Xe, Accursed of Ferocity

Other Titles: The Wild King, Unnameable, Scourge of Civilization

Alignment: CE

Weapon: Claws

Major Domains: FerocitySavagery, Feral Animals

Minor Domains:  Erosion, Natural Calamities, Cannibalism

Totem Animal: Hyena (The warform is composed of Wind, Lightning and clouds)

Holy Symbol: A simple, left-curving bone Claw or Fang, sometimes with a background of deep green.

Favored Appearances: Xe is a wild and unkempt creation, and both his forms display that lack of regard for personal hygiene and his inability to care for himself in any way. His male for is that of a ragged and tattered elven man, Long past the point of deprivation. He wears old, tattered leggings, stained with blood and dirt. Shirtless, his skin is drawn tight across his rib cage, creating a horrid, nearly starved look. his black, greasy hair reaches well past his shoulder blades, and hang loose, creating a disgusting mane. The skin around his face is tight, creating an almost skull like effect, with his eyes are sunk deep in his head, his lips pulled back to show yellow, rotten teeth. Thankfully, he chooses an elven form, as his facial hair is light and sparse but coarse. The only sign of even the barest hint of intelligence beyond his breeches are the articulated metal gauntlets that end in great bone claws in place of his amputated final digits on his fingers.

His female form is of the same gaunt stature and taken care of in the same neglectful manner, though generally takes the form of a female human instead of elven, for reasons known only to Him. Her hair is more flat, lying along her back as if it has just stormed, and a vivid brown. Her eyes are a fiery green, where his are only pools of darkness. She too, is gaunt, with features marred by the singular lack of any signs of health. Its as if Xe stayed a single night, death would come in the night from starvation.

Personality: Xe is the wildness and the ruthlessness of nature, combined with the uncaring and violent destruction of storms all wrapped into one package. He is almost completely alien, even to the other Paltonarchs and Accursed. Many wonder if Xe even has intelligence, though those who know him are keenly aware that even if it is not intelligence, its the vicious cunning of a predator.  He is wild and quick to anger, though swift also to forget and let those who wronged him moments before approach. He holds no grudges, and does not despair when those around him perish or fail.  He is the uncaring claws and fangs of the universe, and he loves it.

Teachings: Xe does not teach through priests and doctrine, but by example. He hunts only enough to barely satisfy his hungers, but he will kill those he finds dangerous or who confront him. He tolerates other predators within his same space, but only as long as they respect his boundaries. Those who are strong, in times of need, take what they can from the week, but not simply because they can, but to survive.  There is also strong reverence for the ferocious, untamed and wild beasts of all types, as they are the most free creatures in the universe. They live only to eat, to kill and to pass on their legacy; and that is what Xe Stands for.

Abode: Xe lives in no man made, or god made, structure. He wanders the bleak and desolate places of the Iron Marches, sleeping in caves and under the cover of trees. A simple and violent entity, his existence is one constantly on the edge of annihilation, staving it off one day at a time.

Cultits: The Cult of Xe is one that has no internal structure or strata; there are simply equals among the wilderness of existence. Those few who follow him ask him for guidance in the hunt, to find enough to eat to stave off death for but a single day. Living squalid lives in caves, caverns and ruins, these cultist are a scourge on any society they live near, killing and eating whatever is vulnerable.

Clerical Attire/colors: The natural colors of golden grass, dark, rotting vegitation and the black clouds and earth are the colors of Xe. 

Followers: Few Follow Xe, though many are warriors and rogues. Rangers of a particularly vile bent may also worship him. Few Dwarves connect with the lord of savage wilderness, though many feral spirits and fey do.

Man, I love RPGs, and 5th edition D&D is exactly what I want from an RPG, but didn’t know how to say it. Its got imbalance, it has player and DM Authority, it has nostalgic wonderous items, and it has tables and tables of stuff. If I don’t want to make a decision on something, there exists a table, I am sure, that can make the decision for me, and If I’ve made a decision on something, it seems that there is nothing stopping me from being the 100% authority on the subject, either.  I absolutely love 5th edition.

