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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Mors Rattus posted:

Wait, halberd? In tunnels?
I assume the idea is that you want to be able to both keep them away from you, but also be able to chop and slash, so you're not helpless if they get past the point. Technically a glaive or ji would be what you want, but WFRP just has "halberd" as the weapon that can be used as either a spear or a great weapon.

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wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Hams tunnels are arbitrarily sized. They expand to fit the dimensions of the weapons used within them, yet contract enough to allow dramatic tightly packed formation fighting.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Halloween Jack posted:

I assume the idea is that you want to be able to both keep them away from you, but also be able to chop and slash, so you're not helpless if they get past the point. Technically a glaive or ji would be what you want, but WFRP just has "halberd" as the weapon that can be used as either a spear or a great weapon.

This is the precise logic given in the book, yes.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




IIRC the Skaven do actually like to perpetuate the idea that they're not real and downplay their threat by assassinating people who speak out too loud and making sure not to leave witnesses.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Broad swings of an executioner sword also work

As attested by Vermintide 2

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




And a basic common belief that talking about evil is inviting evil into your home would have worked well, it's the whole empire executing you for talking which is stupid.

Like the review said: an unspoken understanding of the rats would have been fine.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


If you’ve got a relatively short haft on a halberd it’s actually a really good close quarters weapon. Naval boarding axes are a good example of the type. Halberds are really flexible weapons and if you might end up fighting in lots of different situations they’re hard to beat, which is why they’re so popular with guards. On the other hand if you know exactly what sort of fighting you’re going to do there’s usually a more specialized option that will work even better.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Even a spear is quite versatile when you're using it two-handed, you can shorten the haft. I guess a bardiche/lochaber axe would be what you're looking for, but this polearm discussion is getting downright Gygaxian.

JcDent posted:

Broad swings of an executioner sword also work
Yeah, whatever, Severian.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Joe Slowboat posted:

Does Sarila have a plan for Year 4 of her glorious conquest of civilization?

OvermanXAN posted:

She seems to be making it up as she goes along so probably not, no.
Pretty much this. You have to remember: the whole hivemind wasn't intended. Her whole plan was to make a dangerous disease that she could unleash in secret, then sweep in and cure as a ploy for fame and political power. The whole hivemind thing happened completely on her own, and the only reason she wasn't absorbed into it was because she'd be inoculating herself to the virus beforehand. There's also this, which I should have mentioned:



So yes, she's winging it. The book doesn't specifically say, but presumably this all started pretty recently and the reason it spread so quickly is that in the early stages it's actually hard to tell if someone's infected.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Children of the Horned Rat

RAT PEOPLE

Our next bit is an extensive in-universe dissection of rat people. Our scholar narrator had several bodies found by a tunnel crew trying to expand the cellar of a town hall, and had them delivered to a medical doctor for dissection and analysis. Yep, Skaven Autopsy! Complete with some pretty interesting art of Skaven on the dissection tray. The average rat is about 5 feet tall, but seems shorter since they usually stand hunched over. One rat in the bunch had very large, curving horns and white fur, and seemed to be more important and better fed than the others. The final body was an immense, muscular creature that the scholar took for a dead Rat Ogre; we'll be getting to our dear friend Roger (I will be calling all Rat Ogres Rogers, I've played a lot of Vermintide) in time, but suffice to say Roger is a wonderful example of evil corporate work at its finest. Two of the other rats was a bit bigger than the others, had black fur, and was carrying more weaponry, denoting a warrior class. Fur color is hypothesized as an important social signifier among the rat people, which is completely correct. White Rat on top, Black Rat below, Brown Rat at the bottom. No sure how the author determined the brown rat was the 'common' Skaven if the 5 rat party was a Grey Seer (wizard rat lords), two Stormvermin (Black Skaven warriors), a Roger, and a single brown rat, but hey.

Rats have fine, thick fur that protects from the cold, and that exudes a slight oil like an otter. From this, the author postulates (again, correctly) that the rats are good swimmers and frequently encounter water. The rats also possess extensive and complex scent glands, which seem to serve some kind of social function. From the presence of urine in the rats' fur, the author also posits that the rats piss on one another as a social marker, which is also correct. Skaven piss on everything, it's what they do. The rats are surprisingly scarred, suggesting very violent lives and a lot of old injuries. All the rats were slightly diseased, and the author suggests that infectious disease and pox must be a persistent problem for the ratmen. She also notes ritual scarring in a three-pointed triangle, suggesting a holy symbol and the presence of rat religion, which terrifies her! Rats shouldn't have religions.

