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SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


The premise that the Empire is in idiotic denial about the Skaven became somewhat more plausible post 11/9.

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MinistryofLard
Mar 22, 2013


To be fair, I kind of like the thematic concept of the sole line of defence between the neverending legion of rat-Nazis and the wider Empire a group of literal rat-catchers with no support, training, recognition, or reward, because it ups the stakes, makes for a bunch of interesting PCs, and is kind of the good kind of grimdark that Fantasy always got better than 40k did, but making the Empire suppress knowledge on them just falls apart under scrutiny. As you said, there's better ways to.do it.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


MinistryofLard posted:

To be fair, I kind of like the thematic concept of the sole line of defence between the neverending legion of rat-Nazis and the wider Empire a group of literal rat-catchers with no support, training, recognition, or reward, because it ups the stakes, makes for a bunch of interesting PCs, and is kind of the good kind of grimdark that Fantasy always got better than 40k did, but making the Empire suppress knowledge on them just falls apart under scrutiny. As you said, there's better ways to.do it.

Oh, yeah. Any change would have to keep heroic ratcatchers because they rule.

White Coke
May 29, 2015


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?

Another reason why the denials could make sense is that denying the existence of a technologically "superior" Skaven civilization would be reassuring to Imperials since their continued resistance towards the forces of Chaos is based on their own technological superiority. But that wouldn't stop the Sigmarites from declaring that only faith in Sigmar can protect the Empire, not cannons.

Imperials also seem to be mostly ignorant of the Chaos Dwarfs, and something that doesn't seem to have come up is just how much of a shock it would have been to find that Archaon's Horde had its own artillery that's far more destructive than anything Nuln can make.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


There is also the fact that the Skaven are right under them and can come out at any time.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Denying the existence of the undercities would make plenty of sense even with the Skaven acknowledged as real, yes.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Yeah, if I were running a game I'd probably go with the Empire acknowledging the Skaven, but dismissing them as nothing but subterranean beastmen.

I like to think that the Skaven are an experiment by the Chaos gods to create pawns that could build an empire and take and hold territory, as a different threat from their normal bunch of hellvikings. It just so happens that the Skaven are the closest thing to an 'order' group that Chaos is capable of.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





As someone who finds Chaos (as a faction, rather than the idea that magic has innate hazards) the least interesting part of the setting, I like the idea that Skaven are more or less chaos-adjacent at most. They're like Beastmen, but sort of the opposite - rats 'evolved' into their awful selves by sorcery, as the Great Horned Rat's creations. Who's the Great Horned Rat? I don't particularly care, it could be a sorcerer with a thing for rats or some god that went unadmitted by any other pantheon, or something weirder like the Maw. Or whatever Chorfs worship.

In short, let us have a Ruinous Power that isn't one of the Extremely Boring Big Four. The more the Chaos Gods look like the Chorf's 'Dark Father' or the Great Horned Rat or whatever, the more fun they'll be. Let a thousand horrible mutant flowers bloom, and have every Chaos warband or civilization worship their own particular thing with its own ideas.

Honestly, wouldn't that be great? A Chaos pantheon as varied and interesting as the other pantheons can be, with maybe the Big Four as gods-behind-the-gods or just important to the ruinous pantheon. Hell, let that one Drakenfels guy be a minor chaos god. Let the scholars of the elves debate whether Gork and Mork are Chaos Gods or something weirder, and whether Manaan the primordial ocean guy is technically a Chaos God but a non-rear end in a top hat one, things like that.

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 01:47 on Dec 5, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One of the problems in Fantasy is that it has a bunch of decent villains and then keeps trying to say 'But they'd all better do what Chaos says!'

Which I imagine tends to annoy the people playing as all the other villains.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


I love the Skaven. They're one of the more interesting-to-use factions in Warhams, even if they do have their issues. I overall agree with the proposal that they should just reproduce by grabbing double fistfuls of rats and throwing them into Warpstone slurry like TMNT or something - it fits their mad science aesthetic more, and honestly it makes more sense if the little bastards are all sterile with all the warpstone they're around. The whole weird unfortunate sexism thing to tie them more to unfortunate weird Nazi beliefs is something that does strictly speaking fit, but it's something I also don't think is ever going to be particularly engaging enough to justify having around.

As for their relation to Chaos, there's actually a lot of implied stuff going on in scattered fluff that is (mercifully) ambiguous as to the Ratzis' relationship to the Big Four. Tzeentch, as mentioned already, is commonly brought up because of all their mad science, sorcery, mutations, and crippling addiction to magical cocaine, but their whole "disease kicks rear end" bent and general grossness means Nurgle is a likely benefactor in some way. It's also extremely heavily implied that one of the major clans, Pestilens, has been hijacked by a Neglish cult wearing a lovely paper mask with the Horned Rat's face on it. Thing is, the cult is more or less identical to Horned Rat worship anyway, just with a disproportionate focus on diseases, so the only real difference is the other clans would a pre-baked vague excuse to justify civil war against them if the truth came out (not that they'd do it lightly, as Pestilens is only second to Eshin in terms of being the clan that scares the poo poo out of all the others.) Nurgle's the only Chaos God written worth a poo poo most of the time, so I actually enjoy this angle - and if some rear end in a top hat insists the Ratzis are a Tzeentch project, that means Nurgle more or less co-opted the entire thing to gently caress with his rival and was wildly successful. I do prefer that the Horned Rat just be some sort of vague, Hashut-esque outside context dark entity, though, especially because that means sufficient chutzpah and trickery could aim the entire Underempire at the Chaos Wastes in indignant rage, killing two birds with one stone.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Joe Slowboat posted:

As someone who finds Chaos (as a faction, rather than the idea that magic has innate hazards) the least interesting part of the setting, I like the idea that Skaven are more or less chaos-adjacent at most. They're like Beastmen, but sort of the opposite - rats 'evolved' into their awful selves by sorcery, as the Great Horned Rat's creations. Who's the Great Horned Rat? I don't particularly care, it could be a sorcerer with a thing for rats or some god that went unadmitted by any other pantheon, or something weirder like the Maw. Or whatever Chorfs worship.

