Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


By way of quick introduction, I’m a longtime player/game master for Night10194. If he mentioned a game master for WFRP, it was probably referring to me. I tend to read more than I write and have read a good year or two of the thread(s). Lets make up for lost time.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (2E) is probably my favorite go-to fantasy RPG. Its mechanics are simple and robust, it makes decent enough characters, I really enjoy the Career system as a good bridge between point-buy and class leveling advancement schemes, and the great majority of the splatbooks are just fun to read and to use. I’ll be covering one of them here seeing that the core book has already been gone over by Night. Maybe I’ll do a quick review of where I differ in opinions from Night regarding the basic mechanics and writing later, but I’d rather start off by doing a proper book review.

The book we’ll be looking at today is Children of the Horned Rat


This is the splatbook covering the Skaven, easily one of the more distinctive and original looking additions to the Warhammer Fantasy universe. Demons, undead, elfs, orcs… Those are standard, but Skaven? They’re a luxury option. I can’t help but love the crazed, spastic, and paranoid rat-people. I could describe them more here, but that will just retread the book a fair bit. Lets dive right in with chapter one.


Chapter I: THE SKAVEN ARE REAL AND THEY ARE AMONG US!

The entire first chapter is presented as a text written by one Ammelie Meyer, priestess of Verena, the goddess of wisdom and justice. The title of her work being “THE SKAVEN ARE REAL AND THEY ARE AMONG US!” Yes, in all caps. She wasn’t one to mince around her central thesis. Officially, the Skaven do not exist according to the worthies of the Empire and Ammelie here has put together this book to spread the truth. There are two major myths about the Skaven: The first is that they do not exist. The second is that anyone believes the first myth.

I’m not sure if this has been noted before, but massive in-character texts are something of a tradition for WFRP books. There is in fact a fairly standard way these books are laid out, too. They start with common knowledge which every native of the Empire is expected to know, then moves on to what scholars, intelligentsia, and other ‘superior’ races would know. This may be interspersed with some quotes by the subject being studied. Only after that does it get to the full truth as presented to the GM, followed by the mechanics and campaign advice.

Here, this full chapter is all in-character as a treatise by a Verenan priestess, a scholar. She cites other works, interviews, woodcuts, and adds in notes and drawings from other sources. It’s not a bad job to make it look like something a scholar of her time period would put together in something of a hurry.

Legends of the Ratmen
It starts after a couple paragraphs of introduction by citing in full two common stories told in the Empire concerning the terrible rat people known as the Skaven whom legend says constantly commit quiet evils upon humanity, “Graf Mandred the Ratslayer and the Incredible Cheese” and “The Horrible Tale of Trespass the Ratboy.”
The story of Manfred concerns Count Mandred, ruler of Middenland, saving his people from a plague of rats and their fantastical rat-kings, the Skaven. He eventually does this by collecting a giant pot of sausages and cheeses, melting and cooking it all together, and letting the smell drive the rats mad with hunger and leading them into a trap beneath his city of Middenheim, killing them all in a flood in the tunnels.

The story of Trespass is said to be a common story often adapted to match whatever city it’s being told in. This particular version has a six toed boy named Trespass. Being a horrible mutant with six toes, he is immediately ostracized when it is discovered by other children he plays with. A wizard kidnaps him and together he and the Skaven use the child to spread plague throughout the city, causing him greater mutations and he revels in bringing misery upon the boys who mocked him earlier. The moral here being to kill every mutant immediately and do whatever you mother tells you like a good boy.

In case you haven’t noticed, these are both children’s tales and are the most common information everyone in the Empire has heard at one time or another. Ammelie derides this, especially regarding the tale of Mandred who was in reality a legitimate hero of the Empire who has been reduced to a fairy tale character.

After these two tales, there is also a song ‘The Lazy Sone’ or ‘The Skaven Crept In’, plus some collected quotes from common denizens of the Empire. These are especially amusing. One is a teacher decrying that he’s been instructed to ‘teach the controversy’ regarding the Skaven. Another using the question to say that Skaven probably have the same origin as the sheep-loving Averlanders. Others are more typical nobles blaming that Skaven are an excuse by poor people to not work and others recount crazed tales of torture, beatings, and worse.

After this, we move to the scholarly section. Here, the ‘official’ explanations are examined more thoroughly and it’s noted that many scholars acknowledge the Skaven, just that they carefully hedge their words and talk about them in the hypothetical sense. They also create a variety of unusual theories discussing their origins and purpose. Those who openly write or speak about Skaven with authority are forced to recant on pain of censure and being cast into the streets, committed, or possibly assassinated.
Of course, some of these upper class citizens know a very great deal about Skaven. They collaborate with the rats, hiring their services with coin or warpstone to enlist their exceptional services as spies and assassins.

Next section details the foreign perspective on Skaven. Other nations of the Old World have dealt with the Skaven and none of them have this peculiar notion that they do not exist. Bretonnians, Tileans, High Elves, and Dwarfs are all cited on their common attitudes towards the ratmen.

After these extremely lengthy sections regarding what people say about the Skaven, Ammelie finally gets to trying to describe the Skaven herself. She starts with noting the hallmarks of Skaven presence, such as their distinctive smell, poison, warpstone contamination, typical methods of entry into a building, etc.

She then describes the best ways for a common person to deal with Skaven. Namely, get someone else to do it. Ideally a dedicated Skaven Hunter. More commonly, hire some Adventurers and throw them at the problem instead. You win either way. No more Skaven or no more Adventurers. If none of these are available, there are a few measures she lists that can at least keep your own home safe. Her last piece of advice is to keep some arsenic around. Not for the rats, but for yourself. Being a Skaven prisoner is not something to look forward to.

Her next section is for those souls who wish to take up the sword and go on the offensive. Since Skaven do not officially exist, being a dedicated Skaven fighter is one of the worst specialties in the Empire. People will stiff you out of pay since you’re charging for fighting things that don’t exist, you have zero legal recourse, and absolutely zero glory. Plus you’ll probably end up reeking of Skaven piss. Still, Ammelie here has your back and roots for you. She lists common tools of the trade and some basic strategy that served her well when she and her Adventuring party did it.

Form and Function
The Form and Function section finally lays out some specific details about what the Skaven are actually like in person. Ammelie cites a letter and the attached drawings of a scholar performing dissections on a group of Skaven corpses that were found.

Skaven are rat-human hybrids. Fast and spastic in movement and standing roughly the same height as men, though with a stooped posture. Larger, black furred Skaven can tower at over six feet tall and are heavily muscled. Their fur is fine and thick, covering their bodies save for their faces, paws, and tails. Their claws are large and dangerous, their tails are potentially prehensile, and their teeth are huge.

It’s also obvious they have some kind of caste system. At the top are grey Skaven who also carry thick curled horns growing from their skulls, then the black furred muscular Skaven, and at the bottom are the brown ‘normal’ Skaven.

One of the corpses is not at all like the others, being absolutely enormous. The size of an ogre, but containing all of a Skaven’s twitchy speed. It’s also obviously manufactured somehow due to obvious stitching, bolting, and nailing various pieces together.

Ammelie also adds in her own personal descriptions of the Skaven and things the dissection missed or glossed over. The first notable thing is the smell. Skaven absolutely stink. And they can stink a whole variety of ways. They communicate via scents and musks, principally their emotional states.

Second, Skaven are not just your garden variety beastmen or mutants. They craft and use weapons, armor, clothes, flags, and various other accoutrements of civilization. And not just blades and chainmail, they also manufacture and use firearms, flamethrowers, poison gas, and other horrific weapons. Many of which use warpstone, the exceedingly dangerous substance that is Chaos magick distilled into a solid form.

Skaven are also noticeable for their extreme appetite and the extreme diet that results from it. They can and will eat nearly anything, though they prefer raw, fresh meat. They are not too picky about the sources. Cows, rats, humans, halfings, each other… It’s all good. They also rarely leave a battlefield with corpses still there if they can help it.

Ammelie then writes about the rare female of the species. She postulates about only one in ten Skaven are female, but they are remarkably fecund. A single female Skaven can produce 100 new Skaven a year according to her estimates. They form warrens and nests deep underground where they breed and fight for every advantage and scrap of food they can get while also doing their utmost to preserve their own lives.

An individual skaven is cowardly, but when population and food pressures mount, they will charge out and try to take more food and space by force and do so in great hordes, using every trick, lie, and artifice they can muster to make these offensives as one-sided as possible.

Leading these offensives are usually their priests, the grey furred priest caste who lead the ratmen in the worship of their god, the Horned Rat. While certainly seeming to be some variety of Chaos God, how exactly the rat god relates to the four Dark Powers is a bit of a mystery to people. The priests of the Horned Rat don’t really stop to discuss theology with humans. Instead, they wreak terrible magicks upon their foes, both skaven and non-skaven. These displays ensure a proper degree of piety among the lay-rats.

Ammelie takes a brief aside here to draw a picture of herself and her old adventuring party, describing each of them. One of them is shockingly similar to the example PC Halfling Night made, a super strong wrestler Halfling.

Chronicles of the Skaven
The final section of this chapter is ‘Chronicles of the Skaven’. This attempts to establish a history and origin of the Skaven. There is precious little to go on, however. Ammelie cites in full two ancient works, each attempting to explain the origin of the Skaven. The first is ‘The Great Battle and the Rise of the Skaven,’ a religious legend that tells of the great battle between gods and Chaos and how it spawned the beastmen and Skaven. The second is the classic ‘The Doom that Came to Kavzar,’ an epic poem that tells the story of a proud city of men and dwarfs that struck a poor deal with a mysterious grey figure, cursing their city with a rain of warpstone and poison that the rats greedily overran and inherited, eventually turning into Skaven.

This is the end of Priestess Meyer’s text and is probably the longest and most complex of the chapters in the book, consisting entirely of an Imperial perspective on the Skaven. There are things that are incomplete that get cleared up later in the book. Also, I should note the Kavzar poem is actually something that comes up a few times in other Warhammer fluff as the origin of the Skaven, but this particular version is written exceptionally well, retaining rhyming and meter. This chapter does a solid job of getting across the loathsomeness of the Skaven, why the Empire fears them, and how limited what they really know about them is. It is really long, though. And because we still have chapters to go about what the Skaven are really like, it can feel repetitive. Still, having such a collection of quotes, songs, poems, children stories, an epistolary, and more provides a lot of character to the Skaven and the people describing them.

Future chapters will describe Skaven society, culture, psychology, magick, and technology in more detail. But this chapter lays out everything a well-informed Imperial would know of the ratmen. Skaven are numerous and belligerent, voracious in appetite, filthy, and fond of taking prisoners for slave labor, experimental subjects, religious sacrifices, and self-propelled food. They’re also clever and grasp for every advantage they can find in any struggle. There is also a noted tendency for them to backstab each other, sacrifice their fellows for any advantage, and a fondness for weapons and magick that can (and will) fail catastrophically. They're basically a people consisting entirely of Starscreams.

These aren't your standard furries, no sir.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Tendales posted:

The lack of an official Space Skaven army list in 40k is really the only proof anyone needs that Games Workshop hates success and money.