Skaven are built to jump, climb, and scamper, with very powerful back legs (they run faster than humans) and the hunched posture suggesting adaptation to tunnels and a tendency to pounce on things. The rats are physically weaker than humans in anything but short bursts of activity, which the author posits is why most of them don't wear armor. They're very good climbers and jumpers, run quickly, and are very mobile, with sharp teeth and natural claws designed to rend and kill with the whole body. Everything about their physique is designed for short, hyperactive bursts of raw energy, probably accompanied by a lot of frantic squeaking and squealing. Everything about them is also just plain filthy, because these are not pet rats, these are wild rats who also got into fascism. An interesting extra is that Skaven have prehensile rat-tails, which are actually muscular enough that if one of them has the proper training, they can wield a weapon with 'em. The most horrifying revelation for the author is that the rats had guns with them. Guns they were dexterous enough to use. Guns she suspects they built. Guns that fire depleted (not depleted) wizard uranium (warpstone). Even worse, the white rat had warpstone in his belly, suggesting the little bastards can eat the stuff without catching fire or exploding. She also discovered undigested gold jewelry in the belly, suggesting the rats' stomachs could digest bone but not the gold jewelry worn on it. Another curious note: The rats have very small stomachs, and this might be part of the reason they need to eat constantly. The nose and ears are very developed, indicating the rats have good hearing and an excellent sense of smell, on par with a dog.

The most unnatural part of the Roger dissection was the realization that it was not a random mutation. Stitching and evidence of surgery suggested that the huge Rat Ogre was a designed organism, intended to be this huge and distended muscle-rat. Armored plates and metal stamping keep portions of the biology from ripping themselves apart from overpressure and strain, and natural weapons surpassing the normal strength of a Skaven have been implanted into the body. Evidence of spellcraft and flesh-moulding are everywhere on Roger. This is because, unknown to the author, Roger is a mass produced monster made by an evil megacorporation. I am excited to get to Clan Moulder in time. The author is frightened by the 'hostility of the world' evidenced by the existence of ratmen adapted to fight, kill, squeak, and chew their way across the world. Considering Goatman Prime is probably watching from the bushes as she writes this, I'm not sure how much of a revelation this really is. It's not like the world isn't already full of things that hate it. Her difference between Beastmen and Ratmen is the uniformity of the latter, with the Ratmen being relatively intelligent and able to build their own weaponry and armor rather than just being the eternal auxiliaries/jobbers of Chaos like Beastmen. All Imperials tend to assign the Ratmen to one of the Chaos Gods, and she assumes these guys are Tzeentch in his aspect as the Mutator, despite having just said they're best defined by the way their biology is in no way randomized.

Our main author now tells us, of course, that the authors of this, and indeed the authors of almost every scholarly work on Skaven, have been killed to death by ninjas. Usually after being condemned by the church. Our author then enters a short rant about 'I am very sane! Remember, reader, copy this pamphlet and pass it on, in case I, too, am KILLED TO DEATH BY NINJAS!' That said, I actually quite like the Skaven Autopsy section. It's a neat in-universe way to get at one of the most important parts of the rats: Their biology. They could probably be a lot more chill if they weren't constantly on the verge of starving and driven to hyperactivity and aggression at all times by that simple fact.

Our normal author takes over again, writing up how the Skaven sense of smell actually allows for the coordination of large units of squeaking little jerks much faster than simply talking. This makes moods spread fast among rats, though, which is where their tremendous reputation for panicking and running away comes from; once a couple start to squirt the musk of fear in the face of an angry Slayer, there's no stopping the rout. The rats cannot fully stop themselves exuding musk, which means a rat (or a Hunter) with an exceptionally good nose is going to be very good at reading their moods. We get a sidenote from a dwarf soldier saying you'd best wash your gear immediately after killing rats, because their blood mixes with and sticks with the musk and goddamn you're never getting that stuff off your axe if you don't clean it after every dozen you chop.

The rats are just big enough to 'hide under hood and cowl' and pretend to be human, the author assures us, which means EVERY BEGGAR COULD BE A RAT I'M SANE I TELL YOU NINJAS! but I digress. The thing they can't hide when trying to pretend to be human is how they walk. They scamper. They cannot but scamper. Their legs are crazy powerful and designed wholly for scampering. There's a lot about how they're so dangerous and stealthy but it all disguises the fact that they're about 5 feet tall and fairly easily smashed, which our dwarf buddy is happy to cut in with.

Rats will eat anything. Absolutely anything. They are always starving, and very bitey. Even an unarmed Skaven will try to drag a person down and get on their back so they can claw and bite. Our dwarf friend notes this is hard to do with dwarfs, and that it's better to have a lower center of gravity when you fight Rat Nazis. Wounds inflicted by Skaven need quick treatment because they're filthy little bastards with curved and jagged swords that are constantly covered in rust. If you don't see to rat wounds, you'll get rat infections, which are really the worst kind.

The best defense against the rats is armor. They love to use poison, especially the ones with the cool little throwing stars and face masks, and combined with the filth it's best to just not let them touch your precious blood. As an added bonus, the rats have a sense of technology but no concept of quality or craftsmanship, so their jagged little swords are usually prone to falling apart when they hit solid plate. Rats are actually very good at guns, so never fight them at long range if you can. If you let the rats control the field, you'll get picked apart by rifles, because Skaven Jezzails are about on par with Hochlander rifles and they tend to have a lot more of them. Get close to rats, spook them, and chop 'em, the dwarf agrees. If that wasn't bad enough, the little bastards have flamethrowers. The rats have weapons technology that exceeds human wisdom, with an emphasis on 'exceeds' and 'wisdom', given the likelihood of all these crazy wunderwaffen blowing up and killing the rats, or misfiring and killing the rats, or the rats deciding to shoot into melee and mostly killing the rats. Our author claims their weapons are superior to the dwarves, which obviously pisses off our dwarf commentator, who notes that dwarf crafted weapons don't blow up and kill their own user. Rats also like to use disease as a weapon, or to throw globes full of a sort of 'poison-wind'. If you see rats covered in robes and thick masks, this means you've got globadiers. Shoot that little bastard first.