In short, let us have a Ruinous Power that isn't one of the Extremely Boring Big Four. The more the Chaos Gods look like the Chorf's 'Dark Father' or the Great Horned Rat or whatever, the more fun they'll be. Let a thousand horrible mutant flowers bloom, and have every Chaos warband or civilization worship their own particular thing with its own ideas.

Honestly, wouldn't that be great? A Chaos pantheon as varied and interesting as the other pantheons can be, with maybe the Big Four as gods-behind-the-gods or just important to the ruinous pantheon. Hell, let that one Drakenfels guy be a minor chaos god. Let the scholars of the elves debate whether Gork and Mork are Chaos Gods or something weirder, and whether Manaan the primordial ocean guy is technically a Chaos God but a non-rear end in a top hat one, things like that.

I remember when somebody first explained Chaos' basic shtick to me and I thought, "wait, they're called Chaos, and they're supposed to be these insane marauders who hate structure and law... aaaand they're all utterly, dogmatically devoted to one of four very specific and consistently detailed deities?" I get that it's supposed to be kind of ironic maybe, but man, the Empire's religion is more chaotic than Chaos.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

So, is this what happens when nerds take 'ROUSes? I don't think they exist' and run it into the ground as deeply as any given Monty Python line?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Daeren posted:

The whole weird unfortunate sexism thing to tie them more to unfortunate weird Nazi beliefs is something that does strictly speaking fit, but it's something I also don't think is ever going to be particularly engaging enough to justify having around.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure that's not the original authorial intent, I just felt I should point out that it can fit the Nazi aesthetic. I'm absolutely sure the weird broodmother thing is because some guy in the 80s thought it sounded metal and would make them grosser and weirder and threw it in.

Hence why I'm down for a suggestion for ditching it that keeps the general 'industrial mad science breeding' flavor because the unfortunate implications are the kind of thing most gaming tables don't like to deal with. I mean, one of the implied ways you gently caress up Skaven is to go destroy their breeding pits. If the breed pits are the tubes in which mad doctor Tael Ratgor grows his tuberats that's a lot less unpleasant than 'it's time to butcher some bloated broodmares that are drugged to the nines and harmless' while accomplishing the same objective.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Daeren posted:

I love the Skaven. They're one of the more interesting-to-use factions in Warhams, even if they do have their issues. I overall agree with the proposal that they should just reproduce by grabbing double fistfuls of rats and throwing them into Warpstone slurry like TMNT or something

While ringing a bell. If there isn't a big ol' brass bell tolling when you do this you just get mutated/dead rats rather than Skaven.

Desiden
Mar 13, 2016

Mindless self indulgence is SRS BIZNS


megane posted:

I remember when somebody first explained Chaos' basic shtick to me and I thought, "wait, they're called Chaos, and they're supposed to be these insane marauders who hate structure and law... aaaand they're all utterly, dogmatically devoted to one of four very specific and consistently detailed deities?" I get that it's supposed to be kind of ironic maybe, but man, the Empire's religion is more chaotic than Chaos.

At various points there has been more...well, chaos I guess to the faction. Early on their were lots of lesser gods and the big 4 just tended to be the largest entities around. There's also typically been a "chaos undivided" option, though what that actually meant could vary some. In some cases and characters it tended to be interpreted as someone who was more mercenary about their allegiance to chaos (sort of the archtypical power hungry sorcerer rather than fanatic), and in other cases it was more of just a catchall for people and entities that didn't fit really under one of the four gods.

Strangely, Age of Sigmar has started to drift away from the focus on the 4 (now 5 sorta) big gods, at least for some chaos factions. In the new beastmen lore they most disdain the chaos gods, finding them antithetical to the nature of chaos for the reasons quoted above. Most of them just worship chaos in its primal form, or obscure deities that are just manifestations of primal mutation or something. Archaeon is also preaching a sort of "new chaos" that respects the chaos gods but doesn't turn into slavish adherence, though mostly to build his own power base.

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


The Godbound sourcebook about Ancalia presents a fairly compelling take on four Chaos-style gods. They each have their main shtick (smashing, corrupting, decaying, tricking), but the material really pushes that individual demons interpret their chosen Court in their own way. It's not just "every single Slaanesh daemon is a hermaphroditic crab-clawed sex maniac," it's "gamines of the Poxed Court twist established human values in perverse ways." The book provides a lot of guidance on how to make that compelling in different scenarios and pushes you to make individual enemies stand out from one another.

One of the really important things, I think, is that the four Uncreated Courts in Ancalia aren't all of the Uncreated in the world- the demigods that lead each Court just happen to be the ones who managed to get a foothold in the material realm within the past few years. Presumably there are any number of other Uncreated poking around the darkened corners of the universe, so the whole thing doesn't seem so monolithic.

They're also very clearly presented as powerful foes that can actually be defeated. Chaos in Warhammer is always put forward as this endless and eternal thing that is tied into the emotions of humanity and blah blah blah. The Uncreated are beings that can be destroyed face-to-face by powerful player characters. Their interaction with human characters is what makes them interesting. Each Court has its own weaknesses; not just supernatural weaknesses, but holes in their twisted logic that heroes can exploit. Even the Shackled Court, which maps fairly well to Tzeentch, has places where their plans of mustache-twirling wickedness will fall apart because they don't really understand what makes people do the things they do.