I’ve written about my steadily growing love affair with 5th edition before, but I know it now: This one is perfect for me. This is the edition that I thought we were going to get when D&D 3.0 was announced, and though its taken almost 15 years to show up and a huge disaster in between, I am happy its here.

D&D 5 has brought back a number of the staples that I enjoyed about the 2e that I didn’t even know I had missed. And imbalanced balancing one that, though I understood what it meant, I thought it needed to be sacrificed at the alter of perfect balance. See, when I started playing RPGs, I was drawn to the myriad of choices that existed in the world I was going to play in, and I could be any one of them. Death Priest, Bladesinger, Beastmaster. There were a hundred supplements with a hundred more options lurking around every corner. And each one, I would look at and take in on its merits as it represented the concept it was putting forward. Was the Bladesinger swift, deadly and vicious? Was the Sage smart and old, with unknowable depths of information? Was the Urban Ranger really Batman? The disparity between useful additions and worthless ones were a combination of being unfaithful to the concept and being unable to contribute to the parties goals. In 2e, though, this didn’t always mean combat, though there were plenty of rules for making sure that every, to a degree, could fight. There were obviously stronger options if you were a combat-character, but there was such a concept as a non-combat character. This idea of a character being exactly what they were supposed to be, instead of what the game wanted you to be, was something that I’d not grasped onto. When I lost the majority of those options in 3.0/3.5, I was not disappointed. A character could do whatever they wanted outside of combat, within the DM’s discretion, what they did in combat, when their life was on the line, was what really needed arbitration.

Now, coming back, I feel that I better appreciate the inherent imbalance in the classes. A great wizard is an immensely powerful and world shaping force, and should reflect that. A fighter, someone who places value and importance on his abilities to chop down his foes will probably be at a disadvantage when facing a person capable of tearing the very fabric of the world apart and bending it to his will. With all the balance and changes in the D&D game throughout 3rd and 4th edition, one character overshadowing the others has never ceased. The problem inherent in an RPG is that the system is there to represent as believable a world in which there are dragons, giants and elves. A world that fantastic and out of sync with ours is destined to have imbalance. For me, If I want a fair and balanced Fantasy game, I can go online and play a videogame. If I want to immerse myself in a fantasy world with my friends and create a story that will last in our memories for a very long time, I am going to pick up an RPG.

There is plenty of truth to the oft-mentioned statement that life isn’t fair. Its true. Neither should an RPG. That, my good friend, is for the DM to decide. The world is created and built upon the DM’s thoughts an ideas, but it should also be tempered by the concepts that the characters have for themselves as well. in 3.5/4 this was bound by the rulebook. There were rules for almost every conceivable thing you could do, and many of them were lengthy and detailed to ensure authenticity. This has been dropped in 5e. Many times all that is given is a vague but descriptive notation of what could happen, setting up the DM to be able to make ad-hoc rulings based on what the surroundings are. While this was always the case, it is easier to comprehend and adapt to when there are no specific rules governing what should happen, and it works both ways.

When a character attempts to run over and plow someone over, they simply say so. Instead of it being labeled (a Bull Rush) and driven by a set of rules based on target and initiator stats, modifiers and bonuses, it is instead a simple thought process by the DM based on the description of what the player wants to do. I have found that, unlike another game by the same company, the concept of restrictions breeding creativity does not hold weight in a fast-paced RPG. Instead, restrictions breed complacency and limit new concepts to within the bounds of the already established rule sets. In the heat of the moment, it is much harder to take a step back and think on the spot than it is to fall into the comfortable embrace of the written rules.