Next Time: But what do they eat?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Note that poison wind globes are made of glass; this is important because they have, like most Skaven weaponry, a tendency to break at inopportune times.

punishedkissinger
Sep 20, 2017



I'm strongly considering running a one-off with the players as skaven called To Hell Pit and Back. Thanks for doing this write up, I'll probably skim through the book myself.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


The best part about Rat Ogres is that they suck. I don't think the book ever goes into this, so I can do it here. They're terrible, but they're useful enough, scary enough, and well marketed enough that the evil megacorp making them can make huge bank off selling them to warlords and Skaven armies. And since they're actually kind of fragile and lovely, they just so happen to die and need replacement often, while accomplishing juuuuust enough to keep up their hype and keep selling.

Clan Moulder are what you'd get if Umbrella was competent at making money and running a business.

Added bonus: They give you a scary 3 attack monster you can plonk down on the board, they have lots of wounds, but they have poor DR, WS and defenses and players will probably rip through them while feeling really goddamn cool.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



If they do land a hit, someone's going through a wall, of course.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

I would posit that the Rat Ogres in Vermintide are much scarier than either their RPG or tabletop equivalents.

How many times does the phrase "squirt the musk of fear" appear in the text? Because it was drat near inescapable in Skavenslayer.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Oh, the Skaven. I know a lot of people love them, but I've never gotten the appeal. To me, they're a fundamentally pointless enemy to fight beyond the immediate. In the long run, you can never invade or destroy them. But because they're Skaven, in the long run they'll never succeed, either.

They're just there to be annoying.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


grassy gnoll posted:

I would posit that the Rat Ogres in Vermintide are much scarier than either their RPG or tabletop equivalents.

How many times does the phrase "squirt the musk of fear" appear in the text? Because it was drat near inescapable in Skavenslayer.

Almost never, I had to use it at least once in the write up. It's like tradition.

Also, Roger doesn't hit that hard. He's only Damage 6, your average PC in light armor at start of campaign can take one of those hits.

Emphasis on one.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Fundamentally, Clan Moulder has a really good marketing department.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Cythereal posted:

Oh, the Skaven. I know a lot of people love them, but I've never gotten the appeal. To me, they're a fundamentally pointless enemy to fight beyond the immediate. In the long run, you can never invade or destroy them. But because they're Skaven, in the long run they'll never succeed, either.

They're just there to be annoying.

Find replace Skaven for Necromancy or Chaos and it’s the exact same, though?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Cythereal posted:

Oh, the Skaven. I know a lot of people love them, but I've never gotten the appeal. To me, they're a fundamentally pointless enemy to fight beyond the immediate. In the long run, you can never invade or destroy them. But because they're Skaven, in the long run they'll never succeed, either.
Well yeah, they're rats.

I like the idea of Skaven as an entree for characters like Rat Catcher and Tomb Robber to have their entree into being badass monster hunters. I don't think I'd be very interested to spend a whole campaign fighting them.

By the by, I checked and the Old World Armoury actually says that the Halberd covers bills, glaives, and similar weapons that aren't spears. I could see playing a "rat catcher" who carries a big gently caress-off glaive around.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Very few of the enemy splats can cover a whole campaign themselves. Part of why the Paths of the Damned campaign keeps meandering around like crazy is because it has to try to get around the fact that 'find these 3 pieces of a Khornate and burn them while the same drat Khorne cult bothers you over and over' can't sustain a long campaign. You've got to change up who you're fighting sometimes no matter who you were up against.

One of the nice things the rats having going for them is they have lots of discrete schemes (so you can make real progress by, say, loving up the clan living under Nuln), and they're very scalable. Their weak units are weak enough for rookie PCs who aren't fighter classes to style on, while their strong units have a lot of variety and fun tricks that high level PCs can blow through. You can suit rats to all levels. Right now, my players are entering their 3rd tier and they're fighting a shitload of rats in Talabheim; I can pull out all the big deal rats like master assassins, warlords, and wizards and make up crazy super ratsoldatan for them to blow away. At the same time, the first fight my 16 year old Sigmarite Initiate PC had was fending off a rat attempt to poison food stocks during the Siege of Middenheim, because starting PCs can handle the little mook ninjas they send to do that kind of work. It's very useful for a GM to have lots of rat-scale.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Dec 4, 2018

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


From rats to Hyenas

Volo's Guide to Monsters: Gnolls: The Insatiable Hunger Part 1

Previous Entry



Gnolls are humanoids originating from all the way back to basic D&D in 1974, but were not given their popular depiction as hyena people until AD&D in 1977. While 3e and 4e generally tried to make the gnolls more nuanced, 5e decided to go the opposite direction and made gnolls the most evil they have ever been, using them as examples of senseless evil. To the point despite being a popular monstrous race in previous editions, WotC explicitly stated that gnolls would not be among playable races in Volo's on the grounds of being too evil to work as player characters in the current edition.