Each Court has a section on human cults, with some even straight-up admitting that the Court doesn't really need humans for anything. The Incendiary Court, which maps to Khorne, only barely tolerates human worshipers since they can smash poo poo just fine on their own. The Courts that make sense to attract worshipers do so, the rest don't, and everyone gets on with it. There's no obligation for Chaos Cults to be this vast-reaching conspiracy in every single settlement.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Playing the Horned Rat in Chaos in the Old World is ridiculously fun.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Night10194 posted:

Hence why I'm down for a suggestion for ditching it that keeps the general 'industrial mad science breeding' flavor because the unfortunate implications are the kind of thing most gaming tables don't like to deal with. I mean, one of the implied ways you gently caress up Skaven is to go destroy their breeding pits. If the breed pits are the tubes in which mad doctor Tael Ratgor grows his tuberats that's a lot less unpleasant than 'it's time to butcher some bloated broodmares that are drugged to the nines and harmless' while accomplishing the same objective.
Going with this would also seem to open the door to making it easy to have variant skaven, like all the ones coming out of this facility have a huge-rear end human ear growing on their back for some reason, or whatever.

It would attract robot space ninjas who want to smash everything, though.

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



Zereth posted:

Going with this would also seem to open the door to making it easy to have variant skaven, like all the ones coming out of this facility have a huge-rear end human ear growing on their back for some reason, or whatever.

It would attract robot space ninjas who want to smash everything, though.

Yeah this sounds incredibly metal in the best of ways.

megane posted:

I remember when somebody first explained Chaos' basic shtick to me and I thought, "wait, they're called Chaos, and they're supposed to be these insane marauders who hate structure and law... aaaand they're all utterly, dogmatically devoted to one of four very specific and consistently detailed deities?" I get that it's supposed to be kind of ironic maybe, but man, the Empire's religion is more chaotic than Chaos.

One thought that I had regarding how Chaos (especially in 40k) is boring was that Chaos could be more interesting if it was more cosmic horror than personal horror. The four Chaos gods might exist, but they're basically irrelevant entities that generally don't act or have comprehensible plans or desires on a mortal scale. Instead, people can just harness Chaos to achieve goals, and it's basically like nuclear power-if you use it carefully, you might be able to do it 'safely' but it'll probably blow up in your face and give you cancer. This probably works better in 40k, because it would make the Horus Heresy emphasize that the Imperium is a lovely enough place that when push came to shove, literally half its demigod supermen decided to flip it the bird and start a rebellion rather than be another "woooooga boooga Chaos" thing, though.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I just had a conversation with a friend as a result of this thread about 'what would make the Big Four palatable' and it's basically 'surgically remove them from any metaplot, possibly attach them to actual cultures.'

The Horned Rat is cool because Skaven are well-constructed as the horrible rat-fascists they are. Hashut of the Chorfs is cool because the Chorfs make sense as a society that fell to darkness. And both of them are pretty limited in power and engagement across the setting; they each have one faction they patronize, which can therefore have defined goals other than Generic World Conquest, complications, and aesthetics.

Tzeentch in particular could be a lot of fun if he were 'just' a cruel cosmic trickster who wants people to become sorcerers and maybe succeed, maybe explode. No immense history-spanning plans other than 'get more people to do sorcery, which is my favorite thing' plus birds and fire. You can have Tzeentch cults, then, which are actually interesting because they're not all a cosmic game of 4D chess, they're some sorcerers who thought they could win the Tzeentch roulette wheel. Also, it would mean that the Colleges of Magic are Tzeentch's least favorite people, because by codifying and systematizing wizardry, they harness magic without the chaotic, destructive eruptions Tzeentch hopes for.
Plus, now you have a sort of 'culture' of Tzeentch worship - anyone who worships Tzeentch is a sorcerer, is engaged in wild experimentation of some kind, and is probably losing track of morality. There might be specific aesthetics and historical connections, and possibly religious rites common to all Tzeentchians. But they're not necessarily joining a warband or losing their free will, and some of them will legitimately find a breakthrough or create wonders. Tzeentch cults are now about sharing sorcerous secrets and research, and backstabbing each other for said secrets, and it's only if this goes on long enough for the hubris to build up to a shrieking boil that one of them is likely to declare themselves the messiah or Doctor Doom.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



I would do it by saying that the four are example chaos gods, not an exhaustive list. There's tons more. Make up your own, as many as you like.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I have no issues with ratmen or their breeding, except for the whole "no, they don't exist thing" and its even more inexplicable brother "well, that's a dead ratman for sure, but it's not a Skaven" (unless I'm missing the "we know of their existence but deny it for reasons" angle).

Like, was there not a time when Skaven had taken over/killed/eaten a large part of Empire?

Also, lol if you think that Skaven/Great Horned Rat doesn't want to take over the world (and eat it).

While I don't like the more humanizing takes on "fixing" Chaos, I will wholeheartedly agree that not being able to hurt it, ever, gets tiresome, fast. Part of that is that GW will not let characters die (unless End Times happen, when all of your favorite characters die in the most stupid ways), so you can't even reliably kill off the big names to show that Something Has Been Done; any Chaos lord that gets whacked in a game/campaign is very transparently made solely to be defeated.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





JcDent posted:

Also, lol if you think that Skaven/Great Horned Rat doesn't want to take over the world (and eat it).

Oh, sure but the Great Horned Rat is specifically attempting to do so through a specific culture and method, with less of what you rightfully criticize about being the Big Four's untouchable, omniscient, every-time-you-win-it's-because-they-weren't-trying bit. Wanting to conquer the world is fine; the Von Carsteins in theory want to conquer the world, and they're great. Settra the Imperishable might want to conquer the world, and ditto.

My complaint is about the 'Generic' in 'Generic World Conquest.'

