Archive for the 'weekend warrior' Category

17
Oct
09

weekend warrior: aisenblut orcs

In the frozen Aisenfell, hardiness and cruelty are survival traits.  It is no surprise the orcs there have changed in a land where dragons are hunted for food and where abominations roam the ice.  A breed apart from normal orcs, the Aisenblut are known for hostility and supernatural power.  Their pale, dappled grey skin, thick white hair and almost colourless blue eyes with catlike pupils mark them as different.  Many Aisenblut are known for living without fire, preferring to salt their kills or hanging them so they develop a game taste.

Aisenblut Parb
The parb are the weakest warriors of the Aisenblut orcs, analogous to the drudge.  Like drudges, their concept of honour is non-existent and they enjoy charging at enemies and swarming them.  Unlike them they learned clubs are useless for hacking and employ bone-bladed short swords that can cut blocks of ice out of a glacier.  Their sensitivity to fire is such they avoid it at all costs, preferring the chill of the glaciers and the small igloo-like dwellings they make.

Aisenblut Mestetul
The mestetel are fierce hunters analogous to the raider often harrying their foes and prey across ice sheet and glacier.  They dislike fire intensely and aim a javelin at torch bearers and other fire-making types.  They are wiry but as strong as a parb and often intimidate them. Their hunter’s eye ability makes them fearsome foes in a skirmish where a javelin can find people who mistake partial cover as insurance against pain.  Their ability to pick out a concealed target and strike it with a javelin makes them deadly hunters and feared opponents.  The mestetul is also feared for charging the enemy with great spears – their superior reach often carries them into a shield wall with devastating impact.  Mestetul are keen on skewering enemy leaders as trophies. 

Aisenblut Yrokh
The yrokh corresponds to the orc berserker and it at least keeps with ancestral tradition as a blow from it’s greataxe will crush the weak who it despises above all things.  The yrokh is a brutish mass of dappled grey orc muscle and sinew, it’s ice-blue eyes menace all they see.  The yrokh braids the fingerbones of their fallen foes into it’s hair and revel in senseless carnage. For them, there is only kill or be killed and death in battle is chosen over retreat.  This attitude leads to a short, brutish life filled with other people screaming – this pleases the yrokh well.  It will serve those who are stronger but an yrokh will test for weakness.

Aisenblut Glazazimoi

A shamanic leader of the Aisenblut orcs though it serves an aspect of Gruumsh fitting to it’s chill environment.  It’s skin is bone white, shaven and scarred and it’s single blue eye radiates a chill light that invigorates other Aisenblut in battle.
The glazazimoi will inspire other Aisenblut orcs to fierce charges and use it’s eye of winter to weaken a foe for allies to finish.  If it is close to a group it will use it’s freezing blast ability to weaken foes then keeping close to it’s allies for them to benefit from the relentless chill and incite blood fury.
The glazazimoi often forms the tactical nucleus of a group and works as a shamanic advisor to the orcs of it’s tribe.  Unlike the eye of Gruumsh, it is much more inclined to tactics and defensive fighting (for an orc anyway).
On death, the glazazimoi’s eye shines with an eerie blue chill that coats it’s spear and the flesh in frost, allowing one final attack before the glazazimoi finally falls over, heart shattering into ice. The cold revenge is a gift from the Elemental Chaos stolen by Gruumsh when the orc race was still in it’s infancy.

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11
Oct
09

weekend warrior: unasha-ti

Another cyclops to answer the cri de coeur from Gothridge Manor for more monocular monsters, this one with a seasonal twist (a mummified cyclops) and as it’s harvest time, I figure a cyclops crusher with locusts, beetles and other crop eaters would be suitably scary.

The tale of Unasha-ti
A greedy cyclops who crushed those who defied him in the name of his fomorian masters, he would stalk the fields of the terrified subjects and crush them flat under his tread.  Yet the fey can be vengeful; they got Unasha-ti drunk on potent wine and restrained him with ropes as he slept.

When he awoke, things got inventive.  The greedy hunger of Unasha-ti was known well to the villagers so they mocked him as they filled his maw with beetles and grubs, choking him on a wave of crawling, scuttling things.  Then they raised him up on a pole as a warning to the fomorians he served.

Three nights later, the moon turned black as sackcloth and there was a faint red fire around the rim.  To their horror, the fey saw Unasha-ti break free from his bonds, crawling with locusts and beetles, leaving grubs in his wake as he crushed the fields under his tread.  The eladrin drove him off with burning magic but Unasha-ti wrought it’s revenge as the fields burned around his long strides, fleeing into the woods and hiding.

