Friday, September 23, 2011

Adventuring into Arctura: Matthias the Grey Shepherd

Recently I've been invited to join a local roleplaying group. They apparently play a loose variation on D&D 3.5 rules using a fairly amazing and well thought out campaign setting created by the GM called Arctura.

Essentially the world is for the most part covered by either ocean, jungle or savannah, with only small areas devoted to farming and cities. Humanity constantly needs to fight the jungle and its monstrous beasts back or be overrun. There is also only one god in this setting, Pelor, the god of Good and Light, though there are many lesser deities such as the great animal spirits of the tribesmen that are worshipped by some.

Over the next couple of posts I'm going to post up different possible character ideas that I have, and I'd like you to take a look at them and tell me what you think. It doesn't matter if the character can't easily fit into a class, as it sounds like the GM is very flexible when it comes to assigning mechanical abilities and it's more focused on roleplaying than dice. Since I like to play weird, out of the box characters, this plays to my tastes.

To start off with, though, here's a character that could probably pretty easily be created using character classes, Matthias the Grey Shepherd:


Necromancer by m00nlight101

Matthias comes from a parish in the Founts [largest amount of consecutive farmland on Arctura and one of humanity's great strongholds]. The teachings of Pelor hold strong there, but they have been a bit… corrupted over time. Y’see, the problem that Matthias’ corner of the Founts has is the dead. When you die, you either get to join the Sun God in his paradise in the heavens above or you get cast down into the earth, never to be heard from again. Where most priests would just call it then and there, Matthias’ flock are a bit more… forgiving. After all, doesn’t Pelor love those who return to him after succumbing to darkness and doesn't he cherish those who labor in his name?

So Matthias and other priests of his peculiar brand of Pelorism, called Grey Shepherds, give the dead a second chance. They use “sanctified” rituals of necromancy to reach down into the earth, pluck a damned soul from there and intern him in a corpse (preferably his own, but any will do) to earn his place in the heavenly kingdom. For small time offenders this might mean something like tirelessly tilling fields or performing other manual labor for a few years or decades after death. Some even volunteer if they know that they have sinned and join a quick response defense force for decades or centuries beyond death, animated when needed. For others, they might be called on crusade to push back the hellish jungle and convert the heathen by force if necessary. For if the heathen won’t be converted by speeches, punishment or even the threat of death, there is always an eternity of service that they can be called to perform…

Matthias, of course, hates unsanctioned necromancy, as it is a vile and evil sin to manipulate the dead into serving any aim but the furtherance and protection of Pelor’s realm. He is currently wandering as a missionary, using his undead servants to further Pelor’s cause and help push back the jungle.

Personality: Matthias is very out going and genuinely happy to be alive and doing the lord's work. He honestly thinks that raising sinners and unbelievers is the right thing to do, and even believes that by doing so he is bringing them closure and eternal happiness. While he has had some exposure to outside cultures and the threats of the wild, this adventure will probably be his first real encounter with the Jungle and the predatory outside world. His naive faith will keep him strong for a time, but I do not know if he will have the strength to persevere. He often knows what the "right" thing is that his faith has taught him, but exposure to the real world might change or at least challenge a lot of those beliefs.

Possible conflict: Matthias' belief system is, frankly, based on a lie. Now that he's outside of the Founts he'll likely come in contact with those that see Necromancy as an evil art, and Pelor forbid that he should wander into temple, undead manservant in tow. How Matthias will deal with this will define his character. I currently see him as soldiering on, seeing this crisis of faith as a new test but feeling inexplicably guilty each time he raises the dead, but who knows what role playing will bring.


So that's what I have for Matthias so far. He could probably be easily made into a cleric/wizard or cleric/sorceror. Comments and critiques are very welcome, as well as any cool insights that I could have on his personality and outlook on the world.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ogre Circus: Expanding the Troupe

Well, I managed to pick up the new Ogre army book this weekend and I have to say that I am very pleased with it. It looks like they've managed to make the majority of units much more viable and give the army the tools to really win in 8th edition.

However, with all of the lowering prices I've found that I really need to add more models to my army to get back up to 2k. Brilliant marketing move GW! Fortunately I really like the look of the new models, especially the Mournfang Cavalry and the Stonehorn/Thundertusk, though the Mournfang might need a bit of conversion work (i.e. lippizaner!) before they are fit for my army.

Anyway, I'm a bit of a noob when it comes to Fantasy lists, but here's what I've drawn up for 2k:

Slaughtermaster, Armour of Destiny, lvl 4, fencer’s blades 370
Bruiser, BSB, Runemaw, HA, Ironfist 193
Firebelly, Dispel scroll, additional hand weapon 157
3 Leadbelchers, Bellower 139
3 Leadbelchers, Bellower 139
2 Mournfang Cavalry, HA, Ironfists, Bellower 150
2 Mournfang Cavalry, HA, Ironfists, Bellower 150
10 Ogres, Ironfists, Crusher and Bellower 350
7 Ironguts, standard bearer, Dragonhide Banner, bellower 328

The command section I figure is pretty solid, and I wouldn't be too surprised if the trifecta of SM, Bruiser and FB don't become the default for Ogres at this points level. My Tyrant, while awesome, just doesn't do enough and now that I don't need to take him choosing the SM for my Lords slot is a no brainer.

