Hopes and predictions for a new CSM codex

Now that only Chaos, Tau, and the forgotten Sisters of Battle don’t have 7th edition codices, I think it’s likely that Chaos will receive a new codex in the next few weeks, or months at most. I’ve outlined my hopes and dreams for the new codex, but I’ve also compiled my realistic expectations for it.

First of all, I have a sneaky suspicion they’ll issue a Legion/Warband codex.This is because of the Khorne: Daemonkin codex suggests they’ll release god-specific codices.

OP’s hopes and dreams.

The main problem with the current codex is the lack of Legion/Warband/god-specific flavour, poor internal balance, lack of formations, and expensive units. Sure, there are Special Characters that grant some flavour, but they’re limited to boosting sub-par Elites (I’m looking at you, Rubric Marines) to the Troop choices, or giving you access to Plague Zombies. There’s no Chaos Undivided for Night Lord or Alpha Legion players. Essentially, it’s a very dated codex from when flyers were making their entry.

My hopes and dreams are to see Legion/Warband/god (Including Undivided) tactics, similar to Chapter tactics for Space Marines. However, in view of the new Space Marine/DA/BA formations, I see this being dropped for formations instead. This isn’t awful, but not exactly what I want; I’m a big fan of the CAD, as I feel it gives me more freedom to construct my own forces.

I hope Chaos Undivided makes a return, certain restrictions on Marks are imposed, moving Cult troops to either dataslates (I like them, they’re reminiscent of Index Astartes articles) or restricting them depending on your Chapter tactic (or formation if that is the case). If they go with Chapter tactics it could be something like this:
Black Legion: No restrictions on Marks.
Night Lords: All units may take Chaos Undivided for free, 0-1 for all other units.
Thousand Sons : Units may not take other Marks than Mark of Tzeentch, which they can take for free. Thousand Sons become a Troop Choice.

However, I can see how this’ll be formations instead, e.g.
Ahriman
0-2 Sorcerers
2-3 Units of Thousand Sons
Rhinos free and Mark of Tzeentch invulnerable save increases (decreases?) by 1. 

I hope point costs for Thousand Sons/Rubric Marines by 1-2, Berzerkers by 1, Possessed by 2, general drop for Predator and Havoc lascannon cost. This is mainly because discopreds (Predator’s with three lascannons) rarely make up their point cost, Thousand Sons are frankly overpriced, and 7th edition follows 6th edition in being a “shooty” edition, thus limiting their usefulness.

Realistically? I see Thousand Sons dropped a point, maybe. Helbrutes/Dreadnoughts to be improved to the SM statline.

My hopes for new kits are multi-part Cultists, Havocs, Obliterators, and Chosen, maybe a new HQ. Realistically, I see certain Finecast models being redone; Obliterators/Mutilators is a multi-part kit waiting to happen, and new multi-part Havocs as well, especially in lieu of the new Devastators, and a new HQ. Also I find it likely Legion-specific upgrade kits will be available, similar to what the SMs have. Replacing resin Plague Marines with plastic ones also seems likely.

CSMs are currently suffering from lack of good transport options (The Rhino isn’t too shabby mind). Specifically drop pods. Currently the only ones CSMs can take are FW, which isn’t kind on the wallet, and I think it’s likely they’ll be included.

I’m hoping they include Cypher (not strictly Chaos) and the Helbrute formations in some form, or reissue them for people who’ve already bought them – I sure as Hell want to keep playing my Helcult (I said I preferred CAD, not that I hated formations – the the fine script)!

In short, I think CSM players will get formations, some minor rules changes, drop pods, and retooled Havoc and Obliterator multi-part kits.

What’s people’s thoughts on this though? Will Tzeentch change our codex into something fun and good, or will Papa Nurgle leave it to fester and rot?

OP’s thoughts.

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My favourite alternative miniature sites

Forums are quite often bogged down somewhat with requests for different miniatures, especially for Imperial Guardsmen, so I’ve decided to compile a list of my favourite sites. This list doesn’t aim to include every single little webstore for alternative miniatures for Warhammer, but rather my favourite ones, based on the following criteria:

  • Compatibility
  • Quality

I’ve decided to not really include price, as that’ll be very subjective. Hell, I buy ForgeWorld.

