Burning Warhammer: Episode 1 - "Double or Nothing"

This is my first post about this long-running campaign, so please allow me to give a bit of background.

My group has been playing Burning Wheel set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. It’s quite a perfect setting for Burning Wheel, in my opinion. Our GM’s starting point was the Enemy Within module, which offers a righteous blend of intrigue and adventure. Most of us players had never played or read Enemy Within before — or played WFRP for that matter — and had only been tangentially exposed to Warhammer over the years, if at all, mostly through video games and some of the books.

Notably, one important touchstone we lauded as a reference is the “Felix and Gotrek” series.

For this new campaign, I wanted to practice taking notes. In the past, I’ve usually just jotted down the important things in the margins of my character sheet or in a small moleskine, but I wanted to see what it would be like to take organized, bulleted notes, nested with “Episodes” (sessions) and Scenes.

After playing for about a year, I found that I had nearly 100 pages of notes, covering around 33 sessions and hundreds of scenes.

I’ve been wanting to share pieces of it for some time. However, it’s all bulleted, written on the fly — something that’s very useful for reference, but not exactly a great reading experience.

I’ve been meaning to get around to sharing my POV through sharing my notes, but it takes some processing to make them more prose-like and shareable. Starting today, below, I’d like to share a couple of scenes and see where this goes.

And so with that…

Dramatis Personae

  • “Ages” (Wizard of the Grey Order)

    • Beliefs:
      • Examine Syngin’s relatives in Stirland (Sylvania is under Stirland to the Empire - Von Karstag)
      • Prove mettle and earn ranks by disarming the corruption in this land
      • A magister is extension of Sigmar’s vision - unity will come when we resolve the prophecy of the astromancers
  • Syngin (Lord from Stirland, exiled, turned mercenary captain)

    • Beliefs:
      • The grey order (college of magic) must spill its secrets
      • I will win Crown Prince Hergard’s favor and funds
      • I will enlist the aid of the Order of the Silver hammer
  • Bodh Daerg (aka: “Crow” - The Wandering Elven Prince)

    • Beliefs:
      • Will complete Ostland’s quest in the grey mountains
      • Will make sure humans do not fall to chaos
      • Scout for leads
  • Bondrewd (Witch Hunter of the Order of the Silver Hammer)

    • Beliefs
      • Ferret out chaos wherever it roams
      • Respect both Ulric and Sigmar
      • Learn to fight like a Witch Hunter (started with no armor and no fighting skills)
      • Doctrine: Follow strictures of the Order of the Silver Hammer
  • Note that Witch Hunters believe magic is born of chaos, and the winds of magic can easily become the winds of change (Tzeentch)… so, Bondrewd must be very wary that Ages plays by the book.


  • To Ages:
    • Astromancers of the celestial order spoke of the bladeless sword & the black count, man of two faces, the spear dancer, and a master of coin.
      • Rules for Ages:
        • Never act for personal gain
        • Always stay mysterious
      • Prophecy from the Grey Order:
        • You must meet on the appointed day.
        • Be on the road middenheim-altdorf by the 27th of Yardram
          *You must hire a coach.
    • Separately, we all received a letter from the Personal Scribe to Crown Prince Hergard (this was widely distributed — we are nothing special).
      • I have a mission in the Grey Mountains… come to Altdorf to apply. Reward is two gold crowns per day, per person. A ridiculous amount of money to us, but likely no more than a conspicuous consumption play from Hergard.

Episode 1: Double or Nothing

Scene 1: The Thundering Coach


Our tale begins at the gates of the City of Delbers on the river, a free town in Middenland which pays their annual taxes. They close the gates at dark and open for no one.

The thundering coach charged down the road. The small group of travelers had to jump to the side to avoid being trampled. The driver, with a determined look, drove on without a care for those on the road.

Bondrewd, the newly initiated Witch Hunter from Middenland, ever cautious, listened to his instinct to check the coach and noted that it bore the livery of the Four Seasons Company.

