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 Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult

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MasterSpark
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PostSubject: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Mon 16 Feb 2015 - 12:22

Hi,

An idea I've been filing on for a little while now is a warband that mixes the concepts of the Undead warband with the Mercenaries. Now, I absolutely love vampires but I'll admit that I'm sometimes jealous of all the cool stuff the mercs can roll with, which is what got my idea rolling for an alternative take on the Undead. Basically, it is a cult of worshipping humans instead of mindless deadites.

What I want to achieve is a warband with a balanced approach to close & ranged combat that also incorporates some Undead elements. Namely, the vampire and zombies.

What I want to avoid is just taking the Mercenaries warband and copy & pasting in the vampire in place of the captain.

Anyway, I have a first draft made. It is pretty much bare-bones with as little special rules as possible while still getting the point across. I have a whole slew of characterful rules figured out to make the cult more focused around the vampire, mechanics-wise, but I've taken this forum's advice to heart to not go down that route unless its absolutely necessary.

Here's a link to a PDF I've made of it: https://www.dropbox.com/s/by9003fbipzdxb5/Vampire%20Cult%20Warband%20v1.pdf?dl=0

Some quick thoughts of my own:
1) Note that thralls pick from the henchmen equipment list.
2) A shooty vampire?!
3) I think zombies might find a new kind of synergy in a warband with a stronger shooting presence. Depending on the opponent this warband might be the one on the defensive, which is where zombies could potentially shine.
4) The zombies can be given equipment, because why not? I figure it would be a good and fun investment for any excess equipment you might find. And it'll make them live up better to those sweet Mordheim zombie miniatures. Smile


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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Wed 18 Feb 2015 - 10:34

I think the original Mordheim undead is pretty much already a vampire cult. The dregs fulfill the thrall category pretty well, and if you wanted a head thrall, then the Necromancer fits the bill. The casting could just be a boon from his/her vampire lord.

If it's simply the equipment available to mercenaries that you like then there are simpler ways around that. The vampire already has access to weapons training and weapons expert skill, so he can use any weapon you like by burning a skill - which is reasonable balance I think. You could talk to your group about allowing dregs access to the mercenary equipment list, as there seems no particular reason for them not to be able to use such things, given that they are humans. I did this because I wanted a dreg with a blunderbuss for fluff reasons and they were cool with it.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Wed 18 Feb 2015 - 13:43

Actually, Odin, there's no way at all for the original Undead to access any shooting weapons other than bows and short bows. There's no one with shooting skills available. I don't really feel comfortable with tinkering with the established stuff, which is why I started thinking about making an entirely new warband.

And the plan was to make this warband a little bit more unique than it has been proposed right now, I just figured it'd be best to start it out nice and simple to see if I've overlooked something fundamental. Maybe, since original Undead are entirely offensive in nature, this one might find a niche being either more defensive or simply balanced enough to be able to fight both ways? Either way I'm not in a hurry to get any of this on the table so it's all still just some light ideas. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Thu 19 Feb 2015 - 2:43

One thing I had in mind, for example, is to somehow represent the breadth of different humans the vampire can enthrall by incorporating some small elements from all the available mercenary warbands.

I actually have plenty of concepts like this in mind, the problem is to put them into practice in a way that's both fitting and elegant.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Thu 19 Feb 2015 - 2:50

I think you might run into a balance issue when you hit Strength 7 with a Vampire with BS6, Weapons Training, Eagle Eyes, Leap, Trick Shooter and Throwing Knives. Should you get some Dark Venom for him, that's 3 S8 attacks distributed among the three closest targets.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Thu 19 Feb 2015 - 4:21

That's a good catch, Aipha, but it would require a lot of resources and lucky advance rolls before it got that bad. I get your point though, and it could probably become an issue as soon as it gets past S5.

I can think of two easy ways to nip this in the bud.

1) Remove the vampire's access to the weapon expert skill in some way (like battle tongue for original undead leaders).

2) Impose a warband-specific hard cap on the strength of the throwing knives. Say, 5 + poison? A balanced throwing knife can only hit so hard due to its size and mass, while reaching S6 by spending money on poison doesn't seem unreasonable to me. It'd also be a unique possible feature of the warband since the max racial strength of all other knife-throwers is 4, I believe.

