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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Mr. Maltose posted:

Again, how is that any different than capital C Chaos?

Left unattended, Chaos and greenskins are legitimate large-scale problems. The skaven, in my opinion, are not - they are going to destroy themselves the moment it looks like they might win. They're a big, powerful, terrifying empire that means absolutely nothing because they're their own worst and most persistent enemy.

Enemies that are purely small-scale problems are fine, and if the skaven were written with that in mind I don't think I'd mind them so much. This book seems to take the skaven too seriously for me to think they're meant to just be a joke.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Lone Badger posted:

But if it hadn't been for those meddling kids man-things the Skaven would have succeeded in contaminating the irrigation system with warpstone run-off. Then the lower classes start mutating from eating contaminated grain, the Sigmarites begin a brutal pogrom against the mutants, and things get very bloody very quickly. Especially when the lead priest of Ulric turns up mysteriously dead...

Sure the plan will inevitably fall apart before it gets to 'inherit-inherit', but the PCa saved tens of thousands of lives and prevented a permanent weakening of the city. That's an achievement.

That's what I mean. Yeah, sure, they'd probably explode in the long run, but you, the heroes, get to make a real difference against these shrieking little assholes.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





MonsterEnvy posted:

Speaking of the great clans I am reminded of the Gotrek and Felix book Skavenslayer were they were planning on taking over Nuln, each great clan put out their own plan for taking over the city.

Clan Eshin tried to kidnap the Countess.
Clan Skrye tried to steal a bunch of stuff from the collage of engineering like a Steam Tank, so they could slap warpstone engines on them.
Clan Pestilens tried to infect the city with a plague from the graveyard. (So when people tried to pay their respects to the dead or bury the dead from the plague more people would get infected.)
Clan Moulder tried to release a bunch of specially bio engineered rats into the city. The rats could eat like 100 times their body weight in a single day, were born pregnant giving birth to about 100 new rats in a few days, could eat anything, grew to maturity in a day, lived about a week, and after about a month all new generations would be stillborn. So they would not be a problem when the skaven took over the city.

Clan Skrye trying to hiack a Steam Tank was probably the funniest one. The Warlock Engineers had a vague idea of how to operate it, but once under pressure decided to just start pulling levers and turning dials. It was like watching a five-year-old trying to drive a manual transmission.

It is where they got the idea for the Warplock Jezzails, though. They liked the idea of the long-range rifle, but decided it needed to use Warpstone dust and be even bigger.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Cythereal posted:

Enemies that are purely small-scale problems are fine, and if the skaven were written with that in mind I don't think I'd mind them so much. This book seems to take the skaven too seriously for me to think they're meant to just be a joke.

The thing is that while the Skaven might blow themselves up in the long run, they may blow everyone else up before it goes that far. Some new Moulder creation might go berserk and create a horrible new force of true-breeding mutants, a Pestilens plague might murder most of the living sentients in the Old World, a Skryre device may accidentally turn most of the inhabited Old World into a nice new ocean or Clan Eshin may murder so many Empire heroes and rulers that the next Chaos invasion is essentially unopposed and now everyone is really hosed.

All of these are feasible Skaven fuckups which would destroy the Skaven... but also pretty much everyone else.

The Skaven can pull off wins, and it just needs to happen at the wrong time for everything to get very, very hosed up.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Dawgstar posted:

Clan Skrye trying to hiack a Steam Tank was probably the funniest one. The Warlock Engineers had a vague idea of how to operate it, but once under pressure decided to just start pulling levers and turning dials. It was like watching a five-year-old trying to drive a manual transmission.

It is where they got the idea for the Warplock Jezzails, though. They liked the idea of the long-range rifle, but decided it needed to use Warpstone dust and be even bigger.

Also the Engineer accidentally ran over a Poison Wind Globider when he was not paying attention, causing mass death and destruction in his ranks when the globes burst. Leading to his forces attacking the tank thinking an enemy was in it. The Engineer figured out why they were attacking, but then his paranoia got the better of him and led him to think his minions were betraying him, so he started purposefully running down his own forces.

Then Gotrek and Felix arrived to made things even more complicated.

MonsterEnvy fucked around with this message at 01:16 on Dec 7, 2018

The Chad Jihad
Feb 24, 2007




I can't find the post so I can only butcher it, but the thrust of it was that Skaven are a nice dark mirror of what humanity sees and fears within itself, the desire to consume, the desire to innovate, to survive, to be respected, and so on all cranked up to a ruinous level

There's a plot hook somewhere where whatever it is that makes Mors so loyal (for a skaven) be it cultural genetic or Some Magic thing gets spread to the rest of the species and turns them into a world-ending threat. And then an even more fanfictiony version of the same hook where they're actually the first step to turning Skaven into relatively nicer guys

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Again, the thing is that Skaven act at a scale that can be interacted with while still having stakes. Let's compare.