“The paving company or the hotel?” Bondrewd muttered to himself as he and the others assessed the damage to their attire. The travelers were bespattered with mud from the coach’s passing, but they had no choice but to pay it little mind — their attire will be of little consequence in the grand scheme of things.

As they spoke with a wheelwright who was hastily repairing a cart by the side of the road, they learned that the coach was carrying a very rich and very important Burgomeister, headed to Altdorf. Couldn’t remember the name, but he sure was in a hurry.

Coincidentally, this muddied group of travelers was also headed to Altdorf.

Simply put, there is no public coach service in the Reikland. And one dare not try to hitch a ride on a postal coach.

A coach in these parts must be privately hired — and comes with a driver and a blunderbussier. The travelers pondered the possibility of securing one for their own journey. They were due in Altdorf on tomorrow’s morrow. The road to Altdorf was a long one, estimated to take between seven to ten days on foot. The only way to make it that far, that quickly, would be by coach.

Side note: one of our players had been reading some of the journals of Eugene de la Croix, which feature adventures by coach. Worth reading for inspiration.

Bondrewd had an idea. He remembered to always check in with the Witch Hunter chapter houses (his instinct), hoping to secure funding for a coach, or at least a discount through the Order of the Silver Hammer.

However, his plan to visit the chapter house was foiled when they arrived at the town gates and found that they were closing.

Bondrewd, ever eager, wanted to rush in — at the risk of being locked in behind the walls for the night, separated from the other travelers. But Ages, the Grey Wizard in their company, the mysterious voice of reason, insisted on unity.

“We should stick together,” said Ages.

“A page should be running down the street any minute with my paper of credit from the Order,” Bondrewd said, looking up the road and growing more anxious by the minute as the page was late.

The group held their ground, waiting for the arrival of the page, searching for a coach house who had availability for hire, and pondering the promise of their journey to Altdorf.

Scene 2: In the Coaching Inn

The travelers peered along the roadway and realized that most, if not all coaches for hire had already been booked for the day. They weren’t the only ones looking for a coach — so searched hastily to inquire about services in one of the many coaching inns along the road.

Note: I failed to note the name of the inn — let’s simply call it “The Coaching Inn”

The travelers found an Inn with a coach and horses clearly resting in the stables beside. But where was the driver? The Blunderbussier? Would they be available for hire? They headed inside to book a coach, and maybe grab a pint or two in the process.

The travelers were assaulted… with the smell of fine food & ale inside!

They were greeted by a rail thin barman with a surly look, and a round innkeep wearing an apron. Scanning the taproom, Syngin saw two men who appeared to be coachmen drinking and joking.

Seated squarely in the room was a finely dressed noblewoman, Lady Isolde — who took one look at Crow’s muddied Elven finery and frowned.

There at a card table, Syngin saw his old confidant and gambling buddy — a foppish lad with mustache, feathered hat, curly hair. Some might call him a card shark and a criminal. To each their own — for our travelers, they call him by his name: Philippe Descartes.

Syngin joined him for a round of cards and private word.

“She’s on the run. She’s not as she appears." warned Philippe.

The Lady had a bodyguard — a broad shouldered woman clad in light mail with a broadsword at her hip. At the Lady’s other side was a mousy looking girl dressed in livery of a servant — likely her handmaid.

In another corner was an earnest young man keeping to himself, reading a book.

Ages inquired about a coach, and was introduced the drivers, Gunnar and Holdst. Both were jovial, drinking ale and sharing tales — as those who assume today might be their last. The horses needed rest — the coach would not be able to leave until morning.

It was revealed that both drivers have the drunk character trait and deep sleeper trait. We’d need to do something about it to make sure they woke up in time for us to leave for Altdorf and not be late for our appointed time.

The drivers reveled. If they didn’t stop drinking — they’d surely be late in the morning.

Ages conjured strange words and gestures. A mage sense dawned upon him. His countenance taking on an aura of fear.

