Welcome to a new type of post for me. I recently entered a Facebook competition for Games Masters of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay to create a new and unique criminal gang for the Old World.
I didn’t win, but I did create a cool criminal organization which I think other GMs might like to incorporate, especially if they are running a campaign along the River Reik.
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If you don’t know what Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) is then you can read a little of the lore in my previous post on the awesome card game from Cubicle 7, Elector Counts.
It is a grim and perilous world of adventure where the player characters take on the role of previously ordinary folk who have left home looking for fortune and glory. It is a low fantasy rpg where magic is feared and potentially dangerous. Most of the action takes place in the Empire, a heavily wooded region of the continent, constantly under threat from the forces of chaos.
As the forests are so dangerous with outlaws, chaos beastmen and worse around every corner, many people choose to travel by river. But the rivers are not without their hazards too and this is where the Wasserraten come in. This criminal gang and their legitimate sister company could fit into any Old World campaign where the characters are traveling by river, especially along the Reik, or engaging in trading.
The ideas below could also easily be adapted to fit a river-based adventure in any part of the Warhammer World as your needs fit. These could easily add a little flavor or some side adventures to anyone running the Death on the Reik module.
So without any further ado, lets get stuck in!
“Ah, The General Trading Company, yeah I deal with ‘em all the time! A solid, trustworthy outfit if ye ask me, always supplying top quality gear!”
– Anders Kaufer, Quartermaster, Altdorf Town Watch
“The Wasserratens, ye say? Well, I’ve heard talk, river pirates they say, and a nasty bunch by the sounds of it… No, not seen no sign of ‘em meself, but ye be careful as ye go there, never know what’s round the next bend. And there’s never enough river wardens these days.”
– Also Anders Kaufer, Quartermaster, Altdorf Town Watch
The Reikland General Trading Company is, on the surface, a respectable firm dealing mainly in armaments and metalwork purchased in Ubersreik and wine and brandy from Kemperbad. The company is owned by one Sofia Listig, a tall, pale and imposing woman with a sharp intellect.
The day-to-day running of the company, however, is left up to Sofia’s right-hand woman, Carina Geschäft, an attractive and cunning woman, who keeps the operation ship-shape. The company runs a fleet of a dozen cargo vessels transporting goods into Altdorf and back out to the surrounding areas. Although their main routes are the River Teufel and the Reik, they often venture further afield depending on the nature of the cargo and the contracts that Geschaft is able to raise, occasionally making it as far as Talebheim in the East and Marienburg to the West.
The Reikland General Trading Company (RGTC) is a successful operation in its own right, but it is only half as profitable as Listig’s other, more shadowy outfit known only to insiders as the Wasserratens. The Wasserratens are a gang of smugglers, wreckers and river pirates who plunder the wares of rival traders, rob blind the entourage of the wealthy and smuggle vast amounts of contraband items into the Empire, usually to Altdof and Nuln.
The Wasserratens are headed by a bear of a man by the name of Gunnar Schändlich who leads a gang of mean-spirited and ruthless fresh-water pirates, smugglers and conmen. Schandlich is as calculating as he is violent and meticulously plans his heists, raids and deals and works closely with Geschaft, leveraging the legitimate side of the business to launder money and goods gained from the illegal activities.
Bootleg Bretonnian brandy is one of the Wasserraten’s main income streams. Through Listig’s contact in Brettonia, Schandlich collects the brandy at Tallerhof and then uses hidden holds in the RGTC ships to transport it to Altdorf or Nuln.
Schandlich has his fingers in many other pies, however, and deals in all sorts of other illicit materials, including magic items, illegal drugs and even dead bodies. He has many contacts in the dark criminal underworld of the Empire and his clients come from all walks life. He sells spell components to unlicensed wizards, weirdroot to the criminal gangs of the large cities, body parts to necromancers and banned erotic literature, art and instruments to the depraved nobility throughout Reikland.
Each RGTC ship will usually have a Wasserraten embedded on board to deal with the shady side of the business who will pass themselves off as an ordinary crew member when necessary and will usually be the fall guy if the authorities do happen to find the contraband on board (and can’t be bribed). When not traveling with the RGTC, the Wasserraten sail smaller, fast moving boats which are able to outrun the river wardens and it is these vessels that they use to intercept other ships carrying rare or expensive cargo which is usually transferred to a RGTC boat as soon as possible to be hidden.