Orcs: Have no goals beyond going and fighting stuff, which means that they're great in that they don't have an end goal where they ruin the setting. Or, in general, an end goal. What they're doing is an end in and of itself. The downside? Player accessibility. Orcs are only a credible threat when they're in large numbers, at which point you're dealing with a wargame scale and not a tabletop scale. They make absolutely great bandits or thugs but you can't really fight them at the scale they're most interesting at in an RPG without some degree of finagling

Chaos: Have a very defined endgoal, operate in small groups... and the problem is that if the players fail vs. Chaos, if you TPK, GOOD JOB, THERE GOES THE SETTING. The problem with chaos as villains is that most of their plans are "Destroy world, ruin setting"

Skaven hit this happy medium where they operate in numbers that RPG players can meaningfully interact with, and generally any given thing Skaven are doing has a goal where it's "Hundreds to thousands of people are going to die if we don't stop this", making them credible, while you can rest assured that they aren't going to ever actually ruin the setting for play. Also, their leadership's tendency to run away at the first sign of failure means you can have recurring villains more easily, which is a nice bonus.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Dawgstar posted:

Clan Skrye trying to hiack a Steam Tank was probably the funniest one. The Warlock Engineers had a vague idea of how to operate it, but once under pressure decided to just start pulling levers and turning dials. It was like watching a five-year-old trying to drive a manual transmission.

It is where they got the idea for the Warplock Jezzails, though. They liked the idea of the long-range rifle, but decided it needed to use Warpstone dust and be even bigger.

Warlock Engineers have the same problem as all engineers, we think we know every loving thing until we hit a situation where we don't, then we balls it with horrible results.

The real thing you don't want Clan Skryre to finally work out all the kinks on is the Ratling Gun, if they ever get that thing as reliable as a Warplock weapon (and thus nearly as reliable as a traditional gun) then that's all she wrote.

If you don't know what a Ratling Gun is, it's exactly what it sounds like but warpstone and lots of dead infantry is involved.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feinne posted:

Warlock Engineers have the same problem as all engineers, we think we know every loving thing until we hit a situation where we don't, then we balls it with horrible results.

The real thing you don't want Clan Skryre to finally work out all the kinks on is the Ratling Gun, if they ever get that thing as reliable as a Warplock weapon (and thus nearly as reliable as a traditional gun) then that's all she wrote.

If you don't know what a Ratling Gun is, it's exactly what it sounds like but warpstone and lots of dead infantry is involved.

The ratling gun in Children of the Horned Rat is so totally worthless they actually had to write Errata going 'YES IT'S THAT BAD ON PURPOSE, WE DIDN'T MISTYPE ANYTHING'.

It's a Blunderbuss that takes 2 people and weighs a ton, and takes longer to reload to no further effect. Damage 3! No impact! No AP! Hits a very narrow area and doesn't roll to hit, anyone in the area can roll Agi (independent of their Dodge) to be missed! Oh, it's also Experimental, so better chance it explodes, too.

A far cry from one of the cheesiest, most powerful multishot guns on TT, no? For those who don't know, this is a high caliber early gatling gun firing essentially depleted uranium rounds. It is effectively nothing but a lovely 1600s shotgun mechanically, except heavier, more expensive, and harder to use and reload.

E: You might be noticing a theme in these hints of what's to come: The fluff in this book is SO GOOD, the crunch is some of the worst in the line!

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 02:50 on Dec 7, 2018

KingKalamari
Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack


Sorry for the slight delay in getting this up, this book turned out to be very front-loaded. But I have slayed the mighty beast that was chapter 1 and am once again ready to take you on a journey into the...

The Widlerlands of High Fantasy | Part II: The Terror of Ages Past!



So, the D20 Wilderlands setting was released in two books: "The Wilderlands of High Fantasy" proper, the book intended for the GM containing the full hex map of the Wilderlands as well as encounter listings for every single hex location, and "The Player's Guide to the Wilderlands", which gives all the relevant setting info the players will need condensed into not a gigantic hex map. In the interest of giving some context to all this before diving into outlining a hexcrawl, I'm covering the Player's Guide first.

Introduction

The guide opens with a short introduction to get players hyped up for the setting and tell them what they're in for: Things used to be pretty rad a few thousand years ago but the world has fallen into a dark age after a war between the followers of magic and the followers of science. Nowadays life is pretty much poo poo all over, to quote the book:

quote:

Life in the Wilderlands can be summed up for the average commoner as follows: Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
The average life expectancy is twenty years unless one lives in a walled city or town such as the City State, Viridistan, Thunderhold, Modron, Warwik or other large cities, in which it is only a little higher.

So yeah, this is very much a "Points of Light" type of setting, civilization consists of a number of isolated city states surrounded by vast, uncharted stretches of wilderness in which lurk dangerous monsters and encounter tables. Things don't fair much better when you get into the cities, which are overcrowded, unsanitary and ruled by cruel despots (I'm starting to see where Dark Sun took its cues from). However there is a spark of hope: If the players are brave, resourceful and lucky enough they may amass enough wealth, fame and power to make an impact on the world and make it a less terrible place to live!