I mean, the background could literally just be 'rats infesting a ship mutate into ratmans when the ship is lost in the warp, come back wearing cute pointy gas masks and fighting everyone with WWI style chemical warfare', bam, done.

I think that's one of those ideas that occurs to everyone except GW. Long list of things, that. Hell, I think my game group came up with some to use in Dark Heresy. That grim WWI aesthetic seems to fit right in with 40k and the Space Skaven would be a natural fit for it.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Hello again. Who else here thinks rats are adorable? Lets talk more about Children of the Horned Rat.

First, I’d like to talk about what makes the Skaven stand out among the assortment of antagonists a Warhammer Adventuring party would face. They’re by far the most sane and human of the common designated antagonists. And that’s saying something. Lets go through the usual suspects in Warhams:
  • Chaos is completely bugfuck crazy. They inflict just as much horrors on themselves personally as anyone and Chaos so corrodes their souls and bodies that a lot of them don’t really care about that longsword in their thoracic cavity. As the name implies, there often isn’t even much of a plan behind it all and the Dark gods enjoy tormenting their followers as much as their enemies. Chaos Warriors are the super powered space marines of the setting, complete with zero-dimensional characters. Beastmen are their easily killed chaff who are there to provide filler. And demons are scary, but… they each got their schtick and they stick to it. And in WFRP, demons are very much glass cannons, too. Not to mention that by design, you can never give Chaos a defeat it cares about. You can just ruin the odd cult.

  • Orcs and goblins? They’re English soccer hooligans, all right. But are never anything else. The fight because fighting is all they know and all they want to know. They’re more akin to a belligerent and hungry weather phenomena than anything else. You don’t really strike bargains with them either. That warboss will just punch you in the face and laugh. And if you punch back? He’d still laugh. The fight is what they like.

  • The undead? Sure, an individual vampire or necromancer can be a lot of fun. Powerful, charismatic, with a variety of interesting strengths and weaknesses for your players to chew on. But you can’t have a bunch of them in a campaign easily, given their power. And their minions are… well, they’re skeletons and zombies. Mindless automatons who you can never reason with and never say terribly much other than demanding your frontal cortex. The minions can always get back up and it’s hard to keep a good vampire down. And combats against mindless undead can be grinding battles of attrition. Fitting, but still tiresome after a while.
But Skaven? They bleed and when they die, they die. Every single clanrat and slave is scheming to somehow get ahead. And will swear vengeance and spite you should you ever harm them. Since they have an actual civilization and society, you can actually attack them in their home and do damage they care about. There is nothing stopping the Empire (or sufficiently capable band of Adventurers) from going underground and totally wrecking a Skaven clan. You can flood their warrens, you can explode their irreplaceable superweapon, and you can kill their annoying/genius leader and all that damage is way more permanent than what you can do to nearly any other foe.

Basically, the Skaven fill the role of an Evil Empire. They have a plethora of potential leader types, hordes of expendable clanrats that will just as happily flee in terror as tear you to shreds, and an arsenal of high-tech superweapons. And they’ll always be willing to cut a deal if they think it’s safer than stabbing you. They can always stab you later when your back is turned. And from a DM’s perspective, when you need to find some ninjas to suddenly throw at your players, the Skaven are always there. I keep Clan Eshin on speed dial for just such emergencies.

Anyway, lets move on to the next chapter:

Chapter II: Skaven History

This chapter is fairly short. Part of that is explained in the intro. Skaven do not generally care much about history. They are extremely self-centered, after all. They do not care overmuch about other Skaven and their culture and religion do not memorialize the dead. They will, of course, reminisce a fair bit about their personal experiences such as their great triumphs, all the skaven that betrayed them, their great plans, etc. Skaven don’t even have a calendar. When they need a way to measure time for complex operations or travel they use waypoints, days, phases of the moon, or other convenient and handy measuring guides that catch the leader’s fancy.

Basically, Skaven don’t record or keep history. They don’t make historical tomes and they don’t care about historical artifacts save for their usefulness. Only two times does a Skaven care about : Right now, when they don’t rule the world. And when they will rule the world, which will be very soon. What this means is while there are bits of history known from the surfacer perspective and the occasional legend amongst the ratmen themselves, the bulk of this history is not something a character in a game is likely to learn. It’s here to inform the reader.

The First Wave

The origin of the Skaven is very much like that recorded in the poem ‘The Doom that Came to Kavzar’ related in Chapter I. An ancient city once peopled by men and dwarves prospered and grew strong and wealthy in the southern part of the Old World near what is now Tilea. Their city is magnificent and they wished to celebrate it by building a great tower to their gods. They built it massively high, seeming to pierce the heavens. But they came to the point where they could no longer lift their stones up to finish it. A stranger came to their city, clad in a hooded grey robe, who offered to help finish their tower in exchange for putting an adornment for his own god on the tower as well. The people of Kavzar accepted.

This did not go well. The tower was finished the next day, topped with a great bell. But it soon began to toll, calling down rain. First of water, then poison, then a rain of shards of the unstable magical mineral known as warpstone. The crops and animals perished, the metals corroded, and people died. The survivors were devoured alive by the large and bold rats that had crawled out of their sewers.

These rats became the Skaven. For a large chunk of the next few centuries, they contented themselves with growing and prospering in their newly christened city of Skavenblight. They learned to farm, they mined warpstone, learned sorcery, rebuilt the city to suit them, and came to worship their creator, the Horned Rat. After centuries of growth, Skavenblight could no longer hold them all and their mundane construction and tunneling efforts could not keep up. So, they called up the first sorcerers and warlocks to fix this. They attempted to do so by creating a great warpstone machine which was designed to create massive underground spaces where Skaven could live and prosper freely.

As is the way of these things, the machine malfunctioned spectacularly. It exploded, shaking all the world to its foundations. Some say it was the great calamity that broke the back of the Dwarfen kingdoms. For the Skaven, it made things even worse. Skavenblight sank into the ground like a stone in a mud puddle, turning the surrounding lands into a giant marsh. From the ruins, the modern Skaven society emerged. The Council of Thirteen came to rule the Skaven and what mages were left founded the order of Grey Seers.

The bulk of Skavendom was forced to migrate, spreading across all the world. North to the Chaos Wastes, west to Lustria across the sea, east to distant Cathay and Nippon. Those that stayed in the Old World decided decided that the best way to get new homes and resources was to take them from the dwarfs. They instigated a long and terrible war against the dwarf kingdoms, allying with greenskins for convenience. The Skaven used the greenskins as cheerfully expendable shock troops while Skaven did infiltration, sapping, and making a nuisance of themselves. They took many dwarf holds, but were unable to seal the deal due to the dwarfen invention of gunpowder being used to defend their capital of Karaz-a-Karak.

Nagash
The Skaven also took an interest in a man-like creature called Nagash, the founder of necromancy. He also happened to have built his fortress atop an enormous deposit of warpstone. A century of warfare ensued, with endless rat swarms fighting endless hordes of undead. But both sides grew tired of the endless stalemate and called a truce. This freed Nagash to return to Nehekara and completely kill all living things within it and begin his ritual to do the same to all the world.

The Skaven realized swiftly that they were included in the category of ‘all living things’ and decided that the only proper course of action was to backstab Nagash and save the world. They forged a weapon of incredible dangerousness, pouring every bit of their power into it, and made it so that the wielder could be directly assisted and observed by the Council of Thirteen. Of course, in Skaven tradition, the weapon would certainly kill whoever wielded it. So they sent some infiltrators to Nagash’s prison, found a suitable candidate inclined to vengeance, and turned him loose with the magic blade. With the full might of Skavendom’s most powerful sorcerers behind him, the enchanted Fellblade, and his own skills, the last king of Khemri struck down Nagash. He’d get back up, as is the undead way. But hey, the Skaven saved the world. They don't really believe it, either.

Clan Pestilens
Meanwhile, those far off clans in distant Lustria have been busy themselves. Mostly busy dying of horrific jungle diseases, granted. But they learned a lot from it. The ancient, pre-human temples of Lustria contained many secrets as well. The Skaven started to learn what they could from them and came to worship disease, learning how to wield it themselves, and believing this was the true power of the Horned Rat. The newly christened Clan Pestilens warred upon the native lizardmen, bringing death and plague. The lizards objected to this and repelled the plague rats, who decided to sail back to the Old World to share the Good News of decay and pestilence and the true nature of the Horned Rat.

The Skaven back home were not impressed when Pestilens showed up to suddenly claim to be the true followers of the Horned Rat and all the other Skaven should bow to them. The Grey Seers in particular objected to this, being the true prophets of the Horned Rat. Inevitably, this lead to civil war between Pestilens and the Council. While war amongst Skaven was common, this one turned out to be epic even by Skaven standards. The fearless fanaticism of the Plague Monks matched to their willy nilly unleashing of plagues put a sizeable dent even in Skaven demographics. The Greater Clans that held power at the time retaliated with Clan Skryre unleashing its devastating arsenal of magitek weapons and Clan Moulder sending in its warbeasts. Still, plagues couldn’t be stopped by bullets and certainly not by beasts. Pestilens was infecting its way to the top.

This changed when what would be the fourth Great Clan came back from its own sojourn. Clan Eshin had gone off to the orient and decided to return bringing its secret ninja wisdom, offering their services to the Council. Pestilens leaders and their allies began to suffer a plague of poisonings, daggers in delicate places, and having all their secrets pilfered. Pestilens eventually sued for peace, taking as a consolation prize a seat on the Council. The civil war ended with both ninja rats and plague rats offering their services to the Council.

Human Offensives
Being consumed by massive civil war kept the Skaven from finishing off the dwarfs or seriously bothering any other peoples for quite a while. But that was then and this was now. The Skaven cobbled together a plan to take over the Empire and decided to let Pestilens show what they could do that didn’t involve killing Skaven. Pestilens unleased the Black Death on the Empire, a devastating plague that wiped out roughly half the population of the Empire. The utterly corrupt Emperor Boris Goldgather was also eliminated by an Eshin assassin. Leaderless, weak, and half dead, the Empire was swiftly invaded by the armies of the Skaven. A third of what was left of the people of the Empire were killed or enslaved within months. The Skaven preened and took a leisurely approach to besieging the remaining holdouts.

Two events conspired to ruin their plans. First, as they were expanding across the Empire, they came upon a border region near the mountains. Sylvania, they found, was extremely rich/cursed with warpstone deposits. This was relevant to their interests and they moved to occupy the land. The local aristocrats happened to be powerful necromancers and the Skaven were shocked and frustrated to be fighting yet more hordes of restless dead. Frustrated, they did what came naturally and sent huge hordes of Skaven to simply batter them aside. Both ended up utterly exhausted, but the Skaven did not take Sylvania.

The second event was the appearance of future childhood fairy tale hero Count Mandred of Middenheim. He’d managed to hole up in Middenheim and keep the plague out, his armies intact. In a devastating charge, her sallied out of the city and charged the rats that were besieging him. With the bulk of their forces sent to Sylvania, the remaining Skaven armies proved hollow and brittle, being run down by Mandred and his armored knights. He rallied other survivors and led successful campaigns to expel the Skaven from the Empire. He was crowned Emperor Mandred Skavenslayer and led the Empire in a time of rebuilding. Some years later, he was assassinated by an Eshin agent. Skaven will certainly hold a grudge.

