What’s this? An article by someone other than Tionas? What madness is this?

It’s actually pretty simple. I’m Andon, Tionas’ brother. And I am going to be doing a weekly article on his D&D campaign that’s set to start on Tuesday. For some background information, I highly recommend going through the Mythology Monday bits. They set up a lot of the mythology around the world and are quite a good read.

Since the campaign hasn’t started yet I can’t introduce you to the characters that don’t exist yet – But I can give you some of the information that we’ve been given on the campaign.

The campaign is set in Killbar, or rather, what’s left of Killbar. About 50 years before the campaign’s start, Killbar was a great nation, a Mageocracy run by Killbar City’s Wizards School. However, the mages of Killbar contracted the Mind Plague, which drove them all slowly and irrevocably insane. In comes the General, heading a military dictatorship which hunted down and slaughtered as many mages as it could get its hands on.

His homeland secure, he set his eyes on expansion – He went east, into Tyndarian lands. He went south, conquering Jeslith, the home of the Halflings. His treatment of them was no better than the treatment of the mages. Then he went north, hungering for the Elvish lands, but was stopped by Moduru’s Second War, in which he was slain.

After his death, Killbar City was besieged, conquered, and then razed and salted for good measure. Where once had stood a thousand years of history now only ashes and death remained. Moduru held control over Killbar for a few years but they were also defeated – Not by a single conqueror, though. No lone person came to unite the Killbarans, and two decades after the sacking of Killbar City, the rest of the once-great nation is under the sway of city-states and warlords. Some rule through trade and money. Some rule through strength of arms, and others through deception and cleverness.

These city-states are willing to cooperate enough to ensure no single entity gains too much power, but as soon as the threat is gone, so is the cooperation. This allows for bandits and cutthroats to thrive in the lands between cities, just waiting for those brave enough to travel between them so they could liberate their hard-earned belongings.

Our characters have assembled in the port town of Parminium, where the Obsidian Vault Reclamation has its base. They specialize in reclaiming goods and items from the former Killbar territories, and our characters will be under their employ. This could take us in many directions, and I am excited to see what Tionas has in store for us.

I’ll be back next week, with information on the characters, and perhaps some more information on what our goals in the campaign will be.

I managed to get a game in against a friend of mine, he had picked up his dwarves again and I was playing my stupid Goreshade list. I can’t seem to get any good matchups.

I don’t have any pictures, so I’ll make it short and sweet and then get on to talking about the really cool part: The 2015 beta portion.

He was playing an extremely ranged heavy game, with Ossrum, Dougal, Earthbreaker, Hernne and Jonne, and a unit of Highshields.

General Ossram+5
*Sylys Wyshnalyrr, The Seeker2
Hammerfall Highshields8
*Officer and Standard Bearer3
Herne and Jonne3
Dougal McNaille2
Ogrun Bokur3
Rhupert Carvolo2
Taryin Di La Rovissi2
Thor Steinhammer2

I brought along my crazy list for playing against hordes with Goreshade I.

Goreshade I+6
*Slayer 6
Bane Knights (10)10
Bane Riders (5)11
Bane Lord Tartarus4
Darragh Wrath4
Warwitch Siren2
Warwitch Siren2
Necrotech + Scrap Thrall1

Now, its a bad matchup, in the terms that there are two abilities I can use that are specifically against living models, but overall, its just not that bad. I’ve yet to really feel that I’ve been on the back foot because I have my ‘Jacks, even though in the Sorscha game I had two of them removed almost trivially. That, however, is how Sorscha does warjacks. I have stealth to counteract Earthbreaker, to a point, and I have Dark Shroud in order to counteract his stupidly high armor.

He wins the rolloff, and decided to go first.Letting Cryx get a foothold against his slow, ponderous dwarf army just isn’t going to make for a fun day for him.

We are playing the new 2015 beta for steamroller, which have you bring along your very own objective for each list. I picked up one that reduces spell cost and has a damaging retaliation against melee attacks, and he picked one that makes units fearless and grants cover. The Scenario, too, was a new one. It had a zone centered short-side along  the center-line, with friendly objectives on your side of the table. It also had two flags on the centerline as well, a bit away from the center zone.