Overall the introduction works pretty well: It gives the reader a decent idea of the tone of the setting and an idea of what they're in for as well as providing some history of the property, all condensed into two pages. I left this chapter with visions of Frank Frazetta's fever dreams swirling through my head...;


What I pictured.

All set to dive into some Sword and Sorcery adventures I move on to chapter 1, and the book gets right into the action with...An explanation of the calendar system.


What I got.

Pope Gregory XIII is no longer allowed to edit our RPGs

Hoo boy, so this thing has committed the first big sin of fantasy fiction: Having a gigantic prologue of the boring history of the setting be the first thing the reader encounters. As a note to any aspiring RPG designers: Players do not care about poo poo that happened long before their characters were born, please don't make that the first thing in the book!

So, we're informed that the currently accepted calendar is called Balozkinar’s Corrected Commoners’ Calendar or the BCCC for short. It was discovered in something called The Calendar Obelisk in the remains of an ancient city atop which was built the City State of the Invincible Overlord. As the current Warrior-King, Balozkinar, had nothing better to do, he consulted with a council of sages and they decided this was probably a better calendar than what they were using, and thus made it the standard.

BCCC year 0 coresponds to year 0 of the old Commoner's calendar but diverges as it goes on because it uses a different system of months and weeks. There are 18 months consisting of 20 days each, then a 5 day party week at the end of the year. The book then explains that the calendar is progressive, meaning years follow each other sequentially...Because I guess they assumed their audience didn't know how time worked?

So the default year the game is assumed to be set in is 4433 BCCC. We are told the City State of the Invincible Overlord was founded in 3075 BCCC, 5,466 years after the Uttermost War and 11,683 years after the creation of thZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Sorry! Passed out from boredom for a second there! We're almost through the calendar system so just hold on!

We're then given an overview of the months in the BCCC (Which all have ridiculous-rear end fantasy names like "Dewsnap", "Gloomfrost" or "Maggotfeast") and get a little sidebar on what the old Commoner's calendar was like (Because this is the kind of riveting action you bought the book for). Honestly, the old Commoner's Calendar seems way radder, look:


It starts pretty standard, but then you get to the "Orgy of Consumation" at year's end...

And with that we have made it through the boring slog that is the calendar, let us celebrate by diving into the intense excitement of the...History of Events?! Goddammit Wilderlands!

And the Markrabs begat the Viridians, and the Viridians begat the Therbrians, and the Therbrians begat...

Continuing its winning streak of putting all the most boring poo poo front and center, we then dive into the timeline of events as understood by the sages of the Wilderlands. We start this section with a note that most inhabitants of The Wilderlands don't really give a poo poo about much of what happened outside the lifespan of their immediate family members and are thus completely unlikely to know any of the thousands of years of history the book is about to cover.

Well, gently caress you too, book!

This section goes on for almost ten pages, so I'll try to summarize as best I can:

The first major event that people still have memory of is The Uttermost War, a battle to end all battles that happened about 8,000 years ago. It involved the gods fighting against or alongside dragons and something called the Markrabs (Which I'm pretty sure was a variety of South Park alien). There were five Holy Cities but they got incinerated during the war.

After that nonsense was over and done with, a great kingdom called Kelnor rose and covered the entirety of what is now the Widlerlands. There also may have been a bunch of something called "Dragon Kings" who had cities or something scattered all over the place, I don't know. The point is this all got hosed up when that whole "Magic vs Science" war got started and the world got thrown back into the stone age.

After a period of everyone bumbling around, hitting each other over the head with clubs, civilization got kicked off again around 120 BCCC when the city state of Viridistan is founded by a bunch of Green people. Things go well for them until 971 BCCC when a horde of "Winged Apes" show up, wreck poo poo all across The Wilderlands, then get bored and leave, never to be mentioned again...

So, all talk of Winged Ape shenanigans aside, things are going well for Viridistan: They've conquered a good swath of territory, their leader is calling himself the World Emperor and their neighbors are paying them tribute. Then a bunch of guys called the Tharbrians migrate into their territory and spend the next 2,000 years repeatedly invading and sacking the city and making the Viridians look like general idiots.

Around this time some other, not Viridistan city states start rising to prominence, including: Tarantine (Pirateville, USA), Altanis (Where the Conans live), Tula (Where wizards with no sense of right or wrong go) and The CIty State of the Invincible Overlord. That last one is going to be important!

So, after being repeatedly sacked by Tharbrians, Viridistan was looking a whole lot less unbeatable to its neighbors. Eager to no longer have to pay tributes to those green assholes The Invincible Overlord teams up with the Tharbrians to form a mighty army with which to conquer Viridistan! Unfortunately for them, the World Emperor (Having apparently had more than enough of being the Tharbrians' whipping boy) gathered a bunch of mages together and made a pact with dark powers to summon a counter-army of evil demons to defend his turf.

