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Saturday, 25 January 2020

Tellus: Character Concepts (Sky Folks)

Leanne from Fire Emblem
At their most basic, the Sky Folks fills (parts of) the niche occupied by elves in more classic settings: They are an ancient, aloof and slowly dying/fading race. This is such a common archetype to fantasy as a whole that it has long been ingrained within JRPG, to no one's surprise.

Unlike the elves, however, the Sky Folks are much more mortal with a lifespan much closer to that of the other races compared to earlier depiction of elves having massively vast lifespans. How long exactly this lifespan is would vary between Sky Folks clan and individuals. Sky Folks age gracefully, retaining their grace and beauty for a long time but they age from hatchling to adult at the same rate as Ulma and Dragon Clans. This has allowed them to better intermingle and live alongside Ulma.

Arcane Spellcaster

Much of what is deemed 'White Magic' by the Ulma has its root in the magic and mystical traditions of the Sky Folks: they channel the power of rejuvenation, healing, stasis and light more than the chaotic and raw elemental side of magic. The Ulma have long outstripped the Sky Folks in many aspects when it come to magic: having a higher % of their population being magically gifted doesn't exactly translate to 'all Sky Folks are good at magic'. Much of their vaunted prowess is a mixture of myth and tall tale and whatever truth may have existed has long faded in this era, with their knowledge of magic having grown increasingly limited and stagnant. Nonetheless, as adventurers are (usually) gifted individuals it make sense for a Sky Folk character to display such powers attributed to the Sky Folks of old.
  • The expression of the innate magic of the Sky Folks would be the Sorcerer. What Bloodline exactly can vary between aeries. Honestly I haven't found a good Origin which fit well with the Skyfolks (yet).
  • The Bard class, if it exist in Tellus, would be rooted in the ancient songs of the Sky-Folk. The ancient songs of the Sky Folks were said to carry potent magic and singing has long remained ingrained in the general culture of Sky Folks as well as playing various wind instruments. Even a non-spellcasting Sky Folks singer could earn some good money purely by their singing skill and the exotic, awe-inspiring nature of their presence.
  • Sky-Folks are well-suited to the Warlock class but not in the traditional depiction of the class. These 'Warlocks' are not power-hungry dabbler who sell their souls to eldritch powers but rather willing channelers of ancient spirits of great magical potency who willingly lend their aid to the Sky-Folks. The Celestial Patron is a good choice, as is The Dreamer, The Sybil (Kobold Press' Deep Magic: Combat Divination) or any Patron that isn't something ominous or destructive.
  • Given their image of holyness and being very much angel-like, it make sense for Sky Folks Wizards to be Angelic Scribes (Kobold Press' Deep Magic: Angelic Seals). The 'angels' of the Sky-Folks are mixture of abstract beings, spirits of light/healing/whatever and the ascended thoughts and memories of their ancestors.

Divine-Aligned Characters

As with all races of Tellus, the religion of the Sky-Folks isn't something which has been greatly detailed and it doesn't really need to, as it is exactly one would expect: the usual about the light, ancestor spirits, protection, blablabla you get the point. However on average, the Sky-Folks have slightly more divinely-empowered champions and spellcasters than the Ulma or the Dragon Clans, if only just barely. The days of myth where their very songs summoned the Gods of old are long gone.
  • The Sky-Folk Paladin is both a logical yet unexpected choice at a glance. The classic Paladin as a holy warrior empowered by the gods of justice, light and all that-other-stuff make sense with the racial connection to the forces of good and light. However a Paladin is generally a heavily armored frontline warrior, which clash with the lithe and mobile Sky-Folks.
  • A Sky-Folk Cleric is very much one of the ultimate expression of their ancient culture, as they would be a divinely-inspired healer, magician and holy man or woman. Such a character would need a good explanation as to why they are not actively protecting their aerie. However this explanation could be as simple and basic as some divinely inspired youth flipping the finger to crusty elders and going off in the world to do good. Suitable Domains include: Life, Light, Protection or Solidarity.

Other Options

'Martial' characters are hardly impossible for Sky-Folks but they'd be looked at a little bit funny due to people's expectations of some graceful, almost divine magician or gifted singer with a magical voice. Sky-Folks Fighters are generally those who rely on their innate mobility and dexterity rather than frontline fighters who would risk damaging their wings. Rangers might exist too but the other classes are generally unheard of among that race.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Tellus: The (Secret) Origins of Ulma

This setting material is posted here for the sake of expanding the lore of Tellus and adding some content and context to the history of its races. It is worth understanding that this constitute a major spoiler to the world history, not to mention that such information about the true history of the world is virtually impossible to learn in-character. This is all information the players and I, the GM, would want to know to better frame Tellus' history.

The Origins of the Ulma

Art by Brother Baston
One of the first things established about Tellus (when it finally got a name and some concrete lore) is that its current dominant race are the Ulma (aka Humans). It was also stated rather clearly that, overall, the Ulma are the least magically gifted race, with a comparatively small portion of their population having a natural affinity, stated to be about 'one in several hundred'. This of course is mechanically supported by the 5e version of Tellus (currently the default unless I feel like making my own homebrew) by restricting Ulma from taking the Sorcerer class and the fact human mechanically lack any racial ability which could be constructed as magical. They are the normal, the mundane or even (to some) the boring race. But why, exactly, are the Ulma so disconnected from magic? Well it is more accurate to say that it's Tellus' own magic they haven't adapted to.

The true origins of the Ulma lie in the distant past of the Tellus universe on a planet named Phaeton, a planet very similar-yet-different to Tellus. In the ancient past of that universe, planetary travel was possible with portals, bridges of starlight and similar high magic/scifi concepts. Indeed, if Tellus was part of some long-lasting JRPG series there would be at least one entry somewhere in the franchise which would be highly controversial due to switching to scifi rather than fantasy. Such an hypothetical entry in the franchise would be the oddball of the franchise, taking place on the planet Phaeton and seemingly being disconnected from the franchise as a whole, at least on the surface. We will call it 'Game N' for the purpose of this long ramble.