Edit: Oh right, other warbands can also use crimson shade to boost their strength up to a total of 6 (4 + shade + poison), which is something that won't be available for the vampire.


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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Thu 19 Feb 2015 - 13:55

I hate to say it, since I'm usually a fan of warbands that really fit a theme, which this one does in the sense of Vampires are usually enthralling individuals in fiction, but in practice this list really just feels to me more like a way to overcome the rulebook Undeads purposeful weakness with shooting. Perhaps making some more adjustments would help distance it more? Maybe making the vampire weaker than the usual one, as far as its combat stats go, in favor of raised leadership to represent a Vampire who has dedicated more to his mental prowess over physical? Also, another henchmen option would go a long ways to making it just an all around more interesting warband.

These, of course, are just my own personal feelings on the matter, and may be totally different than your intent.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Thu 19 Feb 2015 - 14:05

Whiskey, I appreciate the input and the intent is indeed to overcome the shooting weakness, but with the idea of sacrificing some pure combat ability for it. I figured it would be mostly done with a lack of fear-causing models but I think I can see how that's undone by the zombies. If it's going to be more of a hang-back warband then you don't have to wait for the zombies to catch up to be in useful positions.

Removing the zombies and splitting the dregs into shooters and fighters might be a way to make it more interesting? Or, the warband could introduce some non-undead critters that vampires are said to be able to control, like (ordinary) wolves, bats and rats? I think bats in particular could be a fun thing if they're implemented correctly, quite weak in a fight but useful for interference and harassing.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Fri 20 Feb 2015 - 4:11

Here is a small update to the warband list. The only change I've made here is splitting the thralls up into different origins in order to make them a bit more interesting to build. They get some bonuses to their stats depending on where they're originally from and will also have access to different skills, while the head thrall will take all of their skills and combine them into a single package. The cost of both the thralls and the head thrall has been changed to reflect this.

I was trying to think of a way to incorporate Averlanders and Ostlanders as well but couldn't really find anything that signifies them through stats or skills in a way that the original 3 has.

The zombies are still in the list but I think they're on the way out to be replaced with some smaller night critters. That'll be for the next update.

Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/peu16tbrfqe6uyk/Vampire%20Cult%20Warband%20v11.pdf?dl=0

Edit: Oh and I haven't addressed the eventual problem of the super-powered throwing stars yet, but something will be done about it.

Edit 2: Might it be a bit too good to start a Middenheim thrall out at S4 with 0 experience? Perhaps thralls should all start out at 4 experience or something like that?
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Fri 20 Feb 2015 - 13:31

I like the direction of that a lot better. I really don't think you'd even need to get rid of zombies in order to add a night critter, as most warbands have at least three henchmen options, though you may want to have them be something that adds a little punch, instead of being a roadblock, otherwise it'd just be competing with zombies. I was also thinking that academic and speed might be a better suit to the Marienburg Thrall than shooting and speed, plus it evens up the access to academic skills with the original undead better.

For averlanders, you could just borrow the bergjaegars trap rule, and for ostlanders, you could borrow the Ruffians drunk and no respect rules. Adding more than the original three would be a good idea in my opinion, as otherwise, with the only being able to take one of each stipulation, you're limited to the same combination of thralls.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Fri 20 Feb 2015 - 16:01

Thanks for the input!

I was thinking that it would be suitable if Fear played a smaller role here than in the original Undead warband, at least as an offensive weapon. I've planned on making the vampire play a bigger supporting role in the warband, perhaps by making models within range of the Leader ability immune to fear? That would represent the complete control the vampire has over them, and when something big and nasty is coming for the vampire each and every one of the thralls and dregs will be willing to throw themselves in its path without fail. With this the warband might start becoming bloated with special rules, though...

As for the thralls, I'd very much like to include one option from all five mercenary groups. I think the drunk rule from Ostlanders (although minus the alcohol. Starting anew as a thrall might have made him stay off the liquor but now he's intoxicated by his adoration of the master instead) can fit but the traps from Averlanders feel a bit tacked on for some reason. The skill tables could work out pretty nicely, though, as you can see below.