That same comfortable embrace of the rules is what brought us the era of identical magic items. Amulets of Strength with raising bonuses. Swords with abilities and powers that progressed in a formula. Items that have specific uses spelled out specifically in their texts, giving no flavor or style to the item. Each of the items is a specific cost and slated for a specific level and works only in a specific manner. 5e, however, culled tons and tons of magic items, trimming them down to some of the most recognizable throwbacks to 2nd. Gone are the stat boosters and all their iterations. Gone are the custom weapons and their strange mathematical formula to determine how awesome your weapon is. Instead, they have a pretty vague breakdown of the approximate level that the items are appropriate for and a general value of rarity. Common and Uncommon items are appropriate for all levels with Rare items for levels 5+, Very rare for levels 12+ and Legendary items for levels higher than 17. It also specifically calls out that the DM can do whatever he damn well pleases, and if you want to give that Staff of Power to a level 1 character, feel free.

While I enjoyed my time with 3.5, and 4e was a good rebound RPG, I am really in love with the feel and style and the nostalgia of playing the same game I used to play in my high school years, just with a little bit more experience, polish and shine. With only the three Core books, I am ready and willing to play for years on end, writing stories and creating games that my friends and I can enjoy and tell again and again.

I don’t think I’ve had this much fun DMing and RPG in years.

A new age us upon us!

2015, even though we are just barely 2 months in, has brought with it some major changes to both warmachine and hordes. While the latest errata came and changed how Shifting Stones will be used for the rest of eternity and SR 2015 has come down the pipe with new, useable objectives and changes to a number of scenarios.

Errata

First, and to me the least relevant, is the Shifting Stones Errata. I don’t know that there is a lot I can say on the topic that already hasn’t been hashed out on the forums, the local stores and on Podcasts. What I will say is that I know the feeling. When Apshyxious 2 was nerfed for the final time, to eliminate Officers, Solos and Unit attachments, I took it a bit hard. I didn’t think the amount of nerf was needed, nor that it made sense. I get it. But eventually I just didn’t care. I’ll play Asphyxious 2 anytime I want and feel alright about it, but my opponent on the other side won’t feel terrible about it, so I am now OK with how it all works out. I was listening to Epic Flail a few days back, and they had a comment by Will and Ed that one of the goals of Warmachine is to enable the player (on both sides) to be able to act. One of the things that struck them about the double-teleport was that it took away the ability to act from one player, and if they were off even 1/2″, then the game would end right there on the spot. I know, I’ve had it done. To Asphyxious 2. This is crippling to an opponents ability to play the game and enjoy themselves, and as much as people embrace the game for its ruthlessness and brutality, there is also that aspect that players have to have fun. Malifaux didn’t change editions because its rules were balanced and everyone was having fun, wanting to force their players through the tumultous times that are those changes. Instead, they decided to make a game that was a little more on the fun side and a little less on the crazy. I think it worked.

All that said, though, and it will have very little affect on me. I play against circle fairly often, but many of those opponents that I have played were not double-teleporting. It was either because I killed a stone and they weren’t able too, or I played cautious enough that I wasn’t in range. Its a huge change for circle, but I think some of their opponents are overstating the effect that it will bring on the game as a while. When it happened, it was devastating, but it wasn’t happening enough that all players will feel it equally. It took a lot of practice to be able to exactly judge that 1/8″ that you walked forward too much and take you down.

There were other interesting clarifications and changes, but nothing else that changes the way the games power level. I thought it was interesting, and I look forward to playing Bradigus and Wake of Destruction one day without feeling bad.

Second, Is the release of SR2015. I know its old hat by now, but there is a lot of excitement still in me for the new Scenarios, the new objectives, and the new masters format. 

Scenarios

SR2015 has continued the scenario shrink down to 8. As a tournament organizer, I appreciate that, as it creates a slightly more simplistic setup and breakdown of a tournament table. However. as a player I am a touch disappointed. There isn’t that much variation between scenarios, and they all feel a bit more central than last year. I get it, though. Its much easier all around to have this type of breakdown. 5 have objectives, 4  are killbox, 3 use no zones, and four use Rectangle Zones. I am actually extremely bothered that only one scenario uses circular zones, and that it uses two. I have to cut, carry and lug around two 12″ circles just for this! Its almost not worth it.