First off, Mad Robot Miniatures. They do modular commissars, squads, you name it. I’m currently planning on using them for creating Cultists and Lost and the Damned for my Alpha Legion. Additionally, I’m gonna use their modular commissar for my Arkhan Confederates.

Secondly, for the resinsexuals out there, Victoria Miniatures is the creation of the Slayer Sword-winning Victoria Lamb. They have excellent, high quality resin models, especially the later ones. I’m using them for my Arkhan Confederates as well, with their heavy weapon teams being indispensable for creating an ACW feel. They also have the easiest way for creating Rough Riders, which I’ll be using for my Arkhan Confederates!

Victoria Lamb’s Slayer Sword-winning diorama, famous for its early use of Object Source Lighting (OSL)

Third, but not least, is Kromlech. I’m mainly using them for their Confederate heads, but if I played Orks, these guys would be getting large parts of my paycheck. They do some Imperial Guard equivalents, but I feel both the aforementioned stores do them better. They also have some nice female Inquisitors worth checking out. They also have Evil Craft, who make fantastic CSMs for Sorcerers, Havocs, and Chosen, especially if you want a more daemonic Word Bearer-look. How they got around GW’s IP I have no idea.

Some more thoughts on Age of Sigmar clarifications

So this article from Naftka, where a reader went to Warhammer World and asked an official AoS spokesperson loads of questions, answered most of my questions about AoS, and in short it is

  • Age of Sigmar will be the only Warhammer Fantasy game
  • The “funny rules” are a send off for the old units
  • New races (orcs vs. ooruks) won’t look like the old ones and old models will cease production
  • Rules will be free

I don’t play WHF at the moment; having recently (18 months ago) started playing wargames again, I’m still building my Alpha Legion and Imperial Guard for 40k. However, I used to have a ~4000 point High Elf army and 1000 points Vampire Counts back in fifth and sixth edition and I had a view to start playing 8th edition, considering Lizardmen, Skaven, Orcs & Goblins, High Elves, and Dark Elves (I like dreaming up armies). With this in mind, I’m quite sad there won’t be a successor, as AoS is an entirely new kettle of fish.

The funny rules I think everyone realised were just placeholders or transitory rules, and this doesn’t really bother me – I thought it was really well done as a different, short-lived kinda refresh.

As AoS is going to introduce new, but similar, factions, so I’m not surprised old units will eventually be discontinued. It doesn’t make sense for GW to support an old version of the game by keeping loads of storage space filled up with Finecast Fantasy sprues that won’t sell as fast as the new ones. It does make me a bit sad though, and I think I’ll order myself some Empire Fanatics quite soon for my Cultist conversions.

That at least the faction rules will be free is good – I think it’s competition from Mantic, Privateer etc. that has made them realise they have to offer a lower entry cost to new players. The lower cost to entry is also why I think it’s been made more of a skirmish game that scales better. WHF was notorious for how much you would need to buy and paint to get a decent force.

However, will I play AoS? No, and for two main reasons: I don’t like the aesthetics of the new units, and I want my ranks of glittering elven spears, saurus scales, or animosity’ing (Ok, I made that up) orcs and goblins!

I don’t think the miniatures are ugly, I just don’t like the aesthetics, which is why I don’t play Tyranids in 40k. They look too similar to WarmaHordes and too steampunk-y. While this doesn’t appeal to me, I do see it appealing to a great number of players, but I can’t help but think it’s not different enough, aesthetically, from WarmaHordes, though I may be in the minority.

 photo SwordKnightsFront.jpg

I don’t like the skirmish idea; I’d much rather they re-released Mordheim! I just prefer ranks upon ranks and the importance of holding the line etc.

However, what am I considering playing? I’m split between Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition and Hail Caesar for now, but not many people play 8th in my gaming club. Kings of War’s models and rules just wouldn’t feel right.

Addendum – AoS holds some really bad connotations for me on a personal level; AoS was the acronym for the travesty of an expansion pack called Age of Shadows for Ultima Online.

The Clutch of Evil

I decided to start posting my the adventures I’ve planned and run for my players so others can use them in their adventures! I’ve left them quite open so they can be converted quite easily! I’ll possibly update these later with any unique monsters or NPCs I choose to use!

The Clutch of Evil

A clutch of Abyssal dragon eggs, summoned by the Cult of the Dragon, crash into the High Forest.