Reikland: Combat, Shooting
Middenheim: Strength, Speed
Marienburg: Combat, Speed
Averland: Shooting, Speed
Ostland: Combat, Strength

I don't really see a way to justify any academic skills since I've taken these ideas mostly from the warbands' different youngblood heroes, none of which can have academics.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Mon 23 Feb 2015 - 10:23

Here's another little update. I've added 3 new chooseable origins for the thralls: Averland, Ostland and Kislev. They're now a pretty diverse bunch and the cool thing is that of the 3 you're you allowed to have three of them have combat skills, three of them have shooting skills, three of them have strength skills and three of them have speed skills, all in different combinations. You could probably mix and match something cool up with them. The Averland thrall can set traps, the one from Ostland passes all LD tests and the Kislevite has the exclusive rights to using a halberd, and can use it as a gun-rest for a handgun just like a streltsi from the Kislev warband.

Edit: And the thralls now start with 2 experience each. I figured that was fair since they're basically youngbloods with one advance or other thing to them.

Another change is in the special rules section where I've added some mechanics for dregifying stragglers, prisoners and captured enemies. It just seemed like a fitting thing to include. Smile Also, while the vampire is away from the warband no new members can be recruited, and the vampire can now make use of the battle tongue skill, unlike original Undead warbands. These things also seemed fitting.

Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/z33th1e5ggzn7yy/Vampire%20Cult%20Warband%20v12.pdf?dl=0

I'm still thinking about a possible third henchman type, although I kind of feel that with the thralls now being so diverse you can make some varied builds just as it is.

Edit 2: And I've changed the thread title to include the search term 'Undead'.

Edit 3: Now that I think about it you could quite easily set up a fully shooting warband with this. That might need some limitation, although I'd hope that the starting BS 2 for most of the models would be an inherent stopper to it...
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Sun 1 Mar 2015 - 1:04

Hello again. Here's another update where I finally introduce the bat swam idea I've been having. They're still quite experimental since I can't find anything that works in the same way to compare them to. I'd appreciate any input on them very much. The idea of them is to have them used as interference against the enemy's ranged attackers, who they will be able to reach pretty quickly. If a swarm or two can gang up on an isolated model they should be able to hold it up for a quite a while, or maybe even take it out.

Here's a link to the updated list: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9roiyqx7yaulrwp/Vampire%20Cult%20Warband%20v13.pdf?dl=0

In short, here's how the bat swarms work.

- You buy D3 of them to use in the following game, after which they disappear from the roster and need to be repurchased. They don't count towards the limit of warband members or for rout tests. I notice now that I haven't made them increase the warband rating by anything, though, which they probably should.

- Their flying movement is simulated by ignoring difficult terrain, always passing initiative tests in the movement phase, being able to climb their movement x2 and jump over gaps as wide as their movement x1. I'd like to thank Callofthesiren for inspiring me with his harpy flying rules here. The bats can always "run" and won't stop the opponent from running nearby either.

- They have 5 starting wounds and as many attacks as they have remaining wounds. They give the enemy +1 to their armour save, can't cause critical hits and don't get any bonuses from diving charges. When the swarm loses its last wound it immediately goes out of action.

The other changes to the warband are the following.

- If the encampment rules from Town Cryer are being used, the warband is permitted to set up camp in Sigmarhaven.

- The vampire's cost increases from 110 to 120. I figure that since it does gain an entirely new skill table, costing it at twice as much as a mercenary captain should be fair.

- Handguns are removed from the henchmen equipment list.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Sun 1 Mar 2015 - 5:31

I really like the bat swarm idea, and the way you've implemented it. I do feel however that it may be a little OP to allow d3 of them for that price. That's potentially 15 wounds to take, and with most warriors having say one or two attacks, each swarm could hold a model up for anything from three turns to an entire game. On small elite warbands, that could be a third or more of your warband effectively out of the game. With five attacks each, even at Ws2 and S2 they could cause some damage. Perhaps consider reducing them to 3 wounds, 3 attacks?
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Sun 1 Mar 2015 - 8:13

Uff!  Remind me how the reduced combat ability was going to justify the access to shooting?
The Head Thrall guy can be a great shooter and a great melee fighter, he gets MORE skill paths than a mercenary champion.