The demons promptly obliterated the Overlord and Tharbrian forces and what follows is roughly 500 years of Looney Tunes shorts involving the Invincible Overlord attempting to conquer Viridistan only to have Viridistan startle him from behind with a honking noise that causes The Overlord to fall off a cliff. The Invincible Overlord doesn't much live up to his name, is what I'm saying.

During this period a bunch of inconsequential poo poo happens including the fall and rebuilding of a place called Modron, an Orc migration and a century known only as "The Gnoll Times".

So, finally, we get to the years leading up to the time when the game is set: The current Viridian Emperor is going Coo-coo for Cocoa Puff crazy and demanding ridiculously high tribute from the City State. The current Invincible Overlord has apparently forgotten basic pattern recognition and thinks now might be a good time to try sacking Viridistan again (Because it worked so well the last dozen times they tried). It looks like war's a'brewin' and we are finally done with the boring history lesson!

With that finally behind us let us finish on the exciting note of...The Judges History!? Why do you do this to me, Wilderlands!?

The Secret History

So, this is the only "GM's Only" section in the entire book and it covers the secret history of the world that the PCs are probably never going to find out, except through divine intervention, because that is useful to your current campaign.

It kicks off by informing us that a bunch of the poo poo in the previous timeline is a load of poo poo (Because gently caress you for slogging through the last 7 pages!). For one thing the world was created way way way longer than the BCCC suggests! We're talking at least 45,000 years longer! And that Uttermost War stuff they had a vague idea of? Happened back in -44,508 BCCC.

We're then given a short (Less than 2 pages), concise timeline of events with bardic knowledge check DCs for characters to have heard of events from each era, that covers everything from the past 7 pages and more!

Ugh, that was rough. Character and Race options are next, so hopefully the book picks up after this point...Or the options are all new and exciting calendar systems to graft onto your character!

Next Time: Not loving Timelines, I Hope!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Pope Gregory can edit any goddamn RPG he goddamn pleases, have you seen his hat.

Sigmar proved warrior kings can get away with loving around with calenders, but they gotta do some metal poo poo first so people get interested.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 03:25 on Dec 7, 2018

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




While the Skaven are definitely one of the better skewerings of fascism and Nazis in particular in fantasy settings, their tactics and weaponry actually recall WW1 a lot more. They outright use mustard gas and other chemical weapons as well as biological ones of all sorts, and constantly bringing out new barely tested war machines, while their foot soldiers are expected to die in droves possible to their own side's guns.

I'm not sure if it's still a thing in the wargame, but Skaven are notable for being the only faction that can fire on their own troops in melee.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Night10194 posted:

The ratling gun in Children of the Horned Rat is so totally worthless they actually had to write Errata going 'YES IT'S THAT BAD ON PURPOSE, WE DIDN'T MISTYPE ANYTHING'.

It's a Blunderbuss that takes 2 people and weighs a ton, and takes longer to reload to no further effect. Damage 3! No impact! No AP! Hits a very narrow area and doesn't roll to hit, anyone in the area can roll Agi (independent of their Dodge) to be missed! Oh, it's also Experimental, so better chance it explodes, too.

A far cry from one of the cheesiest, most powerful multishot guns on TT, no? For those who don't know, this is a high caliber early gatling gun firing essentially depleted uranium rounds. It is effectively nothing but a lovely 1600s shotgun mechanically, except heavier, more expensive, and harder to use and reload.

E: You might be noticing a theme in these hints of what's to come: The fluff in this book is SO GOOD, the crunch is some of the worst in the line!

Yeah let me speak to what the Ratling Gun did in tabletop back when I played:

So, for each unit of Clanrats you could buy a Clan Skryre Weapon Team, either a Warpfire Thrower or a Ratling Gun. The Weapon Teams are semi-independent from their unit, but do sort of hang around with them. A Ratling Gun can shoot a target within 15" with d6 S4 armor piercing AUTOMATIC HITS. Then, you decide how dangerous you want to live. Because you can roll again, and as long as you don't come up with a number you already have, you add that to the number of hits. If you DO roll a double, though, the whole fucker thing misfires. Except ONE of the misfires can still work in your favor, because you roll a scatter die then shoot all the shots at the first thing in that direction. I once took part in a 500 point small-scale tournament to help some kids get into the game and my whole army was a Warlock Engineer, two Clanrat units, and two Weapon Teams, which in retrospect was really loving mean because I basically soloed an entire 500 point High Elf army with a single Ratling Gun.

Actually fun fact on that originally the army had one Weapon Team and two Engineers until someone pointed out that the rules specified one hero pick, I don't think anyone was happier seeing the Warpfire Thrower over a second Engineer.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 04:42 on Dec 7, 2018

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


grassy gnoll posted:

SKAVEN, A MORAL TALE

The WARLOCK ENGINEER is in his laboratory, with his ASSISTANT and SLAVES, preparing to turn on a new invention. The ENGINEER steels his courage by taking a long drink from a tankard.

ENGINEER
Hold-hold warpstone-brew!