In Volo's gnolls are described as a warning and reminder of the Abyss' horrors and how horrible the damage can be from even a brief demonic incursion.

The origin of the gnolls is that whenever and wherever the demon lord Yeenoghu enters the material plane to go on a rampage, packs of hyenas are drawn to him. The Hyenas follow his path of destruction and eat his kills until they become so bloated they can't move, upon which they transform into fully grown adult gnolls in a shower of gore. The gnolls then take up Yeenoghu's mission to despoil and kill everything in their path.



Yeenoghu
Gnolls are the embodiment of the dark urges of Yeenoghu the demon lord of slaughter, and senseless destruction. While Yeenoghu has been defeated and banished more then once. Gnolls always remain to pursue his apocalyptic vision, the world a dead, barren empty ruin with only the decaying corpses of the last few surviving gnolls to mark it's end.

Because they were created by a demon lord, gnolls are creatures of blood lust, and incapable of acting in any other way. They are extensions of their creator's will, and only stop to devour their kills, and to create crude armor and weapons from their victims.

A gnoll warband represents what Yeenoghu wants for the world. Vicious endless fighting until the end of the world. When the last battle ends, Yeenoghu will enter the world, slay the last surviving champion. And preside over the wasteland of rotting corpses. Viewing it as true beauty.

INSIDE THE MIND OF A GNOLL posted:

From a journal recovered from a slain cultist of Yeenoghu:

Day 2: The subject continues to growl and struggle, despite the removal of its arms and legs. I will let it starve for a few days to weaken its mental fortitude. If the gnoll does have some sort of tie to the Abyss, I must keep my focus on exploiting that link, even though the creature’s mind might remain aware.

Day 6: No appreciable loss of vigor.

Day 11: Still no appreciable loss of vigor.

Day 13: Ritual must commence tomorrow despite subject’s high level of mental activity.

Day 14: The ritual brought our minds together. I was assailed simultaneously by hunger and rage, as if some great force from beyond had reached out and commanded me only to kill and eat. Though it lasted only a short time, it was a terrifying feeling to my human mind, but in a way it was also comforting to feel myself a part of a much greater design. What I felt was not the hunger of one beast, but the hunger of all of them.

Day 15: Used the ritual to join our minds again. This time I realized where the hunger began. I was consumed by the infinite hunger and boundless rage of great Yeenoghu, and I knew it could never be sated. Yet I felt driven to feed my lord. I killed and devoured a goat while linked to the gnoll’s mind. I had set aside a knife for the deed but killed it with my bare hands instead. The flesh was warm. I fed myself. I fed Yeenoghu.

Day 16: Third use of ritual. As my connection to my lord deepens, I leave my old concerns behind. His hunger is all that matters. It is greater than me; it is greater than us all. It is His mark. He made us. He drives us. He eats what we eat. He kills what we kill. He will come if we eat well. He will come if we kill well. He will come if we eat well. He will come if we kill well. We will kill and He will eat, and we shall be He and He shall be we, never alone, never afraid, never hungry.

The Gift of Yeenoghu
Yeenoghu screws with the minds of his followers, implanting a supernatural hunger for violence and the flesh of intelligent beings. A gnoll feels a constant demand for destruction and blood that only calms when they devour the flesh of intelligent creatures. Other creatures do provide sustenance, but they don't do anything to quell Yeenoghu's hunger.

To please their hunger gnolls are constantly in search of new victims, hardly sleeping and never settling down. Only large scale acts of destruction, like the slaughter of a whole town can satisfy them for long. They rest in the ruins satisfied it has pleased their master. But the relief will only last a few days, before they are once again slaves to their desires.

Gnolls have faith in three concepts. Strength so they can overwhelm, kill and devour their enemies. Hunger which motivates them to kill in Yeenoghu's name. And fear a weapon that makes other creatures much easier prey.

Omens from Beyond
Yeenoghu's is probably the most active demon lord on the material plane. He constantly supports his followers with omens in the form of dreams, visions, and signs. As a result gnolls are constantly on the lookout for such omens.

"Among the signs that gnolls rely on are the blood trails and spatters left behind after making a meal of an intelligent humanoid. They attach significance to a number of other phenomena as well, including the sight of arrows in flight, the rush of the wind, and sounds of howling or cackling laughter that have no discernible source."

Non-gnoll Cultists
Few creatures other than gnolls worship Yeenoghu, and those that do tend to mimic gnolls. Cultists of Yeenoghu are nihilists who have lost all hope. For whatever reason from betrayal to loss, they are isolated and abandoned creatures who fall prey to Yeenoghu.

Yeenoghu will assil prospective cultists dreams with promises of power, fueled by acts of brutality, to tempt and torment them. Most folk will dismiss the feelings as fleeting bout of depression or madness and resist the call. But there are those who do not, For these people "the true lure of Yeenoghu’s promises lies not in the power they offer, but in the deep sense of belonging they create."