The gods heard Unasha-ti’s choked cries of suffering and deemed the punishment unjust; they unleashed him in his new state upon the fey who now seek heroes brave and powerful enough to strike down a terror of their own making.  Yet Unasha-ti has turned spiteful in undeath and thinks nothing of stripping the flesh from the helpless as he walks, wreathed in locusts, beetles and biting flies.

26
Sep
09

weekend warrior: captain langrim and the blood tide

As promised the follow up to the Blood Tide Pirates featuring their fiendish captain and their ship.

Captain Langrim
A notorious pirate captain, Langrim was “…a bad seed, even among pirates.”  He would think little of wholesale slaughter once he’d got what he wanted and thought nothing of betraying prisoners so they believed they would be free only to find they were walking the plank into shark-infested waters.  Langrim became a vampire lord by drinking from an accursed chalice studded with shark’s teeth.  He has kept this chalice ever since and forces those who would wish to join his crew to drink his blood from it by the light of the moon so that over time they become thralls to him.  His fangs resemble those of a shark and his teeth are also serrated; the horror of his mouth is such that ‘Langrim’s Grin!’ is exclaimed as an oath when a pirate is deeply shocked.
Langrim prefers to attack at night; where his abilities can help him.  Like many of the more successful pirate captains he leads from the side, exhorting his pirates to pillage and plunder.  In battle he alternates between scourge and cutlass, lacking the co-ordination to use two weapons at the same time.  He usually leads with the cutlass to slow his opponent, lashes them with the scourge and repeats until he or his pirates can gain combat advantage.  At that point, the deadly flanking attacks lead to the victim usually going down under a welter of pirates as they drain them dry.
Langrim has a healthy respect for magic and for clerics and paladins in particular.  He usually insists they are the first to die in a combat unless he can find a way to parlay with them.  Then he’ll try to put them off-guard by using hostages, horrific spectacles or dilemmas where the divine servant must choose between compassion or foreswearing their deity.  Langrim is known for his love of bloodshed. He rules the Blood Tide with an iron fist inside a spiked plate gauntlet, woe betide anyone who tries to defy him.

The Blood Tide
Langrim’s ship is a high-sided caravel with three masts that flies a Jolly Roger stained red when she is entering battle or parlay with other pirates.  The figurehead of the ship is a maiden whose wood has been enchanted by a wizard living in Blacksands to weep bloody tears from the eyes and into the water to create a bloody wake.  This causes sharks to follow the ship (not all of them are Blood Tide pirates).  Anyone jumping overboard from the Blood Tide must move at half swim speed unless they are in shark form or risk an attack from one of the many sharks that follow the boat (+17 vs. AC for 2d6+5 damage).

19
Sep
09

weekend warrior: blood tide pirates

The stars are right!  First people complaining about vampires becoming My Little Pony surrogates.  Then Berin mentions the conjunction of Talk Like A Pirate Day and Worldwide D&D Day.  Rather than do an entire blog post in pirate-speak I thought ‘vampires/pirates/D&D’.  Three great tastes and you can guess the rest… The night-time depredations of the Blood Tide made the free port of Blacksands wealthy but their relationship with the town is that of a rabid attack dog and it’s unsavoury owner.  The other pirates know “…the Blood Tide crew be ‘touched’ by the dark…” and keep their ‘friends’ closer.  Though the pirates “fear no man if he’s got gold!” they respect the Blood Tide, it’s crew and the sharks that swim in it’s bloody wake.

Blood Tide Pirate
These pirates serve aboard the Blood Tide, a pirate ship known for it’s evil reputation and crew’s adoration of bloody violence – the pirates carry out night raids on coastal towns that strike fear into those communities and then sail into free ports like Blacksands to sell their ill-gotten booty.  Those who know of the Blood Tide often make conspicuous signs of faith or utter a prayer to be kept safe from them.  Dark whispers of those who join the Blood Tide having to kill someone by drinking blood from a cup lined with shark’s teeth are circulated by the credulous – the truth is worse.

Each is a seasoned cut-throat, skilled at flanking a foe and slashing them open with a swift cutlass blow and somehow always aware of what their captain wants.  The tales of drinking blood from the open wounds of their enemies, sharpened teeth and willingness to throw victims to sharks makes them unpleasant company.  At least one pirate has compared drinking with them with “…drinkin’ wi’ sharks who got legs – at least ye can trust a shark!” That said, the Blood Tide has notably worked well with other pirates, even though some ‘differences of opinion wash the timbers in blood’  to the benefit of all parties.

Their ability to shapechange into a shark is a secret though some sailors have reported that Blood Tide pirates have leapt off one side of a beleagured ship to vanish into shark-infested waters to reappear on the other side of the boat without a scratch and looking haler than when they jumped.  It also allows them to scout out a port or quay without the Blood Tide risking attack from the land.  Such exploration happens at night when the Blood Tide pirate can avoid notice and when night-lights are dimmed.