Adventure synopsis

The Fey’ri, in an attempt to cause wanton destruction in the High Forest, have tricked the Cult of the Dragon into summoning three dragon eggs from the Abyss against the mother’s will. However, even more chaos ensues, as Vha’ekar, a fire genasi priest of Talos, receives a vision of the three eggs and mobilises his followers to retrieve the eggs. However, the eggs also plummet into orc territory, leading the orcs to attempt to seize it as well.

Hook

The adventurers spot the plummeting three eggs during the night. Presumably, three meteors crashing to the ground is something they would bother investigating.

NPCs

Vha’ekar
Character concept: Fanatical fire-worshipping fire genasi
Classes: Druid/Elemental Druid/Dracolyte
Player goal: NPC
Character motivation: Destruction, revenge on people
Character personality: Impulsive, quick to anger, intelligent.
Campaign tags:
Plot hooks:

Vha’ekar was driven out of his village for supposedly being demonspawn. He was taken in by a Talosian druid, who raised him. Later, the Talosian priest was killed by a local noble’s armsmen for worshipping Talos, which was illegal. The young Vha’ekar then fled to the High Forest, where he later received a vision…

Stage One

The adventurers come across the battlefield in the forest, where the three eggs fell. The different factions are fighting over the three, and each faction will recover one each.

Stage Two

The adventurers go about recovering the eggs, choosing to break or keep them. Each egg is jet black, but seems to be glowing red from the inside.

Stage Three

Mummy turns up and starts tearing up the High Forest, but who can stop her?

Mummy turns up.

Quick thoughts on Warhammer; Age of Sigmar

After seeing two photos of the new miniatures for Age of Sigmar, dubbed #AgeOfCygnar on Twitter due to their aesthetics, I feel I’m 100% capable of giving a review of the entire range of new miniatures.

image

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On a serious note, I think the warmongers Twitterati are correct; the aesthetics are very similar to WarmaHordes. I thought the Kastelans for #wh40k AdMech looked like a cross between Big Daddy from BioShock and Cygnar. I’m not a huge fan of the WarmaHordes aesthetic (too steam punk for me), but at least it’s not the Space Wolves’ flyer which looks like a certain car from Dumb & Dumber.

image

However, they did not have the Warhammer feel to them at all. Warhammer was grim and brutal, with a bit of tongue-in-cheek hilarity thrown in. These new miniatures, while in no way bad, doesn’t encapsulate that feeling. They look more Diablo 3 than Altdorf, more Cygnar than Ulthuan.

However, I think they might make good miniatures for wh40k; the humans look like Blood Angels conversions waiting to happen, and the Chaos guys look like they’d make good Cultists, Chaos Space Marines, and Renegade Guard.

I don’t mind the round bases though, as hopefully that signals the return of a much needed Warhammer Fantasy skirmish game.

All on all, I don’t mind the miniatures, but it doesn’t look like Warhammer.

Edit – I believe it was Fred Boogaerts who came up with the Age of Cygnar idea, and here’s Vidpui’s photoshopped picture

What have I been up to? #1

I’ve recently been keen on painting some of my old miniatures from the 90’s. Sadly, most of them have been given away to flea markets while I was abroad, but I’ve still a lot of Dark Elves, a fair amount of Orcs, High Elves, some Bretonnians, and some Lizardmen. I’ve also wanted to repaint my first CSM squad – their colour scheme for my Alpha Legion has changed, so they look out of place in addition to being poorly painted. I also received a limited edition metal Dark Angel from Wartrader, and as he was clotted with so much white paint all detail was lost, I dug out the paint stripper and and stuffed them all in the jar!

Fabius Bile’s scrub tank

I’ve included a few photos of the pre-scrub and post-scrub miniatures as well!


90’s Orc Shaman, Skink Champion, and High Elf Swordmaster.


The two that have been repainted so far, two more plasma gunners incoming.

I haven’t decided any painting schemes yet, but I’m wondering if I’ll paint my High Elves and Dark Elves the same colour. Lizardmen will be vibrant, and the Orcs… No idea yet, though I kinda want to build a Savage Orc/Forest Goblin army, so likely to be colourful as well.

I’ve also done a bit of work on my Lost and the Damned force; here’s almost a full squad of Renegade Guardsmen and their Rogue Psyker (who still needs based)! This force also includes my first attempt at painting black skin tones (Mournfang Brown, Nuln Oil, highlight with Skrag Brown)!