The coachmen shrank back from their ales. Their laughter pivoting to worried grimaces.

Ages invited them out for a drink of fine wine — promising finer stuff than the inn could ever offer. They follow him, somewhat reluctantly, and as they exited into the night air, Ages turned and scolded them.

“If you two fools keep drinking, you’ll be doomed to die on the Altdorf road!”

Frightened, the coachmen stumbled over each other, racing back to their quarters for bed.

It worked. Ages had scared them into going to bed.

Note: there is some irony here among the group — most times in Burning Wheel we’ve challenged NPCs to drinking contests or some such to serve some ulterior motive like getting information, or setting them up to lose a joust, etc. By contrast, Ages wanted these guys to stop drinking.

The travelers acquiesced. “If it’s the only coach left and it can’t leave until morning, then so be it. It will still be faster, and less treacherous, than walking.”

Smoking pipes with Philippe, Bondrewd & Syngin walk with him outside.

“Your twin is on the road …. Herr Leberon,” says Phillippe.

“I don’t have a twin,” Bondrewd said.

“Really? You bare a striking resemblance to that Burgomeister.”

Later, back in the Inn, the travelers tried to introduce themselves to Isolde. The young handmaid approached to greet them, but was struck with fear at the sight of a witch hunter. Setting the girl at ease became a significant problem.

The witch hunter removed his cap and said, “Don’t worry.”
“This dog won’t bite,” said Syngin.

The girl then shortly fainted.

“She fainted like a Stirlander in battle,” said Syngin.

Crow stooped to her calmly, and sang a song of soothing quietly in her ear to bring her back, thus avoiding a nasty situation — the bodyguard had stood up and was ready to fight over it.

Having not shared a single word, Lady Isolde scowled and took her leave.

As she took her leave to go to her room, Bondrewd caught sight of her heraldry, and recalled a newspaper article:

“Her name is Lady Isolde von Struddelhof. She is from a minor noble family of little account in Middenheim. Her nuptials had been announced regarding her marriage to a magnate of Delbers, a wine merchant, can’t think of his name. She’s 18, he’s in his 50’s.”

Simply put, Isolde would be stooping low to marry into to a non-noble family. He derives that emotions are running high. She will certainly be vulnerable to chaotic influence, and so too the wine merchant for that matter, as he is trying to move his station.

“We are still seeking accommodations for the evening. It’s getting late and we haven’t shown any effort to pay.”

Scene 3: “A Pact of Silver & Iron”

Bondrewd nervously looked up the road. And there, the page from the charter house finally arrived, delivering a letter of credit for 12 shillings. Bondrewd proudly paid for the accommodations and ponied up with Syngin for the coach. The page took his leave.

The wizard wished to pay for his own room — he offered a favor to the innkeep. “In exchange for setting a vermin ward, I’ll get my own room for the night.”

Up in their bunks, Crow, Bondrewd, and Syngin chatted in the dark minutes before bed:

“What does Bondrewd think of the lady?”

“Purity… there is no such thing. Only facts. Let Sigmar judge.”

“Introduce me to the Order — I wish to ally with the Silver Hammer. Are you aware of the Order of the Raven? The Iron Beggars?”

"That rabble? Yes, but fine. Let’s exchange introductions. Contractors are always welcome, as long as they have respect for Sigmar.”

Syngin tried to assert his understanding of doctrine, but to Bondrewd it sounded almost like blasphemy…

Bondrewd retorted, expounding for some time, passionately, on the doctrine of emotions: Trust, Joy, Pride, Anticipation… Fear.

Crow, bored, annoyed, piped up — “Mine is a doctrine solely of fear. Now go to bed!”

They would leave at daybreak.

Scene 4: “Ghouls on the Road”

To be continued…


Scene 4: Ghouls on the Road

The journey along the winding roads of the Empire was a treacherous one, with dangers lurking around every bend. Syngin, a rogue of some renown, challenged Descartes to a bet. The wager was simple enough — the two of them would play cards at the end of the journey and whoever won would pay for the coach they were traveling in.