Next week: The fearsome Captain Langrim and the story of the Blood Tide.

12
Sep
09

weekend warrior: mokhus

Tim at Gothridge Manor has put out an appeal for DMs to use a cyclops or two instead of using newfangled monsters.  In tribute to this (and because frankly cyclops are cool – any monster Ray Harryhausen animates is made of awesome by default) this is a special edition of weekend warrior featuring a cyclops who knows the way to do it.  It being the smashing of adventurers into pulp although there are rumours that he may have friends who may appear in their own special posts.

Mokhus, a cyclops crusher with added punch.
Mokhus was born under an evil star, his nose hooked and as long as a troll’s, his body gnarled like the dark forests of the Feywild.  He favours a half-mask of black iron because it ‘makes him look pretty’ and the chainmail he’s improvised is shown extravagant care.  Despite a face only a fomorian could love, the real horror is his voice, which shifts from a screech worthy of a hag to a roar that a dire bear would feel proud of.  The voice carries an echo of thunder in it, when Mokhus fights he screeches with laughter that bedevils those unfortunate enough to get close enough.  Those who stay there usually experience the spiked greatclub he calls ‘Little Mokhus’ and the withering power of his evil eye.

Mean and crafty with a vicious streak as broad as his shoulders, he has two default attitudes to any situation.  One is to feign stupidity and ignorance so that events are apparently nothing to do with him.  The other is violence, which he’s rather good at and which he takes plenty of deliberate interest in.  This informs his methods of combat which are to feign ignorance of someone until they come close enough and then he roars with laughter and pounds them with Little Mokhus for their trouble, screeching about his attacks being the way it’s done.  His cruelty is abundant and near-indiscriminate, if the opportunity presents itself, he will beat women, children and animals. 

Other cyclops avoid Mokhus, knowing a bad one when they see it.  The fomorians are divided on the subject, Mokhus has been exiled from one fomorian kingdom for his disobedience and violence while other, more ambitious fomorians wonder how to court the brutish Mokhus so that his unique traits may be passed onto their warriors.  Mokhus doesn’t care as long as there is food to eat, things to crush and gold to waste on food, fine company and strong drink.  His brutish sadism makes him a target for good and right-thinking folk but his sheer strength and inapproachability in melee makes him a difficult proposition.

12
Jul
09

weekend warrior: shan

The enigmatic Shan live in the east; their enduring and isolated dynastic empire untouched by all except Turalar raiders and hardy merchants who seek the exotic materials the Shan create (fine silks, alchemical reagents, exotic spices and delicacies). Their armies are founded on an ordered society and precise strategies delivered through the iron-clad authority of their generals and innovative use of drums and alchemical reagents for signalling and battle.

The Shan value strength and intellect; however childhood diseases ravage them and they are quite superstitious. The priests of the Shan place more value on learning than on healing to the detriment of the people; as a result the Shan are susceptible to illness and fancy. This is kept in check by the fierce authority of the generals and ministers. Shan society is founded on duty to family, nobility and those with authority and a healthy respect for history.

Shan Infantry
Half of all Shan forces are made up of their infantry. Trained in disciplined ranks when they are tall enough to use a glaive a mass of Shan infantry give pause to any who dare them for their skill in spotting openings leads to an auspicious strike; a devastating attack against an opponent which creates another opening.

Those who cannot engage foes with glaives use crossbows. The Shan will concentrate fire to break formations, kill missilers or controllers or the steeds of opposing cavalry. Such unchivalrous behavior are seen as tactical necessity – they leave heroics to their heroes and get on with the duty of war.

Shan Hero
About 25% of all Shan forces are made up of these plucky skirmishers, these ‘righteous rogues’ are not rogues as such but skilled in thievery and war – commando tactics are their forte. Their use of alchemical fire is primarily to sabotage enemy fortifications or stabling yet they are not above using it to disperse formations in battle; their skill in breaking formations and sudden strikes on enemies make them a versatile force and one not to be sneered at.

Their relative vulnerability keeps them mobile and using a strong offence; the heroes can bolster morale not only by their deeds but also by their shouts and chants which inspire allies to swift attacks of their own. They often provide crossbow support for a mass of infantry – heroes may use sudden strikes with a crossbow to target enemy officers or artillery workers in order to disable their foes and help their allies.

Shan Warsmiter
About 15% of a Shan force are made up of these warriors. They are deployed in pairs on war chariots to charge and shatter the ranks of enemies or trap cavalry. Warsmiters are raised from childhood, their training emphasises use of strength and longsword use so that they can perform athletic feats in full armour and wield sword and shield with considerable skill.

