This winter, my gaming group is exploring adventures from the now-defunct third edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role-play series using my own custom “Warhammer World” game system. The system has been working well for us, already working on the third revision, but for this review, I will be reviewing The Winds of Change adventure from the perspective of how much fun it could be for your own table, game system aside.
Summary: This is one of my favourite urban fantasy adventures, featuring an evocative setting, engaging NPCs and a thrilling mystery.
There are spoilers below, so if you might play it, don’t ruin your fun!
The Winds of Change is an adventure for Warhammer Fantasy Role-play Third Edition found in The Winds of Magic expansion to the game, covering the world of wizards and the forces of Chaos. There are two books that make up this product (along with cards and a bunch of bits and such). The adventure is found in the second of the two books, called Liber Mutatis, (the Book of Change). I won’t go into the game system except to say I really like the setting and the flavour of magic in the Warhammer universe.
The adventure itself is set in the Imperial capital city, Altdorf and focuses on a missing apprentice wizard from one of the Colleges of Magic. The heroes are asked to find out what happened to him and their search quickly focuses in on one of the slums of Altdorf called Ogasse, and a particular square, Schmutzplatz, which features a tall crumbling clock tower in the centre.
The adventure does an amazing job detailing the square and its residents, creating a living, breathing locale. In urban adventures, it’s easy for the players to feel lost in a city, but in this one, by focusing on the square and the buildings surrounding it, it feels very real and you have a strong sense of where you are. The descriptions are wonderful, but it’s truly the focus on the small area within the larger city that grounds the adventure.
Further strengthening the theme of the adventure, every major building around the square has a bird motif (The Eagle of Luccini, the Dove of Love, Magpie’s Pawn Shop, the Owl’s Quill, etc.), without being overwhelming. This fits with the adventure’s overall theme, and was something else that I also really appreciated, tying it all together.
For my table, I took things a step further in building the feel of the Schmutzplatz, using some of my terrain to recreate it. Below, you can see the central clock tower, the large tavern (Eagle of Luccini), on the left hand side, Magpie’s Pawn Shop, across the Eagle there is the Old World of Bird and across from the Pawn Shop, the Dove of Love (a soup kitchen) and finally the Owl’s Quill (a Dwarven scribe’s shop) next to the Eagle.
There is, of course, something foul (pardon the pun) going on in the Schmutzplatz, but (tied in to the disappearance), also reward posters for the Monster of Ogasse, a creature that everyone knows someone who has seen it, but very few have actually seen. This helps to create an atmosphere of fear and rumour.
The plot has to do with kidnapping the apprentice wizards by the cult to use them as sacrifices in a ritual to bring forth a demon, which is good, but I really like the subplot that they’re seeding the population with demonic eggs, disguised in the food, which cause mutations and ultimately, transformation into birdlike creatures – that not-so-coincidentally resemble descriptions of the Monster of Ogasse. This subplot is lots of fun and is new and original, as opposed to the overused trope of cultists trying to summon a demon.
The adventure is very well-detailed, with many key personalities throughout the square, as well as a number of minor characters given a descriptive paragraph, outlining what they looks like, what they are likely doing, what they can offer and how they might interact with the player characters. It’s a very believable setting, giving players countless opportunities to interact and gain clues as to what is really going on. The fact that there is a full-blown conspiracy behind the scenes makes every interaction gripping.
Overall, it’s a great city adventure that features a great setting, great NPCs, a fun plot and an awesome atmosphere. I highly recommend it.
As a side note, although the adventure is available through DrivethruRPG, it is missing some components, such as item cards for some of the special items, maps of the square, the reward poster and other goodies that add to the adventure, but you could make up those on your own.
Making it into a One-Shot Adventure
I have run this adventure twice now, both times using it for a one-off in which all of the heroes are apprentice wizards themselves who are seeking one of their school friends in the unfamiliar slums of Ogasse. The adventure could easily take 3-4 sessions if you fully explore all the various locations and people, but by cutting out the demon summoning I was able to run it in about 5 hours.
The last time I ran it, I replaced the demon summoning with expanding and altering the demonic egg subplot so that the eggs (in addition to their corrupting influence) heighten wizard’s spell-casting ability and the cult has started selling them to apprentices at the College who are seeking a boost. It’s basically a drug ring plot with the cult’s goal of weakening and corrupting the College from within. Their friend was hooked and took too many, turning into the birdlike creature which now haunts the square.
To reinforce the plot, I added a couple other apprentices who show up for a “buy” and at the end of the adventure, one of the College professors who turns and runs as soon as he recognizes the heroes.