Objectives

Though the scenarios are mostly a wash in my mindset, the objectives are more contentious. I have strong feelings in both directions on this, and I don’t know what I really think about this new element, how it changes the game, and the ramifications that it will have down the line.

The objections that I have to the objectives are simple balance questions. If the game is balanced, without the objectives, why would you introduce them and unbalance the game? It doesn’t make any sense to me. When it was part of the scenario, I understood, because it was hard to take advantage of them, and when you did, you should be rewarded. Now, however, you can build lists around your objective and gain significant advantages, or you can take a list that has a little bit of a weakness and shore it up a bit.

On the other hand, the objectives are cool, and I like that they have an impact on the game now. Where once you could have easily just ignored that they ever exist, you now have another choice in your list building phase, one that can very easily move your whole list in an unexpected direction. I think both views have merit, and I have both at once. I love and hate them, and I don’t know where I’ll eventually fall on them, If I am completely honest.

ADR

ADR though, Is one of the best things I think has ever come around. Its something that shakes up the game without really changing the rules and enables lesser casters, if implemented right, to be given new life. I love specialist, and I really think its how the game needs to go if it is going to move forward. Its just that set of rules and circumstances that allows a good game to become a great game. What specialists allows is a player to be able to play into a better game than he would have otherwise have had when faced with something his list is only moderately prepared to do, because it is more adept at that facet of the game 70% of the time. ADR takes that one step further by allowing a select set of casters – those on the ADR, or Active Duty Roster, to take 20 points of specialists, but only if both of your casters in the pair are from the ADR. Each Faction has 4 casters on the ADR. One is solid, two seem to be OK, and one is clearly a bottom-rung. This allows these casters, those that would normally be left on the shelf when it comes time to write up lists to have an intriguing dynamic that might force you to take a second look at them.

When everyone has specialists, there is a certain amount of swapping out that every army is going to have, with each trying to gain on each other in order to make a better game. I think that this is an improvement overall, as I predict that this will skew the game more toward the center, with each list trying to out-list the other. With ADR, however, either both lists are going to have the ability to massivly change direction, or one list will. Both armies equals out just fine, but one list having over 40% of a second list waiting in the wings is extremely powerful. Showing a Colossal and then when they play their anti-armor list subbing in 20 points of Infantry is the easiest and most obvious, as goes for the inverse. However, there are many ways of making this work. Vorkesh is my favorite Specialist, as are models with Anatomical Precision. Cryx has many soul collection abilities, but sometimes run afoul of lists with no souls in them.

There are so many ways that you can change your list up for certain caster match ups, certain scenarios and certain troop lists that the possibilities are endless.  Now, to qualify for one of those elusive Masters tournaments I keep hearing about.

 

 

Evalrun, God of Earth

Other Titles:  Goldhoarder, The Merchant Lord, Stern King

Alignment:  LE

Weapon: Halberd (Earthbreaker)

Major Domains: Earth, Trade, Caves, Wealth

Minor Domains:  Night, Guilds, Bribery, Poison

Totem Animal: Scorpion

Holy Symbol: A dark purple mountain with three peaks

Favored Appearances: Evalrun is the god of the earth, and favors dwarven and orcish forms. He considers both races to be his chosen, and though they often fight, he sees nothing wrong with it.  His male form is that of a robust, dark, and taciturn dwarf. Broad and flat of feature, he is unexceptional in size and stature. His hair is black as night and curled tight on his head, and his rough beard drapes down to his chest, braided and adorned with golden trinkets. His skin is dark brown,  and his eyes are black. He does not speak often, but when he does it is a low and rumbling sound from deep within his chest.