So 'Game N' happen and is generally seen as weird by the hypothetical fans of the hypothetical Tellus franchise due to being much more rooted in science fiction than the typical fantasy fare of Tellus. The truth however, be it at the time or decades after via retcon, is that 'Game N' is a prequel. Phaeton is the original world of the Ulma. They are alien to Tellus and the reason they appeared out of nowhere on Tellus, being the sapient mammal race of the world is that they are were not originally native to it. What 'Game N' showed as an unconnected setting was, in fact, the true home of the Ulma. Their birthplace.

Geomantic Attunement

The reason why Ulma are less potent with magic is simply that the Ulma of Tellus are the unmodified, unadapted strain of the race. Their race first arrived on Tellus in truly ancient times, in some long-last age of the prequels or something along those lines. These ancient Ulma, or the 'Ancients' for the sake of clichés eventually adapted to the various geomantic forces which saturated Tellus. This true origin was hinted at in the possible optional races of Tellus, as written here and here. The Ancients ceased to exist as a race because their descendants became different races, infused with and connected to their adopted home. However as Tellus underwent many cycles of geomantic changes, ebb and flow many of these races faded into myth as these races were dependent on Tellus' magic to sustain their existence. In times when these energies ceased to flow freely, more and more of their descendants reverted to their base state.

When the second batch of Ulma arrived from Phaeton much later, they intermingled with these slowly dying races and their unique traits, already on the decline, faded away to become mere anomalies within certain bloodlines. It is unclear on how or why the second wave of Ulma never adapted to become adopted children of Tellus. Perhaps they arrived during a time where the world was particularly hostile to them and saw fit to reshape Tellus to their own needs rather than adapt to it. In time, entire clan and nations of these strange, magically-deficient yet hardy aliens arose and spread across Tellus. Such was their numbers, might and cunning that perhaps no one ever really felt the calling of the planet. They remained (mostly) true to their original nature and not once did they ever really question the why of their disconnect.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Tellus: The Dragon Khanate

The Dragon Khanate is on the decline, yet its power remain nothing to sneeze at. In the current age of Tellus it is the main rival to the Sheradilan Empire when it come to sheer scope and might, yet the Khanate is also very much a different beast altogether from the Empire. It is also the last great world power to be primarily ruled and populated by non-Ulma, namely the people of the Dragon Clans. The Dragon Clans are not a dying race by any mean, certainly not in term of numbers (barring a world-spanning genocide, they won't be gone anytime soon), at least not within the next few centuries. However it is safe to say their territories and overall might has severely declined in the current age which is Ulma-dominant.

The Dragon Khanate

Art by Charlotte Kuger.
The Dragon Khanate operate primarily from the southern continent and various smaller islands around it. Its heart is the aforementioned southern continent and the various, disparate populations and clans of the Dragon-blooded men and women living on it. Some clans are mercantile, some are pirates and some are purely warriors with a few composed nearly entirely of mystics of some stripe or another. It has allies and tributaries all across the southern seas, spanning many cultures including many offshoot of the Ulma which are far removed from the mainline culture of the other continents, such as the tropical islanders and mariners or the mysterious people of the far eastern lands.

In theory all those are vassals to the great Dragon Khanate, last great power on Tellus not controlled by Ulma. In practice it is a little more complicated, as the Khanate  is nowhere as strong or as unified as it used to be. Without a strong leader, the various clans have returned to their bolder, more independent ways as the boundless energy and pride of the Dragon Clans are hard to contain. In older times, the Dragon Clans could raise great armies composed of Dragon-men, tamed giant beasts, war-mages and more while calling upon the seafaring skills of the islanders to help them raise great fleets of dragon-prowed boats. In the current age, they are an increasingly disparate people and the great armies of old are nowhere to be seen. Not that it stopped them from kicking the Empire's ass multiple time, as inferior numbers and infrastructure hasn't stopped the Khanate warriors from trying to fight, casualties be damned. After all, the Dragon Clans are notorious for fighting their hardest when cornered.

This is the state of the Khanate today: it is still very much alive and very much a raging fire, but it is not a unified bonfire and more akin to a thousand smaller torches. Some of their ports remain open to strangers for trade, large and lively exotic bazaar which deal in so many odd curios. Small fleets of pirates and/or merchants prowl the oceans. However, should the Dragon Clans fail to unify their fire will slowly fade as the Ulma overtake them....

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Tellus: The Sheradilan Empire

Art by Naranbaatar Ganbolt.
The biggest, most common cliché of JRPG from the 'classic' to the 'modern' era has always been the mandatory Evil Empire out to conquer the world, usually uncovering or abusing some ancient power source and/or ancient evil which may or may not hijack its apparatus. It's been there in Final Fantasy since the second game with the Palamecian Empire and its still going strong in the series to this day with the Garlean Empire of Final Fantasy XIV and Niflheim of XV. Now while the term used is 'Empire' (presumably because it evoke power and expansion) they don't really have to be an Empire in the actual definition of the term and many of the common and famous examples may not have a political structure which match the most famous historical Empires: the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire (the king of oxymoronic names!) and the British colonial empire.

Being 'an evil Empire' in these games is more of a state of mind and of role it plays within the setting and plot: Shinra Corporation from Final Fantasy VII is a mega-corporation but its pretty much plays the token Evil Empire role in the early game. The 'Evil Empire' exist to provide waves of militaristic, expendable mooks to throw at the players, evil commander/generals/whatever to act as named minor antagonists and often a few doomsday threats to the world. Their predominant colors are red and black more often than not, possibly to evoke the Nazis (in spite of those guys not really ruling anything for an extended period of time and collapsing fairly quickly, compared to the Romans). Often these Empires don't...really make sense to be quite honest,  being cartoonishly evil and seemingly so unstable as to collapse as soon as the Emperor is killed by a teenager. Historically, Empires weren't so easily clear cut even if they would certainly appear as the aforementioned all-conquering force of evil to those on the wrong end of their war machine.

