Enemy in Shadows: Thoughts and reactions

Cubicle 7 // 2018
Theo
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:26 am

So Enemy in Shadows is finally here. I'm curious what other people think about it.

To start things off, I'll repeat a few comments I made in a Facebook group:


Some thoughts after a first quick read-through:

In general, my first impressions are good and I will definitely be buying the Companion and the future installments. The book is, as usual, very pretty and the layout of the adventure a bit less confusing than the original.

There wasn’t really a ton of new or changed stuff, but that’s not surprising – while perhaps not the best installment of the campaign, Shadows was always the most solid and complete as it was. It didn’t need a lot more.

I especially enjoyed the “Grognard boxes”, offering suggestions on how to change NPCs, scenes and/or even plot points around. While their ostensible purpose is to make the adventure fresh for players who’ve played the old version, I think they might actually be quite helpful for a more inexperienced GM as examples of how a published adventure might be tweaked to fit their taste. I know I would have found something like this very illuminating in younger days.

What we don’t get, and what I would very much have liked, is a proper outline or synopsis of the whole campaign. In the introduction we only get the barest hints that don’t really tell us anything we didn’t know – DotR will be structured around river travel, PBtT will be set in Middenheim, The Horned Rat will feature the Skaven, and Empire in Ruins will be about war and politics and at least partially set in Altdorf. As a GM already some way through my own modified run of the campaign, it would have been very helpful to have at least a rough idea of where they were going with things, so I could have an idea which of the new elements were stuff I’d be interested in using and thus should start foreshadowing. But on the other hand, I understand they presumably want to keep the punters hungry and curious, and I also suppose my preferences here aren’t typical of the target audience. All fine and good, as long as they actually get the rest of the damn books out . :)

What we do get is a number of new scenes foreshadowing future developments, some of them quite tantalizing. These are at least, helpfully, clearly labeled as such. I might start another thread about these hints and speculation on what they might be leading up to.

There’s also tons more background detail here and there (notably in the Bogenhafen appendix), some of which seems very useful and some of which seems quite redundant.
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totsuzenheni
Posts: 156
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Fri Oct 18, 2019 3:49 am

They could create an outline or synopsis of the whole campaign in a later supplement or as a separate product..
FasterThanJesus
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 4:30 pm
Location: UK

Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:22 am

I broadly agree with Theo, but I haven't finished reading Shadows over Bogenhafen yet, so I'll wait to add my full thoughts.

It looks like an attempt at merging v1 Karl Franz to WFB Karl Franz is being made, which is interesting.

We have a magic item at last (not sure how to identify them though).

The maps are good and we have some extra rules, too.

One thing that I may be missing is pregen characters. Now, I'm sure that it was mentioned there would be some new pregens for TEW that wouldn't be the same as 1st ed and also not the ones from the starter set, but there is no reference that I've seen. Are we expecting these to drop on Drive Thru RPG, or am I misremembering something again?
macd21
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Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:23 am

The pregens will be in the companion.
FasterThanJesus
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Location: UK

Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:34 am

macd21 wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:23 am
The pregens will be in the companion.
Thanks. I'm losing track of the info for all this.
Gideon
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:14 pm

Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:19 pm

I've posted my thoughts on Enemy in Shadows on my blog.

https://awesomeliesblog.wordpress.com/2 ... venturers/
FasterThanJesus
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 4:30 pm
Location: UK

Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:57 pm

Interesting thoughts as always. I think the 65 for an existing owner is a little low if planning on using it with v4. Obviously, that's your assessment as a non-v4 player owning it.

On the whole I'm pleased with it, but I'm unsure how it bodes for the latter parts of the campaign where the greater changes are necessary. I'll get my own review done in a couple of days, as I've only just finished reading it all after being a away a little over the past couple of weeks.
Gideon
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:14 pm

Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:24 pm

You might be right about the "grognard brackets" score, though I do aim to use a broader range of scores than most probably do (65 is defined as a "good" rating). Plus I'm a tough audience!

I look forward to reading your thoughts.
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totsuzenheni
Posts: 156
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Sun Oct 27, 2019 6:19 pm

Gideon wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:19 pm
I've posted my thoughts on Enemy in Shadows on my blog.

https://awesomeliesblog.wordpress.com/2 ... venturers/
I was interested to see the changes to [t/T]he Crossed Pikes map. It's a definite improvement to have the furniture drawn in, and to have some contrasting colour and substance given to the furniture and staircases. I think the in situ labels on the first edition map and the fourth edition key both have their advantages and disadvantages. The addition of the elevation is pleasant but i don't think it's at all useful for me as i see it as a artist's impression, with quite some licence, and i wouldn't have the cartoonish holes in the roof. The backroom and serveries have gone and along with them the secrecy of the door to the snug, as has the trapdoor to the cellar, and i'm curious as to why. The grid, scale, and North arrow have all been removed, which i suppose is an indicator of the changes that (are thought to) have taken place in the way that people play RPGs over the years. I liked them in theory, but in practice they were always somewhat arbitary and inaccurate on the maps in the campaign. I would have preferred the maps to be redone and for the those things to have been kept and made more accurate.