Bat swarms--15 wounds for 20 gc?  Dude.  AND 15 ATTACKS?

Swarms from Relics of the Crusades:
Quote :
Vermin Swarms:

Profile M4 WS3 BS0 S2 T2 W3 I1 A3 Ld10  

SPECIAL RULES

Tiny: Vermin swarms will get into any nook or cranny and so their attacks ignore all armour.

Swarm: Vermin swarms represent countless creatures on a single 40mm x40mm base. This base is treated as a single model with several wounds and attacks. A vermin swarm base fights at full effect until it has taken 3 wounds at which point it is removed.

Fire attacks cause 2 wounds on a swarm. Vermin swarms are immune to psychology.

I'm not sure how Warhammer bat swarms are treated in the current edition, but in 7th they had a M1 with a flying distance of 10", W4 and A4.
20 gc is too cheap for 1 swarm at your stats, let alone 3 of them.

The Karak Azgul Strigoi featured single model bats (as did the Lustrian Hazards table).
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Sun 1 Mar 2015 - 12:13

Thanks for the feedback. As I said the bats really are quite experimental at this stage and I was just throwing it out there. How do you think that S1 and T1 would change things? Maybe WS1 as well? The point of them is supposed to be just interference and harassing, and not as an offensive tool. Being hit on 3's and wounded on 2's by most anything should have them losing wounds pretty quickly, and attacks along with them. An increase in cost is also in order due to their sheer mass of wounds, but I'm not really sure where to place them.

Edit: I see now you've both proposed reducing the swarms down to 3 wounds and attacks each, and that's certainly another possible direction to take them in.

Edit 2: And hey, what about making the swarms purchaseable separately? Say that you can buy up to three swarms that will all last for the next game. That should make them easier to price correctly, although it will also remove the gambling part of it...

Von Kurst, the head thrall has those skill tables in return for being only a single one, whereas you can have 2 champions. I see what you mean though in that it takes the warband perhaps a bit too close to the mercenary heroes in an overall lineup. Maybe he should instead become a hero with academics available to him? Say, replace speed (due to it being integral both to shooting and combat) for academics? I could see him lose access to strength together with speed, to make him a sort of methodical fighting butler type.
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Mon 2 Mar 2015 - 12:17

Okay, so I've went ahead and made some quick changes to the list. It's all about the head thrall and the bat swarms.

Here's a link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/pfltwj2shzvpfcb/Vampire%20Cult%20Warband%20v14.pdf?dl=0

The changes are the following.

The head thrall now has access to combat, shooting and academic skills. This sets him apart from the lower thralls since they'll never have access to academics, painting him up as the cunning one of the bunch pretty fittingly.

The bat swarms have been revamped. They're now M6, WS1, S1 and T1, and cost a set amount of gold to recruit. The first swarm is 20gc and each one following the first is 25gc. That means that one swarm will be 20, two will be 45 and three will be 70. I think this could work out pretty well. A single swarm for 20gc feels like a good buy but will be rather puny, whereas 45 and 75gc will become much more of an investment if you want to have the bats available to swamp an isolated individual or two. They'll also hit most things on 5's and wound them on 6's so their offensive power is quite low, which I think is fitting. Two or three swarms bogging down the same model might sneak a wound through every now and then, which I think isn't unreasonable.

I'm still not solid on their cost since I feel that both 45 and 75gc is a lot to pay for what is basically an upkeep cost, but I'd like your input on how they appear to be this time around.

Edit: Oh right, and they now increase the warband's rating by +10 points per swarm.

Edit 2: I'm also considering whether or not to add something to stop the swarms from eating enemies that have been stunned or knocked down by the warband's shooting. I might start going overboard on my idea to not have them as an offensive tool, though...
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PostSubject: Re: Experimental Undead warband: Vampire Cult   Mon 23 Mar 2015 - 5:03

I haven't updated this thread in a good while now, but after thinking about it some more I've decided to call this little project quit and cancelled. I'll attribute it to have been merely a case of the grass appearing to be greener on the other side.

I don't think it's as easy to balance a shooty warband with a CC monster as simply as I've tried to do here. If anyone else decides to pick it up in my place or go with some alternative angle I'll be following it with interest. Smile
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