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Volo's Guide to Monsters: Gnolls: The Insatiable Hunger Part 2

Previous Entry

Treasure
Cautious gangs of thieves and bandits follow gnoll bands around, hiding and waiting for the gnolls to move on from destroyed villages and towns to loot the valuables they leave battered and gnawed, but still intact. (Though some delicates and flammables will no doubt be destroyed by the gnolls. ) Some particularly nasty bands are willing to ally with gnolls to more easily acquire loot. Though theses alliances tend short lived unless the bandits take part in the all depravity.

Gnolls do understand how weapons and armor have value and will normally pick up objects they see as useful. Sometimes gaining magic items they don't even know how to use. Gnolls only really regard "treasure" with how useful it causing harm or protecting the gnoll, everything else is best destroyed.

Language
Gnolls have a very simple language, consisting of whines, cackles, and howls mixed with gestures and expressions. Gnolls can only really use it to get basic concepts like alerting their fellows to enemies or calling their allies. It's not very useful for communication among themselves.

When Gnoll leaders need to go over complex concepts, they use a broken form of Abyssal gifted to them by Yeenoghu to communicate. Gnoll language lacks a written script, though the leaders can use their limited Abyssal to leave messages. In most cases gnoll bands don't bother, wandering, killing and feeding is generally all they care about and they don't care for anything more sophisticated.

Roleplaying Gnolls and Cultists of Yeenoghu
Gnolls have very little variation in outlook and personality. They are more a collective elemental force of death and destruction driven by a demon lord.

The only real opportunity for interaction with gnolls is when they accompanied by cultists or are lead by a more intelligent and social gnoll then normal. The humanoid cultists might have info the players want, or "could even be former friends corrupted to the worship of Yeenoghu." We are then given tables of traits to create a cultist or a more social gnoll who would be very similar to a human cultist.

Our Gnoll

Physical Feature d12: 1 Missing an arm
Personality Trait d6: 3 I hate the sun and travel only by night.
Gnoll Ideals d6: 1 Strength. I must remain strong to survive. (Any Alignment)
Gnoll Bonds d6: 2 I would follow the leader of our war band anywhere and gladly sacrifice myself to protect him or her.
Gnoll Flaws d6: 3 My supposed allies are my first victims.

Gnoll Names
Because of how simple their language is most gnolls lack a name and have little use for one. Powerful gnolls however receive a name directly from Yeenoghu and see it as a great blessing. His blessed followers from other races also directly receive new names from him.

Our Gnoll

Gnoll Names d12: 8 Oduk

Elminster posted:

Gnolls are driven by bloodlust. What sways them from their savagery are signs. They see signs from Yeenoghu everywhere, even in blood splatter. A gnoll acting oddly is probably following its interpretation of a sign.

Anatomy of a War Band
Gnoll war bands contain a variety of gnolls and other creatures and the composition of any one of them is nearly always different.

The gnolls split themselves into a variety of roles.

Gnoll Pack Lord
Pack Lords are the leaders of most war bands. And responsible for most of the bands rituals.

Gnoll Fangs of Yeenoghu
Fangs of Yeenoghu are gifted with the supernatural power to spawn more gnolls. They ritually mark the remains of their kills and hyenas that eat them spawn gnolls. Other humanoids that join the feast become cultists.

Gnoll Warriors
The common gnolls forming the bulk of the band. They tend to lack any particular blessing of Yeenoghu, but are ferocious nonetheless.

Gnoll Hunters
Gnoll scouts and reconnaissance. One of their functions is to pick off enemy sentries to avoid the warband being detected. They also perform the role of trailing behind the war band to dispatch wounded gnolls, and others who can't keep up the pace.

Gnoll Flesh Gnawers
The quickest, most agile and brutal of gnolls. They lurk around the edge's of gnoll forces during raids hoping to get the jump on isolated enemies which they quickly dash from one to the next with blinding speed.

Gnoll Witherlings
Warbands having a hard time will have many of these. When war band goes for too long without intelligent prey and Yeenoghu's hunger becomes too much for them, they might become desperate and turn on each other. Those who die to the violence are eaten, but their bones are kept. A pack lord or flind will then perform a ritual on the bones to animate them as loyal undead called witherlings.

Flinds
Gnoll war bands with Yeenoghu's favor might be led by flinds the scarcest and strongest of all gnolls. They are exceptionally large and strong, and no war band has more than one, and they are always the leader of the band.

Because of their rarity, other gnolls see them as special messengers that more easily hears and sees Yeenoghu's desires. And so each day a flind will consult the signs around it and determine the direction of the war band.

During battle, if another gnoll deals a death blow to a flind and claims it's flail, is blessed by Yeenoghu and transformed into a flind itself. The death or disappearance of a flind for any other reason will cause a war band to descend into infighting. Sometimes a new leader takes control after dispatching it's rivals. But usually the band fragments and the survivors go their separate ways.

Cultists
On the rare occasion a war band includes orcs, humans or other humanoids sworn to Yeenoghu. The gnolls treat them the same as they would other gnolls and refrain from killing them so long as they join in the slaughter when they locate prey.

Most cultists are utterly insane and only one step above the hyenas that follow a warband. They also are not gnolls and so don't receive direct guidance from Yeenoghu. But there are exceptions. If a cultist of great intelligence and ability heeds Yeenoghu's call, he might elevate them to leadership of a band. While rare bands led by champions can accomplish feats beyond a group of gnolls - "accomplishments that combine the gnolls’ savagery with a humanlike level of intelligence and planning."

THE HUNTER'S CHANT posted:

This simple declaration of Yeenoghu’s power was devised by a small cult to the demon lord discovered deep in the forest. A group of woodcutters, facing starvation, turned to cannibalism to survive and ultimately fell under Yeenoghu’s sway. Gnolls sing a similar chant in their language while they seek out prey.

The first gift is hunger.

It is His blessing.