“Double or nothing?”

“You bet.”

As they continued on their way, they suddenly came upon a gruesome sight. A ghoul was feasting on the side of the road, and it was none other than Rolf Hertzes, a templar of the Brotherhood of the Axe who had disappeared from Middenheim nine months prior.

Before anyone could react, the beast leapt onto the carriage, dragging Holdtz along with him as the horses bolted. Bondrewd, a powerful warrior, heard the voice of the Chaos God Khorne, beckoning him to fight — he tried to push Rolf off, but he was unable to.

“Skulls. Blood. Thrones.”

Bondrewd was deadlocked and, in a moment of desperation, he opened himself up to the dark powers, calling upon the ruinous energies of Khorne. This was a dangerous temptation for Bondrewd, as he had always avoided martial conflict, wary of being tempted into the ways of the Cult of the Crimson Skull.

In the end, it was Crow, ever the skilled hunter, who saved the day. With a swift strike of his spear, he took Rolf down, putting an end to the danger, singing a spear song as he went.

But as they caught their breath, they heard another beast rushing through the woods towards them. However, it turned out to be Holdtz, who had finally caught up with them.

“There you are!”

Ages cast his vision throughout the surrounding forest and saw something that chilled him to the bone. At the edge of his sight, he saw the dead and the living sitting beyond a rise. An overturned coach. He saw one figure, crouched over a body, searching through the dead. Bondrewd’s doppleganger was there! But he was not among the living.

Scene 5: “The Overturned Coach”

After traveling through the forest for some time, somewhat beleaguered, they finally arrived at an overturned coach, which belonged to the Four Seasons Company. The very same coach that had charged passed them, muddying their clothes. In that moment back in Middenheim, they’d cursed the damned thing, but seeing the carnage before them, they regretted their earlier thoughts. It was too terrible.

They were met with danger — a monstrous armored creature with a small head and a mutant with the head of a dog. Another mutant, with a pointed head, was trying to bandage the dog-headed creature’s wound.

Crow and Syngin stepped up to handle the situation, while the rest of the group wanted to interrogate the dog-headed mutant. However, Bondrewd was against this, as he wanted to root out chaos without mercy.

“Kill them!”

They fought until the last mutant fell. Ages suffered an abrasion, which would heal with a scar.

Note: we used the Fight! system to resolve this. The first of many, many fights to come. We quickly learned that the world of Warhammer was not for those who would shun violence. This world, on the contrary, necessitated it.

In the chaos of the fight, Ages discovered a sword, which bore the symbol of Ulric on the pommel.

Off to the side of the road, they found a pair of feet sticking out of the grass, wearing expensive boots.

It was none other than the rich and important Burgomeister, Herr Leiberung. Bondrewd’s doppleganger!

The others became suspicious of Bondrewd. Why did he have a twin here? Why did the twin have a tattoo marking him as a follower of the Cult of the Purple Hand? Bondrewd cut away this piece of skin with the tattoo and kept it for evidence for later.

Ages gathered up Leiberung’s documents, finery, and personal effects, to review later.

The adventurers, for now they were truly on an adventure, returned to their coach and the group with Lady Isolde to find them hale & hearty. The coach repaired.

For now, they had overcome their challenges on the road, but their journey was far from over. They would face many more dangers as they pressed on — from the outside, yes, but most assuredly from within.


I found WFRP a superb setting for BW too. If I recall, @Mark_Watson used Enemy Within as a seed for his campaign.

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Lovely reading the Enemy Within opening being enacted once again within the BW system!
How many sessions have you played so far in the narration?

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Awesome. Each “episode” is one session. The posts above are from one session.

Our sessions IRL are about 3-4 hours long, with a few breaks for table chatter, etc.

I have notes on about 33 sessions or so… We finished Enemy Within probably in about 18 sessions, and then went on to play through the classic Castle Drachenfels adventure.


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