The ENGINEER passes his drink to his assistant, who discreetly poisons it. The ENGINEER switches on the device, which promptly explodes, setting the ENGINEER aflame. As his master dies and the stink of burning hair fills the room, the ASSISTANT takes a satisfied swig of warpstone beer. The ASSISTANT has enough time to do a spit-take before he dies. The SLAVES fight over the dropped tankard as the laboratory bench starts to smolder.

Enter ANOTHER ENGINEER. ANOTHER ENGINEER looks around the burning laboratory, kicks the SLAVES, and takes the tankard for himself, holding it aloft for the audience to see.


ANOTHER ENGINEER
Glory-triumph to the Horned Rat, darkest of gods, gnawer of world-bones!

Curtain. Performers who survive the backstage knife fights are customarily tipped for their efforts.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Always lowkey looking forward to what PC ancestry/class options are available so I can see how much I'm going to hate/ignore/like a d20 product. Interestingly mediocre so far.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



KingKalamari posted:

Sorry for the slight delay in getting this up, this book turned out to be very front-loaded. But I have slayed the mighty beast that was chapter 1 and am once again ready to take you on a journey into the...

The Widlerlands of High Fantasy | Part II: The Terror of Ages Past!


Could this avalanche of minutae be a result of them having to pad out what was probably relatively small booklet to what's an expected page count in the 2000s?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Night10194 posted:

That's what I mean. Yeah, sure, they'd probably explode in the long run, but you, the heroes, get to make a real difference against these shrieking little assholes.

Yeah, it's seems like there's this idea that if you can permanently save the world, then it's bad writing. It's like the inversion of novel writers (40K, Star Wars, whatever), who can only bring "tension" to their work by making the threat in their book Galaxy Ending Thing Of The Main Franchise+1.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


The Chad Jihad posted:

There's a plot hook somewhere where whatever it is that makes Mors so loyal (for a skaven) be it cultural genetic or Some Magic thing gets spread to the rest of the species and turns them into a world-ending threat. And then an even more fanfictiony version of the same hook where they're actually the first step to turning Skaven into relatively nicer guys

Part of the "fun" of Skaven is that the less lovely people they are, the more dangerous they are. So if they actually become less awful creatures, until they become not-awful enough to stop wanting a xenocidal war on the rest of the world(well, not entirely cidal, they'd have to keep some slaves around to gloat over), every bad trait they throw off makes them more efficient villains. But then at some point, enough self-awareness and cooperative spirit would also make them go, "hm, hang on, maybe the Horned Rat does not, in fact, have my best interests in mind and is not, in fact, a good deity to do the grunt work for..."

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



Oh, my fellow DM of our group (and friend of 25 years) hit's a major birthday milestone soon. I was thinking of picking him up the new 4th Edition Warhammer as a gift. Now that a few months have gone by since release has anyone much experience/postitive recommendations for it?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Children of the Horned Rat

Actual Factual Mors Rattus

Clan Pestilens is 'The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point' except with biological warfare. No-one likes Clan Pestilens. No-one. You see, aside from the part where they were able to devastate the Under-Empire in a civil war and hold the entire Council hostage to force their way on, the rats of Pestilens have been a critical part of most of the Skaven's biggest successes. Moulder's Rat Ogres are (acceptable) weapons, but a guy with a halberd can kill those. You know what a halberd or cannon can't kill? Targeted, intense germ warfare. Sure, their plagues get out of control and wipe out entire clans sometimes, and sure, they're potentially traitors worshiping Nurgle or something (gently caress the police, I'm accusing the rats of being lovely Nurglites, because you just know rats would miss the point of Nurgle because they're rats goddamnit), but they got the rats closer to INHERIT-INHERIT than they've ever been in 1111. How many other threats can say they're single-handedly responsible for wiping half the Empire's population at the height of its historical power and influence? Not many.

This is because while a normal Nurglite would be all 'blessed gifts of rot, bring beauty to these people' Pestilens is more 'Yes-yes, hemorrhage all blood in 2 hour-clocks, get-get down to 1, see if can make-build explosive effect.' They make plague as weaponry, not presents. They don't even want you to suffer, they just want you and your entire civilization to die so there'll be more lebensraum for rat nazis. They're also an insane theocracy that worships disease and decay (and without the cycle of renewal and rebirth) and who believe the rats have failed solely because everyone isn't sitting around talking about how awesome Pestilens is, not realizing this makes them surprisingly similar to most other Skaven and not that special. They plan to destroy the Grey Seers at some point because they are worshiping non-disease aspects of the Great Horned Rat and the Pestilens blame all rat failures on divine wrath.

For now, Pestilens sends their specially bred plague rats into the world to wreck havoc, but more grudgingly they accept orders to actually treat and cure plagues that are wiping out sections of Councillors' clans. They don't want to, of course; they view curing disease as blasphemy, but they also recognize that if it's them against the other three and the Seers, they will die. Everyone else knows Pestilens are awful psychopaths (even by rat standards) and no-one likes the smelly evil plague rats who are constantly rotting and refuse to bathe. But they're really useful, so all the Great Clans tolerate them. The eventual civil/holy war will be legendary.

