Thursday, 13 December 2012

Conspiracy of Shadows/Warhammer crossover

So I've been reading Keith Senkowski's Conspiracy of Shadows RPG on the train and in the very rare spare moment I've been getting recently. It is an intriguing little indie game, in which the players taken on the roles of a small cell of heroes opposed to a dangerous conspiracy that seeks to plunge the land into despair and darkness. Rules-wise, it seems fairly light, and uses the same mechanics for both combat and personal interaction, which is...different. Like Conspiracy X, it also has a chapter on creating your cell - i.e. once all the PCs have been generated, you also determine where your cell is based, their contacts and resources, etc.

Inspirations for this game are many. Senkowski lists, amongst many, the movie Dark City, the RPG Delta Green, and the X Files televsion series, although the milieu is very much a fantastical one, albeit of a darkly gritty nature. Personally, it reminds me a little bit of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The adventurers are relatively low powered, with little or no access to magic. The civilization level is pitched at what I'd call Late Renaissance.

The world Senkowski has created in one that bears no small resemblance to Eastern Europe, particularly Poland and Bohemia, during the 1500s. However, this also means it ought to be relatively easy to port the system wholesale straight into the Warhammer Old World, which purports to enjoy a similar technology level, and is also besieged by the forces of Chaos, creating instant fodder for conspiracies.

One of the things I liked about early Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) was the idea of adventurers being roped into foil the foul schemes of Chaos cultists. With every edition of the game, it seems to be creeping closer to the battle miniatures game and losing much of the dark and grisly trappings that clad it in the late 1980s. CoS still has this, but something about the proposed campaign world irritates me.

It may be because I travel to Eastern Europe regularly, and while the world of Polonia sounds like Eastern Europe on paper, it does not 'feel' right. It is like something that has been migrated out of a textbook, which is fine if you don't spend a lot of time in the region, but somehow rubs you up the wrong way if you do - another good example is the Robin Hood milieu as envisaged by those who have not spent a lot of time in England.

I'm not here to bash Polonia however. What struck me most about CoS is how easy it would be to port this to the Duchy of Kislev, the WFRP world's pseudo-Russia. You could keep the mechanics of the system quite easily, and go from there. The cell of adventurers could be either native Kislevites or visitors from further afield. This would have the additional advantage of using a world that many gamers are already familiar with, and I certainly find that the more ease the players have with the setting, the more comfortable they are playing in it, even if they are not using the rules originally designed for it.

This idea will stay on the back-burner for a while yet. I'm hoping to GM some Hot War in the near future, and possibly some HeroQuest, before I get into Conspiracy of Shadows. But once I do, I'll be testing it in Kislev or one of the eastern provinces of the Empire.


  1. Why not play it with Wfrp2 and add cell mechanics or simply the conspiracy aspect to the story?

  2. Good point. I'll make a call on that once I've finished CoS. If the mechanics of CoS speak to me sufficiently, I'll go with that. If not, then maybe a port of some aspects of CoS into Wfrp would work.