Sometime later, the Skaven tried a similar plan in Bretonnia, plaguing them with smallpox. While initially successful, this was ultimately even less successful than before. Wood Elves and Bretonnian knights retaliated swiftly and drove the ratmen back underground to engage in the customary backbiting and recriminations.

Chaos Wars
Tangentially allied to Chaos, the ratmen will sometimes say they’ll help the Chaos hordes and beastmen. During the Great War Against Chaos, though, the Skaven provided only token support to Lord of the Everchosen of Chaos Asavar Kul in his fight against Kislev and Emperor Magnus the Pious. Centuries later, in the Storm of Chaos, they would turn out to be the only semi-Chaos faction that accomplished anything of note. While their warpstone bomb (the amusingly named DOOM HEMISPHERE) built beneath Middenheim failed to explode the entire city as they had hoped, it did create some damage. They were the only Chaos forces able to enter the city reliably, their armies won some minor victories, and it was a Skaven Assassin that claimed the life of Valten, Sigmar Reborn. Much more than Everchosen Archaon could claim, certainly.

The end of the Storm of Chaos brings us to the present day and the end of our history of the Skaven people. The last section of the chapter lists a timeline of events in Skaven history, putting the several different narrative arcs together and showing how they line up as well as including the big events in Warhammer history to show what was going on elsewhere at the time.

Final Thoughts
This is a pretty short chapter and relates a lot of events you will see repeated elsewhere in Warhammer lore. It does tell them from a more Skaven perspective. The timeline at the end also really helps to keep everything straight. For a DM, this may be useful for creating plot seeds. But for players this section is pretty skippable as well as light on artwork. You're not expected to know it in character and it doesn't really give information that would really help you. It mostly answers a bunch of questions about where the Skaven came from, how they get into everything, what they've been doing all these years, and how nearly everything they do tends to create a mess.

kommy5 fucked around with this message at 12:35 on Jul 1, 2017

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


marshmallow creep posted:

Actually, Night10194 and his friend whose username I forgot, I got some friends who are interested in trying Warhammer eventually and I am anxious about accidentally smashing their poo poo to absolute bits by not knowing how to use monsters correctly. Would you peg a guideline for what kind of and how many monsters a group of four would survive? At what point are the odds evened out against something like a strigoi? The slaughter margin in the books gives you an idea how a fairly basic soldier guy holds up against a threat, but what about people into their third career? What stuff could they stand toe to toe with without being eviscerated?

I'm the friend so I'll chime in with my own answer.

During the first Career, it's pretty easy to judge monsters and encounters. The Slaughter Margin is a decent approximation and there are a ton of low level foes that are equivalent to your Adventurers. Clanrats, skeletons, goblins, beastmen, Norse raiders, etc. all work pretty well as one-to-one matches for First Career PCs. Heck, most starting players can and will find ways to chew through these common foes with surprising ease.

It gets a little harder to judge as they get a lot of EXP and move into new Careers. Combat capability can start varying wildly depending on what paths your players take through the Career system and you start having to tailor your encounters more. And the more advanced monsters can have specific, nasty attributes to them. For example, ghosts and other such undead can only be hurt by magic. So you really don't want to surprise a party with a murderous Wraith that can't be hurt by your non-magic using party, even if they are normally extremely stabby. Other monsters might have nasty poisonous effects, Chaos corruption, or other effects. A lucky roll or mistakenly finding a monster that exploits a weakness in your party can happen. Fate will help cover yourself from doing a TPK by accident, but it can still frustrate players. You need to get a little experience in what your party can and can't do to use the really exotic stuff you can find in the beastiaries and splatbooks. Or you can make them something of a puzzleboss, such as making the Wraith vulnerable to being tricked. Or making the party search for some clue or magick weapon to deal with it.

There certainly are intermediate monsters and foes you can try out on them if you want them to face something more interesting than Goblin #482. Chaos Warriors are the prime example. They can make a good boss fight for a starting party and you can generally guage how killy they are by how easily they take these behemoths down. Generally, a PC that has finished their second combat Career will be more than a match for a Chaos Warrior one on one. There are other foes in a similar vein. And don't forget, you can also just upgrade normal foes a little to get something more interesting. Want a couple more elite foes? Take the normal foes, add some fancy equipment and a modest stat boost. With Skaven, give them halberds, heavy armor, and ten more points of Weapon Skill. Easy Stormvermin. Add heavy armor and great weapons to skeletons, add ten points of Strength and Toughness, and you have a low end Wight.

For vampires in particular, it's fairly easy. A randomly rolled, Old World Beastiary, or Vampire Thrall Career vampire is roughly equivalent to a Chaos Warrior. A serious opponent for a second tier combat career or a boss for a First Career party. A Vampire Count is a boss for a second Career party, but is probably a little too dangerous for most Third Career PCs to handle alone. Possible, though. If it's a very capable Vampire Count, it could also be a less intimidating boss for a Third Career party. Vampire Lords are boss fights for parties only and typically a capstone to a long campaign arc. Note that these are suggestions for facing the vampire alone. Most Counts and Lords will have plenty of undead minions and possibly lesser vampires and living servants. A lot of them can make more minions during combat, in fact.

So if you want a vampire foe that can equal but not surpass your Third Career party, I'd try a Vampire Count with some suitable minions. A Strigoi Vampire Count can hit like a train once you find him and some Ghouls give you options for helping to keep the fight interesting. And remember to give your players the ability to discover it's weaknesses as they track it down.

I wouldn't recommend starting a party at their third Career, though. If I wanted to do an advanced start, I'd have the party start at the beginning of their second Career. That's when the options really start to open up and prevents most arguments over buying +10s to skills or if a player would get to take all the options from previous Careers rather than just the minimum.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Night10194 posted:

Basically, people who play Warhammer Fantasy really don't like how all the other 'evil' sides are expected to line up and help push Chaos over the finish line every time.

I mean, gently caress, after setting up all that cool fluff about how the physical-oriented Undead and the transcendentalist followers of Chaos are fundamentally philosophically opposed and hate each other the End Times was like one long parade of 'And then X vampire or necromancer was all about how awesome Chaos is and how much cooler it is than necromancy now!'

As one who played Warham Fantasy Battle, I can attest to this. Greenskin, Skaven, Dark Elves, and the various undead players tend to resent being forced into the role of Chaos' lackey. Especially as these other factions are the ones that tend to actually be effective and accomplish things while also have ample lore reasons on why they'd not actually help Chaos.

And so it resulted in things like Archaon, Lord of the End Times, Everchosen of Chaos, failing to kill the champion of the Empire because he gets coldcocked by Interrupting Orc and his kill gets stolen by a Skaven assassin.

Chaos is the writer's pet, but it also tends to have a very dumb writer most of the time. Even people who played Chaos got sick of it some times. Especially as the gameplay didn't back up the overblown reputation GW built for Chaos.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Hello, everyone. I spent the last few weeks experiencing the delight of moving homes in near-tropical conditions followed by a week without internet connection due to new account troubles. But now I’m back and have sweet, sweet internet again. Lets continue on with Children of the Horned Rat. We are on to chapter 3, Skaven Society. This chapter covers Skaven behavior, including language, religion, customs, and governance. I’m gonna be breaking this up into smaller bits, starting with the basics of typical Skaven behavior.



WFRP: Children of the Horned Rat

Skaven Temperament

The first and only rule for an individual Skaven is to look out for Number One. A Skaven cares for himself first, last, and always. Life, individual freedom, and higher ideals have little place in Skaven society. Quoted on the first page is a retelling of the common tale of two Skaven brothers in the woods and are attacked by a minotaur. They both flee, naturally. One says they don’t think they can outrun the monster. The other Skaven states he doesn’t need to outrun the minotaur, just the other Skaven. And then trips up his brother.

This selfishness often translates to cowardice. But it can also lead to manic courage. Any Skaven, when cornered, will eagerly fight to the last with a bloodthirsty fury few would expect. And when in large numbers and properly motivated (typically threats), they can fight with the same zeal on the battlefield.

When the situation is less dire, Skaven feel all their fellow Skaven are potential rivals. Leaders are envied for their power while the leaders see upstarts in all their underlings. This paranoia is just as likely to be completely made up as it is to be based in reality. To a Skaven, no motive can ever be truly pure and meaning can be read into the actions of any of their fellows, building up suspicion reminiscent of modern office politics that have been flavored by stabbing and cannibalism.

This leads to one of the more infamous of Skaven character traits, the blame game. No Skaven can ever publicly accept culpability for anything that has gone wrong as that would invite punishment from superiors and backstabbing from rivals. The shifting of blame tends to be a popular spectator sport, with the actual merits of the case having no bearing on the feelings of the accused, the Skaven blame is trying to be heaped upon instead, or the superior that is to judge the matter. It’s all up to how a Skaven can spin it and fan the flames of suspicion in the desired direction. This has become such a huge part of Skaven culture that most Skaven honestly believe in their own spin and that all failures must be due to someone else.

A Skaven that can’t shift blame won’t last long. One that can will gain that most precious of commodities, status and authority in the Skaven hierarchy and the ability to claim even more credit, abuse more underlings, and accrue more food and other comforts. But more power and more status leads to ever more numbers of powerful and ambitious underlings. Skaven never know peace. All they value, their lives and their status, can vanish in an instant from any number of sources. And they don’t care about any other Skaven’s life or status.

I’ve attached below an audio-visual aide for understanding Skaven psychology and how it interacts when it is multiple Skaven working together. You’ll need to make some word substitutions. Replace ‘mouse’ with ‘Skaven’, replace ‘cheese’ with ‘warpstone’, replace ‘shaman’ with ‘Grey Seer’, and replace ‘anvil’ with ‘rat.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJReZRji7tg

As a result of the above, the most important enemy to a Skaven is, of course, other Skaven. They have to deal with them the most, they are probably actively trying to undermine each other, and of course there is the belief that as the destined master race of the world, of course Skaven enemies are by far the most important enemies. They of course regard all other races as their enemies, but Skaven are the most important. In regards to other species, Skaven consider these their foes in descending order of importance:

Elves: Skaven do not like elves and have consistently failed in their attempts to establish warrens beneath their lands via a combination of geography, elven magick and martial prowess, and a lack of appetite among the Skaven to really work at it. The Skaven tend to put elves in ‘handle later’ pile. A skaven’s natural advantage of hyperactive speed and senses is modestly surpassed by the elves and they tend to have their stuff together, too, so it’s not a matchup they enjoy.

Humans: Being numerous, spread across the world, and fairly well organized (and less prone to exploding into civil war), humans are the top priority for Skaven warlords and grey seers. While quite powerful, humans are also easy to corrupt with treasures and intrigue, not to mention how easy the ‘Skaven Do Not Exist’ doctrine makes it for Skaven to operate and conceal their plans. Still, human nations are the thing Skaven are most cautious in dealing with and prefer to hide from until they are ready to strike. Undead humans also fall into this category.

Dwarfs: Skaven tend to dismiss dwarfs as a problem they’ve already solved. While dangerous in person, Skaven Warlords regard dwarfs as a whole as a non-threat to their plans and that they have secured their Under Empire from any peer competitors.

Halflings: Absolutely useless and forgettable. Not even that good for eating.