This weekend I’m going to see if I can get some headway on my next 5 Alpha Legionnaires from the MKIV FW minis I have. I somehow lost two metal GW Alpha Legion shoulder pads, leaving me two short for the 10-man squad, but they’re sold out. I’m currently trying to get my American cousin to ship me a bunch, because they’re not sold out in the US for some reason.

I’m also trying to get some more of my CSA-inspired Imperial Guard done, but I’m more keen on completing more Alpha Legionnaires and Lost and the Damned Guardsmen for now!

Premature release

I have become increasingly pessimistic and picky in my old age (I’m 27) when it comes to games on PC. Many of newer games tend to suffer from what the PC Master Race has long complained about; God-awful UI clearly not designed for PC, graphic problems ranging from poor FPS to just plain worse graphics, glitches and bugs, DLC on release and an ever growing amount of expansions. I rarely buy games on release, and the few I have bought have generally been massive mistakes. Pre-ordering… Cartman said it best.

Cartman likes Steam sales and GotY editions.

The UI for many games really hurt the experience. I recently played through Morrowind, which after a few graphic updates was really enjoyable, suffered from a very dated UI, yet when I played Skyrim… Skyrim was, honest to Emperor, worse. It was released 9 years after Morrowind. Until I downloaded SkyUI, I was considering giving up because of the clunky controls. I had a look at the patch notes of a more recent game, Witcher III, and realised the patch was basically saying “we done goofed on the mouse UI” However, the worst offender has to be Fable 1: Anniversary edition for Steam. It didn’t have mouse support in the menu.

Some games are essentially PC exclusives, like the Total War series. I haven’t bought a Total War title since Empire due to their awful releases, buggy gameplay, and the AI being short a few sandwiches, a basket, sunny weather, and ants of a picnic. From what I gather, Rome II is still buggy as Hell. When it comes to Elder Scrolls games, I always wait for the Game of the Year edition. Skyrim was unplayable and required command prompting to even finish on release, and while Oblivion was boring, at least it worked. Civilization V, while awesome now, was nigh-unplayable on release. The game I usually put the most hours into every year, Football Manager, I never buy until after January, and always on sale, due to the game being particularly error-prone until the 1.3 patch is released. That XCOM 2 has been announced as a PC exclusive, while probably made from a financial point of view, seems to me a good design decision as well, which will hopefully result in a good UI (the reboot’s greatest strength was maybe the UI boost), less issues to contend with, without impacting sales too much.

How do you do?

MMORPGs are even worse. Too mention a few, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Elder Scrolls Online… The developers made a nice single player for the first few hours and then said “you’re on your own.” WoW was pretty raw when it got released, but it did get patched pretty damn fast.

Many of the aforementioned games are pretty much tailored to the PC market, so you can’t really blame the console mud farmers.

Though I think the most recent winner of the “premature release” prize has got to be Civilization: Beyond Earth. I have played Civilization games since Civilization 2, and I crossed all my appendages hoping for a new version of Alpha Centauri. What I got was a reskin of Civilization V, to the extent the developers didn’t even bother to change the diplomacy dialogue. Civilization: Beyond Earth warranting a full game price is pretty outrageous.

This criticism isn’t reserved for newer games either. Vampire; The Masquerade: Bloodlines, released 11 years ago, while one of the best RPGs you’ll ever play, is still a buggy game. They have a partial excuse in that they went bankrupt before they could patch the game entirely, mind.

Another problem I shall touch upon is DLC and expansions. I remember the day when I was so happy I got my paws on the Conquerors expansion for Age of Empires 2. That game had a few patches and one expansion (well, until recently!). I compare that to Crusader Kings 2. While it’s a fantastic game and I own most of the DLC and expansions, I sometimes feel I’ve been cheated on this. Sure, I buy most of the stuff on Steam sale, but if you wanted the entire game (that is, with all DLC and expansions), you’d be looking at well over 100£. That is a pretty steep price. While I understand this pays for more expansions and DLC, I can’t but help think the exorbitant cost of being able to start at an earlier date with the Muslim factions seems very expensive. This has led to general fatigue of playing some Paradox titles (not Victoria 2 mind, 2 expansions and some unit DLC is the right amount!), as I feel I’m missing out on a significant part of the game if I don’t buy all the DLC.