I think both art styles have some advantages. I like the sense of character and foreboding that comes across in the first edition artwork, but i think it lacks background imagery and with it a sense of context, and so consequentially i think whilst invoking that sense of character they fail to invoke a sense of place and to situate those characters in those places. The fourth edition artwork does have background and a better sense of activity, but i find it has lost the sense of character, particularly specific characters, in favour of being more 'cartoonish' (for want of a better term). The fourth edition does however have characterful portraits that accompany the NPC statistics. To my eye the artwork in the two editions is also indicative of the change in the Warhammer Fantasy Old World between the two editions. The first edition artwork comes across as much more representative of the historical mediaeval world, its beliefs and its art, whereas the fourth edition artwork comes across as a very modern graphic novel of a fantasy world. I don't know that this is reflected in the text, which i won't give a proper read through until i receive a physical copy, but it sets something of a different scene, or at least tone, none the less.
Gideon
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:14 pm

Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:21 pm

Apologies to anyone who has tried to post comments on my blog post. There appears to have been a bug in WordPress which turned comments off for this post. I have fixed the problem now:

https://awesomeliesblog.wordpress.com/2 ... venturers/
Gideon
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:14 pm

Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:11 am

@FasterThanJesus You've given me pause for thought about my numeric scores in reviews. I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible to summarise the diverse starting points of users with just a pair of numbers. That's better done in the text. So I've decided to go revert to unscored reviews and deleted the ratings. I had thought they might clarify my opinion, but I now think they do the opposite.

File under "failed experiments"!
Theo
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:50 am

Another reflection I've had since posting my first thoughts:

This new version seems clearly aimed at harmonizing the old TEW, originally written for a partially quite different setting, with the later developments of the Warhammer lore. (In hindsight this shouldn't be surprising at all - it fits perfectly with some cryptic remarks Graeme Davis made in interviews last year about how, for instance, both the old and the new versions of Karl Franz were both going to be true.)

This will, inevitably, mean that since the tone and themes of early (1E) WFRP and later versions are in some respects very different, the new TEW is looking like it's going to differ tonally and thematically from the original on some points.

Most obviously (and perhaps inevitably being mainly the setting for a wargame) the Old World became much more militarized and, for lack of a better word, 40K-ized. There was constant warfare and huge battles, Chaos was a constant and obvious existential threat that the Empire has been grimly fighting for survival since forever, and so on. To fit with this the whole "enemy within" theme itself needs to be transposed, and it seems that's what they're going for: to my reading the original was basically "Not seriously threatened from without for a long time, the Empire has grown complacent and decadent, ignoring the hidden peril of the Enemy Within" - now it's more "The Empire is so focused on the constant outside threats of endless Orc / Beastman / Skaven / Chaos invasions that it ignores the hidden peril of the Enemy Within".

Personally I'm not crazy about this because I liked the old setting and themes better, but I realise I'm not the core target audience here. :)
Gideon
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:14 pm

Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:19 am

totsuzenheni wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 6:19 pm
I was interested to see the changes to [t/T]he Crossed Pikes map. It's a definite improvement to have the furniture drawn in, and to have some contrasting colour and substance given to the furniture and staircases. I think the in situ labels on the first edition map and the fourth edition key both have their advantages and disadvantages. The addition of the elevation is pleasant but i don't think it's at all useful for me as i see it as a artist's impression, with quite some licence, and i wouldn't have the cartoonish holes in the roof. The backroom and serveries have gone and along with them the secrecy of the door to the snug, as has the trapdoor to the cellar, and i'm curious as to why. The grid, scale, and North arrow have all been removed, which i suppose is an indicator of the changes that (are thought to) have taken place in the way that people play RPGs over the years. I liked them in theory, but in practice they were always somewhat arbitary and inaccurate on the maps in the campaign. I would have preferred the maps to be redone and for the those things to have been kept and made more accurate.
I was a little confused by the changes to the layout of the Crossed Pikes. I wonder what the reasons were.
totsuzenheni wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 6:19 pm
I think both art styles have some advantages. I like the sense of character and foreboding that comes across in the first edition artwork, but i think it lacks background imagery and with it a sense of context, and so consequentially i think whilst invoking that sense of character they fail to invoke a sense of place and to situate those characters in those places. The fourth edition artwork does have background and a better sense of activity, but i find it has lost the sense of character, particularly specific characters, in favour of being more 'cartoonish' (for want of a better term). The fourth edition does however have characterful portraits that accompany the NPC statistics. To my eye the artwork in the two editions is also indicative of the change in the Warhammer Fantasy Old World between the two editions. The first edition artwork comes across as much more representative of the historical mediaeval world, its beliefs and its art, whereas the fourth edition artwork comes across as a very modern graphic novel of a fantasy world. I don't know that this is reflected in the text, which i won't give a proper read through until i receive a physical copy, but it sets something of a different scene, or at least tone, none the less.
I think you summarise the art differences well. I agree Wil Rees' originals have a mediaeval feel. He uses mediaeval perspective techniques and his drawing style is reminiscent of engravings. The faces are also very expressive, usually with an air of menace or despair. He does the thousand-yard stare very well. I think they are great illustrations, but I cannot see them being suitable for a modern release.