Everything Else: Skaven are happy to forge one-sided alliances with greenskins and Chaos, promptly breaking any deals when they feel like it. Greenskins in particular make excellent pawns to Skaven leaders. Other races are seen as potential tools to exploit.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Just looking at the character art for that Fetish Foursome makes me cringe in AAH. And then there are the names. I started banging my head on my desk when I skimmed through their actual descriptions. I have this frequent urge when reading these riffs to smack the author(s) and shout "NO! Bad! You are not good enough to attempt this!" I mean, seriously. They should've stopped at those names and faces, realized they were beginning a long and graceful arc of fiery destruction into the ground, then gone back to the drawing board to redo everything from scratch.

But I suppose that's a common refrain here.

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Just how scary is a blood dragon lord/grail knight? What power level are we talking about here?

The Grail Knight/Blood Dragon mix is... slightly nebulous in legality, but not outright illegal. The Lady specifically chooses Grail Knights and won't fall for any tricks. But it doesn't specifically preclude someone who is already a Grail Knight becoming a vampire. The bigger mechanical hurdle is that going all the way through Grail Knight is a minimum of four whole Careers, followed by three whole Careers to become a Vampire Lord. And these aren't short Careers, either. You're talking many thousands of EXP. Haven't done that math, but it's probably along the lines of 20000+ EXP.

That said, should such a being exist, it would be an ender of armies. Blood Dragon Blood Gifts and the Bret Knightly Virtues can both be immensely powerful. Together, there are undoubtedly some absolutely horrendous combinations. My first impulse would be to try combining the charge bonus abilities or the debuffing enemy bonuses. And this is on top of a statline that is superhuman twice over. Taking the Grail Knight Career, the stat boosting Talents you'll get, and the stat bonuses for being a vampire, you'll end up being something like +55 WS, +45 Str, +50 Tou, +45 Agi, +15 Wounds on top of whatever the base rolled stats were with 5 Attacks and 6 Movement.

If you somehow had max stat rolls there, you'd be hanging around in Greater Demon of Khorne territory. A PC party's only hope would be to hope it has a crippling vampire weakness, find out what it is, and desperately exploit it.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Inescapable Duck posted:

Surprised that the Skaven writeup last page didn't mention their utterly brutal blood feud with the Lizardmen.

Due to space, time, lack of ideas, or a conscious decision to keep WFRP focused on the Old World, the WFRP writers never bother with Lizardmen. They're mentioned off-hand where they need to be when talking about the larger canon, but Lizardmen simply aren't considered relevant due to simply not appearing in the places WFRP was intended to be set.

For example, that one-off line I mentioned about the history of Clan Pestilens fighting lizard people while in Lustria? That's pretty much the only mention of Lizardmen in all of CotHR. And that might be the entire mention of Lizardmen in the entire line of WFRP books other than obligatory bits in timelines that were copy/pasted from the wargame books.

To be fair, going into a long and epic history of fighting a race of people you have absolutely no intention of writing a book for or giving mechanical stats for would be kind of a dick move. And if they wanted to, they could've detailed this war when they wrote a Lizardman/Lustria book should they had gotten around to writing one. Remember, this game and line of books was sold off before it was ever truly finished and there are a lot of big, gaping holes in the splatbook line. There's no book about any elves at all. Or dwarves or greenskins. Let alone the Lizardmen.

kommy5 fucked around with this message at 11:52 on Aug 5, 2017

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Night10194 posted:

Basically the bad guys in fantasy gotta step up their game because they're up against pissed off landschneckts with fabulous hats, Literally The Hero of An Arthurian Romance, biological robots created by a starfaring race ages ago, Okay Elves Aren't Anything Special And That's The Joke, and good dorfs.

Not just the quality of the good guys, but Chaos actually has competition in Fantasy in terms of villainy. I mean, Nagash makes an extremely credible world threatening Big Bad and his vampiric creations also have the benefit of being full of character and interesting to engage with. Skaven actually make plans and have an industrial base in addition to being the whacky villain of the setting. Malekith and his Dark Elves compete with Chaos in terms of who can wear the most black spikes and write edgy stuff in blood. And orcs are gonna orc.

In 40k, there are still Orks and Dark Eldar and Tyranids. But they aren't generally allowed to have their own setting defining storylines and tend to be weaker in terms of characterization.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


I feel the need to expand slightly on Night's Tome of Corruption review.

I am a sucker for big randomized tables and I think it'd be helpful to see ToC's giant mutation table in action. Seriously, this is a very large fraction of the book and while there aren't 1000 different mutations, I think there are a couple hundred. A fair number of them also include sub-tables to roll on to determine details of the mutation. Lets roll a few mutations and see what they'd do to a hypothetical character. It'll be fun!

Roll: 256
Mutation: Crown of Flesh
You gain a ring of fleshy protrusions around your head. Roll on a sub-table to determine the type of protrusions.
Roll: 1
End Result: The character has a crown of ears ringing the top of his head.
Mechanical effect: Just looks freaky.

Roll: 607
Mutation: Midnight Skin
End Result: The character's skin turns completely black, as if absorbing light. They eyes turn completely white, losing pupils and irises.
Mechanical Effect: +20 to all Concealment tests.

Roll: 838
Mutation: Temporal Instability
End Result: The character is only loosely connected to time. Roll a d10. 1-7, he is uncontrollably unstable. 8-10, it is somewhat controllable. The character disappears and reappears somewhat randomly as they slip in and out of time, leading to an average of 2.5 hours of every day not being existing. The character gains 1d10/2 Insanity Points when this first happens to him. Our example rolls Uncontrollable and gains 1 IP. In every combat round, on the character's turn, they roll a d10. If it rolls a 10, they vanish from reality for 1d10 rounds. Controllable instability means they can choose to adjust this number by 1. In addition, this vanishing can attract demons. Roll each month. They have a 1% chance of attracting a demon's attention while outside normal time and will never reappear after his next vanishing.


Summation, our mutant is as black as the darkest void and good at hiding, has a crown of ears around the top of his head, and has a 10% chance of vanishing in every combat round for 1d10 rounds. This could be the entire combat if he's in a party. Oh, and might die instantly with no save every month. It's a tough life, being a mutant. You need a GM fudging rolls, the Talents made to make mutating less of a crapshoot, or devote yourself to a Dark God. Each has their own mutation table and they're more focused and a bit less likely to do something horrific to you.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


It’s time for another portion of:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Children of the Horned Rat

This time we’ll be going into Skaven culture. We’ve already covered the basics of their impulses and behavior, but we need to go into the more ‘refined’ parts of their culture. We’ll also be touching on their government and the clan structure they’re organized into.

The Skaven language is called Queekish. It’s a sharp, chittering tongue, shaped by the people that speak it. Skaven speak very rapidly, generally speaking in hurriedly spat out sentence fragments as they try to speak as fast they think. In addition, they will repeat words for emphasis and join words together, using compound words for more advanced concepts. Non-skaven are always referred to as ‘things.’ This leads to charming lines such as “Die-die, dwarf-thing!” and “Dead-things! Hide-cower!” Skaven are quite capable linguists and can learn other languages readily, though their habits of repetition and fast talking color their language.

Queekish has a written form, consisting of several thousand rune-esque pictograms. Most Skaven know a few of the most common pictograms, often used for signs and clan affiliation. True literacy is rarer. The pictograms are typically carved into wax or clay with a stylus or sharpened claw, though ink and paper has become much more popular amongst Skaven scholars, such as Grey Seers, Master Moulders, and Warlock Engineers.

But language isn’t the only way Skaven communicate. They have a well-developed sense of smell and can use musks to communicate their emotional states. While typically involuntary, most Skaven learn to control showing their emotions this way to some extent. Both convey the emotions they wish to convey and to conceal their true feelings. To other peoples, the Skaven just stink of urine and dampness. The most common of these are the Musk of Battle, which can rouse a Skaven population into fighting spirit, and the Musk of Fear, which a Skaven excretes to indicate fear and that things have gone horribly wrong and that this would be an excellent time to flee in terror. Which other Skaven are often keen to do. The Musk of Fear is the most common musk excreted, leading to many a rout of clanrats and others, frustrating many a warlord’s plan.

Oddly, now the book off onto a slight tangent to discuss drugs and warpstone. Recreational drug use is pretty common to Skaven life, it being one of the few pleasures they can get routinely. While some have actual medical or performance enhancing uses, most tend to be euphoria inducing narcotics of one type or another. Some of these drugs include warpstone mixed in, which vastly increases their potency while also vastly increasing their price. Also, long-term use of warpstone drugs can induce mutations in skaven. Other Skaven view these kinds of mutations with a mixture of awe and contempt, for only the most powerful rungs of Skaven society can afford to get blitzed so hard they mutate. We'll be going into warpstone and its gameplay effects a little later, but Skaven can and will use it in almost anything, from drugs to machinery to forging steel. They want warpstone more than anything.

The next section is a charming list of common skaven customs one can see them engaging in routinely.
  • Flattery: Every Skaven expects respect from their minions and every minion soon learns that flattering their boss makes their life easier. Such flattery is typically verbal and the more flowery and creative the praise a rat can deliver to his superiors, the better that rat’s future looks. Some Skaven clans elevate this to an art form with onlookers judging the flattering minion’s ability. Clan Skryre is particularly fond of this. As a side note, you also get bonus points for insulting your boss in ways he doesn’t understand wrapped in flowery rhetoric. This is a dangerous game for obvious reasons.

  • Infanticide: When a conquering warlord overwhelms an enemy clan, it is customary to slaughter any juvenile skaven still within the warrens. These juveniles are then served up as a celebratory dinner of sorts. This is viewed as crushing the future of the defeated clan, as the defeated males will typically not be allowed access to females.

  • Marking: Skaven like to make their possessions smell like they do, so they apply the scents they produce in their urine to what they own to designate it as theirs. This is also sometimes done to one’s minions. In a slightly less disturbing use, skaven will also sometimes use this to mark paths for themselves while traveling.

  • Nose Elevation: A Skaven must indicate their dominance or submission when interacting with others and this is often done via nose elevation. A Skaven should keep their nose lower than their superiors, but higher than their underlings. This can get very odd looking when there is a large group of skaven of differing ranks, as they continuously bob their heads up and down as they address each other, trying to move their nose to the appropriate position to every other Skaven that happens by.

  • Superstition: The skaven have a variety of odd beliefs that have cropped up over the years that don’t entirely make sense. They have a severe dislike of cats and birds and music played on pipes. They also tend to consider the number 3 and 13 to be lucky and quite like bats in addition to rats.

  • Teeth Grinding: Skaven will sometimes grind their teeth together, called bruxing, which creates a grating noise. This is usually a kind of hygiene for them as Skaven teeth grow continuously and thus need to be ground down either by chewing on things, by using files they make for themselves, or by bruxing. However, it’s often a sign of nervousness as well.