The Female form is generally an Orc, who’s prowess and strength is obvious. She is large, even for a female Orc, towering almost 7′ tall and boasting a muscular, broad physique.  Her skin, too, is brown, though of a warmer, more woody hue. Her features are round, with high cheeks, a large pair of canines, and a prominent chin. Her hair is gray, tied up in a topknot as is the custom. She talks in nearly the same rumbling base as her male form, commanding all those around to listen and hear her opinion.

Warform: The Father of Earth’s warform is that of a scorpion of onyx and basalt, hard and impossible to break. His pincers are edged with obsidian, his stinger tipped with diamond to pierce even the strongest of armors, yet dripping with a venom that can dissolve flesh and eat through steel. Between each edge and plate of stone chitin are wedged hundreds of gemstones, glittering with opulence as he moves and securing his only weakness withe the strength of the earth itself.

Personality: While Takannas, the most vocal and outwardly strong of the four original gods, is currently in charge of the war effort against the Accursed and is therefore in de-facto charge of them, Evalrun yearns for the day that he will rule the gods. He is the long game, slow and plodding, with deliberate, strong, forceful action. He seeks the complete submission of the gods to his will, but is unable to attempt a coup, for fear of loosing all he has to the accursed. Other gods are wary of his dominating, powerful personality, but none can deny his wealth and power. He holds, within his fastness in the Bloody Mountain, infinite riches, but also the greatest desire of yours that you can think of. He often uses this as a powerful bargaining chip, and when the war with the accursed comes to an end, many gods will have to make hard, difficult decisions.

Teachings: Evalrun teaches a very slow, deliberate, grinding form of living and progressing in life. Nothing comes easy, and nothing comes quickly, and instead you must work long and hard to achieve your goals. This is especially true with the accumulation of wealth, which Evalrun deems in the highest regard. He favors and blesses long schemes with little risk and commensurate, yet predictable returns. he also teaches the earths superiority over all things. without it, there would be none of the others. What would Fire burn? What would water be contained in? What would air stand above? Earth, and the earth priests, and those who worship Evalrun are the true inheritors of power and the true, rightful rulers of the earth. All others are pretenders who should be slain. After a long, destabilizing, risk-free campaign against their powers, of course

Abode: The Bloody Mountain is a vast mountain of black saphires stretching thousands of feet into the sky of the Iron Marches. Within lives Evalrun, and its halls overflow with treasure of all kinds. Here the Justice Hall of the Gods stands, Kelbrech, where each and every one can state their accusations, hear their accusers, and beg for lenience, even though none is ever given. Here is where the Paltonarchs swore their undying vengeance against the Accursed, vowing to hunt each and every one to the ends of the universe.

Clergy: The Clergy of Evalrun are often bankers and judges, doling out unfettered, maximum penalties and storing others money. They teach that wealth is the way to power, and power lets you influence and change the world. War, though undesirable and unprofitable, can lead to sudden change when needed, but the slower, more methodical ways of achieving power are almost always prefered.

Knightly Orders: The Obscurim are a circle of mages and sorcerers dedicated to the magic of earth and darkness. They worship Evalrun as the god of both, though they are less interested in wealth and slow moving plans than he is. These battlemages take to the field to destroy and crush the enemies of their patrons and their own causes. Some, and by far the less numerous, are simple mercenaries who offer their services and skills to those who can afford them and their great power. By far the largest sect, however, are those that offer their services that they see alignment with, but at a price. While their reasons for aligning with any given cause are shrouded in secrecy, they are well known, and their price, though high, almost always guarantees victory and is just as often paid.

Clerical Attire/colors:The basic clerics of the god of earth wear simple black robes trimmed in deep purple. As a cleric attains wealth and status, however, he adds to that rings, earings, brooches and other conspicuous signs of wealth to show both power and rank. The greatest priests sometimes wear enough jewelry and gems to buy small countries.

Followers: Evalrun tends to attract dwarves who admire his thrift, and orcs who admire his lust for power. Rogues and Mages are attracted to the god of night, with the power to obscure, confuse and completely hide one that is greatly desired.