Things quickly got interesting for Sverre of Norway. 

Another grievance I have is DLC on release. It’s a cheap cash grab; while I get the idea, and that obviously people pay for it, it does stop people from buying the game immediately, especially more economically-minded gamers who’d rather wait for a Steam sale.

I don’t doubt that unfinished games was a problem before, but I feel (and being a scientist, I loathe saying this, but I don’t have statistics to back this) games are being released less finished than they were, possibly due to the knowledge that they can patch their games after release due to the internet. Another problem is that games are, from a coding perspective, much more difficult to the complexity, which compounds bugs, and also makes AI pretty difficult to get right.

All in all, I don’t see any reason to pre-order or buy a game on release. I will keep waiting a year or two until I buy until the developers give me reason not to.

BBEG design and their motivations

First of all, it took me a while to figure out what BBEG was an abbreviation for. Big, Bad, Evil Guy. Aka the Boss. So, when I was gathering tips on how to make memorable villains I used my google-fu extensively, finding mostly unhelpful, but a few helpful, tips on how to design villains and decided to compile a few of the ones I found and add my some from my own experience as a DM, but the best advice came from my old history teacher who would ask “why?” after every answer.

Teacher – Why did the Roman Empire collapse?

Me – Barbarian invasions.

Teacher – Why did they occur and why were they successful?

Me – Because the barbarians were being driven west by other barbarians and Rome’s military was overextended.

Teacher – Why was Rome’s military overextended?

Me – Because of problems with the Marian Reforms leading to loyalty to the generals and not Rome and the unsustainability of multiple wars.

Teacher – Why did the Marian Reforms occur and why were the Romans involved in unsustainable wars? Etc. etc.

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North. 

When first designing villains (not just BBEGs, it can also be done for evil PCs), it is important to figure out what they want, why they want it, how they plan to achieve this, and what in the Nine Hells is wrong with the guy. The Players will invest more emotionally if the BBEG seems more human and has a personality deeper than the character sheet he is written on. The person who wrote out the most concise way of doing this is Rhynn from the Giantitp forums:

1. Pick something for the character to want (money, power, love, respect, control). 1b. Decide why. 1c. Make both short- and long-term goals. 2. Give the character personality flaws serious enough that his pursuit of this will involve doing evil acts.

Example:

​The orc warlord wants to slaughter all the halflings in the vicinity. Okay, he’s got a goal. What’s his motivation? He’s out for revenge; his parents were killed by vicious halfling pirates. He is going to scout the region, then attack. He is consumed by hatred and thus ruthless; he does not care about the consequences, whether for innocents or his own men.

A vengeful, hateful, ruthless orc with an actual reason behind is actions? Well, I never!  Essentially, when designing a villain, ask yourself why. A lot.

There are of course loads of motivations and goals, most of which overlap with each other, but I’ve tried to find a few key motivations that illustrate the particular aspect of either motivation or goal.

Here is a list of some BBEG motivations with illustrative villains and hopefully some inspiration! Some of these motivations overlap somewhat, but I’ve tried to do as well as I can! I have also tried to avoid real world examples to avoid controversy.

Common motivations

Greater Good

Do it? Dan, I’m not a Republic Serial villain. Do you seriously think I’d explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago. – Ozymandias.

An extremely common goal, the “for the greater good” personifies how many people is world peace worth? From Ozymandias of Watchmen to Darth Sidious (whose goals are multifaceted), these guys, similar to villains who once had good intentions, are great ways of exploring the grey shades of morality. These villains realise their methods are evil, but they simple believe it is worth it.

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair

Greed

Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good. – Gordon Gekko.

Hans and Simon Gruber, from the Die Hard franchise, are two of the most iconic villains out there. From Hans Gruber’s “Who said we were terrorists?” to Simon’s cold chuckle and “I didn’t say ‘Simon says'” in reference to why a bomb didn’t blow up. Out of all the great villains, these two personify, along with Gordon Gekko, personify greed. They are all willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get rich.

I didn’t say “Simon says.”

Good intentions

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. – Proverb.