In Tellus, the token 'Evil Empire' is the Sheradil Empire. However because I realize my game will not be confined to the railroad plot of a classical JRPG there is a very strong possibility this empire may end up playing a different role or end up explored in ways not intended which would require me to flesh them out beyond being a mere caricature.

The Sheradilan Empire

The Sheradilan Empire is the greatest military power in Tellus. Of course, this isn't really saying much in the current era of the world, as the last centuries have been generally on the decline overall. While currently there isn't an explicitly detailed timeline for Tellus its safe to say that the last few centuries have been that of re-growth following the collapse of older powers. Overall the Ulma have spread across the world even more, growing in power and number in spite of their great nations of past centuries having grown in size, collapsed and grown again. Of the current world order the Sheradil Empire stand at the top as the most powerful.

It was not greed or a desire for conquest which forged what would become the Empire but a simple need for survival. Tellus can be a notoriously wild place, filled with all manner of monsters and odd geomantic locales. There was strength in unity and such a place was fertile ground for someone to unite disparate people. The Sheradil Empire is made of the original union of three city-states:
  • Sheradil, the military and (former) political powerhouse. It is Sheradil which used to provide the military might, with its ancient orders of knights populated by its various noble houses while the common populace enlisted willingly. The leader of Sheradil (the city) is also the leader of the Empire's military, the Lord Marshall.
  • Zerim was a small enclave formed by mages united by a common cause (survival of their research, their secrets and their lives in that order). While the smallest of all three original city-states it is the most powerful in modern Sheradil's politics as it formed the basis of the magical research & development which fuel the Empire's growth. The Grand Magus of Zerim is the most powerful spellcaster in the Empire and, possibly, the most powerful Ulm in the world. He's also quite, quite mad.
  • Phelmus and mercantile networks and ports fueled the Empire's economy and navy. It is ruled by mercantile guilds which are heavily intertwined with the research and development of Zerim. The Guildmaster of Phelmus may very well be the richest (and most corrupt) man in the world and his greed knows no bound.
Together these form the Triumvirate which rule directly below the Emperor, who is always drawn from the various noble houses of Sheradil. While in practice this meant (in ancient times) that Sheradil held the most power in the Empire this is increasingly less true, with the last few Emperors having often been either inept puppets of one or more member of the Triumvirate or madmen all too eager to fuel the expansion of Sheradil's resources. A few well-meaning idealists and noble rulers did exist but these are increasingly rarer and tend to conveniently die to 'clean up' the line of succession.

The Threefold City

Art by Volodymyr Shvacko
The three original cities which formed the early Empire are no more, having merged together in one mega-city which span the entire peninsula where the three city-states laid. The Threefold City (also called the Imperial City) is gigantic marvel whose sheer scope and level of advancement has not seen since the days of myth. There are massive 'garden' spanning between its major districts: some are major geomantic points which have, for whatever reasons related to their harnessing, not been turned into churning magitek factories. Others are parks and domains for the various noble houses to enjoy greenery and the traditions of hunting while others are magically-attuned farmland, drawing energy from the nearby geomantic points to renew themselves and provide food to the city.

Such level of advancement come at a price, however: for one thing, the Empire's resources to maintain such a massive city are dwindling. Law enforcement is also a concern and there are many horrid slums and other terrible places to live, where squalor and thievery are common. Some speculate the city just can't sustain itself forever and this has spurred the Empire to conquer more lands and acquire their resources. Others speculate that Mages guilds are slowly accidentally corrupting and polluting the city with their experiments, unsettling the geomantic energies and causing spontaneous unstable phenomena. Others say they are even releasing their experiments in the city sewers but this has yet to be proven.

The Imperial Army

Even today, with Sheradilan patriotism slowly on the wane (since a lot of people feel they're less fighting for their city/nation and more for the Guilds), Sheradil maintain a large volunteer army. Joining the army is a good way for one to improve their lot in life and this remain true even today. The army is large, well organized and well-equipped and offers some pretty decent opportunities for a commoner to rise through the ranks all things considered. Others volunteer to avoid prison and there are quite a few regiments raised entirely from criminal and slum rats. A few have even risen to the rank of general purely from their merits and ruthlessness, which is insulting to the commoners with a clear record and the nobles alike. In truth these ruthless bastards come from the ranks of those whose talents are well suited to the Guildmaster and Grand Magus' plans. If the game ever call for a General to be a ruthless and almost stupidly evil individual, it would be one of those.

In addition to the rank infantry and the nobles (who form elite corps, often armored cavalry and/or command), the army boast a fairly large navy and, much more importantly, elite corps of battle-mages. While magical talent remain rare among Ulma, the Magus have long studied the phenomena and produced many training regimen which could help foster some weak or even dormant potential. While these individuals might never rise to a high level of power, even the weakest of spells is an important asset. There are also rumours of the Grand Magus attempting to magically imbue and mutate individuals but this too is unproven. What is more common is the (relatively) new corps of war mages, trained exclusively in spells designed for battlefield use. This ruthless, purely scientific and pragmatic approach to magic is utterly devoid of any spiritual aspect and focus exclusively on getting results: namely bigass fireballs and spells designed to enhance or weaken multiple individuals at once.

Dissent from Within?

