13 August 2021
Bouncing gleefully between grim horror and silly fantasy
The fourth and penultimate part of the sprawling Enemy Within mega-campaign is a first-class distillation of everything that makes the Warhammer Fantasy RPG so enjoyable. Within the space of a single slim volume The Horned Rat dances from urban grime and moody politicking to madcap adventures and the most fantastical of fantasies, with a finale that must rank as one of the coolest to ever grace a gaming table.
The primary plotline of the campaign, which should cover at least a couple months of dedicated gaming, concerns the rising threat of the skaven – think man-sized rats with arcane machine guns. These chittering creatures bounce between terrifying monstrosity and comic relief at the drop of a helmet, and even though they spend most of the game hiding in the sewers they are a delight to roleplay.
If nothing else, their weird science (or, possibly, wyrd science) and endless backstabbing are welcome reminders that you aren’t just adventuring in any old fantasy setting, but rather the over-the-top realm of Warhammer Fantasy. They’re agents of chaos in the most literal sense, and help to elevate rounds of slogging through a medieval city into something that feels special.
Of course, The Horned Rat is intended to slot into an ongoing storyline, so alongside the rat infestations and super-lasers, a decent chunk of the book’s content is devoted to cultivating the seeds of unrest planted in previous volumes. While this is necessary, and decently written, it can feel a little lacking in satisfaction, with the pay-off for all the lingering threads only likely to come with the release of the final chapter.
In truth, though, if you wanted to run this volume on its own, it wouldn’t be too hard for a confident GM to carry out a bit of pruning and end up with a slimline campaign contained in a single book.
No matter how you choose to run it, though, there’s little doubt that The Horned Rat is a stellar bit of Warhammer Fantasy RPG campaigning. It bounces gleefully between the setting’s twin loves of grim horror and silly fantasy, setting your table to gasp with shock one moment and giggle the next. Delightfully dark adventuring well-worth exploring.
Christopher John Eggett
PLAY IT? Yes
Publisher: Cubicle 7
This article originally appeared in issue 58 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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