Many villains have lofty and noble intentions, which is illustrated well with Arthas Menethil of Warcraft fame. Arthas originally sets out to save Azeroth, but to prevent the spread of the plague turning into zombies, he has to cull an entire town. To defeat the original source of that plague, he searches for the evil runeblade Frostmourne, hellbent on killing Mal’Ganis, the demon responsible. Hell, even Sauron only turned to Morgoth’s darkness to make the world, what he believed, a better place.

Hatred

Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil. – Niccolo Machiavelli.

Hatred is actually a rarer “pure” motivation; hatred is more commonly brought on by something else. Revenge, Ideology and Fear are much more common in bringing about Hatred than what for example tanar’ri feel for baatezu and vice versa. An example of it in literature is found in the works of Roald Dahl and the pathological hatred the Witches feel for children. To D&D this is most used by demons, baatezu etc.

Ideology

To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. – Che Guevara.

Humans are capable of truly despicable acts when you get the us vs. them mentality. From peasants vs. nobility to orcs vs. elves, if someone is made to believe that “those guys are different,” anybody can do pretty nasty things to each other. Remove somebody’s humanity through an Ideology and humans will do pretty much anything to them

Jealousy

Jealousy is both reasonable and belongs to reasonable men, while envy is base and belongs to the base, for the one makes himself get good things by jealousy, while the other does not allow his neighbour to have them through envy. – Artistotle

The villains that need to go to jelly school. A great example of Jealousy is the Queen from Snow White. She is a vindictive queen obsessed with being “fairest in the land,” and is willing to kill to maintain this. Most people harbour some form of jealousy, be it love, fame or material wealth.

She’s one step from giving children poisoned apples. 

Justice

Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends. – Gandalf.

Many villains turn to evil only because they have been victims of a grave injustice. A fantastic example is General Francis X. Hummel (the Rock), who threatens to destroy San Francisco unless his men, who were left to die in Iraq, are given compensation. In the end, he’s an honourable man who was bluffing about destroying the city; he was never going to fire the rockets. These guys make great complicated characters that can even be turned back to the light.

Patriotism and loyalty

You know, it’s an ugly business doing one’s duty… but just occasionally it’s a real pleasure. – Col. Tavington. 

Blind loyalty and patriotism doesn’t make anyone a bad person on their own, but loyal and patriotic people can easily be manipulated into a doing a lot of very bad things and is one of the things most people can truly relate to. William Tavington from the Patriot is a great patriot in his own way, though he derives a sadistic pleasure from killing the enemies of the Crown.

#swag #yolo #teatime #crumpets

Pragmatists and the easy way out. 

Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven. – John Milton.

Sometimes, the path of least resistance is just that much easier. You are not a believer in the cause, but it is easier to play along. The bonus is you’ll be on the winning side. Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds is a fantastic character. He is equally part evil, ruthless, intelligent, egotistical and ambitious, yet doesn’t hold any hatred for the Jews, nor does he believe in the Nazi cause, and readily switches sides if the situation changes. Saren from Mass Effect just wanted to live. Another great example is Saruman. A wizard aligned with good for thousands of years finally switches, as he sees no hope for Middle Earth and his sense of self-preservation kicks in.

Love

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. – Yoda.

Anakin Skywalker, the one destined to bring balance to the force, fears his love will die in childbirth, and thus turns to the Dark Side to save her. From Ravenloft’s Strahd to the Forgotten Realms’ Sammaster, Love is a commonly used motivation. Love can make the most noble hero commit horrible deeds. Use Potions of Love with care.

Power

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Lord Acton.

Power is not only a great motivating force for villains, such as the cases of Darth Sidious, Scar, Jafar, but it can also be a corrupting influence on even the noblest man. Al Pacino’s portrayal of Michael Corleone shows how a war hero can become a ruthless mob boss when granted power. Power is a great way to have heroes fall to new depths. It can also be used as a plot tool to explore the shades of PCs.

Recognition of your peers

It looks like your Pokemon aren’t dead. I can at least make them faint! – Gary Oak.

Some people simply want to be the best. From Gary Oak to Predator, they want to prove themselves the best, or at least worthy, be it “being the very best,” or passing your adulthood test. This can easily be used for a rival party or a wizard attempting to summon demons because “that’ll show all those people who laughed at me!” Obviously a certain level of lack conscience or lack of regard for others is required.