Clan Skryre is the non-monster-based Ratman Military Industrial Complex, combined with a bunch of steampunk robber barons. They actually run Skavenblight itself, and are widely thought of as the richest and largest of the Great Clans. This is because all of Skaven society is completely dependent on their monopoly on Warlock Engineering and Warpstone engines. So I guess they're more Warp-Punk? They are the only crazy magitek people (outside of maybe the Chorfs) in all of the setting, and that gives them a marketable edge that has allowed them to corner the entire rat nazi economy. Their Warplock guns arm vast quantities of troops, their Ratling Gun is an innovation that will change the face of war, and they build Doomwheels, which are a hamster wheel with laser cannons and a pilot so coked up on laser cannon fumes he can't think about anything but going fast and firing his laser cannons while screaming that the cannons are too awesome not to fire even if he's hitting his own guys (Doomwheels do not appear in this book, but Doomwheels are the most Skryre thing to ever Skryre so hey). They also experiment with voice communications (The FARSQUEAKER) and trains. That's right, train nazi is on the horizon. If they ever get the trains to stop occasionally going critical and taking out the entire transport tunnel/settlement they're passing through, they'll revolutionize all transport!

One curious trait of Skryre is that while they hold only Skavens understand the true science-learning of technology, they will happily plagiarize the poo poo out of anything that seems good. The Jezzail, as noted, is a Hochland Long Rifle that the rats stole, made faster loading, and loaded with warpstone rounds after overclocking it. The Ratling Gun and Warpfire Thrower were originally attempts to improve on dwarf weapons that were giving the rats trouble. Now that they've seen steam tanks, expect some kind of crazy nazi tunnel tank out of the rats in the near future (I bet it will have 3-6 gun turrets, one for each troublesome adventurer!).

Skryre's writeup is honestly a little boring. It's just an endless repetition of 'They build the weapons, they operate the factories, the Skaven can't do without them.' They're on top (mostly), so they don't really have room to have ambitions about climbing up like the others. They're content to keep building new exploders and exploding new enemies, while making money paw over fist by selling their highly unstable devices to everyone else. The Skaven military and economy rely on them to such a degree that they're unlikely to be unseated any time soon.

Now we get to the Warlord Clans. See if you can spot the important one by reading the writeups.

Clan Flem is a mini-Pestilens that does everything Pestilens says in hopes that Pestilens won't notice them and decide to eat them. Pestilens has noticed them and is planning to eat them.

Clan Mors is the seed of a political revolution in Skavendom. Somehow, Warlord Gnawdwell has managed to produce a clan where most of his rats (especially his actual factual Strong Rat Son, Queek Headtaker, the most spastic murder-machine in the canon Under-Empire) are actually very loyal to him and like working for him. Gnawdwell has defeated many lesser clans, and when he does, instead of eating everyone and making everyone into slaves, those who surrendered and proved themselves trustworthy just become members of Clan Mors. The influx of additional full clanrats and real soldiers has made Mors one of the strongest militaries in the Under-Empire. It's gotten to the point that Skryre is pointing at them frantically and squeaking at the others 'KILL-KILL BEFORE FIFTH GREAT CLAN!' while the others rub their little paws together and plot how to make use of this.

The truth is, the Great Clans are a bit afraid of Gnawdwell. They're not sure how on earth he's gotten Skaven to (somewhat) work together. They don't understand his dark arts of 'not being total poo poo to people all the time' and 'occasionally use positive reinforcement' or this mad innovation of 'if someone kills their superior and their superior was really good and helpful, execute them for murder'. They assume it's a drug, or a spell, or a trick. They have no conception of the fact that Gnawdwell is something even more dangerous: He's a fascist who has discovered the language of heroism and the idea of 'benefits for my guys, murder and theft for everyone in the outgroup'. Gnawdwell is constructing an actual state in Mors rather than a series of warlord clans, on the hopes that he can be the true agent of the Great Ascendency and cause the INHERIT-INHERIT to finally happen. The Grey Seers are currently intrigued by Mors; they want to know how they keep the Skaven together, because it seems like it might be a useful thing towards taking over the world. They don't understand that things like 'promote on merit' are key to Gnawdwell's success, and think they can get the secret of how to rule Skavendom out of him. Meanwhile, the others are ambivalent or want Mors destroyed for being a threat to their oligarchy.

Warlord Gnawdwell would be a great main campaign villain for an anti-Skaven game. He's smart, he's innovative, and he's got his Strong Rat Son to stand in front of him and take hits. You could totally take on Gnawdwell in a mech-suit with dual miniguns after you've killed his Hans Grosse esque son Queek, the one brave rat. He actually has a touching little scene in canon where he tells his son he's proud of his courage and doesn't think he's a freak for being willing to fight on the front lines. This should not stop you putting a pipe through his head.