One generally expect an 'evil Empire' to have some rebellion going on, possibly because of how famous Star Wars is. In truth, right now I have not written down anything which cement the who and the what of any rebellion. It is, however, accurate to say that there are plenty of people within the Sheradilan Empire with a reason to hate the status quo, such as:
  • Nobles tend to be either battle-hungry elitist assholes or people lamenting the loss of nobility of their caste, who are now reduced to being either bloodthirsty conquerors, pencil-pushing bureaucrats or petty politicians. Sheradil noble lines were founded from the great heroes who battled under the banner of the Empire's founder. They fought monsters. They protected people. This idealism was lost over time.
  • Sheradil's various religious orders have been long-deemed obsolete. Symbolic, at best. Whatever complex faith these people had has fallen by the wayside and the spiritual is increasingly neglected, with the magical and divine being more and more seen as a tool for greed and conquest.
  • Some Generals have grown dissatisfied with the many wars they have waged and which ended in a stalemate in spite of Sheradil's great power. Often the simplest solution to win a conflict was rejected by the highest echelon because doing so would harm the schemes of the Grand Magus or potential future assets for the Guildmaster. Entire regiments have been lost to protracted campaigns which could have been more easily resolved. In some cases, the peaceful surrender of the enemy was told to be ignored.
  • The sewers and slums are full of people living in abject poverty. It is also possible that a population of cast off 'mutants' may exist down there, eager to destroy the Empire which made them suffer.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Warstuff: Transformers Micro Battles!

Little dudes who double as little tanks, what's not to like?
Last wargame-related post of the month, going back to working on Tellus afterward. So, currently the shelves at local Walmart (and similar stores), should one bother to look at their toy aisle, ought to be covered in Transformers figure from the nearly concluded Siege line. This line (and its upcoming 2020 continuation, Earthrise) has two size class of figures which are almost 30mm-ish scaled (if a bit taller). These are the Micromaster class (come in two packs) and the Battlemasters which turn into weapons: mostly guns but there are a few melee armaments in there and the oddball 'medical scanner' for Rung.

As I've previously written, these guys are decently cheap (yet still good) fun little action figures of little robot dudes. They are also known to clog shelves quite a bit, meaning they are readily abundant making them easy to 'army build' and/or repaint into another character. In any case, this post contain the stats for most the Micro and Battlemasters of Siege (including some of the exclusives) and the first wave of Earthrise. The basic rules for my approach to conversion are:

  • If its an all-terrain vehicle then it has Strider.
  • If it either has a flying animal mode or an airplane mode, it has Flying.
  • If its some sort of tank or artillery it has either Deadly or Shooter.
  • Battlemasters have either Shooter if it turns into a gun or Frenzy if its a melee weapon.
  • Soundwave's Spy Cassettes have Stealthy thanks to being deployed by Soundwave and used for espionage.
  • If using a figure that's Legend class (bigger than Micromaster or Battlemaster) from another line then it has Large.
  • If its the (primary) partner of a major character (like 'Firedrive' being Firebolt, the Targetmaster of Hot Rod/Rodimus or Laserbeak for Soundwave) then its probably Quality 4+ or above.
Here's the list of figures. Earthrise figure list can be found here. Finally these things should be available at local Wal Mart, Target, Toys R Us (for those outside the USA) and similar retail and/or toy stores. They are also available online such as place like Big Bad Toy Store, TFSource and others like that.


Autobots

Battlemasters:
  • Firedrive: Quality  4+, Shooter 3 (30pts)
  • Lionizer/Dazzlestrike: Quality 6+, Fast, Frenzy, Strider (20pts)
  • Pteraxadon: Quality 5+, Frenzy, Flying (25pts)
  • Smashdown: Quality 5+, Frenzy, Intimidating (25pts)
  • Rung: Quality 6+, Camouflaged, Healer, Regeneration (40pts)
  • Trenchfoot: Quality 5+, Shooter 3 (25pts)
  • Soundbarrier: Quality 5+, Tough (40pts)
Micromasters:
  • Roadhandler: Quality 5+, Fearless (20pts)
  • Swindler: Quality 5+, Hit-And-Run (20pts)
  • Topshot/Flak: Quality 5+, Shooter (15pts)
  • Red Heat/Trip Up: Quality 5+, Frenzy, Fearless (30pts)
  • Stakeout: Quality 5+, Fearless, Hit-And-Run (30pts)
  • Highjump: Quality 5+, Strider, Camouflaged (20pts)
  • Powertrain: Quality 5+, Strider, Leader (45pts)
  • Daddy-O: Quality 5+, Hit-And-Run, Leader (50pts)

Decepticons

Battlemasters:
  • Blowpipe/Aimless/Caliburst: Quality 5+, Shooter 3 (25pts)
  • Singe/Shrute: Quality 5+, Shooter, Fire (25pts)
  • Terror-Daxtyl: Quality 5+, Frenzy, Flying (25pts)
  • Fracas: Quality  4+, Shooter 3 (30pts)
Micromasters:
  • Stormcloud: Quality 5+, Flying, Camouflaged (25pts)
  • Visper: Quality 5+, Flying, Leader (50pts)
  • Laserbeak: Quality 4+, Flying, Stealthy (30pts)
  • Ravage: Quality 5+, Fast, Strider, Stealthy (25pts)
  • Blackjack/Hyperdrive: Quality 5+, Hit-And-Run (20pts)
  • Rumble*: Quality 5+, Frenzy, Stealth (20pts)
  • Ratbat: Quality 5+, Flying, Stealth, Leader (55pts)
  • Direct-Hit/Powerpunch: Quality 5+, Shooter (15pts)
  • Bombshock: Quality 5+, Armored, Strider, Shooter (35pts)
  • Growl: Quality 5+, Armored, Shooter (30pts)
*Toy says Rumble but you could also call it Frenzy....

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Grimdark Future: 'Fluffy' Battle Brothers Part 2

A sequel to the very first of these 3000 points lists I've made, which attempt to create a decently solid 3k list whose playstyle and thematic reflects the lore and disposition of the aforementioned army in Warhammer 40k given that Grimdark Future doesn't have things like Stratagem or Relics which modern editions of 40k have.

