Grumble [Scribe]
- Othmar [Charlatan]
- Wilhelm [Wizard’s Apprentice]
- Gottlieb [Bounty Hunter]
- Oscar Jager [Bodyguard]
After a week on their riverboat, the group was getting smelly and somewhat desperate for decent beds for a night. Unfortunately, circumstances would work together to rob them of any easy comforts on this dark and stormy night.
Arriving at the Three Feathers river inn, they discover that “Gravin Maria-Ultrike von Liebewitz of Ambosstein” (a niece of Countess Emanelle of Nuln) has just come in with her entourage of servants, men-at-arms, lawyers, champions and so on and booked the entire south wing of rooms upstairs.
Acquiring rooms for themselves, they find the Gravin’s champion boisterously armwrestling in the bar with a collection of men-at-arms and servants, and a halfling sitting at a table with a deck of cards waiting for someone to play against.
In a perfect “opening move”, Wilhelm settles in at the arm wrestling table and offers a large purse if the champion can best him. A bit of negotiating later and the champion, Bruno, agrees. When Wilhelm produces a magical flame in his palm, Bruno tests the heat and then laughs and gives Wilhelm his winnings and then joins the party at their table.
It turns out the Gravin is travelling to Kemperbad to deal with a legal matter – it seems that Baron Sigismund von Dammenblatz was found dead headfirst in the punchbowl at a party held by the Gravin’s aunt and now his son, Baron Eberhardt von Dammenblatz is accusing her of causing his father’s death through poison or witchcraft.
Through the evening, three more travellers arrive in the rain (cultists who are here to blackmail the Gravin’s lawyer into returning to the brotherhood that he was part of in college), followed soon thereafter by an odd sight – a gnome named Glimbrin Oddsocks who joins the halfling at a game of cards. A riverboat delivers young newlyweds (Herr and Frau Johann Schmidt – whom the party immediately decide are assassins here to kill the Gravin but who are actually young Graf Friedrich von Pfeifraucher, third son of Count Bruno of Wessenland and Fraulein Hanna Lastkahn, a daughter of one of the boatbuilding families of Grissenwald), then three fake cultists of Morr arrive and then head upstairs with a coffin (possibly also containing an assassin, but actually containing the not-actually-dead body of Josef Aufwiegler, an agitator from Altdorf), then a Ursula Kopfgeld, a bounty hunter on Aufwiegler’s trail…
And then the fun begins with
- Attempted assassination by poisoned beer (nearly killing poor Larry who received the wrong beer by accident)
- Bruno being recalled to his chambers and sneaking back out and then getting caught and going back up
- The cultists begin blackmailing Gustaf (the lawyer). He kills one and hides his body in the linen closet and then hires Gottlieb to take care of the other two.
- One of the Gravin’s servants recognizes Graf Friedrich, and begins to threaten him, resulting in said servant’s quick demise in the Schmidt room and also attracting the party’s attentions to the trouble upstairs.
- And then the very drunk Thomas Prahmhandler (betrothed to Fraulein Lastkahn aka Mrs Schmidt) shows up, barges his way upstairs and begins to horse whip the young Graf who was desperately trying to hide the body of the Gravin’s servant that he murdered.
- The remaining cultists blackmailing the lawyer are dispatched in the chaos.
- As things settle down, the smugglers disguised as Morr cultists have their drugged cargo awaken as their boat hasn’t yet arrived and they beat him to unconsciousness again while deflecting any questions.
- And Bruno is found dead, with Martin’s mule-skinning knife protruding from his back.
The party is arrested by the Gravin and then surreptitiously hired on to find the actual murderer… by acting as bait.
And sure enough, one of the staff is caught trying to kill the Gravin’s “new champion” and he admits that he was hired by none other than Baron Eberhardt von Dammenblatz. Everyone rejoices for the assassin has been caught, the Gravin most likely proven innocent, and the party no longer under arrest.
Then they discover the Bounty Hunter has skipped out in the night, after killing the fake Morr cultists and removing the head of Josef Aufwiegler.
And one last body randomly falls out of the linen closet.
Simon Landmine said:
Three Feathers is a glorious scenario! And sounds like your players got the full experience. Nice one! Felt sorry for Bruno, though.
(It even inspired a LARP I ran about twenty-five years ago, which was a complete chaos of different motivations and intents.)
A masterful presentation of a Marx Brothers twist on the murder mystery by our very talented game master. Kudos to Dyson — a lesser man could not have brought such life to this madness!
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