Clan Skaab's schtick is that they have more Black Skaven, and thus by the mechanics coming later would be militarily invincible. They rent their Stormvermin to others or use them to crush and rob other clans.

Clan Skaar are rich mining magnates but don't have much of an army. They've survived because neither Moulder nor Skryre wants the other to get Skaar. Sooner or later, Skaar is going down in a hail of warpshot or tentacles and their poo poo will be taken, because they don't have their own army.

Clan Skaul is on the Council and NO-ONE KNOWS WHY because they're an entire clan of hedonistic stoners. Somehow they produce more Chosen (Grey Seer candidates) per capita than other Skaven. They're either on the Council because of this, or because they know all the best Rat Drugs

Clan Sleekit run the underground rivers. This is important until Train Rat Nazi gets off the ground.

Clan Verms is on the Council so everyone else can look down on Clan Verms. Seriously, says right here they're on the Council because they're a joke that all the others can feel superior to. They think it's because of their 'cool' gimmick where they like spiders and giant insects in addition to rats. Giant insects!? Breeding underground!? Can it be they exceed human wisdom!? Progress faster than science is impossible! I'm sorry I'm just imagining Skaven causing Warhams EDF now and I want it. I want it so much.

Next Time: Who runs Rat Town?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Angrymog posted:

Could this avalanche of minutae be a result of them having to pad out what was probably relatively small booklet to what's an expected page count in the 2000s?
The Wilderlands setting also includes City State of the Invincible Overlord and several small supplements. I think some of their adventures for D&D are probably implicitly part of the setting, too. So there's a lot of detail that they wrote over the course of several years that can be incorporated into a big corebook.

What's ironic is that Judges Guild died out because they never embraced this model back in their heyday. They were in an OD&D-era business model of maps, adventures, and compact rules supplements, with amateurish art and layout. A big fat glossy setting compendium is everything Judges Guild never was.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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2014-2018



One of my personal takes on things is that the Warlords of Skryre and Moulder aren't idiots - they know that their extreme forcing of dependence on everyone else is hobbling things. And don't care. They aren't Rat Fascists, they're Rat Science Capitalists living in a fascist hell society, and to my mind they are way more interested in pushing the boundaries of their knowledge, maintaining their vast sums of money and making things die or explode than they are in actual conquest.

This is part of why Skryre is terrified of Clan Mors - Clan Skryre wants the Endless Hell War to remain in terminal stalemate.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

One of my personal takes on things is that the Warlords of Skryre and Moulder aren't idiots - they know that their extreme forcing of dependence on everyone else is hobbling things. And don't care. They aren't Rat Fascists, they're Rat Science Capitalists living in a fascist hell society, and to my mind they are way more interested in pushing the boundaries of their knowledge, maintaining their vast sums of money and making things die or explode than they are in actual conquest.

This is actually the tack the book takes if you read between the lines a bit, for almost all the Great Clans. The entire Council system is set up to protect the oligarchy of the Councilor first, their clan second, and win the Ascendency a (very) distant third.

The Horned Rat is implied to tolerate this because he finds his selfish rat sons scrabbling at one another hilarious.

They're still rat fascists, they're just, you know, Porsche and Messerschmidt. They're making huge piles of money on the wars and factional struggles and corruption, they've still got ample slave labor and enough loot from conquests to make the economy work (for them), they don't especially care about winning so long as the contracts keep happening and the machine keeps rolling.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Because I actually find the idea of Heroic Skaven to be loving adorable, I also kind of want there to be a Cult of Bravery within Clan Mors that manages to avoid the fascist ideology primarily by being made entirely of idiot Large Rat Sons who just think Queek is a really cool dude and basically end up as Rat Blood Dragons, but stupider and more excitable.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The bit with him actually taking his son (who he acknowledges as his son) aside and saying 'You're not a freak, it's okay that you really like fighting people directly and I'm proud of you' (which then makes Queek fanatically loyal) is a great example of why Gnawdwell is dangerous and why Purple is 100% right that until Skaven's less-lovely meter hits 'no longer xenocidal' any less shittiness from the Skaven is going to make them more dangerous and thus paradoxically more lovely.

Also I think I've realized why the Skaven aren't in 40k.

They already are. They're just the Imperium. It's the Skaven.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Mors Rattus posted:

Because I actually find the idea of Heroic Skaven to be loving adorable, I also kind of want there to be a Cult of Bravery within Clan Mors that manages to avoid the fascist ideology primarily by being made entirely of idiot Large Rat Sons who just think Queek is a really cool dude and basically end up as Rat Blood Dragons, but stupider and more excitable.

A whole cadre of Skaven who don't take the honorable and most august leadership position of as far in the back as they could get? Madness!

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




What do the Skaven use for currency? I figured Warpstone.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ghost Leviathan posted:

What do the Skaven use for currency? I figured Warpstone.

It is, in fact, little tokens of warpstone.