He deployed Earthbreaker on my left, highshields on the right, center filled with solos and battlegroup. I knew I had to counter-deploy or get blown off the board, so I put the Riders across from the guns and the Knights across from the Earthbreaker. The guns on that colossal can reach out, but if I can get him to trigger vengeance, I’ve got a cursed threat range of 15″, which is far enough. Its definitely not going to out-threat a sniped Earthbreaker, but it gives it only a single turn of shooting before I get there, if I position well enough. I preyed the Driller, hoping to either keep it out of the game or use it to get a good position on Earthbreaker.

Our first turns are unimpressive as we vie for position on the board, and I move up to take advantage of the objective. I had this dream of casting Mage Blight and Shadowmancer every turn, but after he popped his feat on turn 2, there was never really a reason to. His feat, snipe, and Dougal’s minifeat light me up, blowing out 3 of my Knights and two of my Riders. I had high hopes for my retaliation, but nothing materialized, as my Bane Riders crashed ineffectively into his ARM 21 Highshields and my Bane Knights barely nick up the Earthbreaker. It didn’t help matters that two turns later I remembered my weaponmaster die, but I did so little damage that even 3 additional damage over the 5 models would just have been a tickle.

His turn managed to take down one of my Bane Riders and blow out of the field all my Knights with a single sweep of the Earthbreakers claws. I was loosing models to swiftly, and I just couldn’t keep up. His Driller, thankfully, managed to beat the hell out of a Slayer, but left him with only movement busted in the end. My turn was the back breaker, as I popped my feat, created a unit of 6 Thralls, and charged the Earthbreaker. I was able to put three on Nightmare and two on another Slayer and still cast Shadowmancer thanks to the objective, and I think it enabled me to win the game. That second focus I was able to give to the slayer enabled me to sink enough damage into the driller to kill it, forcing Prey over to Earthbreaker, who I killed with only a single focus to spare on Nightmare. He used that attack to take out the objective, which allowed me to dominate the zone for two points. He then committed to kill Nightmare with Ossrum, knowing it was all over but for the dice, and succeeded in his task, leaving my small, frail army with only one task: Kill Ossrum. This task ended up being nearly to difficult for my poor undead, but in the end, Ossrum was put into the dirt.

I really enjoyed this game, and I really enjoyed the concept of “BYOO” in the steamroller context. I think it will generate a slew of new lists that are designed to take advantage of a number of the objectives powers, including the boosted damage to light artillery one. I’m really excited to try out the new Incursion, as well, as that seems to be getting a lot of buzz. The completely new scenario, which we tried out, was pretty good, though it seemed that the flags on the sides were to far out of the way to be worth going for, when you can just score the center.

I enjoy the iterations of steamroller every year, because it seems that they are trying to both shake up the basic stagnation a game will always have, and that they are trying to constantly create a set of scenarios that are a ton of fun, balanced and are both simple enough to understand and complex enough to create player interaction. The public test period of 2015 is extremely short, so if you have the chance, go to a tournament this weekend and try it out!



Ariannas, Goddess of Violence

Other Titles: Rogue Maiden, The Bandit Queen, The Bloody Flame
Alignment: CE
Weapon: Heavy Spiked Flail (Bloodbreaker)
Major Domains: Violence, Banditry, Uprisings
Minor Domains:  Ruthlessness, Vengeance, Berserk Rage, Subjugation
Totem Animal: Bull

Holy Symbol: The Holy Symbol of Ariannas is a face with one half covered in a steel mask, and the other nude. The masked half of the face is of shining, gleaming steel with an Emerald eye, a wicked grin, and a bull’s horn. The unmasked half has long, flowing red hair with a wild green eye and a grin to match the mask. These two sides represent the two aspects of her personality. The masked aspect is that of her dedication to the art of war, particularly the crushing of your enemy, the ruthlessness of the battlefield and the subjugation of the weak. Her unmasked aspect represents her dedication to banditry, ambush, revolt and uprising.
Favored Appearances: Ariannas, in the time before the godswar, led her human servants and warriors against the forces of the other, powerful gods. In that time, she favored a towering, powerful Human form that was both beautiful and terrifying. Her powerful form moved gracefully and purposefully, her long red hair trailing behind her. She knew she was a beauty and used it to her advantage. In war, however, the beauty of her form was subservient to her terrifying armor, accentuating nothing of her physical form and built for protection and movement equally. A full helm with bulls horns graced her head, and her godly chain mail shone in the sun. When ambushing , she was as plain as anyone else, her hair tied back, her movements quiet and her leather and chain oiled into silence.
Ariannas is also one of the few Gods that feels a deep connection to one sex over another. While she has been seen and has used a male form, it is generally nondescript and boring, with a flat, tired face with a broken nose and scars on his face. He is neither bulky nor thin, and is uninspiring in every way. It is as if she puts no effort whatsoever into this form.