Those swayed consider themselves gnolls in mind and deed, and set out to perform atrocities in their master's name. Most are quickly killed by the authorities, but some escape into the wildness to rampage on their own, some eventually joining with a gnoll warband.

Volo posted:

Trying to talk to a gnoll is the quickest path to its stomach.

Gnoll Tactics
Gnolls mostly seem to throw themselves into battle mindlessly driven by fury and hunger. But they do hold a form of cunning that results in several tactics they use consistently.

Butcher the Weak
A gnolls goal is to kill, so they prefer weak and easy targets. An enemy that can fight back is an enemy best saved for later. Gnolls only care about the number of kills, glory, honor and personal achievement mean nothing. So in face of a gnoll invasion, it is best for the civilians to get to a fortified location. Gnolls avoid protracted battles if they can, much preferring people that can't defend themselves rather than attacking a castle.

Overwhelm the Strong
Gnolls only attack intelligent creatures capable of defending themselves when the most powerful omens from Yeenoghu compel it. Ganging up on each target in smaller groups. Going in waves when the prey is more numerous. "The creatures will crawl over their own dead to climb a castle’s walls and kill all within it. A commonly held belief is that a fortress besieged by gnolls needs ten arrows for each one to keep the creatures from scaling the walls."

Spread Far and Wide
Gnolls don't set up permanent camps, though they might linger in sites of a great slaughter to eat the dead. The hyenas that follow gnoll bands will feast during this time, becoming bloated before bursting open spawning more gnolls. This is how gnolls replenish their ranks before wandering off for the next rampage.

Kill from a Distance
Pretty much every gnoll has a scavenged bow from a kill they made. Ranged attacks are primarily to keep prey from fleeing, as a target wounded by a bow shot is easy prey for gnolls near it. Some clever gnolls have worked out using burning arrows to start fires in order to cut off their prey's escape routes.

Leave No Survivors
Gnolls basically live in a state of eternal war with all other creatures around them, with the exceptions of other followers of Yeenoghu. Between raids they try and remain hidden in the wilderness, making sure they leave no survivors of any groups they come upon, and they are willing to pursue fleeing enemies for days to prevent them from getting to a town or city and revealing their presence.

If the area they hunt in becomes too well defended, the gnolls will relocate in search of easier prey. Because of this large areas around the fringe of civilization can be devastated before threat of the gnolls is discovered.

ON DEFEATING GNOLLS posted:

An excerpt from One Hundred Years of War, a famous manual of dwarven battle tactics:

Gnolls remain a threat across all seasons. Happily, our redoubts are too fortified for their tastes, but caravans, foraging expeditions, and patrols must deal with them.

Gnolls take care to move quietly when they are on the hunt for prey. The events that presage their presence are easy to misinterpret as the results of other threats. A scout might go missing, a caravan fail to arrive on time, or a village be left deserted. Several kinds of creatures, such as orcs and goblins, can cause such events, but the evidence that gnolls leave of their involvement is unmistakable. Their enemies aren’t merely killed, they are dismembered and devoured. The loot that other marauders would scoop up is left where it falls, of no use to a creature that requires only flesh to feed its urges.

If you suspect that gnolls are encroaching on dwarven territory, send reliable spies to human settlements in the region, while pulling back as many of our folk as you can manage. Instruct the spies to pass along updates each day, preferably by messenger bird. Do not tell the spies of your suspicions. Invent a story, such as the search for an outlaw or some other deception.

If a spy fails to report, you must strike quickly. Send your fastest warriors and strongest spellcasters to the spy’s location. If the gnolls have struck a settlement, they will rest for up to a week, bloated on their kills. In this state, they are their most vulnerable. Surround the place in silence, and advance as one to catch them in a vise. Let none survive. A single gnoll can, over time, create a new war band.

Some may argue for an approach that doesn’t rely on the loss of human life to see it succeed. I would gladly suggest one if such existed. Your best strategy is to defend our halls and let the humans serve as bait. Moradin knows they multiply quickly enough that their losses will soon be recouped.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


How likely to explode is skaven stuff in the rpg?

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Putting aside the fact I think gnolls are pretty cool, are they going somewhere with the whole "these monsters are irredeemably evil and should be killed on sight?" 'cause that seems like maybe a poor choice to make for a thing you're going to spend many pages fleshing out in a splat book.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


grassy gnoll posted:

Putting aside the fact I think gnolls are pretty cool, are they going somewhere with the whole "these monsters are irredeemably evil and should be killed on sight?" 'cause that seems like maybe a poor choice to make for a thing you're going to spend many pages fleshing out in a splat book.

We are mostly done with the description. The rest is largely about role playing them, the anatomy of their warbands and their roles in it. and the allies gnolls have. The final step being the creation of a gnoll warband.

Sadly in terms of character gnolls are pretty basic. Still they make good enemies.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



MonsterEnvy posted:

We are mostly done with the description. The rest is largely about role playing them, the anatomy of their warbands and their roles in it. and the allies gnolls have. The final step being the creation of a gnoll warband.

Sadly in terms of character gnolls are pretty basic. Still they make good enemies.

Are they matriarchal?