Blood Angels: Wings of Sanguinius

"I swear if you make
another Twilight joke..."
Detachment: Blood Brothers
When it come to rapid assault the Blood Angels are tough to beat. The White Scars are faster with their bikes and the Space Wolves definitely give them some serious competition in terms of ability to kick ass in melee but I'd argue its a pretty stiff competition between these two with the Blood Angels possibly having the edge in some aspect: namely they do quite like their jump packs as it is as close as they can get to emulating the wings of their Primarch, Sanguinius. There's always been a special affinity for flight in the Blood Angels and it ties back to the unique wings their progenitor was born with.

Captain [1] (185pts)
Plasma Pistol and Energy Hammer
Jetpack
Advanced Tactics
+Furious

Psychic [1] (215pts)
Plasma Pistol and Energy Hammer
Jetpack
+Furious

Guardian Brothers [5] (365pts)
4x Assault Pistols
1x Fusion Pistol
1x Battle Standard

Death Brothers [5] (365pts)
5x Flamethrower Pistol and Energy Sword
Jetpacks

Assault Brothers [10] x3 (1770pts)
2x Heavy Chainsaw Sword
2x Flamethrower Pistol
Jetpacks
+Furious

Tactics: This entire list has Ambush via their jetpack, meaning the entire army will arrive on the second turn and jump down on the enemy out of nowhere. Blood Angels Brothers main mechanic is Furious, which is +1 attack on a charge. This is why quite a few units have powerful melee weapons, as its not an extra basic hit but an extra attack with the weapon of choice, meaning those hammers and heavy chainsaw will swing one more time. There is also a Psychic which add versatility to the list. Finally the Death Company Brothers are designed to be thrown reckless into masses of enemy infantry to destroy them as quickly as possible, cleaning the battlefield of a potential mob of weaker foes.

Black Templars: Space Crusade

Detachment: Blood Brothers
DEUS IMPERATOR VULT
Another list using the Blood Brothers for the mechanics rather than the Blood Angels-specific units: these are the zealous and (arguably) insane Black Templars. Few Space Marine Chapters can be said to be as, well, nutty as these guys who crank up the 'crusading space knight' aspect of Space Marines to eleven or beyond. Being extremely focused on melee, they are well suited to be upgraded with Furious for additional attacks. The Black Templars also have a very unique organization to their Chapter which can't be completely replicated in Grimdark Future so this is the best which can be achieved.

Champion Castellan [1] (175pts)
2x Energy Claws
Advanced Tactics
Veteran Infantry
+Furious

Champion The Emperor's Champion [1] (130pts)
Heavy Chainsaw Sword The Black Sword
Veteran Infantry
+Furious

Assault Brothers Sword Brethren [10] (630pts)
2x Plasma Pistol & Energy Hammer
2x Heavy Chainsaw Sword
2x Pistol & CCW
4x Flamethrower & CCW
Veteran Infantry
+Furious

Assault Brothers Crusaders [10] x3 (1260pts)
7x Pistol and CCW
3x Heavy Chainsaw Sword
+Furious

Pathfinders Neophytes [5] x3 (720pts)
4x Pistol & CCW
1x Missile Launcher
+Furious

Tactics: Assign the Castellan to his retinue of Sword Brethren while (for fluff reasons) the Emperor's Champion will go alone, dueling enemies as intended. With its focus on Heavy Chainsaw Swords (which could be refluffed and modeled as some sort of massive broadsword), this list has a bucket load of attacks when charging into melee, making it excellent to clean infantry. To keep things as close to the concept of Black Templars mixed squads, each Scout Pathfinder should be fighting close by and supporting a Crusader Squad.

Ultramarines: Tyrannic War Veterans

Detachment: Watch Brothers
Smurfs can be so much more
than just 'vanilla'
Making an Ultramarine centered around being 'generic' would be extremely boring as it would produce only a decently balanced and versatile list which everyone can do. Its too easy, too simple. As such I've chosen to focus on the 1st Company of the Ultramarines and a specialized type of veteran called Tyrannic War Veterans who, as the name implies, are master at hunting and slaying Tyranids. They are one of the only deviance from the Codex Astartes which Ultramarines have ever allowed themselves to have which, to me, speak of the deep scars the Tyranid invasions have left on the history of the Chapter.

Captain Terminator Captain [1] (235pts)
Storm Rifle and Chainsaw Fist
Destroyer Armor
+Tactical Master

Captain Veteran Sergeant A [1] x2 (410pts)
Storm Rifle
Veteran Infantry
Advanced Tactics
+Tactical Master

Captain Veteran Sergeant B [1] x2 (450pts)
Pistol and Energy Hammer
Jetpack
Advanced Tactics
+Tactical Master

Battle Brothers Sternguard Veterans [10] x2 (625pts)
2x Heavy Flamethrower
1x Medical Training
1x Battle Standard
Veteran Infantry

Assault Brothers Vanguard Veterans [5] x2 (570pts)
2x Pistol & Energy Hammer
Veteran Infantry

Watch Destroyers Terminators [5] (675pts)
3x Storm Rifles and Energy Fist + Attachment: Fusion Rifle
2x Storm Rifles and Energy Fist

Tactics: Assign Veteran Sergeants A to the Sternguards, Veteran Sergeants B to the Vanguards and the Terminator Captain to the other Terminators. Both base squads are primarily armed with weapons which allows the use of the Tactical Master ability of the Watch Brothers, allowing the squad to load specialized bolter ammunitions. The +1 to hit option is pointless as they all have Veteran Infantry and everything caps at 2+. What is useful is the rest, namely getting Rending or +1 AP. The exception to these are the two guys in each squad carrying Heavy Flamethrowers to presumably torch down any alien mob. The Terminators Destroyers round out this list with some serious firepower waiting in ambush.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Tellus: Quick Towns, Settings and Gimmicks

Its a bit of a JRPG staple that every town is different from the other. This is part of the fun, the exploration and the drive to see more as one continue through the game's plot (and endless grind). As game budget and technology increased, it became more and more common for each town or city in a specific game to feature increasingly more unique architecture, colors, style and of course a unique catchy musical theme which helps define the town. Pokémon in particular, while very different from the JRPG I strive to emulate, is pretty good at this.