Warform: Ariannas’ Warform on the Iron Marches is that of Bull made almost purely of flame, with hardened ash hooves and a black-fire horns. Her Teeth are jagged obsidian and her eyes are blazing yellow flame. She leads the troops in battle from the front, goring, charging and rampaging through the enemy lines. She seems impervious to pain, with the wounds just stirring her to greater and greater feats of violence.

Personality: Ariannas is a violent, temperamental and wicked being. She is quick to be offended, hard to placate and swift to violence. She ruthlessly hunts down those who offend her to either kill or challenge them. She followers her own set of rules and has keep vendettas of her own for years and years. Within all of that chaos, though, is a dedication to her causes and her father, Takannas. She believes so strongly in subjugation of the week, and the uprisings of the conquered that she supports these events unconditionally. Knowing this, she was approached by Ferosh, god of ambition when he first hatched his plan to rebel. Though Ariannas originally considered their position, she felt such a strong tie to the subjugation of the lesser gods by her father that she stood by his side. However, she kept to herself the knowledge of the eventual rebellion, and that knowledge resulted in the deaths of many gods.

Teachings: Ariannas teaches a simple theology of retribution and violence. She teaches that violence, far from being an unnecessary solution, is the most simplest, direct and convincing solution to almost every problem. When you can’t beat the enemy in war, beat them in ambush and assassination. Kill the enemy however long it takes, however difficult it may be. Don’t make the end easy on them either.  Her domains of both subjugation and revolt seem to cause a conflict of interest, but her real calling is violence. If no one set out to conquer others, there would be little violence, and if none of those people who had been conquered revolted, there would be even less. Building on that theme, Ariannas very much differentiates resistance and governance from revolt and subjugation, respectively. You cannot revolt until you’ve already been subjugated, and you cannot subjugate that which you already rule. Though these ideas seem to conflict, the spread of violence, through whatever means, is her main goal.

Abode: The great, gleaming silver castle of Crushing Doom stands forbiddingly at the edge of the territory that the Paltonarchs control at the edge of the Iron Marches. From here she leads her forces into bloody ambushes and crushing pitched battles. Crushing Doom itself is a fortress filled with ruthless cutthroats, bloody warlords and victorious dictators all vying for Ariannas’ attention.

Clergy: The priests of Ariannas are great war-leaders and rabble rousers, delivering the message of power through strength in arms. They give their clergy hope no matter which side they take, and stride into battle with them, propelling them to great fits of violence, bringing the goddess directly onto the battlefield with them in spirit. Those who die in battle are glorified, being willing to shed not only the blood of others for her glory, but also their own lives.

Knightly Orders: The Children of Battle are Ariannas’ most famous knightly orders. These knights, if they can even be called that, turn into frothing berserkers at the first sign of conflict, raging against their foes, but often flying out of control and causing damage to their allies before being stopped. Together, these warriors find glory in death, violence, and the revolts of the conquered. The Children of Battle tend to offer their services to revolts and uprisings, as they tend to tolerate the ends justifying the means of the berserkers they have hired where armies of subjugation tend not to.

Clerical Attire/colors: Deep red cloaks adorn both the clerics and the Children of Battle while they tend to their flocks and enter battle. They adapt to the method of combat they are attempting, adopting gleaming, bright, silver armor, often adorned with great forward angled bull horns, in pitched battles and conquest while taking a more subdued, natural approach with greens and browns along side their deep reds.

Followers: The followers of Ariannas tend to be short tempered, and quick to violence. As such, she tends to patronize athletes, barbarians, and of course berserkers, in addition to Kings, emperors, revolutionaries and a few assassins and thieves.  She also has a sizable population of Orcs and Goblins with even dwarves under her purview.

The concept for Ariannas is that of a battle goddess that is one of the twins born to Takannas, the god of war. While he embodies the concept as a whole, his twin daughters represent the dark side and the honorable side of combat. His younger sun, Kalboras, represents the personal side. She should be chaotic, dangerous, and unstable.