It is our call to bring death.

The second gift is death.

Death proves our strength.

Death purges our fear.

The third gift is fear.

We fear that we will fail him.

We fear the onset of hunger.



Gnoll Allies
Gnolls attack nearly any creatures they meet. The exceptions are those who devote themselves to Yeenoghu and those who act in accordance with his wishes. The lord of Lord of Savagery marks the souls of his followers and kindred in a way that they and the gnolls recognize each other and don't attack on sight. This leads to other evil creatures accompanying warbands.

Demons
Fangs of Yeenoghu are sometimes granted the knowledge of how to summon forth mindless demons. Along with some of his favorites when he deigns to allow it.

Demonic Hyenas called shoosuvas are also dispatched to aid his most exalted champions. "For the gnolls the appearance of a shoosuva is a reward for recent triumphs and a harbinger of great victories and much feasting to come. A shoosuva protects the war band’s most powerful members and serves as a companion to the strongest fang of Yeenoghu in the group."

Ghouls
Ghoul packs emerge from graveyards to follow a warband and feast on the remains they leave, sometimes merging with the war band. Normally ghouls worship Orcus Demon Prince of the Undead, but their endless hunger can cause them to turn to Yeenoghu.

Hyenas


A war band always has a pack of hyenas with it, sometimes they even outnumber the gnolls. The gnolls largely ignore them, but the hyenas tend to gather around fangs eager to take Yeenoghu's blessing and transformation.

Leucrottas
Leucrottas are another species brought into being as a result of Yeenoghu's incursions into the world. They are bigger, stronger and smarter then gnolls. However when one joins a warband they don't seek to lead it (as it would cause unnecessary conflict.) but to serve and protect the leader. Their dedication to Yeenoghu is just as intense as any gnoll and they always seek to advance his cause over their own.

Trolls
Of all creatures trolls honestly might just join a warband cause the gnoll way of life appeals to them.

Creating a Gnoll War Band
We are now given tables for the creation of a gnoll war band.

Our War Band

War band name
Part 1 d6: 1 Abyssal
Par 2 d6: 4 Mutilators

War Band Composition
Gnoll fangs of Yeenoghu 1d4+1: 4
Gnoll hunters 1d4 +1 : 5
Gnoll flesh gnawers 2d4: 5
Warriors (common gnolls) 6d6: 22
Hyenas 4d6: 17

Warband Leadership d6: 1 Leader Flind, double the warband composition numbers.

Special Creatures d20: 8 2d6 5 Ghouls

Shared Physical Trait d10: 10 Albinos

Notable Behavior or Tactics d8: 5 Prisoners kept in cages and tormented

Demonic Influence in area d12: 4 Minor earthquakes strike

So our group the Abyssal Mutilators is led by a flind, the membership consists of 8 fangs of Yeenoghu, 10 hunters, 10 flesh gnawers, 44 warriors, 34 hyenas, and 5 ghouls. The entity of the warband are albinos, who take prisoners to torture, and the area they are in suffers from minor earthquakes.

Next Time: Goblinoids: The Conquering Host

MonsterEnvy fucked around with this message at 08:09 on Dec 5, 2018

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Only thing I'd change would be to expend the category of scavengers Gnolls are related to since hyenas are only native to Africa and parts of Asia.
The demon lord prob wouldn't care which carnivores explode into more followers.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


By popular demand posted:

Only thing I'd change would be to expend the category of scavengers Gnolls are related to since hyenas are only native to Africa and parts of Asia.
The demon lord prob wouldn't care which carnivores explode into more followers.

I kind of assume they kind of just pop out of nowhere to follow the gnolls around. That or Hyenas are much more common in d&d settings.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




I like to keep at least a vague idea of regions, otherwise the party's 'journey to unknown lands' feels exactly the same in flora and fauna.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


By popular demand posted:

Only thing I'd change would be to expend the category of scavengers Gnolls are related to since hyenas are only native to Africa and parts of Asia.
The demon lord prob wouldn't care which carnivores explode into more followers.

Yeah, I had the same... issue. Hyenas are not the wolf-equivalent of rat, they aren't common.

So if your scout spots a hyena where one shouldn't be, sound the alarm.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




I imagine a world where culls on scavenger populations are organized on the regular by community leaders not just for Wildlife management but for cult management.

Druidic orders would be opposed to the idea and this would create plenty of conflict.


but here I go trying to insert logic into D&D

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 run, run like the wind

Remember how last chapter left it ambiguous where the ratmen came from? Yeah, we immediately start of with 'Lol the Doom of Kavzar is real, gently caress the Ulricans' in a firm authorial voice, 8 'o clock, day 1. We also get a little bit on how Skaven history is a bit sketchy because the little buggers don't actually keep many records. They're so focused on the now and the near future, why would they care what happened to some loser who obviously didn't manage to take over the world 2000 years ago? When they do record history, it's almost always personal/great rat history, either as an attempt to flatter a superior by bigging him up or an attempt to leave behind a record of how cool they were. From these scraps of boasting we get the history of the vile ratmen.

However, we get a really interesting implication here. The Skaven don't speak of Kavzar much, but their records show they call the strange grey hooded man 'The Shaper' and claim he came from 'an Older Race'. Now, Skaven are obviously not part of the Great Plan, but the direct implication in book is that the Shaper was some kind of renegade Old One. The device he installed at the top of the great tower of Kavzar was the first Screaming Bell, but it was also specifically a device to call down meteorites from the orbital junk cloud around the planet. Meteorites made of Warpstone. The terrible storms and cold seem to have been caused by a meteor strike. As does the mutation of the city's rats. Given what Old Ones did to the rest of the world's races, the idea of a renegade making the rat people post-Collapse when they were all supposed to be gone already is interesting. The Warpstone rain was so intense it even transformed the architecture of the city, turning it into a stark and hellish cyclopean mess. The Skaven were born out of the deaths and suffering of everyone in the great city of Kavzar, their birth pangs the death of a prosperous and happy civilization.