Tellus has plenty of monsters, that much is true. Being mostly composed of semi self-sufficient city-states in lands where monsters and wild beasts are commonplace, most if not all settlements in Tellus are protected somehow. Towns and cities in Tellus are often bizarrely placed or built to protect from monsters and make the location more isolated.

d12
Town Defense/Fortification
1
The town is built around/inside or on top of massive trees, thanks to the proximity of a nearby stream of life-giving energy which make trees grow faster and larger. Has a very woodland elves vibe.
2
The town is built on large stilt made of petrified wood and stone which connect with nearby hills and rocky formations, meaning very little of it touches the ground proper.
3
The town has been carved entirely out of stone on a steep cliffside and has a lot of bridges and towers as later additions and are used as entrances and guard towers. Be careful to avoid falling down.
4
The town has been built/carved at the very top of the mountain, which was flattened and carved out, presumably by magic, in ancient times. Great stairs lead up to the town.
5
The town is on an island in the middle of a river, using the simple and natural environment to its advantage to keep monsters away. Sometimes, simple is best and the town has beautiful bridges beyond the guard towers.
6
Most of the town is underground, and/or built at the bottom of a crevasse, with only the fortifications and farms poking out, with living spaces and markets away from exposure to the sun and predatory sky-beasts.
7
The town was built at the bottom of a now-inactive volcano, its fire having died down as the geomantic energies of the Tellus naturally flowed away from the area, leaving but a caldera.
8
The town was built from/on top of ruins of a lost age and these cyclopean stone constructions and/or ancient magitek, dust-filled constructs are enough to keep external threats away. Internal threats, however...
9
The town was built on a hot spot of fiery energy, meaning its full of lava and flame, usually with an inhabited (and much less flammable) zone aside while the rest of town is nothing but molten metal and industry.
10
The town was carved out inside of an iceberg floating in the cold sea, possibly reinforced by geomantic magic. This setup alone discourage monsters.
11
The town was built around/on top of a now destroyed and useless gigantic city-sized airship, its carcass providing a ‘shell’ for the city.
12
The town is a floating town, made of of boats and flotsam strewn together.



d6
Main Colors
Architecture Style
1
Pale beige, pale blues and pale greys
Faux-Medieval
2
Light pastel colors
Baroque or Gothic
3
Warm reds and oranges
Greco-Roman
4
Cold blues and light greys
Ancient Asia
5
Natural shades of green
Mesopotamian
6
Greys and metallic colors
Middle Eastern

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Grimdark Future: 'Fluffy' Havoc Brothers Lists, Part 2 (3000pts)

Chaos is manifold. It can take many forms: it can be Undivided which can either reflect all aspects of the dark powers at once or it could simply be base-level Chaos worship. It can also be dedicated specifically to one God in particular. Of the Traitor Legions, four in particular chose or were chosen by a specific Chaos god and claimed by it.

World Eaters: Fury Incarnate

"Blood for the Blood God. SKULL FOR THE
SKULL THRONE!"
The World Eater Legion pretty much wrote the book on what it means to be a Khorne Berzerker: indeed, the first of these psychotic marines emerged from the rank of the World Eaters. A Khorne Berzerker is more than just a Khorne-worshiping marine. A Berzerker is, as the name implies, a batshit insane ball of fury, hate and rage which makes all other Chaos Space Marines look sane and grounded in reality. They feel no fear, little if no pain at all and are driven by the sole purpose of just....going into battle and tearing everything in their path. There is no logic, no reason, no tactical acumen required. Just pure, mindless bloodshed. In older lore, the World Eaters weren't all pure Berzerkers: there were still those in their ranks which weren't completely batshit. Emphasis on completely mind you.

Lord of War [1] (110pts)
Plasma Pistol
Energy Sword
Blessing of War

Dark Champion [1] x3 (285pts)
Twin Energy Claws
+Furious

Fury Brothers Rampagers A [5] x3 (510pts)

Slaughter Brothers Rampagers B [5] x3 (630pts)

Berserkers [5] x3 (585pts)
8x Pistol and Energy Sword
2x Plasma Pistol and Energy Sword

Havoc Brothers [10] x2 (860pts)
2x Assault Rifle + Attachment: Fusion Rifle
2x Missile Launcher
6x Pistol and CCW
+Furious

Tactics: Small, yet deadly squad of elite close combat unit, such as the Fury and Slaughter Brothers (aka the Rampagers, a name taken from the Horus Heresy game for proto-Berserkers who fought with only melee weapons) move around the battlefield and their sole purpose is to crash into whatever enemy type they are the most efficient against. The basic Havoc Brothers represent non-Berserk World Eaters who still somewhat use ranged weaponry primarily and their goal is to provide support fire for their berserk buddies: even if its a rather close range. Which is fine because they too have Furious and plenty of CCW to join the fun if need be.

Thousand Sons: Psychic Might

About as verbose as a JRPG protagonist.
It seems the Thousand Sons had always been destined to fall to Tzeentch, given they were 'gifted' with psychic powers and rampant, uncontrollable mutation. There's obviously a bit of a chicken/egg issue here but then again the Warp isn't linear to begin with. In any case, now the Thousand Sons are a legion of sorcerers commanding an army of dumb-as-brick automatons following Ahriman's ill-fated attempt at stopping the mutations. This army list is really, really heavy on using Psychic powers. That's just what it does. The full psychic might of the Thousand Sons is on display here.