(Character art by David Hueso)
“I’ve been digging dirt all my life, only now I dig up dirt on the aristocracy!”
Career path: Grave Robber – Levels 1-4 -> Fence – Levels 1-4
Talents: Criminal 2, Dirty Fighting (+1 damage), Gregarious, Alley Cat, Savvy, Strike to Stun, Resistance (Disease), Worrior Born, Strong Legs, Strike Mighty Blow (+1 damage), Fearless (Undead)
Skills: Bribery 71, Charm 66, Climb 63, Cool 71, Consume Alcohol 28, Dodge 60, Drive 55, Endurance 43, Entertainer (Storytelling) 71, Gamble 53, Gossip 71, Haggle 66, Intimidate 68, Intuition 75, Leadership 61, Melee (Basic) 76, Stealth (Rural) 45, Animal Care 63, Evaluate 63, Language (Wastelander) 63, Lore (Art) 68, Lore (Heraldry) 68, Lore (History) 63, Lore (Local) 68, Lore (Medicine) 58, Lore (Reikland) 63, Pick Lock 68, Research 68, Secret Signs (Theif) 58, Set Trap 68, Trade (Engraver) 63.
Trappings: Rare Dwarven axe (Damage: +SB+5), Dagger, Leather Jack, Rare Dwarven Shield (AP 2), Eye Glass, Maps, Writing Kit, Dwarven Gemstone (Prevents magic use – range 20 yards), Fleet of 12 River Ships, 3 Fast River Pirate Vessels, Several Warehouses (Altdorf, Nuln and Ubersreik), Trading Goods (Approx 17,000 GC worth), Approx 11,000 GC Cash, Rare Dwarven Tapestry worth 4000 GC.
Psychology: Animosity (Nobles)
Sofia Listig is an alluring woman despite her pale gray eyes and matching skin tone. Growing up as the oldest child in a family of grave robbers she spent her nights in the dirt and her days in bed. Although she hasn’t herself been digging graves for many years, the combination of a lack of sunshine and layers of ingrained mud have left her with a complexion the same shade as gray clay.
Listig was a bright child and learned everything about the family business at a young age, including her father’s clever tactics of using a legitimate grave-digging business as a front for his more nefarious work. Sofia always knew she was too smart to stay in grave robbing, however, and set her sights much higher.
Using the same strategy as her father she began a double life. By day, she would build up her respectable business interests whilst at night she would engage in smuggling illicit material in and out of nearby towns.
Sofia’s sharp intellect and ruthless business acumen allowed her to quickly claim large stakes in both the local commerce and black market worlds with most of her clients from each sphere usually totally unaware of her other activities. As her businesses grew she increasingly became to value her anonymity and promoted her two most trusted agents, Carina Geschäft and Gunnar Schändlich to head up the legal and illegal sides of her enterprises respectively.
These days Listig is one of the most influential people in both above-board trade and underhand deals along the river Reik and its surrounds, and most people don’t even know who she is! She is very comfortably wealthy with a strong and growing economic empire, but her ambitions don’t stop there.
Listig has begun to exert her influence into the political sphere. She is ardently anti-establishment, and she has not forgotten her humble roots. Her strong sense of reverse snobbery and disdain of the opulence of the noble classes has led her to conduct a two-pronged attack on the local nobility.
Whilst she wines and dines them, networking and aligning business interests on the one hand, she uses her criminal contacts to bribe, and blackmail them on the other. Listig has been involved in the downfall of several nobles recently by exposing their darker secrets.
So she is still digging up dirt after all these years, only now she is digging up dirt on the aristocracy!
Listig uses this influence to avoid taxes and levies, open up trading routes and further her political aims of gaining more power and her obsession with eradicating magic.
Sofia and Magic
When she was young Sofia had several experiences in graveyards which would have sent many others mad with terror. When she was 16 her father unearthed the tomb of an ancient lord who had evidently been cursed. The lord’s decaying body rose from the sarcophagus and attacked, mutilating two of Sofia’s brothers before her father was able to put it down. The Trauma of the event has stayed with Sofia ever since.
She has had various other encounters with the undead over the years and has hardened herself to the spectacle. The fear and anger at losing her brothers became channeled into a hatred of magic which she blames for all the ills in the world, other than those caused by the robber barons and greedy nobility.