  • Verbal Abuse of Minions: The inverse of flattery is that every rat should make sure their flunkies know their proper place. Chastisement and mild verbal abuse of those beneath you is common and failing to do so might make people think you consider them your equals!
Our final note on Skaven culture and customs concerns the Great Horned Rat. The Horned Rat is the god of the Skaven and he is most definitely a jealous god, allowing the worship of no other gods besides himself among the ratmen. The Skaven are intensely monotheistic and the Horned Rat seems to answer their prayers often enough to convince them that he’s real. He’s probably some distant relation to the Chaos Gods, but it’s kinda left up in the air. All Skaven are expected to attend the regular worship services. These services often include blood sacrifices, typically of whatever slaves are handy. Skaven who regularly don’t attend are charged with heresy or atheism and are often made examples of by the Grey Seers.

Ah, yes. The Grey Seers. The Order of the Grey Seers is the official priestly class of skavendom. They are not only ordained, but are actually something of a subspecies of Skaven. Every newborn skaven born with light fur and the nubs of beginning horns is whisked away by the Order to be raised and taught by their own kind, for they have been marked by the Horned Rat and carry great natural affinity for magic. Not many survive, as their fellow students and new teachers are as ruthless and treacherous as any other Skaven.

The Grey Seers are more than happy to use their prominent place in Skaven culture to further their own ends and power, happy to throw out charges of heresy against those that displease them and frying messengers that bring bad news with warp lightning. Of course, they see themselves as bringing unity and the word of their god to the children of the Horned Rat. But they are happy to compete and intrigue against each other and using other skaven as pawns against one another. This is not a one way street, though. Many Warlords try their hands at manipulating the Grey Seers in return. And more than one troublesome priest has met a poisoned dagger in the dark. Most Grey Seers that survive into being a full priest have learned the art of discretion and know how far they can push their luck while still mustering the authority of their position.

One plot point simmering in the background in Skaven culture is the religious strife between the Grey Seers and Clan Pestilens, both claiming to be the true voice of the Horned Rat. They hate each other intensely and see each other as a grave and continuous threat. They are both right, of course. These religious differences aren't exactly spelled out in one place in the book so this is a good place to bring it up. Grey Seers are the "mainstream" version of the Horned Rat, focusing on a wide variety of precepts and sorcery. These include Skaven domination, intrigue, planning, backstabbing, decay, and undermining their foes. The Grey Seers will lead their people in the Great Ascendancy as they claim the world the Horned Rat has given them.

Clan Pestilens is much more focused. They also claim to speak for the Horned Rat and that the Horned Rat says "PLAGUE EVERYTHING". They are fanatical rather than discrete, they use their own bodies as harbors of infection, and are quite happy to die for the cause. Also, the leader of Clan Pestilens is named Nurglitch. Most other Skaven see them as more than a little insane, but are no keener on dying of plague than anyone else. The Grey Seers see them as dangerous heretics seeking to corrupt the true faith with this constant plague thing and are pretty sure they are worshipping something that isn't the Horned Rat. Politics and a desire to not have to deal with yet another giant civil war keep both sides from trying to settle their differences.

Next: The Council and the Clans

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Green Intern posted:

Pregnancy RAW forces your character to want to have the kid? Homophobia isn't something to grow out of? This game's coverage of Mature Issues feels vaguely conservative Christian.

Yeah, the fruit of wanting to make mechanics for everything and not thinking things through when actually making them. Maybe they wanted to avoid making abortion rules. I’m thankful we’re not getting those, too.

Also, I’m getting the decided impression that eyeball eating is going to be a thing. How bad is will it be?

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


"The Gap" sounds to me less like a plot hook to a mysterious history and invitation to self reflection on where you came from as a people and society and more like Paizo not wanting to bother to explain how their stagnant and forgettable fantasy setting managed to launch their collective rear ends into space or what became of the planet itself. Yay for laziness and worldbuilding!

The rest of the writing after that seems to double down on the laziness. From the standard time and calender, to the standard history of new aliens shuffling in and banding together against the new new aliens, to the utter lack of any large or interesting shakeups in melding magic and technology, and ending with a description of culture that seems to have been a contest between writers on who can make up the most proper nouns and stick them together into a grammatically correct paragraph.

Also, the reference to 'eyebiting' makes me think of Kidworld, so -15 points for that, Paizo.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Those Starfinger character illustrations... Did the Paizo artists just file off the skulls and copyright infringements from their GW fanart? Just, wow is that pretty blatant. I actually feel a little sorry for GW for once.

Speaking of fanart, GW, and homebrews, I think the closest I've made to a homebrew was advancing the Warhammer fantasy timeline a few hundred years to run games in the Bretonnian Revolution, where peasants and would be tyrants take up arms against their knightly oppressors and their sinister wood elven allies, with fights between dashing musketeers and magical Arthurian knights in a brightly colorful take on Napoleonic war.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


It’s time for another section of WFRP: Children of the Horned Rat

This is the final portion of Chapter 3, focusing on Skaven government and the Clans, detailing how the larger Skaven society works or fails to work.

The first thing to note about Skaven society is that it is divided into Clans. To a Skaven, their clan is their primary source of social identity and the ruler of their clan is their boss, no questions asked. The only way for clans to “unite” is via one clan conquering and enslaving another. New clans are sometimes formed by dissidents fleeing their home clan or scattered refugees trying to rebuild in new clans wherever they can find a place to do so. Clans essentially act as small nations and tend to develop specializations to eke out survival and to have something they can bribe or threaten other clans with. There will be rules about making clans later.

Clans vary wildly in power, wealth, numbers, and prestige. At the top of this list are what are known as the four Great Clans. Clans Skryre, Eshin, Moulder, and Pestilens are head and shoulders above all other clans in terms of power and their influence is frequent seen in other clans. They can and sometimes do utterly demolish lesser clans, but usually tend to stand above the fray of the lesser clans scheming and competing amongst one another. They’re focused on bigger prizes. All other clans are colloquially known as Warlord Clans.

These component pieces of Skaven society are brought together and nominally ruled over by the Council of Thirteen. The Council debates the great plots by the Skaven to corrupt and attempt to take over the world, coming up with the plans and orders to bring about the prophesied Great Ascendancy. The Council consists of 12 Skaven. Each of the Great Clans has one seat, the head of the Order of Grey Seers known as the Seerlord has one seat, and 7 seats are held by the seven most powerful of the Warlord Clans. Individually, these Skaven are called Lords of Decay and make up the mightiest of their kind. Together, they set policy for Skavendom as a whole and vote on policy proposals, each member having one vote. There is one last seat, the thirteenth, which is held by the Horned Rat himself. This seat is left open and none dare to sit. However, in the case of a tie amongst the other Lords of Decay, the Horned Rat breaks the tie. This is done by consulting the Seerlord and asking him what their god’s opinion on the matter is. Shockingly, the Horned Rat has yet to vote against the Seerlord.

There are a number of rules for how a clan might gain a seat on the Council. Typically, seats change hands by one clan destroying the clan that holds one of the seats on the Council. It goes to the conqueror as spoils of war. Rarely, an ambitious Warlord will challenge one of the Lords of Decay to a duel to the death for the seat. A daunting prospect, considering the cowardice of many Skaven and the ability of a powerful Council Clan to pull out all the stops to prop up their lord. Not to mention any Lord of Decay is a born survivor, having weathered many wars and assassination attempts. The third and most unusual way to gain a seat on the Council is to fill a vacant seat. Sometimes, plague, disaster, or destruction by non-Skaven will destroy a Council member. Any other clan may apply for the open position and the remaining Council members draw straws to determine who wins it. They assure everyone this method is entirely fair and never tampered with.

Now we will go over briefly each of the clans that holds a seat on the Council and who are the movers and shakers of Skaven society. We start with Clan Eshin. As noted before, Eshin vanished off into the east early in Skaven history, having returned with mastery of martial arts and ninja training that they picked up in the far east of Warhammer. They supply commandos and spies for the Council and sell these services to other clans for the right price. They also train their famed assassins, who have accumulated an impressive tally to their name, including a few actual tabletop special characters. Shockingly to other powerful Skaven clans, Eshin don’t give out false information, don’t betray clients, and as far as anyone can tell serve the Council’s plans loyally. Centuries of this have brought them into being the Council’s secret police. They keep the lesser clans in line through fear and never knowing when an Assassin will be sent in to correct a wayward Warlord.

Clan Moulder is the skaven clan of mad biologists. They create monsters big and small through the application of mutating warpstone tonics, radical surgery, and the occasional application of lightning and whips. They’re the richest Skaven clan by the commonplace selling and leasing of their warbeasts to any and all other clans in addition to the Council’s plans. From hordes of giant rats to burly rat ogres to the absolutely enormous and terrifying Hellpit Abominations, they have a monster for every situation and for every budget. Which the Master Moulders will gleefully advertise to potential customers. The Master Moulders themselves are not… typical Skaven due to their long and gleeful use of their mutating agents and rare bout of self-experimentation. This work though has resulted in another service that other Skaven will pay good money for: Clan Moulder supplies the best medical treatment available and can keep a Skaven living for many centuries.

Clan Pestilens is part skaven clan, part religious movement, part biological warfare lab. They are utterly devoted to the idea of the Horned Rat being a god of plague and disease and believe that the Skaven haven’t taken over the world yet due to the Grey Seers. However, as their last civil wars didn’t go well, they’ve settled into the position of playing along with the Council and Grey Seers. For now. In the meantime, they will bring the Good News to their fellow skaven, always trying to convert them to their faith without annoying the Grey Seers too much. When working with the Council’s plans, they supply horrific lethal and debilitating plagues to decimate their enemies, followed up by the insanely fervent and violent Plague Monks as shock troops to run over any remaining feeble opposition. They will also, with goading and annoyed sighs, cure plagues.

The final Great Clan is Clan Skryre, the machinists and physicists of Skavendom. They build and ‘maintain’ the Skaven arsenal of high tech weaponry, including their poison gas weapons, rifles, machine guns, lightning cannons, flamethrowers, giant robots, and enormous warpstone powered hamster wheels. The Warlock Engineers are also capable mages, though they do so via creating magitek devices that allow them to see the Winds of Magick and use their machinery to cast spells. Skryre engineers absolutely love their work and absolutely love being on the cutting edge of science. When combined with the lackadaisical Skaven attitude towards the safety of underlings and passerby, this tends to result in a fair number of explosions and machines that don’t always work as advertised. They consider this to be the price of progress. Skryre put these weapons at the Council’s disposal, as well as sell them to other Skaven. In addition, Skryre also have built electrical power grids in some Skaven settlements, warpstone powered train routes, and magitek communication devices they call Farsqueakers. While they don’t have the sheer volume of wealth that Moulder has, Skryre has the greatest accumulation of power in Skavendom and are considered the greatest of the Great Clans.

The greatest of the Warlord Clans is Clan Mors. Considered by many to almost be a Great Clan itself, it has not yet quite reached that status. It holds strategic positions and cities and possesses a formidable army of clanrats and stormvermin. However, what may be unique about it may be its key to Great Clan status. Clan Mors chieftains are loyal to their superiors and collaborate with one another to pull off previously unthinkable battle tactics. They will actively recruit the most talented Skaven of clans they defeat, train them, and give them a path to leadership. They will use any battle tactic, from poisoning to skaven wave assaults to infiltration by elite teams of Stormvermin. Clan Mors is frighteningly good at getting Skaven to work together and be adaptable and it unnerves many Skaven how happy Clan Mors skaven can be and how often they will praise Warlord Gnawdwell and his lieutenants.