Because no matter if they're evil or not, gnolls and indeed just about any hyena-derived critters should be.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





MonsterEnvy posted:

We are mostly done with the description. The rest is largely about roleplaying them, the anatomy of their warbands and their roles in it. and thee allies gnolls have. The final step being the creation of a gnoll warband.
Who would ally with these maniacs? I suppose implicitly they are intelligent enough that if some local bandits cut a deal to the effect of "Don't eat us, and we'll also tend your annoying wounds, and in exchange we'll cover for you" ("and also we'll collect the goods you abandon") the gnolls would have the wit to follow it as long as the prey held out.

And of course Slaughter-Lady Mayy of the Tohri empire would need something horrible to feed prisoners too.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Children of the Horned Rat

Industrialized Rat Babies

Alright, let's get this out of the way. Skaven, according to our author, have industrialized the breeding process and have made the females of their race into giant mutated brood-mares that exist to do nothing but reproduce. Yep. On one hand, the Nazi connection kinnnnd of plays that out, given the Lebensborn program and a lot of their weirdness. On the other, this kind of stuff is usually a realllly bad idea in RPGs. This comes from the wargaming fluff, so there's no blaming the RPG authors specifically for it, but it's also the kind of thing that probably shouldn't come up in your game often. 'Horrible bloated broodmother rat' is just something I'd prefer to leave off the table and not talk about. There are very few Skaven women, and they aren't born very often, leading to this insanity. What could have checked their population numbers instead became a drive to brutalize the poo poo out of the female rats and produce more soldiers and workers. Skaven only take 3-5 years to reach physical and mental maturity. Very few live past 20.

Something else to note about our author: Because of the in-universe nature of this entire extremely long section, we're getting the author's breathless terror at the thought of fighting rat people for pages and pages, and she rather, uh, overestimates the rats. They are not nearly as physically dangerous nor as impervious to calamity as our author likes to rant about; she talks about the drat things like they were the goddamn perfect being because she's afraid of them and possibly going a bit nuts. The bit about 'they breed so fast they could survive endlessly on eating their own offspring' is obviously hyperbole, as is her idea that they must be immune to all diseases (they are not) and poisons (they are definitely not, rat poison will kill them). They eat anything they can get their paws on, it's true, but if what they eat is poisoned or completely rotted they'll die all the same as anyone else. She claims every single Skaven has to eat their own body weight in raw meat every day. Given the little guys are almost the size of humans, this would mean they're eating 80-100 pounds of flesh every day, which is obviously impossible, especially with the earlier fluff about them having small stomachs and generally eating small meals many times. The drive for food is one of the main things driving Skaven culture; they never know where their next meal is coming from, and many of their invasions are actually attempts to seize livestock, food stores, and other edibles. Their rapid metabolisms and high octane crazy make them hungry hungry hungry.

Skaven actually live in huge cities underground, where they live in terrible little warrens and ramshackle buildings. There's no idea of permanence among the rats, is the impression I get; you build something to live in it now, you don't really care if it's standing in a couple years because you might be dead. Skaven partly hate dwarves so much because dwarves are also tunnelers, and they fight over the best and most livable tunnels. In addition, Skaven feel much safer underground, knowing that humans and elves don't operate very well in hunched tunnels; that goes out of the window when a bunch of bearded badasses with shotguns, riot shields, and extremely heavy armor are bullying a bunch of rats around the tunnels. They build mines, transport networks, underground farms, and giant nurseries full of squalling baby rats; they actually need infrastructure way more than 'we have infinite supplies and just magic up an army' types like Chaos. You can, in fact, go in and wreck up the Skaven's poo poo; they actually need to keep themselves supplied and most of the infrastructure they use for it is very volatile because it's all powered by warpstone.

Skaven keep attacking the surface, our author claims, because they are the only race in the setting that can't imagine being annihilated. There are so many of them, and they breed to quickly, that they instead worry entirely about the individual rat. Every single rat is constantly pondering where their food is coming from, how they'll stay safe, and how they'll move up. This actually leads to the unique thing about the rats: They might be a squeaking horde of fur and rusty daggers, but they give a poo poo. They really give a poo poo about dying. Every individual rat tends to think they're the most awesome rat that ever squeaked, and they will do everything they can to live through fighting your PCs. The author posits that this sense of self-importance, plus their overall sense of insane security (who could ever imagine the Under Empire exploding?) is why every rat is looking at the rat to his left and the rat to his right and plotting how to make sure they're the one that gets their throat torn out by your small, but vicious dog. She reasons it's similar to how the Empire ends up in civil wars whenever Chaos isn't attacking them for a couple decades, but writ across the entire history of the Under Empire.

Rat society is structured by fur color and unbridled ambition. This section gets kinda repetitive, to be honest, and I think the in-universe stuff drags on. There's 26 pages of the agitated Verenan wailing about how rats are going to kill us all before we get to anything else. This is like a fifth of the entire pagecount. White rats are priests and wizards. Black rats are warriors. Brown rats are whatever the other rats force them to be or whatever they've managed to claw their way into being. Skaven society has dozens of levels of hierarchy beyond this, because if there's one thing the rats like more than backstabbing and eating, it's lording over every other rat they think they can get away with lording over. Skaven infighting is a little different from all the other antagonist factions of the setting in that it happens partly because the conceited little bastards think other Skaven are way more of a threat than you, in the abstract. Playing their dumb politics against one another will win you battles, probably even wars. I think the only people who can rival Skaven for self-assurance are elves, and with about as disastrous of consequences.