Her belief is that all human magic will eventually descend into the dark arts and she has pledged to herself to use her growing influence to do all she can to rid the Empire of everything eldritch. To this end she is aiming, eventually, to close the colleges of magic in Altdorf, but she knows this will require many years of palm-greasing, power-plays and blackmail before she has the influence to achieve this.
Despite her hatred for human magic, Sofia has a surprising respect for the arcana of the Dwarfs whom she views as a more responsible and mature race than the humans. She has made strong links with the Dwarfs of Karak Azgaraz and via them has begun to acquire quite a penchant for collecting rare Dwarven artifacts, some of which she carries on her person at all times.
Her most prized possessions include an exquisitely made Dwarven shield and a Dwarven gemstone which wards off magic; no magic can be executed within 60′ of the gemstone. Indeed, Sofia is becoming quite a collector of Dwarven artifacts and is always on the look out for new pieces to add to her collection.
Roleplaying Sofia Listig
Sofia is a cunning and intelligent character who will do everything she can to remain anonymous. If the characters have any contact with her operations it is likely to be via trade with the RGTC or as victims of the Wasserratens and if Sofia was to have her way, the characters would never know of her existence.
In person, she is generally politely spoken, if with the slight drawl of a commoner coming through when she is not being careful. She is strong of mind and will usually try to manipulate any encounter to her own advantage. As a social chameleon Sofia is able to command respect amongst nobles, merchants and cut-throats with ease.
It is possible that Sofia could become a powerful ally if the party’s agenda align with her own but she would be a very formidable enemy if her business interests are threatened. She is very hostile to magic users, although she would be too smart to let the PCs know this and would claim not to know why their magic is not working if it came up in conversation, or battle.
Sofia would aim to have all dealings done through either Carina or Gunnar and it is only if the PCs are able to convince her that they have something she really wants that she might deign to meet them. An ancient Dwarven artifact, or evidence of the illegal activities of her rival nobles might be things she deems worthy of her attention.
She can handle herself in a fight but would do everything she can to avoid a direct confrontation, preferring to use her influence in either politics or piracy to make the PCs’ lives difficult. She would be able to persuade her contacts to plant contraband on their boat to be ‘found’ by paid-off river wardens or she could arrange for extra taxes to be levied or, indeed, for an apparently random scuttling to occur.
It would be a foolish party that got on the wrong side of Sofia Listig!
(Character art by Creative Uncut)
“Kill ‘em all, Peewee, just do it quick and do it quiet!”
Career path: Wrecker levels 1-4
Talents: Luck, Strong Back, Flee!, Etiquette (Criminal), Furious Assault.
Skills: Bribery 82, Charm 72, Climb 67, Cool, 49, Consume Alcohol 52, Dodge 35, Endurance 37, Gossip 87, Intimidate 77, Intuition 70, Leadership 90, Melee (Basic) 57, Navigation (60), Outdoor Survival 37, Perception 60, Row 62, Stealth (Rural) 50, Animal Care 37, Evaluate 37, Language (Bretonnian) 35, Lore (Riverways) 52, Ranged (Crossbow) 70, Set Traps 51, Swim 62.
Trappings: Dagger, Boat hook, Crossbow, Leather Jack, Leather Mask, Crowbar, Leather Gloves, Storm Lantern.
Gunnar Schandlich is a big brute of a man with a huge frame and large beer belly. He is not just rough round the edges, he is rough through the middle as well! He is hairy all over and has particularly bushy eyebrows and a scar across his left eye. Most people don’t know this, however, as he often wears a leather mask, obscuring his face in order to retain a degree of anonymity.
As the head of the Wasserratens, Schandlich now has a gang of river pirates to do most of his dirty work for him, but he can still handle himself in a fight and is a mean shot with a crossbow. If he is out on a job, he will direct from the back, felling any unfortunates from a distance with his deadly aim.
Gunnar is a natural leader and negotiator; his crew are very loyal and he treats them well. He is also brutal when it comes to reprisals against anyone foolish enough to cross him. Despite his speed and ferociousness in battle, he is very patient and calculating when it comes to planning. He has been known to track his quarry for months, learning their routes and their weaknesses and executing the ambush at the optimal time.