The other Warlord clans are discussed in less detail, consisting of just a schtick and many handle the under Empire’s logistics. Clan Flem is another clan of plague using rats, but without the religious trappings of Pestilens. They are more dispassionate about plague. Clan Skab are known for breeding the best and most Stormvermin. Clan Skaar is a clan of miners, excelling at tunneling and digging up the precious warpstone that all Skaven want. Clan Sleekit handles the Council’s naval plans and control the underground waterways that link much of the Under Empire together. Clan Verms is really good with bugs. And no one really knows what Clan Skaul does, but they love their drugs. And also tend to birth an unusual number of Grey Seer candidates.

And there, we are finally done with Chapter 3 after all this time. I kinda like the various lesser clans and kinda wish some had a little more written about them. You might get some good hooks by running into one of these lesser known clans.

Next: Skaven Settlements, going down the rat hole

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


White Coke posted:

Did he ever manage to become Seerlord?

No. In WFRP's timeline, he basically keeps running around, doing his own thing. He finally, after over 20 years, captures Gotrek and Felix, introduces himself, and gloats how he'll finally have his revenge on the paid of adventurers for foiling so many of his schemes, and their reply sends him into an epic rage:

"Thanquol..? Who is that?"

In the End Times/Age of Pauldron timeline, Thanquol gets fed to Archaon to make Archaon sound more dangerous. I think it might even have happened off-screen.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


I'd prefer to call my Space China Empire the "Mandate of Heaven." It sounds too obvious, but apparently everyone else has a jade fixation.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Time for another entry in Children of the Horned Rat

Chapter 4 is about the Under Empire and how the Skaven inhabit it. This chapter will be covered fairly swiftly in comparison to chapter 3. This is because a good portion of this chapter is lists. We’ll be getting through all this fairly quickly.

First, we talk about the Skaven Under Empire in general. The Skaven are not naturally inclined to travel under open skies, preferring roofs over their heads and relative darkness. They are also surprisingly industrious when they wish to be and have spent the last couple millennia tunneling extensively beneath the Old World. These tunnels and caverns, combined with natural cavern formations, underground rivers, and captured Dwarfen earthworks, have led to an enormous underground empire that is massive in scale and covers nearly the entirety of the Old World. Skaven settlements often tend to mirror the geography on the surface and for similar reasons. Skaven need fresh water, food, natural resources, and other such things just as much as any man or dwarf. This leads to nearly every human city having at least some manner of Skaven presence underneath it as the Skaven avail themselves of the surface city’s resources and discretely help themselves to the surface’s inhabitants. Human and dwarf tunnels and sewers are quickly incorporated into Skaven planning as they typically tap into it at discrete places to make use of it.

The climate in the tunnels and towns of the Skaven tends to be slightly humid, but fairly mild. The Skaven have roughly the same tolerance for climate as humans do and build their tunnels and cities in places that suit them. Typically, Skaven will travel from place to place through the tunnels via walking or marching. Due to their vast appetites and typical inclination to laziness, an individual Skaven does not typically go very far without good reason. Armies or work teams have good reason and with the proper application of whips and threats can move through these tunnels to their appointed tasks with surprising speed. In some routes, the typical walking trails have been replaced with a Clan Skryre built warprail route, where warpstone powered engines haul massive loads of skaven, slaves, raw materials, or manufactured goods at shocking speeds across the Old World. Of course, these will occasionally explode, leading to a massive loss of life as this inevitably causes the tunnel to collapse. Clan Skryre, not willing to shoulder that level of loss routinely keeps working to perfect the technology.

Skaven settlements are sorted into four categories. The largest are the great cities, holding potentially hundreds of thousands of Skaven from multiple clans. These nexuses of trade and industry supply much of Skavendom with manufactured goods and wealth and are the typical place where leaders from different clans will come together to hash out trade deals, collaborate on plots, or backstab one another. The smaller ones are called warrens, holding typically several thousand Skaven. These tend to be dominated by a single clan and are the heart of many a smaller Warlord Clan. These can get by comfortably with a modicum of trade to supply what goods and services they can’t get themselves. The smallest Skaven settlements are called nests. These hold several hundred Skaven and are typically closely associated with a nearby Skaven warren and tend to supply them with food, Skaven, or slaves in return for protection and goods. Last are Skaven strongholds. Not quite a warren or city, these places are heavily fortified Skaven citadels that sit upon strategic locations, used to lock down the surrounding portion of the Under Empire. They tend to be the capitals of clans and if the stronghold is not accompanied by a city or warren, it’ll be surrounded by a number of Nests that keep it supplied.

While the Skaven are good tunnellers, miners, and have some ability at engineering and management, they do not really care to put a lot of forethought into things when they think they can get away with it. This means that the buildings within any Skaven settlement tend to be extremely slapdash. Fires and collapses are common. With short lifespans and no huge incentive for planning for future generations, Skaven settlements are a shambles. What skill and durability that exists occurs when a human or dwarf slave craftsman goes and builds it in out of long habit or pride. Skaven aesthetics tend to rounded and curling tnnels and not many sharp edges. Doors are uncommon with entrances often left open save for important tunnels. With a lack of weather or sun, windows are nearly unheard of. The exception to this slovenliness are the temples to the Horned Rat, for which no expense is spared. These are typically built as thirteen story tall towers, topped with a great bell. Within these the Grey Seers and their servants create their own plans and hold their unholy rituals. Beneath the temple is a sacred labyrinth, filled with deadly traps and tricks. These labyrinths are often used as an initiation rite for Apprentice Grey Seers as well as a way to dispose of prisoners in a way that amuses the Seers.

Next we come to the first of the lists. This is a list of notable Skaven settlements. Each is given a name, location, population number, notable industries, what clans are predominant there, a description, and an adventure hook. I’ll type up the entirety of one of these as an example.

quote:

The City of Pillars

Location: Within the ruins of Karak Eight-Peaks in the southern Worlds Edge Mountains.
Population: 95000
Industries of Note: Clan mors mines the rich warpstone veins surrounding the City of Pillars. Using the proceeds to expand its military might. The clan also trains mercenary troops, which it offers to other clans at competitive prices.
Major Clan Affiliations: Mors

The City of Pillars is an impressive metropolis currently held by the Skaven of Clan Mors. In centuries past, the City of Pillars was the dwarf stronghold of Karak Eight-Peaks. The Dwarfs who lived and worked there were assaulted by both the Ratmen and Greenskin races, causing them to retreat from their fallen citadel. In the years since, the City of Pillars has changed hands from Clan to Clan. Clan Mors now occupies the city, which is known for its massive subterranean vaults with their expertly crafted pillars.

Adventure Hook: Clan Mors, in conjunction with a rogue Warlock Engineer, is working on a secret weapon. None are certain what Mors plans to use the weapon for, but Clan Skryre is desperate to gather more information. If possible, Skryre would also like to see the weapon stolen, or at least destroyed, along with the traitorous Warlock Engineer.

These is pretty representative. It tries to give you a basic, workable outline for a Skaven city, a little history, and the adventure hook that might draw in a normal Adventurer party or a Skaven party. The basic idea of ‘get into a Skaven city and do something about the superweapon and its designer’ works well enough as a starting point. And getting goodies from Clan Skryre to help you can also be fun.

The next portion goes over in detail of an example Skaven settlement called Under-Delberz, complete with map. This portion is… a little weak. Because it’s so painfully generic I can’t really imagine it being used. It’s a Skaven settlement beneath a random Imperial town called Delberz and it has no specific reason for Skaven or Adventurers to visit. It lists and describes places like the Breeding Pits, Master-Leader Nests, the main square called the Big Squeak, the Skaven equivalent of an inn, etc. It’s interesting in that it gives you some flavor you might translate to other places, but it is forgettable on its own.

Next, we get our first taste of actual mechanics in this book. First are the rules for Skaven Warbands. To create a Skaven army to threaten whatever town or fortress you want your PCs to defend, roll 1d10 times on a d100 table to create an army for them to try to foil. Alternately, roll on the d100 table once to make a random Skaven encounter for your party. Lets roll up a terrible army of Goonratten. Our d10 roll is 6. So 6 rolls on the table.

Clan Mors Sneaks: 1 Skaven Thief
Clan Eshin Assassination Team: 1 Assassin, 2 Gutter Runners, 3 Night Runners
Clan Pestilens Plague Priest and Entourage: 1 Plague Priest, 2 Plague Deacons, 2 Censor Bearers, 1 Plague Monk
Clan Eshin Scouts: 2 Gutter Runners, 3 Night Runners
Clan Moulder Heavy Assault Team: 2 Packmasters, 4 Rat Ogres, 1 Giant Rat
Clan Mors Sneaks: 7 Skaven Thieves

EDIT: In case you were wondering what these names actually mean in terms of stats and abilities that these things have, it's actually a little complicated. The first level, mook enemies have complete statblocks and everything... But they're in a separate book, the Old World Beastiary. Same for Rat Ogres. The higher level enemies like the Gutter Runners and Assassins? You have to make them out of the Skaven creation rules further on in the book. You can also create the low level enemies using those same rules. But that's a fair bit of effort to put together clanrats and Plague Monks.

Well, the rolls really liked given terrifying characters and monsters for the party to face, with extremely few normal mooks, with a fairly heavy focus on sneaky rats. Facing four rat ogres or an assassin and friends is a daunting fight, but probably doable for a party well into its second Career. Just… really don’t throw all this at a party at once. In general, the table is really swingy and not often suitable for throwing at a first Career party, so I wouldn’t recommend using it as is. Just pick one of the table entries that looks appropriate to your party and situation.

Next, we have rules to make your very own custom Skaven clan. Either pick from the tables or roll to create a custom Skaven Clan for your PCs to face or for your Skaven party to be from. It’s pretty fast to do. You roll to determine the size of the clan, then its influence, then the settlements it holds, and then what special trait that sets this clan apart. There are modifiers so that large clans tend to be more influential and hold more ground. Let’s quickly rolls up Clan Goonratten.

Clan Goonratten
Size: 900,000 Skaven
Influence: Low. It’s seen as a target of opportunity to rival clans with rivals plotting against it.
Settlements: None. Clan Goonratten holds no permanent settlements of any kind, being always on the move.
Trait: Berserker. All members of this clan have the Frenzy Talent.

As you can see, those modifiers don’t work quite as much as you’d think. So… we got an absolutely enormous clan of ill-liked Skaven madmen, wandering from place to place, leaving ruin in their wake.


I suppose it fits.

Next: Skaven warfare and weaponry, suitable for annihilating all your enemies and sometimes yourself!

kommy5 fucked around with this message at 12:17 on Oct 30, 2017

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Feinne posted:

I would say that the Assassin certainly shouldn't be generic, given you're implying they are effectively equivalent to the hero pick from WFB. They're the sort of opponent that you are pretty hot poo poo if you can beat. Also be glad that this is based on the later WFB edition that doesn't just give Assassins Weeping Blades as their default weapon.

Also since it came up earlier the god of the Sahuagin is Sekolah the Shark.