The rats worship a great god called the Great Horned Rat. Imperials will always immediately identify the Horned Rat as a Chaos God, and certainly GW did the same eventually because they're hacks, but it's much more interesting if it's something else. Priesthood is hereditary, with white or grey furred rats with cute little horns marking them as magically gifted, a process our author identifies as being similar to how collegiate Wizards take on aspects of their Wind. The three-scratch triangle that accompanies rat people in their wanderings is their holy symbol, and one of the few things the Skaven will actually try to protect. They can't resist putting it on everything as a show of faith to their God, because the average Skaven is very devoted to the Horned Rat. Interestingly, this makes the Skaven the only monotheists in the setting; they think the Horned Rat will eventually eat all the other Gods. The Horned Rat is basically Rat Sigmar, really; he's a manifestation of everything the rats think is cool about a person and the direct patron of their entire civilization. The problem being that while humans think things like 'cooperation' and 'protecting others' are cool (and so assign them to Sigmar) the rats think being a murderous betrayer who climbs over the piles of their former friends and allies to the top is cool, so the Great Horned Rat is all about gnawing and backstabbing and the inevitable annihilation or subjugation of all non-Skaven.

The section on Skaven tech could be summed up with 'it's powerful, but made by the lowest bidder, explodes, and Warpstone isn't safe, even for them.' The Skaven also dearly need Warpstone; if they run out their civilization will absolutely collapse. They bend as much as they can towards getting more Warpstone. They need it. It's their cocaine, their oil, and their plutonium all at once. They are also causing immense ecological damage everywhere they go. Our author is quite clear: If there can be found a way to destroy Warpstone and the supply can be cut off, the Skaven will die. Yes, that's a big ask, but at least there's an objective and a critical point rather than a dozen more books about how you can never ever fix the polar gates or otherwise stop Chaos, right?

We also get an Ulrican legend about the creation of the world as we know it, where Ulric alone tries to hold the collapse of the polar gate and Ranald runs away without warning anyone. The other Gods won't help until Verena goes to help Ulric and shames the others into making him King of the Gods and everything and he helps the humans learn to fight Chaos and they mostly contain it, etc etc. Obviously a legend in favor of the Ulricans, and told by Ulricans, but the outline is similar to many of the human myths of the Collapse. The interesting part is this legend claims the Skaven arose from the rats that ate the corpses of the first Chaos champions and infected humans. This is one of our possible origins for the ratmen.

The other, more popular (and probably true) myth is the Doom of Kavzar. See, there was a city in what becomes Tilea where man and dwarf lived in peace after the elves had been pushed off the continent. Their city was great; they lived in harmony, everything was lovely, and they wanted to thank the Gods for it. So they undertook building a great tower with a shrine to every God in the same place. They weren't able to finish their tower, and as they despaired that they'd lose the blessing of the divine, a grey-cloaked man came before them. He said he'd finish the tower immediately, if they let him place a shrine to his God on the top. Being very stupid people who forgot about how you shouldn't trust mysterious wizards talking about Gods they won't mention, they agreed. He snapped his fingers, tower was finished, and on top of it stood a great bell. They thought the bell was going to be cool at first.

The bell was not cool.

The Gods stopped listening to the people of Kavzar, and terrible storms came upon their city, as the bell kept tolling away. They locked themselves in their homes and holds, and prayed for their mistake to be undone. Instead they got positively blasted with rats. Just rats everywhere. Eating people. Turning into rat people. Sinking the entire city into a massive morass and set of tunnels built out of the destroyed dwarfhold underneath it. Given how Skavenblight (first city of the Skaven) is in Tilea, and given how the rats goddamn love bells as a major holy symbol of the Great Horned Rat...yeah, I'm gonna go with this is the one that happened. Sorry, Ulricans.

And now we finally get into the actual book proper.

Next Time: A history of rat violence.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Mors Rattus posted:

Are they matriarchal?

Because no matter if they're evil or not, gnolls and indeed just about any hyena-derived critters should be.

It's hard to tell if they even have sexes. Given their primary reproductive method is to feed their kills to hyenas who then transform into gnolls. Though this would lead me to believe yes they are matriarchal. As the biggest and strongest gnolls would be females.

Nessus posted:

Who would ally with these maniacs? I suppose implicitly they are intelligent enough that if some local bandits cut a deal to the effect of "Don't eat us, and we'll also tend your annoying wounds, and in exchange we'll cover for you" ("and also we'll collect the goods you abandon") the gnolls would have the wit to follow it as long as the prey held out.

And of course Slaughter-Lady Mayy of the Tohri empire would need something horrible to feed prisoners too.

This is something that works for them. Gnolls like to target the weak, forces that are stronger than them or around their strength, but are willing to help them get prey make good allies.