What else is interesting is the little guys were chill for a long time after eating Kavzar. They had Warpstone, they had food, and they had enough space. They spent a long time just living in the ruins, now called Skavenblight, building stuff and twitching their little noses, boggling and bruxing. Look, I had pet rats as a kid, I'm always going to think rats are a little adorable. Then they started to run out of Warpstone and started to plan what to do next. Without it, none of what they built would work! It was a divine gift from the Great Horned Rat and/or Shaper, right!? Literal manna from heaven. So they got an idea: Build a giant drill! This will solve everything! We will build a giant drill and force endless magical energy through it and then we'll build a hollow world where we can all live and get-get the Warpstone and everything will be great! Absolutely nothing could go wrong with building a massive terraforming project on an undreamt of scale and then shoving endless chaotic power through it.

Miraculously, everything worked great and the rats live a peaceful existence side by side with the world in their holl Hahaha everything loving exploded!

With the drill machine exploding, millions of rats died as they accidentally sank all of Skavenblight into the swamp. The idiots who had caused all this were up higher, and survived, as is the Skaven way, became the new lords of the Skaven, the Council of Thirteen, and the surviving wizards who'd hosed everything up became the Grey Seers. You're going to see a lot of this with rat nazis, where the fuckups are at the back, manage to survive, and climb over the corpses to become the leaders. RAT PEOPLE! Anyway, the rats begin a new process and a new plan, which they call the Great Sniff: We're all starving to death and the paradise made for us by someone (possibly an rear end in a top hat Old One) is now in the sea/swamp. Step 1: Start the pumps. Step 2: Send rat colonists everywhere and start building wide, building tall was screwing us. This is how we get rat ninjas, but I'll come to that later. The rats then come into conflict with the dwarves, who at this time have A: Kicked the hell out of the elves and B: have a giant underground world-city. The rats do not mention how much help they got in loving up that world-city from a certain fat idiot frog half the world away; you remember how people have gone on about how one of the Lizardmen Slaan went to war with continental drift? Yeah, that's, uh, kind of one of the big reasons we've got rat problems. Because it blew up the dwarf world-city and cut all the holds off from one another when they'd been used to being able to plan around a world-spanning tunnel network for mutual defense.

The rats, as I said, don't mention any of that and nor does their book. They just say they got to work fighting the dorfs alongside the greenskins as allies of convenience. Turns out sneaky rats and angry orcs go together like peanut butter and chocolate if deliciousness was dead dwarves, and so the war was going pretty well for our strong rat sons. They helped let the orcs into dwarfholds, let the orcs burn them down, then stole everything and ate the bodies. They had a rhythm going. Then they invaded Karaz-a-Karak, the greatest hold of all dwarfkind, and the dwarves were desperate enough to use something as yet untested: Gunpowder, originally designed to blast open new tunnels. Explosions rocked the mountains such that even the orcs were afraid, and both sides withdrew to try to figure out what the hell had hit them. Meanwhile, the dwarves would sequester this stuff to study it and try to figure out how and why that worked and test it for ages. The rats prepped for another strike to finish off the bearded ones, reasoning they couldn't possibly do that twice and that they'd run out of explosions before the rats ran out of bodies.

It went perfectly! They exterminated the dwarves and moved on to INHERIT-INHE And then a bunch of assholes who'd gone to Lustria came home. This caused a civil war that took the rats out of the fighting, then a couple centuries later the dwarfs allied with some backwater king named Sigmar and smashed the orcs at Blackfire Pass, ending the crisis.

See, Clan Pestilens, one of the branches of the Great Sniff, had gone to Lustria. They'd discovered they really liked disease while in Lustria. And then they's gotten their asses beaten by Sotek the serpent god decided entirely on their own and of their own free will to come home and share how much disease was the only will of Nurgle THE GREAT HORNED RAT under their great leader Nurglitch (GEE I WONDER WHAT HE REALLY WORSHIPS). But that comes later. First the Skaven have to save the world.

I know kommy5 covered this in his partial review and it's been talked about a ton of times, but c'mon, this part has to be retold in full because it is the shining moment of ratman glory for our strong rat sons. A true supreme state of ratmind. The Skaven had a Nagash problem, you see. He objected to the existence of all these alive things in the world (because he could perfectly control the dead, so moving everything from the alive column to the dead column would mean world domination for the Great Necromancer), while the Skaven really liked being alive. He was also using massive amounts of Warpstone to build his powerful giant death pyramid and other doohickeys, and the Skaven wanted this to build their own world-ending doohickeys, because it's only fun when they do it. The Grey Seers realized they would have to beat him, but he was really hopped up on crazy magic juice and insanely powerful, and you've got to remember Necromancy was fairly new to the world at the time, so nobody quite knew how to beat it. Rather than try to attack him heroically like suckers, they instead built an insanely powerful sword, so powerful it will kill everyone (including the guy wielding it) called the Fellblade. Then they had to find someone to wield it, and the Skaven figured out a way better plan than giving it to a random rat they could sucker into it. They instead found a heroic Khemri king locked in a dungeon with a tragic backstory and gave it to him, then spun him around and pointed him in Nagash's direction. Then the entire Council and Seers backed him up, basically controlling him like a puppet, because the sword let them see through their chosen epic hero. I imagine the eventual epic battle was actually pretty hilarious, with the Skaven Council as a peanut gallery screaming 'NONO! Stab-stab!" "YES-YES! PARRY LEFT!" the entire time while the occasional Grey Seer head exploded from the magical strain of protecting their fighter from Wizard Bullshit. Nagash was hacked into so many pieces that even that bastard stayed down. The rats swarmed in to grab the Nagash bits and throw them in a fire, which is the proper way to handle this, but they missed a hand because they're dumb rat people and that's why we still have Nagash problems to this day.