Sadly, there are no pre-made Assassins, Plague Priests, or Warlock Engineers. The DM has to make them. And this is especially problematic with Warlock Engineers which use several different parts of the book woven together. You need the Skaven character and Career rules, the Warlock Engineering rules, and (probably) the Skaven spell list. And you have to dive into these rules in depth to make a real Warlock Engineer.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


JcDent posted:

Ah, no reason to play it, then. What are good fantasy alternatives?

From what I've seen, Shadow of the Demon Lord does look interesting but I've never played it. Means I can't really recommend it, honestly. But certainly take a look.

I do definitely have to give a shout-out to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2E, as it's definitely my go-to and I love the setting.

If you want something more generic, 13th Age definitely has it's points. And its system is more High Fantasy Heroics if you prefer that to the more low fantasy of Warhammer or Demon Lord.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Perhaps FlashElf is carrying a separate item just to make sonic booms for flashy entrances and exits. It's what I'd do. And apparently it does damage, too?

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


wiegieman posted:

Yup. Kislev is everything east of Berlin and west of the Urals, ruled by Catherine the Great with magic powers.

Sylvania disputes this, as it lays claim to being the setting's Romania. You can also make a case that the Border Princes (WFRP actually has a source book for them!) also takes the place of the Balkans.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Feinne posted:

I was going to be baffled by Blood Music as an inspiration but I figured it out, a book where everything goes to poo poo and nothing can stop it inspired them to make a game where the PCs are utterly unimportant and can impact nothing at all.

Blood Music is a really weird and creepy book. It also stars the absolutely dumbest protagonist alive. Well, for as long as he lasts, anyway. Seriously, I think he’s the guy that trained the “scientists” on Promethius.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


I totally want to run a game about dragons coming up with crazy schemes to artificially inflate the worth of their hoards. Dragons of the South Sea Company. Entire kingdoms would be ruined and plundered through stock manipulations and debt derivatives. And only brave adventurers putting together investigative committees could hope to stop them and would struggle mightily to slap the dragons on the wrist.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Children of the Horned Rat

Chapter 5, Skaven Warfare, is the first chapter that really dives into the mechanics of the unique aspects of the Skaven. And this is a huge chapter. Included here are Skaven tactics and strategems, a list of typical Skaven troop types, Skaven weaponry rules, Skaven magic rules, warpstone rules, and rules for the warlock engineering for Clan Skryre. The magick and engineering rules in particular have a huge amount of mechanical crunch to sift through and any GM or player will probably spend a lot of their time sifting through this chapter.

Let’s start with the less mechanically rigorous part of the chapter. The chapter starts out with the usual reminder of the Skaven mindset. They’re ravenous, cowardly, and possessed of their own superiority over all other peoples and most of their own. They have to fight, their own numbers pushing them to desperately seek resources and advantage over one another. Of course, they seek to do so in a way that endangers themselves as little as possible, often using the following tactics.
  • Fear: Skaven will take the opportunity to sow fear and terror, striking at non-combatants or committing other atrocities. Especially if they can accomplish these things and have their foes stumble upon the grisly aftermath when they’re long gone.
  • Intelligence: Skaven love to keep a very close eye on their intended foes, an outgrowth of their own paranoia. They’re naturally stealthy and inquisitive, so spies are not in short supply. The intelligence they gather can be used for blackmail, sold to interested parties, or pinpoint weaknesses for their own plans and assaults.
  • Plague: A specialty of Clan Pestilens, plague is a weapon Skaven are often keen to use, seeing as it kills their foes while they are (ideally) far away and won’t suffer from it. Of course, they still suffer from it some, but Clan Pestilens can mostly keep it under control. What enemies the plague won’t kill will still be left weakened when the Skaven strike.
  • Poison: While Clan Eshin is the undisputed master of poisoning in Skaven society, many Skaven clans are happy to try their hand at this plan. Poisoning water, food, or striking at enemy leaders are all time-honored Skaven strategies to make their conquests easier.
  • Slave Harvesting: Slaves are something all Skaven enjoy having, putting them to backbreaking work, used for religious sacrifices, or simply eaten when hungry. In battle, slaves are often assembled in large groups and whipped towards the enemy to keep the foe busy while other weapons fire into the ensuing fracas. Because of this careless use of slaves, Skaven often spend a lot of their time acquiring more of them, either from rival clans or from other species.
  • Stealth: Unsurprisingly, Skaven are eager to strike from surprise. An unaware enemy is the best enemy in their eyes.
  • Strength in Numbers: What most Skaven strategy tends to come down to in the end. When clever plans or tricks fail, send in huge squeaking hordes of Skaven troops. To the leaders of Skaven society, entire regiments of Stormvermin can be sacrificed for any victory, let alone an individual clanrat. There’s always more where they came from.

The next section is a listing of Skaven warrior types. This is mostly stuff that would be very familiar to players of the tabletop game or Total War: Warhammer. But I’ll include it here for those who are unfamiliar with the wide array of rats that can come at your Adventurers. In addition, each entry contains a description written by both an Imperial scholar and a Grey Seer to give a more in character perspective. The list is given in alphabetical order, but I’ll arrange the Great Clan contributions in their own sections.
  • Assassins: Clan Eshin’s elite ninja masters, these solitary and secretive killers are feared by all of Skavendom and by anyone else who has heard their reputation. They are held to be the best assassins in the Old World with only the far off Dark Elves contesting this status. The Council employs them to enforce their will, other Skaven clans will happily hire them to get rid of problems, and even humans can hire one of these fearsome killers with the right connections. Eshin is always happy to deal.
  • Gutter Runners: The mid-tier of Clan Eshin’s troops, these are fast and stealthy commandos, often dispatched to carry out special missions are attack special targets. The best of these are singled out for Assassin training.
  • Night Runners: The dregs of Clan Eshin, the multitude of Night Runners are sent out as fast and light skirmishers for Skaven armies en masse with little regard for their survival. Those lucky or competent enough to survive this and accomplish their missions are groomed to eventually join the Gutter Runners.
  • Globadiers: Poison Wind Globadiers are one of the more unique of Clan Skryre’s soldiery. Clad in protective gear, breathing through a large and bulky filtration system, these Skaven throw glass spheres filled with a warpstone based poison gas. When breathed in, victims tend to swiftly perish choking on their own bloody froth that used to be their lungs.
  • Warlock Engineers: These are the famed techno-mages of Clan Skryre. While most spend their times in labs and workshops, a lot of Clan Skryre’s infamous weapons need the personal attention of an expert. They are no pushovers in single combat, either. They go into battle festooned with exotic warpstone weapons and many carry machinery to allow them to wield destructive magick. They are extraordinarily dangerous unless something goes terribly wrong and the Engineer in questions comes down with a terrible case of explosions.
  • Packmasters: These Clan Moulder Skaven are responsible for the management and training of their clan’s horrific warbeasts. In battle, they’re seen whipping and directing their charges at the foes. They can be seen with anything from packs of giant rats to the giant rat ogres. While masters of the lash and experienced in their trade, the insane and dangerous beasts may turn on their masters at any time.
  • Rat Ogres: The most famous and popular of Clan Moulder’s creations, no one really knows how the first ones were made anymore, the story being lost to history. Needless to say, it probably wasn’t a happy story for whatever subjects were involved. Huge, fast, and powerful, the Rat Ogres have the crippling flaw of abject stupidity. Very few will do anything of use without a packmaster to tell them do it.
  • Plague Monks: The rank and file of Clan Pestilens are a sorry looking lot, all of them completely infested with various foul diseases. They hide their ravaged bodies under filthy robes. Despite their appearance, they actually think things are great. They cherish disease and charge into battle with fanatical zeal that catches anyone used to normal Skaven by surprise.
  • Plague Censor Bearers: A particularly devoted/insane Plague Monk may be entrusted to carry a Plague Censor. These flaming, filthy warpstone weapons are absolutely lethal. This includes the bearer. They will eventually succumb to the lethality of their own weapons and believe perishing in the service of disease and decay is their highest calling.
  • Clanrats: The ubiquitous foot soldier of nearly every Skaven clan, the typical clanrat carries a hand weapon, a shield, light armor, terror at his situation in life, and a resolve to fix that by killing and eating his foes.
  • Skaven Slaves: See the above about the clanrat. But take away most of the equipment and add more terror and frenzied determination to live.
  • Stormvermin: These are the “elite” of Skaven soldiery. Selected at birth for special training and treatment, these black furred Skaven are larger, stronger, more vicious, and (comparatively) lavishly equipped with mail armor and wicked halberds.
  • Skaven Females: These are not warriors, but those attacking a Skaven warren may well stumble upon them. The rare female Skaven are treated at birth to be breeding machines, kept on a steady regimen of warpstone based narcotics and mutagens that turn them into enormous Skaven broodmothers that are only dimly aware of the world around them. Or so most Skaven believe.
This list is… a little odd. It doesn’t serve a lot of purpose given that there’s a full chapter of Skaven Careers that cover much of this same ground but also includes rules for them. There’s also kind of a few gaps missing that you’ll see when we go over the Careers. But the flavor text of the two scholars writing of them makes it an interesting read, at least.

Next: Weapons! Spells! Explosions! Sometimes the explosions don’t happen to rats!

kommy5 fucked around with this message at 01:47 on Nov 25, 2017

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Tibalt posted:

Well, that's an interesting thought experiment. The Skaven aren't inherently evil, they've just been manipulated by a demon god and the social rulers to exist in a way that's both unnatural and unsustainable. Remove the forced overpopulation, and they're more chill versions of the beastmen.

It's one reason I, personally, tend to leave the Skaven and their women as is, though always allowing some quirk of fate to allow the occasional Skaven woman slip through the cracks. Playing a Skaven woman that escaped that fate and pushes for better treatment for herself is... an amusing idea. Feminism is the easiest and most logical way for Skaven society to not be such a vile dumpster fire. It forces Skaven to actually care about other Skaven and takes away the insane population pressures.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Dungeons and Dragons ecology continues to baffle me. I can understand some dickish wizard making these kinds of creatures but I have no idea how they can possibly survive and reproduce without an inexhaustible source of stupid, low level adventurers.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


I am slowly working my way through…

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Children of the Horned Rat

All right. It’s been roughly four chapters of talking about rats and now we are diving into the rest of chapter 5, which covers skaven weaponry, equipment, and magic. This might take a while. There’s a lot to go over and the warlock engineering rules are… difficult.

Before regular weapons and equipment, first there is a note that common Skaven weapons and armor tend to be of Poor or Common quality, but they’ll still use Hand Weapons, Slings, and such from the WFRP Core book. Also of note is that there are prices listed for the unique Skaven weapons, but they are given in Warpstone Tokens, the Skaven currency. But the items listed in the Core book are in human coins. And there is no price conversion tool. A human trying to buy a Skaven weapon is not allowed anyway, but a Skaven trying to buy themselves a Hand Weapon or other common gear is going to have problems. There’s no obvious way to convert things. When I run it, I handwave that a Warpstone Token is worth ten Gold Crowns, but that’s my quick and dirty fix.