Both he and the Bruiser/Firebelly will drop into the block of Ogres and form the center of the line, ready to mash up anything that comes their way. Off to the sides are the Leadbelchers and Mournfangs. The Leadbelchers pick off quick harassing units/add a bit of ranged punch while the Mournfangs go around the sides and either try to take out enemy war machines or get flank charges on the enemy.

Meanwhile the Irongut block moves to engage any heavy enemy infantry. The Dragonhide banner will let them absolutely murder people in assault, as rerolling 1s for everything plus the second turn simultaneous round thanks to the ice breath should make sure that they have an impact on the game.

Alternatively, I could replace the IGs with another Ogre block and/or swap out the Leadbelchers for a Thundertusk/pair of Cannons, or I could swap out the Mournfangs for a Stonehorn. I'll probably start with the above as it's very close to what I have in my collection currently, but I'm curious to see what regular Fantasy players think about the above list.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Army List: Wall of Russ

On the flight home from a business trip I accidentally trapped my travel popcorn book in the overhead compartment. Not wanting to disturb the gentleman seated next to me, I decided to whip out my phone and type up a possible list that has been brewing in my head.

One of the problems that I've been having with my Guard is that they often seem fairly schizophrenic and fragile to me. AV 12 boxes carrying meltaguns is definitely a powerful strategy, but those meltaguns just never seemed to add enough to the army's overall strategy to be supremely worth it. Sure they're scoring, well armored and deadly, but they do nothing at range and get torn up when they get close.

Meanwhile my long range heavy hitters, the Vendettas, Manticores and Hydras depended on getting in first dibs on shooting so that they could take out enemy AT. Any return fire quickly shut them down either temporarily or permanently, so going second depended a lot on waiting in hard cover or starting off the board. And I HATE starting off the board. Plus in order to protect them I needed to devote additional melta squads which meant that they weren't getting in my opponent's face.

So here are the factors that are in my brain:

-resilience to first turn/long range firepower
-unified purpose for the army
-strong emphasis on utilizing the Vet squads in midfield

I'm an avid follower of The Back 40k and, despite Mr. Sandwyrm's recent success rate at NOVA I really like the way his army plays, midfield and aggressive with plenty of Russ backup.

So, with the ideas of midfield, unified purpose, and resilience to firepower in my brain, here's what I thought up at 1850:

Company Command Squad, 3 meltaguns, Astropath, Chimera
Veteran Squad, 3 meltaguns, Chimera
Veteran Squad, 3 meltaguns, Chimera
Veteran Squad, 3 meltaguns, Chimera
Veteran Squad, 3 flamers, Chimera
Veteran Squad, 3 plasmaguns, Chimera
Devil Dog, hull hvy flamer
Devil Dog, hull hvy flamer
Leman Russ Demolisher, hull hvy flamer
Leman Russ Demolisher, hull hvy flamer
Leman Russ Squadron, one Executioner and one Exterminator, both with hull hvy bolters

Yep, 4 Russes. Enough to blanket most of my line from enemy fire or at least afford them a healthy cover save, while at the same time enjoying their lovely AV 14 against ranged attacks. Long Fangs? Don't care. Vendettas? Have fun. Eldar? Hope you brought enough Bright Lances. Grey Knights? Yeah, have fun with that str 7 rending. Autocannons? Hah!

There are also no Vendettas in the list. Sure they put out a lot of firepower, but everything can see them and therefore shoot them down. Devil Dogs, on the other hand, can bookmark my Chimera line and offer them AV 12 on the sides while also grabbing cover and offering a serious threat to vehicles and infantry alike.

Tactics with the list depend on the enemy. Standard deployment is Russes up front, Chimeras behind them and Devil Dogs taking the sides. Russes are mostly there to help the army weather the first two turns of shooting. After that the Vets can be loosed on the enemy, melting enemy tanks and troops while the Russes continue to assist as needed while (hopefully) staying out of melta range.

Against drop lists deploy a small group including the CC to lure the drop troops into a trap when reserves start coming in turn 2.

Now, this isn't some perfect, win all list. It shores up one weakness of Guard (lack of resiliance) but opens up a few others. MCs are difficult to deal with at range with no Vendettas. Drop armies can cause merry hob by bringing meltas into close range right away. It also has little option in the early game beyond driving pell mell and a few 24" shots if I'm lucky.

But I think that might be worth it to not worry about the long range firepower that dominates the game again.

Let me know what you think, and thanks for reading!