Dark Psychic Sorcerer Lord [1] (160pts)
Plasma Pistol and Energy Sword
Psychic(3)
+Stealth

Sorcerer of Change [1] x3 (360pts)
Flamethrower Pistol and Energy Sword

Change Brothers [10] x3 (1170pts)
1x Psychic (1) with Flamethrower Pistol and Energy Sword
2x Reaper Minigun

Havoc Support [5] x3 (795pts)
2x Laser Cannon
+Stealth

Birdmen Disc Riders [6] x2 (360pts)
Hexed Bows and CCW

Tactics: Assign a Sorcerer to each Havoc Support squad. The Lord can go alone or join one of the Change Brothers squads, giving them a secondary Psychic. The key to this list is to use as many Psychic Powers as possible, which is to say about five or six per complete turn. The best low level power to spam is Bolt of Change, which inflict an automatic hit with armor-piercing on a model, not a unit: use it to blast the squad leader or someone with useful gear, like a medic. When in doubt just use that one. Only the Sorcerer Lord has enough 'juice' to reliably cast the more powerful spells. Finally, the Birdmen Disc-Riders are Tzaangor cavalry (of sort) and are used to harass enemies at range before crashing into the enemy using Impact. Do note that their melee can be buffed with a casting of Blessed Mutation.

Death Guard: March Of Death

*Cue Sabaton song*
Toxin. Poison. Acid. Plague. The Death Guards are a walking, shambling mass of horrible poisons that will tear apart flesh or, worse, corrupt it to the service of grandfather Nurgle. In the old days of the Great Crusade they were already close to this, as during the Crusade and later the Horus Heresy they were already using weapons that were radiation and chemical-based. The stuff that made other, more scrupulous Legions look down on them for such wanton use of horrible weapons that violate any kind of decency a battlefield even has left. This is what this list seeks to embody: a destructive, malicious and corrupting force that will destroy all in its way. This list is basically an embodiment of the worst horrors of the battlefields of WW1 and WW2, with toxic weapons killing and choking infantry while some roaring metal beast lay down heavy fire.

Plague Bringer [1] x3 (480pts)
Ring the Bell

Plague Brothers [10] x3 (1650pts)
6x Plague Launcher
2x Plague Flamethrower
2x Plague Cleaver and CCW

Plague Zombies [10] x2 (280pts)

Mortar Tank [1] (510pts)
2x Bloat-Spitters

Tactics: Assign a Plague Bringer who will ring the bell, indicating to the enemy that they are about to die as this hero unit gives the Fast rule to his unit of Plague Marines, allowing them to move faster and charge further. Rapid movement is not something one expect of Nurgle-related armies, after all. The Plague Brothers are deadly against infantry and able to potentially generate an insane amount of hits. Being Plague Marines, it is also quite harder to kill them before they reach the enemy, thus allowing a suicidal charge and advance toward the enemy. Beside this list has zombie for meatshields in case something goes wrong.

Emperor's Children: Palatine Blades

Real men look FAABULOOOUS
while killing.
Much like any other Legion that fell to Chaos, the Emperor's Children have 'devolved' and degenerated, both from a in and out of universe perspective. As with any other Chaos marines they've been often reduced to a one-note. This list, however, strive to embody some of their lost glory as masters of the blade and peerless duelists. Even in their fall to Slaanesh and hedonism, these marines have remained gifted swordsmen and are the equals of any Khorne-fueled berserker, if not arguably plain better. In many ways, this list is the direct opposite yet also the equal of the Khornate list, showing how both different and similar these two ends can be. The Agony Brothers represent those Chaos Marines who have dedicated ten thousand years to perfecting the very refined art of, well, cutting down people into fucking croutons with a few strokes. Dedication to their craft is just as much a defining trait of the Emperor's Children as snorting drugs, after all.

Dark Champion Chaos Lord [1] (160pts)
Plasma Pistol and Energy Sword
Chosen Veteran
Havoc Tactics
+Fast

Dark Psychic [1] x2 (310pts)
Assault Rifle + Attachment: Fusion Rifle
Chosen Veteran
+Fast

Dark Champion [1] x2 (220pts)
Twin Energy Claws
War Chant
+Fast

Agony Brothers [5] x2 (420pts)

Havoc Brothers Veterans [10] x3 (1680pts)
2x Plasma Pistol and Energy Sword
3x Pistol and CCW
2x Plasma Rifle 
Chosen Veteran
+Fast

Tactics: Your main advantage is speed and mobility, as very few units can outmatch the sheer speed of these guys. Assign a Dark Champion to each Agony Brothers Palatine Blade unit, giving them Furious for additional attacks. Assign the Chaos Lord to a unit of Veterans, increasing their range and charge distance: these veterans are good in both melee and at range. Even the Psychics Sorcerers are veterans, having focused on developing both their psychic might and combat skills. They also bring some much needed anti-tank with their Combi-Melta.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Grimdark Future: 'Fluffy' Havoc Brothers Lists, Part 1 (3000pts)

Every Yin has a Yang. Every light cast a shadow. The Chaos Space Marines are the evil counterparts to the Space Marines. Now, it would be easy to point out that as brutal supersoldiers serving a horrific and totalitarian empire that Space Marines aren't 'good'. Maybe so, but that doesn't mean Chaos Space Marines aren't a pure evil reflection of them nonetheless. They were not always like that and they might even (sometime) retain positive traits but the powers which permeate them have stripped away much of sanity, morality and honor. Ten thousand years of worship to Dark Gods have made them true monsters. They are the supervillains of Warhammer 40k and I fucking love them, what with them being my first army back in high school. There's a lot to find appealing in them even if one hold no illusion that Chaos Space Marines are indeed evil bastards.

Black Legion: Veterans of the Long War

Only ever won something
because GW said so.
Disciples: Disciples of War
The Black Legion was born of the shattered remain of the (admittedly much cooler) Sons of Horus following the Horus Heresy. Stripped of much of their culture and what made them neat, they have been remade into a 'mongrel' legion. The Black Legion can be best described as both the most quintessential yet most generic of Chaos Space Marines. All are welcome so long as they swear fealty to the new Warmaster, Abaddon the Armless Despoiler. On their own, however, according to their own Codex the Black Legion fields many veteran and elite units. While the Black Legion is by itself unaligned, this list use the Disciples of Khorne War to upgrade and gain Furious. This CQC focus is also a nod the Legion's previous incarnations, the Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus which many of these veterans would have been members of in their day.

Lord of War [1] (190pts)
Twin Assault Rifle & Energy Fist
Destroyer Armor
Blessing of War
+Furious

Havoc Brothers [10] x3 (1575pts)
1x Plasma Pistol & Energy Sword
1x Fusion Rifle
1x Missile Launcher
Chosen Veteran
+Furious

Havoc Destroyers [5] x2 (1080pts)
1x Twin Assault Rifle+Attachment: Fusion Rifle
5x Energy Fist
+Furious

Tactics: A powerful and versatile list packing some fairly serious guns yet concealing a nasty surprise in the form of Furious (+1 attack when charging). They can lay down some major firepower, each squad being army with at least one anti-tank weapon and the base Havoc Brothers carrying a rocket launcher for added flexibility. Assign the lord to his fellow Terminators Destroyers and send him into the fray where needed. When the chips are falling down and its time to strike, drop the guns and head into melee to show them the old ways of the Luna Wolves yet live.

Iron Warriors: Mechanized Horror

IRON WITHIN/IRON WITHOUT
The Iron Warriors are Chaos Space Marines but not quite the same way the others are. They don't (always) directly worship the Gods. To the Iron Warriors, Chaos is a tool. A source of power. They surrenders themselves to it not necessarily out of religious devotion but rather as a way to tap into its full potential. They are less mutants and more attempting to fuse themselves, flesh, weapon and armor with Daemons to grow stronger. Some of their greatest weapons are their many tanks and monstrous Daemon Engines: terrible creatures which are neither daemon nor machine both but at the same time.

Havoc Fiend A [1] x2 (880pts)
2x Forge Cannons

Havoc Fiend B [1] x2 (800pts)
2x Steel Tails

Infernal Brute [1] (420pts)
2x Twin Heavy Machinegun

Havoc Support [5] x2 (740pts)
1x Reaper Cannon
2x Flamethrower
2x Laser Cannon

Tactics: With four Daemon Engines to belch their way into the fight, this is very much a 'stompy' army. Havoc Fiends A are powerful artillery monsters while the Havoc Fiends B are more equipped to get into melee and shred infantry. The Dreadnough Hellbrute Infernal Brute is anti-infantry tanks to it massive rate of fire allowing it to spray enemies with ammo. Finally the Havoc Supports should be deployed to provide some versatile fire wherever it is needed.

Night Lord: Raptor Cult

Disciples: Disciples of War
We are vengeance. We are the night.
We. ARE. BATMARINES!
Fear Legions ever spread as much wanton terror as the Night Lords and this hasn't remotely changed since they fell to Chaos. Shock and terror were their weapon, like some sort of giant futuristic and psychotic posthuman Legion of '90 vigilantes. In particular, the Nightlords are the origin of the dreaded Chaos Raptors, jet pack terror troops who are now more creatures of the warp, darkness and fear than mere flesh and metal armor. Much like the Black Legion, this list make use of Disciples of War to gain Furious.

Havoc Champion Raptor Champion [1] (120pts)
2x Energy Claws
+Furious

Talon Raptors Warp Talons [5] (375pts)
Squad-wide 2x Energy Claws

Talon Raptors [10] x2 (1040pts)
Single 2x Energy Claws
1x Plasma Pistol and Energy Sword
2x Flamethrower

Havoc Brothers [5] x2 (630pts)
Single 2x Energy Claws
1x Laser Cannon
+Furious

Tactics: Sow terror in your enemies with Ambush as the Raptors emerge from the shadows, jetpack roaring and vox-grill screaming! In particular, the single squad of Warp Talons are elite Raptors who should be sent into melee to tear apart costly enemy infantry. The regular Raptors are equipped with Flamethrowers to dispatch infantry while the two small squads of regular Havoc Brothers can handle tank-hunting but can still join the melee fun if need be.

Word Bearers: Host of Daemons

"I FEEL THE WARP
OVERTAKING ME!!"
They were the first Chaos Space Marines, before the term even truly existed. Abaddon's mongrel dogs may form a larger and now more infamous Legion but the Word Bearers came first in their devotion to Chaos. It was the Chaplains of their Legions which helped corrupt the others to the cause of Chaos, even orchestrating the plot to successfully corrupt Horus himself. They were the first to summon Daemons...and the first to merge with them. These first Possessed, or Gal Vorbak (Blessed Sons in the Word Bearer's homeworld language) pretty much set the standard and even, in many ways, surpassed all later Possessed.

Havoc Lord Dark Apostle [1] (160pts)
Plasma Pistol and Energy Fist Accursed Crozius
War Chant
Havoc Tactics

Dark  Champion Possessed Champion [1] x3 (495pts)
2x Energy Claws Daemon Talons
War Chant
Havoc Tactics
Combat Bike Centauroid Form

Mutated Possessed [3] x3 (885pts)

Havoc Brothers [10] x3 (945pts)
1x Plasma Pistol and Energy Sword
1x Shred Rifle

Havoc Tank [1] (480pts)
Demolition Cannon
2x Laser Cannons

Tactics: Take it close and personal. Assign a Possessed Champion to each Mutated Possessed Squad to give them Furious and use the effect of Fast combined with Havoc Tactics to rush into melee with absurd speed and tear the enemy apart. The basic Battle Brothers, with one squad led by the Dark Apostle should gun down enemies as they move closer and close into melee range too. Finally the Chaos Vindicator Havoc Tank will provide some much-needed fire support.