Still, they almost got him. Of all the people who have hosed up Nagash, they got the closest to actually putting a stop to him. By livestreaming a random king attacking him for vengeance while they cheated like crazy to drag him over the finish line in his epic duel. It is the most beautiful moment in all of ratman history. Nagash later came back and utterly destroyed the rats who'd moved into his old digs, but they'd already mined out the Warpstone and he was sort of weak after his rebirth, so the rest of the rats didn't bother fighting him. He then wandered up north to regain his strength by crushing these primitive barbarians and their little 'Sigmar' king so that he could return to Khemri and oh dear that went really badly for him.

And that brings us to Pestilens. After all this mess, Pestilens tried to take over the Under Empire, declaring a new insane disease-based theocracy and that disease was the only will of the Great Horned Rat. They'd learned a bunch about it from stealing stuff from the Lizardmen down in Lustria, and the implication is, of course, that they'd been turned by Nurgle and were probably heretical against the Rat. When they returned home, they first demanded the Council recognize they were a legitimate priesthood of a totally legitimate branch of GHR worship. The Council ate their emissaries and said 'lol'. They challenged the Council by unleashing the first bioweapons on their fellow Skaven, killing millions of ratmen and starting the greatest civil war in the history of a species known for its amazing civil wars. For the next 400 years, rat fought rat, more than anything else, and most of the world forgot rats were a problem, because so many goddamn rats died in the fighting. Disease swept through packed rat-cities, while Warlock Engineers blew up Plague Temples with giant earthquake machines and huge armies of expendable rat nazis battled through all the dark places of the world. It was pretty metal.

Sadly, it couldn't go on forever, and the rats eventually caused the collapse of their ent AND THEN THE NINJAS ARRIVED.

Clan Eshin returned from Cathay bearing shurikens, cute little face masks, and kung fu. They immediately swore allegiance to the Council, which rewarded them with power and pride of position, and then sent their adorable little ninja rats to start killing Plague Priests. This eventually got Pestilens to the bargaining table, with the Council swearing not to kill Nurglitch on the way to peace talks. After the unusually low number of assassination attempts failed, Nurglitch came before the Council and promised to serve as one of the Great Clans. They didn't like this idea, but then he revealed he had infected himself with a disease that would destroy all of Skavenblight and the entire Council if they didn't say yes, and suddenly they liked the idea a lot. Thus came Pestilens to the service of the Council and the Great Clans.

You remember the plagues of 1111 and the poor rule of Emperor Boris Goldgather. That was rat people (the plagues, the poor rule was a result of systemic corruption in the Imperial government). Rat people invaded the Empire after the massive plague, and would have destroyed it, except that they also invaded Sylvania because it had Warpstone. That was a mistake. A strange foreign noble taught the people of Sylvania how to raise the dead (thanks Vlad!) and massive armies of zombies proved to be a bit of a shock to the ratmen. They didn't outnumber them, they couldn't scare them, and poison didn't work. The ratmen were slaughtered, and worse, slaughtered ratmen made good zombies, too! The ratmen refused to lose to a bunch of strange-accented backwater yokels and so sent a huge army to Sylvania, tying up their forces, while meanwhile Count Mandred of Middenheim used his incredible cheese flooded the lower reaches of the city, then sallied forth and began destroying the rat garrisons left behind. Mandred Skavenslayer reunited the Empire and destroyed the ratmen, and ever since they've had a great hatred of Man-Things.

The last bits of history go into how rats are everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. The extent of their tunnel systems rivals the old dwarf under-way, and they live under almost every major human settlement. Worse, they've starting to build trains. In a century or two, they might have an underground rail network to let them move quicker than any other species in the setting, even more than they already do. Train Rat Nazi or the even more dangerous Truck Rat Nazi cannot be allowed to come to be. The rats claim they almost defeated Emperor Magnus on his way home from beating Chaos in 2302, but that they just 'decided' not to finish him off for 'reasons', so I'm gonna take that with a grain of salt and assume they got sent squeaking back into their holes. They claim the same about their aid for Archaon, saying that they're just waiting for the right moment when the humans are sufficiently divided in the aftermath to actually destroy them. They DID send Rat Agent 47, Deathmaster Snikch, to go kill Valten as he recovered from failing to kill Archaon. This was a clever move that will cause serious religious disunity in the Empire. Now the rats are plotting in the shadows, thinking about maybe attacking the humans in the aftermath of the war...unless your group of 3-6 PCs and their small, but vicious dog get involved, then all bets are off and everything will end in fire and squeaking and accusations of treason.

Just another day in the Under Empire.