The new art is great, too, but is lighter and more cinematic. As you say, it sometimes borders on cartoonish. It has a more contemporary feel.
FasterThanJesus
Posts: 118
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Location: UK

Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:23 am

Gideon wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:11 am
@FasterThanJesus You've given me pause for thought about my numeric scores in reviews. I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible to summarise the diverse starting points of users with just a pair of numbers. That's better done in the text. So I've decided to go revert to unscored reviews and deleted the ratings. I had thought they might clarify my opinion, but I now think they do the opposite.

File under "failed experiments"!
It's always the problem of trying to abstract to a single number. Even breaking down into categories is problematic.

My thinking was purely that your review scores were close to what I'd give if the ruleset was separated away. The new edition does a little bit more than the 1st edition but not lots more. However, with the new rules (assuming they're needed) I would argue it probably fits somewhere in between. It was the angle I was coming at with the new release as an old school player but planning to run with v4.

Ultimately it's not beyond the wit of man (even me) to run 1st edition TEW under 4th edition rules, but it is nice to have the work already done.

I did note that your scores breakdown to a more a reasonable use of a percentile. I've never understood why 70% became "average". I'm probably a little indoctrinated into that convention however much I dislike it.
Gideon
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:14 pm

Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:37 am

Theo wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:50 am
This new version seems clearly aimed at harmonizing the old TEW, originally written for a partially quite different setting, with the later developments of the Warhammer lore.

This will, inevitably, mean that since the tone and themes of early (1E) WFRP and later versions are in some respects very different, the new TEW is looking like it's going to differ tonally and thematically from the original on some points.
Yes, good point. The Emperor's griffon is there, but he's too sick to ride it!
Last edited by Gideon on Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
macd21
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:28 am

Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:45 am

My guess re the crossed pines is that someone realised that when you added the furniture, the ‘bar’ area was clearly tiny, so needed to be expanded. Hence the removal of the backroom/servery.
Gideon
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:14 pm

Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:49 am

FasterThanJesus wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:23 am
I've never understood why 70% became "average".
I'm with you, but there's no point fighting it, if it leads to misunderstanding.
mormegil
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:48 am

Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:27 am

Just read your preview. Personally, I see it as a plus the fact that there not much changes with the original storyline. We expect the big changes to happen in later products, especially towards the end.

What I have found frustrating and thank you for mentioning, is the lack of a starting date.
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totsuzenheni
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:10 am

macd21 wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:45 am
My guess re the crossed pines is that someone realised that when you added the furniture, the ‘bar’ area was clearly tiny, so needed to be expanded. Hence the removal of the backroom/servery.
I suspect you are right with regard to the removal of the backroom. I wonder if in reimagining the layout the cartographers simply couldn't imagine how a servery would actually work in the fourth edition layout, so that went too.

This, that is the 'misdimensioning' or 'misproportioning' and consistency of dimensions, is a problem throughout the first edition Enemy Within cartography. I've remarked elsewhere that when i made a miniature of a warehouse using the map and elevation in Shadows Over Bogenhafen that i found that a supporting beam blocked the stairs. Some of you might remember last year (i think) when someone was asking for advice on building a Wittgenstein Castle and the illuminating discussion that followed that revealed that the dimensions in the text did not always match dimensions on the map and that both text and map dimensions were problematic in places.
Last edited by totsuzenheni on Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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totsuzenheni
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:16 am

Gideon wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:49 am
FasterThanJesus wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:23 am
I've never understood why 70% became "average".
I'm with you, but there's no point fighting it, if it leads to misunderstanding.
I'd much rather you used your own rating system if that were more logical and functional. If anything i'd push the scale the other way so that average was a lower score. Once something is poor enough it's not really of much benefit knowing how poor it is. I don't think you're going to be able to avoid misreadings when it comes to scores. I wouldn't read 70% as average unless i looked at the scoring guide.
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