MonsterEnvy fucked around with this message at 21:53 on Dec 4, 2018

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





MonsterEnvy posted:

This is something that works for them. Gnolls like to target the weak, forces that are stronger than them or around their strength, but are willing to help them get prey make good allies.
But you're allying with monsters from Hell! That's usually frowned upon. Like at least orcs and goblins you (presumably?) would know are people.

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015


Mors Rattus posted:

Are they matriarchal?

Because no matter if they're evil or not, gnolls and indeed just about any hyena-derived critters should be.

IIRC, that's true for spotted hyenas only - for the rest (like the striped hyena - if I see one over here, it's this one), the male is bigger, and not matriachal.

Edit:The art do show gnolls as spotted, though.

grassy gnoll posted:

Putting aside the fact I think gnolls are pretty cool

Agreed, if only 'cause I like hyenas (even if me knowledge about them is lacking).

Gun Jam fucked around with this message at 22:12 on Dec 4, 2018

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Regarding Skaven, would it in any way effect the setting or their themes if all new Skaven are produced by exposing rats to warpstone in controlled conditions (possibly involving feeding them corpses)?

Because I feel like 'industrialized reproduction' could be much less incredibly gross if Skaven literally do not have normal reproduction in any form, don't care at all about sex or gender, and don't have 'giant nurseries' because if I'm going to collapse a giant cave-city of fascist rats I would prefer it not have 'nurseries' of any kind.

Plus it would fit their whole deal, and it's not like their civilization can be any more reliant on warpstone.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Gun Jam posted:

IIRC, that's true for spotted hyenas only - for the rest (like the striped hyena - if I see one over here, it's this one), the male is bigger, and not matriachal.

Edit:The art do show gnolls as spotted, though.


It turns out it's less true than we thought for spotted hyenas, too! Turns out, females are only slightly larger on average than males; individual diversity far outweighs the effect. The most critical factor in how successful in the pack a spotted hyena is is how much support it gets from other hyenas. Females that stay in the pack with their mothers and sisters tend to have lots of friends, males that leave the pack to go find a mate in another pack have less backup. But sometimes males stay with their friends and have the backup needed to show dominant behavior, sometimes females leave the pack and are bottom of the totem pole in their new home.

It was just really hard for researchers to actually get a good idea of what's going on, because it's super hard to tell the sexes apart.


Point being, hyenas are rad and I hate always-evil-demon-gnolls.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Joe Slowboat posted:

Regarding Skaven, would it in any way effect the setting or their themes if all new Skaven are produced by exposing rats to warpstone in controlled conditions (possibly involving feeding them corpses)?

Because I feel like 'industrialized reproduction' could be much less incredibly gross if Skaven literally do not have normal reproduction in any form, don't care at all about sex or gender, and don't have 'giant nurseries' because if I'm going to collapse a giant cave-city of fascist rats I would prefer it not have 'nurseries' of any kind.

Plus it would fit their whole deal, and it's not like their civilization can be any more reliant on warpstone.

I don't think it would change things, no. As long as they still endlessly reproduce without any real thought of family or closeness, that's the important part of rat people. Thematically, the industrialized nature of life in rat people town is what matters, as is the way they view life as a renewable commodity with no real value (except their own, of course. Every rat is the most important rat.)

megane
Jun 20, 2008





As usual with such things, it only remains because if you get away with doing something lovely for long enough, you can start calling it 'tradition' and thus keep doing it forever.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Nessus posted:

But you're allying with monsters from Hell! That's usually frowned upon. Like at least orcs and goblins you (presumably?) would know are people.

Yeah but you don't have to pay gnolls for the most part.

RiotGearEpsilon
Jun 26, 2005
SHAVE ME FROM MY SHELF

I'm willing to applaud this insane evil gnoll poo poo because it finally means we can have monstrous humanoids that cannot plausibly be viewed as a metaphor for any real ethnic group no matter how hard you squint.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Also, important Rat Fact:

In Queekish (Skaventalk) they call every other race X-Thing, because all others are just things and not people compared to glorious Skavens. Man-Thing, Dwarf-Thing, Elf-Thing, etc. Demons are just called Thing, though. They don't know what the gently caress kind of thing those are.

MinistryofLard
Mar 22, 2013


So what does the Imperial establishment get out of pretending Skaven don't exist? Is it just out of fear that if they admit they exist Skaven will assassinate them? Is the entire establishment, including the cults of religious fundamentalists who give no fucks, completely terrified of Skaven?

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


MinistryofLard posted:

So what does the Imperial establishment get out of pretending Skaven don't exist? Is it just out of fear that if they admit they exist Skaven will assassinate them? Is the entire establishment, including the cults of religious fundamentalists who give no fucks, completely terrified of Skaven?

That's supposed to be the thing, but like I said in the review, when you look at Sigmarites...can you really see them responding to a dire threat by pretending it doesn't exist? Hide details about it, sure, but pretending it doesn't exist seems really out of character. After all, threats are an important part of their religious legitimacy via defending the Empire from them.

I think it's an old running joke that wore out its welcome and doesn't really add anything. You can, as I said, change it to 'we don't know they're a serious threat' instead of 'we pretend they aren't real' and still get the plot beats while not making it awkward to run.

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