If the PCs come into contact with the Wasserratens, it will be most likely via an unfortunate incident with one of Gunnar’s pirate crews. They are only likely to meet Gunnar if they have caused him problems. Killing off one of his patrols would do it!
Gunnar, if suitably irked, would spend some time stalking his prey, striking when their guard is down or at some other inopportune time for the PCs. He would not take prisoners but would rather not scuttle a ship if he thinks he can get some coin for either it or the cargo.
His motivations are simple. He enjoys his work and is remunerated well by Listig for his efforts, so as long as the ale is flowing and the coin rolling in, his loyalty is strong.
(Character art by Darren Tan)
“She’s a shrewd business-woman, that Geschaft, only dealing in the finest wares for the finest folk. And a keen eye for money, she has, I’ve seen her clean up at the table after just a couple of hands, she’s got aces up her sleeves in cards as well as trade.”
Wilhelm Handler – Merchants Guildmaster, Kemperbad.
Career path: Merchant – levels 1-4
Talents: Flee!, Super Numerate, Attractive, Blather, Etiquette (Guilder), Numismatics.
Skills: Bribery 41, Charm 41, Cool, 47, Consume Alcohol 41, Drive 43, Gamble 51, Gossip, 46, Haggle 41, Intuition 57, Melle (Basic) 35, Navigation 62, Perception 57, Animal Care 41, Evaluate 46, Language (Bretonnain) 51, Language (Classical) 51, Language (Guilder) 46, Lore (Local) 51, Lore (Reikland) 41, Secret Signs (Guilder) 51, Ranged (Bow) 34.
Trappings: Dagger, Cloak, Hat, Abacus, Mule and Cart, Riverboat, Guild Licence, Town House and Servants, Warehouses.
Carina is a dark-haired, attractive and quick-witted woman in her early thirties. She comes from a long line of merchants and she and Sofia met early on their careers. Carina’s skill in commerce greatly impressed Sofia and they quickly became close friends.
Although Carina is well aware of Sofia’s darker business practices, she plays the role of the straight guy and, whilst facilitating much of the illicit activities indirectly, Carina, herself, is careful not to get involved in any direct sense. She is acutely aware of her need to maintain an unblemished record and untarnished reputation and this she carries off with style.
Carina lives the life of a wealthy merchant with a large townhouse and a suite of warehouses in Ubersreik as well as warehouses in Nuln, Altdorf and Kemperbad. She is the legitimate and legal overseer of the RGTC and runs the operation with a careful eye for detail. Her accounts are immaculate, always running a profit and she is fiercely proud of the success of the company.
She is often traveling up and down the Reik, wining and dining potential customers, usually other wealthy merchants or the nobility. If the characters are to meet her, it could be in a chance encounter on the river whilst she is traveling with a RGTC ship on route to secure a new deal, or in a town she will be found at the best hotels having dinner with her clients.
Carina is a cool negotiator with a good head for numbers and somehow always seems to score the best prices for her wares. And she is so charming that the customers always leave feeling satisfied with the deal.
She has made excellent trade partners up and down the Reik and is very well respected by all the merchants, nobles and officials that she has dealings with. She is often the target of romantic interest from other merchants but she quickly and politely shuts down any advances. If she is looking to marry it would only be so that she can further her business interests. She has her eyes on one or two upcoming nobles in Altdorf who may be able to open just the right doors for her ambitions.
Occasionally she lets her hair down, particularly after a particularly good contract has landed and she may be found in classy gambling joint enjoying a drink with some close business associates. She is too wise to let her guard down however and is almost never alone, traveling everywhere with two bodyguards and a handful of servants.
Carina is completely dedicated to both Sofia and the company and would do everything to protect the identity of the former and the integrity of the later. She is not a fighter and will rely on her bodyguards to protect her and if crossed she would use her contacts within the Wasserraten to make life very difficult for the PCs.
So there you have it, Sofia Listig, The Reikland General Trading Company and the Wasserratens! I hope you enjoyed meeting the characters! I reckon the ideas contained within could fit nicely into a number of different campaigns within the world of Warhammer.
Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed this post and if you’d like to see more original Warhammer contributions.
Tell us if you are a hard-core fan of WFRP or if this post has piqued your interest to find out more if you are new to the game!
Or let us know what your favorite TTRPG is!
And as always, thanks for reading and see you soon!