E: They actually only think gold is useful as a chew toy or a means for bribing man-things.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ghost Leviathan posted:

What do the Skaven use for currency? I figured Warpstone.

Warpstone Tokens, which double as a thing they eat for power.

E: and yes, you're not wrong that Less lovely Skaven is just More Dangerous Skaven for a long time

I just think rats are cute

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Ghost Leviathan posted:

What do the Skaven use for currency? I figured Warpstone.

Yes, in little tokens with holes punched out of them. They use warpstone for everything.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

I just think rats are cute

I like to imagine one of Mors' innovations is that soldiers love fancy hats and medals, because then you can have Rats in Hats and it both rhymes and is precious.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Night10194 posted:

I like to imagine one of Mors' innovations is that soldiers love fancy hats and medals, because then you can have Rats in Hats and it both rhymes and is precious.

And you gotta have the fascists who deck their chests out with every medal they can get their hands on.

If you wanted to explore something with breakaway Skaven, could do something with Skaven females who aren't breeding slaves drugged up and bloated to the point of immobility. And quite keen on staying that way. Ratazons?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ghost Leviathan posted:

And you gotta have the fascists who deck their chests out with every medal they can get their hands on.

If you wanted to explore something with breakaway Skaven, could do something with Skaven females who aren't breeding slaves drugged up and bloated to the point of immobility. And quite keen on staying that way. Ratazons?

I mean, that requires keeping that poo poo in the game.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One of the nice bits about Skaven being the authors of their own misery is that yes, you can have breakway rats who aren't the same as the other rats. Who knows how many 'lost' or 'failed' colonies happened in the Great Sniff?

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Ghost Leviathan posted:

And you gotta have the fascists who deck their chests out with every medal they can get their hands on.

If you wanted to explore something with breakaway Skaven, could do something with Skaven females who aren't breeding slaves drugged up and bloated to the point of immobility. And quite keen on staying that way. Ratazons?

I think I recall that some small percentage of Grey Seers might be female, since carting off everyone born with grey fur and horns takes priority even over gross misogyny and then the ability to vaporize fuckers with lightning takes care of anyone wanting to give them poo poo. And I mean it's a rat in a robe, how would you tell.


Night10194 posted:

I like to imagine one of Mors' innovations is that soldiers love fancy hats and medals, because then you can have Rats in Hats and it both rhymes and is precious.

I mean Queek has his own hatrack with him even. They don't call him Headtaker for nothing after all.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feinne posted:

I think I recall that some small percentage of Grey Seers might be female, since carting off everyone born with grey fur and horns takes priority even over gross misogyny and then the ability to vaporize fuckers with lightning takes care of anyone wanting to give them poo poo. And I mean it's a rat in a robe, how would you tell.

Alternately: You are the first lady rat born with white fur and horns, sparking a theological crisis. You and your littermates will, solely through trying to grab at personal power, accidentally change Skaven society and destroy the Under Empire as we know it.

Campaign hook!

Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

The law protects no one unless it binds everyone, binds no one unless it protects everyone.



Night10194 posted:

Alternately: You are the first lady rat born with white fur and horns, sparking a theological crisis. You and your littermates will, solely through trying to grab at personal power, accidentally change Skaven society and destroy the Under Empire as we know it.

Campaign hook!

A classic Pratchett “accidental revolution” plot!

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Ghost Leviathan posted:

And you gotta have the fascists who deck their chests out with every medal they can get their hands on.

Rat Goering, fatter than a brood rat and a rat ogre put together.

So many warpstone medals on his chest, any non-skaven slave that comes close mutates instantly.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Ultiville posted:

A classic Pratchett “accidental revolution” plot!

Also known as Tuesday in the Under-Empire.

EDIT: It's occurred to me that a lot of things suggest female Skaven are smarter than their brothers are giving them credit for, and to be fair not going along with the whole 'eat bon-bons and be stoned off your rear end and pregnant all day' would mean actually participating in Skaven society.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 16:45 on Dec 7, 2018

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OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


It's worth noting that while Gnawdwell himself is terrifying because of what he's doing, his Strong Rat Son is just as goddamn alarming, because not only is he someone who enjoys fighting at the front, but he's REALLY GOOD AT IT. He's not particularly good at being sneaky and underhanded compared to most other Skaven, but he makes up by having the still living severed head of his significantly more devious predecessor in the spot of Gnawdwell's right hand rat sitting on his shoulder and giving him advice. And the scariest thing (for other Skaven) is that if the Great Clans were to assassinate Gnawdwell, it wouldn't actually make clan Mors less effective, and Queek would be INCREDIBLY hard to dislodge once in power. The only way to get rid of them would be to annihilate them, and due to how they expand that becomes less and less doable.

EDIT: Consider what the likely outcome of killing Gnawdwell would be. Queek gets on the Council, screams VENGEANCE-VENGEANCE and then murders everyone else in the room. All of them.

OvermanXAN fucked around with this message at 16:51 on Dec 7, 2018

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