Anyway, the weapons. Starting with the melee weapons, we have the Plague Censor. This is basically a big flail with its head containing a special warpstone concoction made by Clan Pestilens that is lit before battle. Mechanically, it is a flail from the Core book with some nasty special rules added on. Anything struck with it must take a -20 Toughness Test or take d5 wounds that ignore armor and Toughness Bonus. The turn after they are struck they take a -10 Toughness test to avoid the same thing. And assuming they’re still alive, after 24 hours they take a +10 Toughness Test or gain a Mutation. In addition everyone within 2 yards of someone carrying a lit Plague Censor must take a Toughness Test every round or take 2 Wounds regardless of armor and Toughness Bonus. This includes the bearer and their allies. So, all those rules add up to a substantial amount of pain and suffering for pretty much anyone. And as an aside, this is in addition to the normal damage of being hit with a weapon that is already very painful to be hit with. A foe is looking at a potential 2d5+2 wounds that they can’t use any damage resistance against on top of any damage taken from being hit by a flail in a game where a starting PC has roughly 10-12 wounds and tends to end around 16-18 wounds at top tier. And then might suffer a character ending Mutation if they somehow don’t die. A Plague Censor Bearer might be hitting a couple PCs per round, too.

Don’t give this to an enemy facing your PCs unless you want to make it clear you hate them and want them to suffer. Give this to your Skaven PCs if they’re insane and want to die surrounded by the corpses of their enemies.

Moving back into the realm of sanity, we have the Punch Dagger. Basically short stabbing blades gripped to use when punching or wrapped to the forearms of Clan Eshin ninjas, this is a good off-hand weapon with Balanced and Defensive, giving bonuses to Parrying which it trades a point of damage to get. Fair enough.

Rat Claws are basically a set of brass knuckles from the core book that also give you a +20 bonus to climbing tests. These are basically half tools as well as weapons used by Clan Eshin infiltrators to get where they want to be. Kinda niche, but there’s nothing wrong with them.

Tail Blades tend to be a bit of a sidearm of sorts, being weapons attached to the ends of a Skaven’s tail. Generally hoped to give you an edge, upper class Skaven are fond of ornamental ones while clanrates will tie anything they can get to their tails. You need a special Tail Fighting Talent to actually use this in battle. Not generally worth bothering with unless you happen to be a Clan Eshin Assassin or something.

Things-Catchers are large poles with a hoop around the far end, lined with spikes facing inward. A common tool for Clan Moulder to use when catching research subjects or errant warbeasts, it’s a two handed weapon that gives you a point of extra damage and the Snare rule to capture targets. Dangerous and will result in man-thing tears.


Moving on to ranged weapons, we have the Blowgun. Used pretty much entirely by Clan Eshin, it’s a silent weapon they use to deliver poisoned darts to targets. It doesn’t do much real damage without poison, and it needs to do at least one Wound to a target to deliver the desired poison, so this won’t reliably harm anyone wearing much armor. Another niche Eshin weapon that depends a lot on the target and what kind of poison they’ve gotten their paws on. Plus requires a special Talent to use reliably.

Poisoned Wind Globes are softball sized glass spheres filled with a deadly warpstone based gas developed by Clan Skryre. You need the Throwing Talent to use without penalty, but you simply heave it at a foe. It will break and release a cloud of gas about 3 yards in radius. Anyone caught in the gas cloud takes a -10 Toughness test or take d10+4 Wounds without the benefit of armor or toughness. The cloud will persist for d5 rounds and may drift in a random direction. Also, if you miss your BS test to throw it, it scatters from your intended target. Or you might simply drop it at your feet. Hilarity ensues. Deadly, definitely. But awkward to use and you can try avoiding the gas cloud.

Ratling Guns are a signature Clan Skryre weapon, being of a two person warpstone powered machine gun. It basically looks like a rat-portable minigun. Sadly, it works out very poorly here. It fires a straight line template ahead of hit, anything in a couple yards of the line taking a Strength 3 hit. Then it requires ten rounds to reload. For comparison, a normal arrow is also strength three. And a human blunderbuss does the same thing without requiring two people and ten turns to reload. This is frankly absolutely terrible. It’ll scare your players if they haven’t seen the rules yet, though.

Smoke Bombs aren’t exactly weapons, but whatever. These are used by Clan Eshin for concealment in a pinch. They work exactly like a Poison Wind Globe to use, but the cloud they create is simply oily black smoke instead of poison gas, greatly limiting vision. No problems here and it’s something anyone can think up uses for.

Warpfire Throwers returns us to the realm of Skaven madness. Another Clan Skryre heavy weapon, this one makes enough hype to make people forget the Ratling gun. It is a crew operated flamethrower that uses a sticky, warpstone laced fuel. It uses a cone template (a teardrop shape that’s about six yards wide at the far end and about 12 yards long), doing a Damage 4 hit to anyone touched by it. This damage ignores armor. In addition, targets must pass an Agility Test or catch fire. It can only be extinguished by total immersion in water or dirt or hastily scraping off the flaming jelly with a -10 Agility Test. Survivors get to take a +10 Toughness test that day or gain a Mutation. It’s not quite as insane as the Plague Censor on a single target, but it makes up for it by hiding a wide area at once. It also still has the 10 Round reload time, so the weapon team will only get one shot. Character ending Mutations still suck, though. Without that, it’s a lot more fair. And a Skaven crew are not likely to be picky about separating a PC party away from all the Skaven it’s fighting before firing.

The Warplock Jezzail and the Warplock Pistol are the final weapons. These are basically muskets and pistols from the Core Book, but they have traded the Impact rule away to gain Armor Piercing, another point of damage, and greater range. All told, it’s a fair trade that makes these guns good for cracking open heavily armored foes from afar even if they’re as not as reliable damage dealers as normal guns. Warplock weapons use special powder and mechanisms to fire, but there are rules to use them with normal gunpowder. This makes them notably less potent, of course.

There is also some non-combat gear that Clan Skryre has developed. The only one I’ll be mentioning here will be the gas mask. Typically used by Clan Skryre Globadiers, these gas masks and big backpack filtration systems are designed to fit Skaven and will give their wearer a +20 bonus to any tests to resist poison gasses or inhalable toxins. Handy for when you drop your poison gas grenades or that crazy Pestilens rat next to you decides today is a good day to die with that Plague Censor. There are other items here, but they really relate to Warlock Engineering, so I’ll cover them when I get to that at the end of this chapter.

Talking about non-combat material makes a good segue into warpstone, though. Here is where we get more detailed rules about what it does. These rules are a little scattered throughout the chapter. As discussed before, Warpstone is basically solidified and condensed magic. The dark, unrefined kind. It packs incredible magical power for its size and weight because of that. Skaven absolutely love it. They are naturally resistant to its debilitating effects and can ‘safely’ use it far more than anyone else. Just touching unrefined warpstone will cause damage and mutation to people. Touching unrefined warpstone without protection gets you an automatic Damage 3 hit that ignores armor and toughness. You also lose one Wound permanently. Even Skaven suffer these effects. In addition, any spellcaster insane or unlucky enough to use a spell when standing next to this stuff gets a +6 to casting checks (A phenomenally massive bonus on what is often 2 or 3d10 rolls). The downside is they must roll an additional dice that doesn’t apply to the casting check, but only exists to increase the odds of a miscast. In addition, the spellcaster is liable to the unpleasant side effects of using Chaos magic as listed in the core book.

Skaven will take this warpstone and refine it into ‘safer’ and more useful forms. Typically, it’s put into items and drugs or refined into Warpstone Tokens to use as currency. In addition, these tokens can be eaten by a Skaven for a +3 to their next casting check. The downside is that for miscasts, doubles count as triples and triples count as quadruples. This is an incredibly dangerous downside and standing next to the unrefined stuff seems marginally safer and more helpful. The ‘upside’ to this is that warpstone is addictive to Skaven. A Skaven using warpstone tokens like this take a -10 Willpower test or will be addicted to warpstone. An addicted Skaven must consume at least one Token a day. Failing to do this will inflict a -10 to all stats per day he has gone without warpstone. If their Toughness reaches zero, they die. This addiction is also incurable. The bright side is that a warpstone addict ignores the penalties for consuming warpstone. Warpstone dust can be made instead of tokens, which can be snuffed or consumed to have the same effect as a Token. It can also be used to create mutations from touching it in non-Skaven, making this a favorite toy of Chaos cultists. Be careful looting Skaven.

Sidenote, anyone who is not a Skaven attempting to use warpstone this way gets all the above listed benefits and curses, but also has to take a -20 Toughness test per dose used or gain a Mutation. It’d certainly make an exciting, if short, lifestyle choice.

Next: Skaven magic.

kommy5 fucked around with this message at 20:37 on Dec 2, 2017

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


DigitalRaven posted:

"Collegiate Mutant Undergrad Turkeys" scans just fine.

Go Hokies!


...sorry. Couldn’t resist.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Loxbourne posted:

Dragon barnstorming would be great fun. Especially if more than one is hovering about, all doing it to show off.

Perhaps he's showing off to a dragoness he's trying to impress?

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Cernel joeson: "You don't understand, we had to reverse engineer the elderich furry virus! It was the only way to save mankind. "

Doomguy pulls the radio off the wall and proceeds to stuff it down the gullet of the nearest abomination, choking it.

Would the abomination in question be a space demon or some kind of libertarian sparkledog?

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


After playing the Mass Effect trilogy, put me firmly in the Anti Magic Child camp. Seriously, I hated that little bastard so much.

I am not sure what the writers were thinking with this Omega Vault. A vending machine for plot devices sounds like exactly the wrong thing to put in an RPG.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


From reading over the mechanics and trying to understand it, I get the feeling that this is far more of a Dragonball Z system than a system for battling Thor or Anubis.

Seriously, the first round is spent with everyone screaming and posing while no-selling every attack thrown in either direction to power up? I think this game would get a lot less crap if it was anime shonen fights than fighting Santa Claus by throwing animals at him.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Robindaybird posted:

Yeah, I keep going around in circles trying to reinvent the drow to wipe out that implication (made worse that some official art don't depict them with pitch-black or blue-back skin, but dark brown-ish real skin tones), and felt like honestly the best solution is just toss them out completely and start over.

I was going back to reread that Middenarde review and came across this.

I think we finally found a way to do it, thanks to Spire. I love the new Drow.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Are there... second degree derived stats in that thing? I mean, stats derived from stats derived from stats? And spells for respiration? And 18 core stats?

:wtc:

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Probably because any possibility of the wizards giving bribes to their official watchdogs is the kind of thing that would make the Empire’s government come down like a ton of bricks.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Does the Countess also run a child sex ring out of a Nuln pizzeria?

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


On TT, Warp Lightning inflicted d6 Strength 5 magic missile hits at a 24 inch range. A 1 on that d6 would inflict that single hit on the caster. The spell could be upgraded to inflict 2d6 hits, too.

With good rolling this would obliterate entire units of line infantry as well as the usual magic missile jobs of blasting small and delicate units like light cavalry, skirmishes, and lone characters.

Edit: for comparison, most magic missiles just do a single d6 of strength 4 hits. Useful, but can’t gut entire blocks of infantry or endanger heavy cavalry like warp lightning can.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Not to belabor a point, but I would say their suggested theme of “puppets” is also magical realm horror. I mean, it surely involves making your teenage PCs into completely compliant dolls for the OD or GM to play with.

God, I loving hate these people. Both of their suggested “themes” are terrifying imagining how they’d use them.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Congratulations!

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply