Monday, 30 June 2014

Lizardmen Army for Warhammer Fantasy Battle

I'm in the process of dusting off my rag tag collection of fantasy miniatures in an effort to cobble together a couple of 1250 point armies with which to play some Warhammer Fantasy Battle at some point. Caveat emptor - this is not for the most recent edition of the game, as I'm less concerned about playing in tournaments and don't currently attend a club, being fairly time poor.

Over the years I've gradually been assembling four armies, namely Lizardmen, Bretonnians, Undead and Orcs. It has never been my intention to stick to Games Workshop products, either, and luckily Warhammer is generic enough to allow the gamer to stuff other manufacturers' products into the line up. My objective is to get the Bretonnians and the Lizardmen onto the table as playable armies by the autumn. Initially, the plan is to shoot for 1250 point forces and see whether we can achieve this.

I am designing the armies based on older army lists, with the intention of using the 6th edition rules, as this is the most recent version I own. These are not intended to be competition armies, and the emphasis will be more on acquiring figures I like rather than looking to win a game. Hence, I may ignore some requirements, at least initially. As I have Army Builder, however, I have the luxury of being able to tinker a bit.

Although I own a later version of the Lizardmen armies book, I do almost prefer the older 1997 edition. There is more colour (lovely map of northern Lustria on the inside back cover), it is a bigger book with more information (104 pages), and it is still more tongue-in-cheek than more recent editions. I can't speak for the hardback version that was published in the last couple of years as I don't own that. The following army list is really drawn from the 1997 book, but with the intention of using it with the 6e (2000) rules.

Herewith my first attempt at a Lizardman army - Bretonnians to follow in a subsequent post:

1250 Pts - ~old~ Lizardmen Roster - Army of Chillipepa

Skink Chief (1#, 98 pts)
   1 Skink Chief, 98 pts (Hand Weapon; Blowpipe; Aquatic)
      1 Sword of the Hornet
      1 Enchanted Shield

Skink Priest (1#, 85 pts)
   1 Skink Priest, 85 pts (Hand Weapon; Aquatic)
      1 Curse-Charm of Tepok

Saurus Warriors (20#, 240 pts)
   20 Saurus Warriors, 240 pts (Hand Weapon; Shield; Scaly Skin)

Saurus Warriors (7#, 275 pts)
   7 Saurus Cavalry, 275 pts (Musician Mus; Standard Bearer Std; Hand Weapon; Spear; Shield; Scaly Skin)
      7 Cold One (Causes Fear; Stupid)

Skink Skirmishers (12#, 84 pts)
   12 Skink Skirmishers, 84 pts (Scouts; Hand Weapon; Blowpipe; Aquatic; Skirmishers)

Skink Skirmishers (20#, 120 pts)
   20 Skink Skirmishers, 120 pts (Hand Weapon; Blowpipe; Aquatic; Skirmishers)

Skink Skirmishers (24#, 144 pts)
   24 Skink Skirmishers, 144 pts (Hand Weapon; Javelin & Shield; Aquatic; Skirmishers)

Salamander (4#, 65 pts)
   1 Salamander, 65 pts (Causes Fear; Scaly Skin; Skirmishers)
      3 Skink Handlers (Hand Weapon; Aquatic; Skirmishers)

Saurus Scar-Veteran (1#, 139 pts)
   1 Saurus Scar-Veteran, 139 pts (General; Hand Weapon; Light Armour; Shield; Scaly Skin)
      1 Scimitar of the Sun Resplendent

Validation Report:
Army Subtype: Lizardmen Army; Edition: 6th Edition; Game Type: Normal Game
Roster satisfies all enforced validation rules

Composition Report:
Heroes: 3 (0 - 3)
Lords: 0 (0 - 0)
Core: 4 (2 - Unlimited)
Special: 1 (0 - 3)
Rare: 1 (0 - 1)

Total Roster Cost: 1250

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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Castles & Crusades review: Of Gods And Monsters

Apart from taking delivery of the very hefty - but gorgeous - piece of grognard porn that is the RuneQuest 6th edition hardback, I've also bought the smaller, but much cheaper, Of Gods And Monsters for Castles and Crusades (CnC). For those who don't know CnC, it is a stripped down, old school amalgam of 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons. It excises much of the crunch while keeping many of the better elements of each system.

For example, there are no skills, but task rolls are made against target numbers based off an attribute. Some skills - e.g. open locks - are unique to a particular class. It also reinstates old school classes like the Assassin and the Illusionist, which were purged in later editions.

I'm not going into a detailed review of CnC in this post, largely because I'd rather do that having actually run it, but I am very impressed with OGAM as a supplement. Veteran gamers will recall TSR's old Deities and Demigods for ADnD, and this supplement riffs off that landmark volume, but takes it to a whole new level.

As with Deities and Demigods, the book covers a range of pantheons, many of which were also covered in the original 1980s TSR volume. Hence, we see here the Celtic, Norse, Egyptian and Aztec pantheons from real world history, along with the pantheon for Airdhe, the default campaign setting for CnC, which plays the role that Greyhawk did to ADnD. There are also several non-human pantheons. Ever wondered who the halfling goddess of gardening was? Now you will know.

In addition, there is a lot of good art in this book, far superior than Deities and Demigods, with literally almost every entry having a portrait. Different artists are used (including the iconic Peter Bradley), but they are all pretty good. Sadly, the book is in black and white, but the publishers, Troll Lord Games, are only just starting to venture into colour printing with the latest iteration of the game (sixth edition) which has been funded on Kickstarter.

What I like about each entry is that rather than provide the stats of the god itself, the authors deliver information on ceremonies, taboos for worshippers, artefacts created by the god, and avatars. The latter are the manifestation of that deity on the prime material plane. They are still pretty tough, but it is more likely that agents of the gods will be encountered by high level adventurers than that parties will go off to Asgard or Olympus on a god killing expedition. The volume postulates a sort of divine 'truce' between the gods, which stops them manifesting on the prime plane, although they may work through their worshippers or via avatars, artefacts, and the occasional beefy monster.

But it doesn't stop there - some pantheons have specific monsters associated with them, some of them unique. For example, the Indian pantheon provides Virtra, the three-headed snake, or the deadly gold ants. The Japanese pantheon includes the white tiger and the lethal gashadokuro.

Finally, an extra bonus - new divine magic spells for each pantheon for clerics / druids who follow them. For example, someone following the American Indian pantheon gets access to new spells like Heal Animal, Spirit of the Warrior, Heal Land or Summon Spirit Warrior. This is useful extra crunch, and provides additional powers for clerics following deities in those pantheons. It is something you could actually use in a game, rather than wasting space with ridiculous hypothetical stats for Thor.

The volume still feels appropriately old school in its flavour, but unlike the original, there is plenty more useful information for gamers here. Definitely worth a look, and not only if you want to play CnC. Much of this information is readily adaptable to other editions of the game. It is also available in both a hardback version for about £15 or as a softback digest at £7.50. I particularly like these softback digests, which seem to be becoming more popular amongst RPG publishers, as they are easy to carry around and read on the train. Good work.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

13th Age - no, it's not Shadowrun. Really.

Archon - ally of the Prince of Shadows
Our little band of heroes continued on their way to meet with the smuggler, Archon, in his lair at the mouth of the Gold Leaf River. En route, they visited the last of the ruined Elvish towers they had been exploring, but this was a mere pile of rubble and there seemed little of interest. Archon proved friendly enough, and in return for a share of any treasure, agreed to loan the adventurers sail, tackle, and 15 crew. All of the crew will be cut in on any loot. Sartheen watched dismally as his share of the prospective booty seemed to be getting smaller, and smaller as the negotiations went on.

Finally it was time to return to the elvish keep and fit out the ship. The smugglers provided a lift in one of their boats to the entrance of the underground harbour. Soon enough, we were at sea, and bound for Horizon, capital of the Arch Mage. We lack a navigator to see us over the tempestuous seas to the Lost Islands that Jordan Young describes when he is in his cups. Morgan, one of the best navigators in the world, is known to be detained in High Rock, a top security prison belonging to the Arch Mage, which is currently floating thousands of feet above the city of Horizon. On the advice of the smuggler, Archon, we sailed for Horizon with the intention of springing Morgan.

We slipped through the Koru Straits with seemingly no interference from Drakkenhall, and were south of Omen before we ran into trouble. This took the form of a thunderstorm, in the midst of which, flying towards us, came Borgram Gliz, a powerful mage and a friend of the Arch Mage. He summoned four lightning elementals to attack the ship. Floating on a cloud, Borgram demanded that we hand over our money. "Never!" we yelled.

More brutal violence followed. Amras took care of three elementals, and I think NeOn downed the fourth. Sartheen shot Borgram, who fell into the sea, although it has to be said he'd already been sorely wounded by other magics flung at him from our ship. Floating next to the scorched corpse Amras found a magic wand.

And so we arrived in Horizon. We spent much time asking around about High Rock and learned much of interest. NeOn had once served as a guard on High Rock, but his memory of the place was sketchy. He suspected someone had wiped part of it deliberately. Either that, or he banged his head when the wizard's tower he was imprisoned in crashed to earth.

Here are some interesting facts about High Rock for the curious visitor:
  1. It only holds six prisoners at a time, half of whom don't need to be fed.
  2. A workshop is kept there for maintaining guards (indicating they may indeed be automata of some kind or even war forged).
  3. No prisoners ever leave High Rock.
  4. Very few people ever get to visit High Rock.
  5. High Rock moves around - it doesn't stay permanently over Horizon.
  6. There are at least 10 guards.
  7. The lower levels are off limits and probably fatal to explore.
We decided to rent out one of the flying skiffs we saw darting around the skies above Horizon. This, we reasoned, could take us to High Rock under cover of darkness. Sartheen also recalled that Surothank, a mage of some standing in Horizon, was being blackmailed by the Prince of Shadows (the Prince knowns that, in his capacity as a magistrate, he hands over street orphans to a school run by a vampire). Surothank provided Sartheen with an amulet that would identify him as a member of the Council of Mages to the guards.

The party re-grouped and rented a skiff on a no questions asked basis, flying up to High Rock as it bulked in the night sky over the glittering panorama of Horizon. Jordan Young was left on board to make sure the skipper stuck around. It was agreed that a burst of colour spray from Amras would be the signal for the skiff to come back in and pick us up.

Landing on High Rock, NeOn was able to bond with the energy cortexes that ran through the rock. He became aware of symbiotic communications between the rock itself and its guardians. Some small, hovering robot-like beings (I hesitate to use the word drones) emerged from the undergrowth on top of the rock, but Sartheen was able to convince them we were legitimate.

We began to speculate that the rock might, indeed, be a living entity. Amras had used an illusion ritual to disguise the party as humans (mages from Horizon), so we proceeded confidently into the bowels of the prison.

Our first encounter of note was with a chef. He was an automaton, but also a chef, as he kept insisting. He even had a chef's hat. Despite a lengthy grilling (!) he was unable to divulge much more detail on the prison and its guards, other than to tell us that the entrance to the mage's office was trapped (I seem to recall that the Arch Mage has an office on High Rock, but maybe it was just the caffeine making me overly optimistic).

Leaving the chef to his chores, we proceeded in our search for 'Captain' Morgan (!). We eventually met two guards who finally realised we weren't who we claimed to be. Violence ensued. The guards were both broken up for scrap. However, NeOn now became aware that the Rock itself was sending out an alert. We fully expected more guardians to converge on our position.

Swiftly we plunged on through the dark tunnels, and found a cell door with the number 666 on it. Amras wanted to open it. He had a good vibe about this door. The rest of us persuaded him against it. We needed to find the damned navigator! Eventually, we came to a ledge which ran outside, along the side of the rock, before re-entering it. Looking down, thousands of feet below, we could see Horizon. That was about the time a small pack of flying automata appeared to attack us...

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

13th Age - skeletons, smugglers and mighty crabs

We last left our heroes having explored two of the ruined Elvish towers on the north coast of the continent, hoping to find a boat to let them go forth in search of the Lost Treasure of Jordan Young. The third tower proved a tougher proposition, being defended by banshees. The party eventually gained entrance to the third tower, although my cryptic notes do not indicate how. A room by room exploration followed.

The body of a dead elf was found on the ground floor in an abandoned barracks. The dessicated nature of the body indicated that he had been there for very many years. Indeed, the destruction of this part of the elven civilization seems to have occurred towards the end of the 12th Age, although even Amras, the group's scholar on all things elvish, is somewhat mystified.

Another body, this time of a female elf, was found locked into an upstairs bedroom. She had died from a claw attack to the stomach. An infirmary was also discovered, and someone (again my notes decline to say whom) pocketed a Champion level potion of healing. A dusty library provided old maps of the waters around the towers, although the nearby volcanic Isle of Fire is missing from them. Another dead elf, this time with his head and chest caved in, was also found. It may be at this stage that we stumbled upon charts to the Lost Islands described by Jordan Young, but I am not sure...

And so to the roof, where some form of archaic elvish beacon stood surrounded by the bones of many dragonborn, possibly the legacy of an assault by the Three or some other draconic power on the elves. Perhaps this sowed the seeds of the current tensions between the Three and the Elf Queen? Someone - and I suspect it was Jordan Young (played by Ben in the style of Sebastian), ventured towards the beacon, and lo, the bones of the dragonborn rose up against us.

A brief battle was fought with the skeletal dragonborn. Most of them were mowed down by powerful spells from the two magic users, Amras and NeOn. There were few heroics. It was short, desperate stuff, but in the end we triumphed.

There was now nowhere else to go but down. Into the basement beneath the tower. Here we came across an Elvish ship, or at least the hull of one, still in good shape and seemingly protected by magic from the rigours of time. Sadly, it lacked rigging and sails, which had not been similarly protected. As we approached, there came from beneath the black waters of the underground harbour a hideous, crab-like monstrosity from an elder age.

This was a tougher fight, as the creature had the ability to confuse men's minds, even War Forged apparently, causing them to mistake their friends and allies for the foe. Both our spell slingers were temporarily confused and befuddled, and Jordan Young suffered a sore wound and fell on his face. Luckily, a 20 was rolled on his first death save, and the pirate bard was able to pick himself back up off the slimy floor and rejoin the affray.

Eventually, we had our victory. The crab creature expired. As we celebrated and inspected our new prize, we encountered the spirit of a dead elf, the captain of the boat, who did spake with us, confirming that the tower was overcome by an assault from dragonspawn. He suspected that they were sent by one of the great dragons of the 12th Age. He also told us how to open the sea gates so that we could sail forth from that dismal place.

With the ghost returned from whence he came, Sartheen decided to don again the mysterious skull helm of the dragonspawn. He saw again the city we think is Drakkenhall. It was obvious now that the dragonspawn in the temple have constructed a ritual circle around him. He described it to Amras who told him it might indeed be some kind of tracking ritual. This was not good news at all.

We had a boat, but no sails. We held a conclave to discuss our options. We considered trekking back through the elf woods to Concord, but we felt vulnerable to attack from the Three, particularly if we strayed too far close to their strongholds. Sartheen remembered that a smuggler, Archon, an ally of the Prince of Shadows, had a base nearby. The party set off to his lair, to ask him for his aid in equipping their vessel.