The heavy armour of the warsmiters make them a tough nut to crack and their skill in co-ordinated fighting makes assaulting a war chariot perilous. Their use of crossbow from chariot makes them mobile snipers despite their armour but this is not their primary function. Their use of alchemical fire to break formations makes them feared by their enemies – a popular tactic is to throw the flask over the heads of the first rank so the fire burns multiple ranks and forces them to disperse.

Shan Officer
About 10% of a Shan force are made up of officers; skilled warriors and capable scholars who have learned the tactics of their warlord ancestors and whose battleplans have been honed by hours of study of history. This effectiveness translates into battle; the officer is an exceptional individual who can be told apart from their warsmiter troops by the red plumes worn on the helmet and a scroll case containing tactical histories.

The officers are keen tacticians, their understanding of military history and past battles helps to inform them of current situations. The officer will make History checks to try and establish an advantage in battle but is also no slouch when it comes to the battlefield. Accompanied by a warsmiter in a battle chariot, the officer is often key in creating a situation where a weak point is found and exploited to the advantage of the troops. Their use of the bold execution maneouver can turn the tide of battle when facing a large or dangerous foe.

20
Jun
09

weekend warrior: vargrim

The Vargrim are natural sailors and raiders; their settling of lands not their own lead to conflict between them and both the Artorians and Pidonar. The Vargrim persist for their own lands are hard to farm in comparison to Artorian lands. Undisciplined, individualistic warriors driven by a culture that values courage as much as wealth and their warlike gods, they are known for their bravery and fury in battle.

Vargrim Skirmisher
About 30% of any Vargrim force is made up of skirmishers who fight on foot; these warriors are fierce in battle yet know the wisdom of employing bows. The skirmishers will fire arrows before they charge into battle with handaxe and shield. The skirmishers also have some woodscraft about them and can forage if need be for a while; letting them travel further than most raiders might.

If attacking a fortification or a ship skirmishers often use crude flaming arrows on targets and aim for wood, cloth or straw. The resulting fire adds to the mayhem and it’s not unknown for these arrows to find living targets and then start a proper fire when they die…

Vargrim Raiders
About 25% of any Vargrim force is made up of these warriors; the raiders are fierce and strong if not always tactically sound. Yet these warriors is not easily contained, heavily armoured and given to devastating charges at the start of a fight, they reap an enemy headcount as their axes rise and fall with devastating effectiveness.

The raiders occasionally take time to pillage if no immediate threat is apparent; usually in battle they are too incensed or engaged in combat to be able to search effectively. Instead they are more concerned with glorious battle and fighting foes so they can loot at their leisure. Fleeing a raider is often cause to gain an axe in the back as well.

Vargrim Bear-sarks
These warriors are known for the red rage that fills them in battle and the bearskins they wear; their fury is such that it terrifies many who face it. About 15% of any Vargrim force is made up of bear-sarks. Their lack of discipline makes them a risky proposition but in melee, few soldiers want to face them.

The bear-sarks are incredibly tough and employ scarification and tattoos to lend themselves a near-inhuman air; such cruelties are to them as natural as breathing. The howling they make when they render a foe helpless terrifies any who hear it for they cannot believe something could make such an inhuman noise.

Vargrim Wolfs-heads
About 20% of any Vargrim force is made up of these warriors. They have survived life as a raider and are now eager participants in raids and violent assaults on the enemy. They are named for the wolf pelts that they wear; each wolfs-head is part of a society of warriors who emulate the wolf’s ferocity. Among the bear-sarks, the wolfs-heads are respected for their skill in battle.

The wolfs-head make use of bow and dagger in order to ensure guards die quickly and subtly; however in a battle, the presence of battleaxe and large shield are a comfort to Vargrim for the wolfs-heads are unafraid of sorcery and perils caused by troll or giant. Undead give them pause, not least because to the Vargrim, such a creature would be declared abomniation.

Vargrim Hero
These hardened warriors comprise 10% of any Vargrim force and are called hero by their own people; to victims of a Vargrim raid, different names are used with a look of horror and disgust. These scalemail-clad warriors relish battle and move with a grace belied by the bulk of their armour and shields. The other Vargrim keep a subtle distance from him, even the bear-sarks know that a hero is someone you don’t cross.

The grudges that a Vargrim hero carries are often legend, their endurance in the face of battle, especially when the blood flows makes them tenacious opponents and their skill with the hero’s sword makes them noteworthy amid a horde of axe-wielding warriors. It’s said that a hero will go to the end of the world to fulfill a vendetta and the Vargrim are known for this kind of extremity; the hero in particular will think nothing of attacking at the time that best guarantees victory.