Next Time: Life in a totalitarian hellhole ruled by narcissistic buffoons

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

I know kommy5 covered this in his partial review and it's been talked about a ton of times, but c'mon, this part has to be retold in full because it is the shining moment of ratman glory for our strong rat sons. A true supreme state of ratmind. The Skaven had a Nagash problem, you see. He objected to the existence of all these alive things in the world (because he could perfectly control the dead, so moving everything from the alive column to the dead column would mean world domination for the Great Necromancer), while the Skaven really liked being alive. He was also using massive amounts of Warpstone to build his powerful giant death pyramid and other doohickeys, and the Skaven wanted this to build their own world-ending doohickeys, because it's only fun when they do it. The Grey Seers realized they would have to beat him, but he was really hopped up on crazy magic juice and insanely powerful, and you've got to remember Necromancy was fairly new to the world at the time, so nobody quite knew how to beat it. Rather than try to attack him heroically like suckers, they instead built an insanely powerful sword, so powerful it will kill everyone (including the guy wielding it) called the Fellblade. Then they had to find someone to wield it, and the Skaven figured out a way better plan than giving it to a random rat they could sucker into it. They instead found a heroic Khemri king locked in a dungeon with a tragic backstory and gave it to him, then spun him around and pointed him in Nagash's direction. Then the entire Council and Seers backed him up, basically controlling him like a puppet, because the sword let them see through their chosen epic hero. I imagine the eventual epic battle was actually pretty hilarious, with the Skaven Council as a peanut gallery screaming 'NONO! Stab-stab!" "YES-YES! PARRY LEFT!" the entire time while the occasional Grey Seer head exploded from the magical strain of protecting their fighter from Wizard Bullshit. Nagash was hacked into so many pieces that even that bastard stayed down. The rats swarmed in to grab the Nagash bits and throw them in a fire, which is the proper way to handle this, but they missed a hand because they're dumb rat people and that's why we still have Nagash problems to this day.

Still, they almost got him. Of all the people who have hosed up Nagash, they got the closest to actually putting a stop to him. By livestreaming a random king attacking him for vengeance while they cheated like crazy to drag him over the finish line in his epic duel. It is the most beautiful moment in all of ratman history. Nagash later came back and utterly destroyed the rats who'd moved into his old digs, but they'd already mined out the Warpstone and he was sort of weak after his rebirth, so the rest of the rats didn't bother fighting him. He then wandered up north to regain his strength by crushing these primitive barbarians and their little 'Sigmar' king so that he could return to Khemri and oh dear that went really badly for him.

This entire parth ere is extremely important. See, there are a few things to keep in mind about this.

1. Nagash the Great Necromancer, in his first incarnation where the Skaven go up against him here? He's as powerful as he will ever be (outside of End Times stuff). This is Nagash at his best. Every death and return weakens Nagash, and modern Nagash is nowhere near his old self. (This is largely a statement on how scary Old Nagash was, as modern Nagash is still a singlehanded threat to entire nations.)

2. While the Skaven aren't selfless here, they are as brave and selfless as they ever get. See, the actual fight? It involves a team of Eshin Assassins who show up to help the Khemri king. They sacrifice themselves to ensure his survival and receipt of the sword, and to get him the information he needs to fight Nagash. This is how big a threat the Skaven saw Nagash as - some Skaven literally chose self-sacrifice as a path to defeat him.

punishedkissinger
Sep 20, 2017



Anyone interested here is Dave Allen's scenario To Hellpit and Back, which is a cute one off where the PCs get to play as a bunch of low-level skaven sent to murder-kill a grey seer. Allen also wrote the first published scenario for 4e WHFRP, If Looks Could Kill, which is also excellent.

http://grognard.org.uk/WFRP2/Adventures/To%20hell%20pit%20and%20back.pdf

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

2. While the Skaven aren't selfless here, they are as brave and selfless as they ever get. See, the actual fight? It involves a team of Eshin Assassins who show up to help the Khemri king. They sacrifice themselves to ensure his survival and receipt of the sword, and to get him the information he needs to fight Nagash. This is how big a threat the Skaven saw Nagash as - some Skaven literally chose self-sacrifice as a path to defeat him.

The key to Skaven is that Skaven will consider anything, anything to survive. If they're scared enough, they'll work with anyone. They have no shame and there is no length too far to go to not die.

That includes accidentally and suddenly becoming the heroes for one minute before plotting to destroy the world themselves some more.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Mors Rattus posted:

2. While the Skaven aren't selfless here, they are as brave and selfless as they ever get. See, the actual fight? It involves a team of Eshin Assassins who show up to help the Khemri king. They sacrifice themselves to ensure his survival and receipt of the sword, and to get him the information he needs to fight Nagash. This is how big a threat the Skaven saw Nagash as - some Skaven literally chose self-sacrifice as a path to defeat him.

Eshin seem to be as close to 'honorable' as Skaven get, although that's probably from buying too hard into their ninja cosplay.

punishedkissinger
Sep 20, 2017



Is there a good source for information on Beastmen? I'm considering as running them a little more empathetically in my game, but I want to see what's out there.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



...not really, no. Everything published on the Beastmen is pretty much literally just "these things are the Literal Worst."

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



RiotGearEpsilon posted:

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.

I do remember a some controversy over this back in 5E's playtest days because (at least in my experience, in 4E), gnolls were one of the most popular choices for humanoid PCs, so WOTC turning around and making gnolls essentially unplayable as PCs was a bit of a surprise.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Mors Rattus posted:

...not really, no. Everything published on the Beastmen is pretty much literally just "these things are the Literal Worst."

This is because Beastmen are definitely the Literal Worst. There's nothing good about them. They are what Chaos wants for the world.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




It sounds like the main issue with the Skaven not being taken seriously is they keep snatching defeat from the jaws of victory through various hilarious self-owns on a societal scale. Again, rat nazis.


Dawgstar posted:

Eshin seem to be as close to 'honorable' as Skaven get, although that's probably from buying too hard into their ninja cosplay.

Eshin are weird to other Skaven since they actually have a degree of respect for each other's lives (because of the skill and training investment said lives represent) and long-term thinking, at least in a 'what'll keep us glorious rats on the planet longer' sense.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


So, thinking about it, the story of my first pet rat is actually a pretty good explanation of the Skaven will to survive. She was an albino rat (we named her Julie, for her red eyes) that my brother bought because he thought it would be cool to feed her to his snake, live. When he put her in the cage, she dodged the snake for awhile, refusing to die. He put her in a bag with the snake to narrow her escape routes, and she chewed her way out. At this point, my mother declared that Darwin had spoken and rescued the rat, and I got a pet rat.

She lived the rest of her life being petted and having treats. But still, the little thing never, ever gave up. Ever.

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