Revenge

We’re both orphans, James. But while your parents had the luxury of dying in a climbing accident, mine survived the British betrayal and Stalin’s execution squads. My father couldn’t let himself or my mother live with the shame. MI6 figured I was too young to remember. – Alec Trevelyan.

In what may be his best on-screen performance, Sean Bean plays the vengeful agent 006 Alec Trevelyan, aka Janus. Seeking revenge on the British, he decides to crash the world’s financial system and get rich in the process.

Sadistic

Everyone is mine to torment! You’d do well to remember that, you little monster. – Joffrey Baratheon.

Some people are just in it to inflict pain and suffering. Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes (Platoon) may have become a soldier because he was a mean son of a bitch, or his sadistic streak might have developed later. Either way, he simply enjoyed killing and murdering. Joffrey Baratheon’s (Game of Thrones) motivation behind much of what he does is a mix of fear, cowardice and sadistic glee. This motivation is best as a side trait rather than a driving force behind a character, though it lends itself well to why certain villains joined the BBEG.

Uncommon motivations

Alien and incomprehensible
Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn – The Call of Cthulhu

A truly terrifying villain may have absolutely incomprehensible goals. Similar to mindless or singleminded villains, they can’t be reasoned with. Their plans are on a completely different level. These do not always make good enemies, especially for newbie DMs, and should be used sparingly to spice up a campaign!

Insanity
Some men just want to watch the world burn. – Alfred Pennyworth

The Joker. Patrick Bateman (arguably not). These are two very well-known villains who are simply in it for the Hell of it. They know what they’re doing is bad, but they don’t really care. This motivation is best used sparingly as to not lose the novelty or make it commonplace.

Mindless/Singleminded

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. – Kyle Reese

This is a theme that works best for villains and not BBEGs (though exceptions exist, such as the Reapers of Mass Effect), these creatures, as Kyle Reese puts it, can’t be bargained or reasoned with. One of you will die. In D&D this works well for cursts and other spirits seeking vengeance, or a la the Terminator, a golem.

Drizzt had no chance.

Or even several of these motivations!

I could have done it, Father! I could have done it! For you! For all of us! – Loki

Most villains will of course harbour a mixture of all these motivations as many of them are overlapping. Loki of Marvel fame is a great example of a BBEG with several motivations. He is jealous of Thor and wants to be his equal, he (correctly) believes Thor to be unsuited to rule (Greater Good), wants to rule himself (Power), then when defeated, wants revenge, before eventually siding with Thor in Thor II (with a few plot twists along the way).

In conclusion, I hope these pointers will help you in your future BBEG design. This list is in no way fully comprehensive or complete, but I think it is a great starting point with a few easy steps outlined to make it easier for both new and old DMs to create more three-dimensional BBEGs. You obviously do not need to use any of the specific motivations, but I think most other motivations would be synonymous to the ones I have listed.

Steam summer sale!

Oh, it’s that time of the year again, when money flies out the wallet and into Gaben’s pockets. This year I haven’t bought anything, mostly because I’ve got the games I want, and the few games I do want haven’t reached my 66% sale threshold (Witcher III, Shadow of Mordor) or they’re not out yet (XCOM 2). I won’t do a review of the games; there are hundreds of reviews out there, but I’ll give them a short recommendation!

Remembrancer depiction of Saint Gaben.

However, I thought I’d compile a wee list of games, that while well-known to more interested gamers, aren’t as well known to more casual gamers due to their age.

Victoria 2: Fantastic epic strategy game from Paradox. It starts in 1836 and lasts until 1935. The game Empire: TW wishes it was. While Victoria 2 does have multiplayer issues, there is a massive mod support there for this game. While the game may seem daunting at first, it is not as difficult as you’d think! If you feel like it’s time Norway conquers parts of Morocco, Colombia, the Middle East, and Siam before intervening on the side of the CSA in the American Civil War on their way to world domination, this game is for what-if historians!

For people who enjoy Total War games, grand strategy.

‘Murrica is a real country now! Oh, and Pennsylvania is Confederate.

Mount & Blade: Warband: A great mediaeval sandbox RPG from TaleWorlds, published by Paradox. You gather a warband, consisting first of a few conscripts, then gradually work your way up in the world through trading, mercenary work and personal combat. Its combat is very similar to Skyrim, but a million times better.The graphics are dated, but still very enjoyable. Huge mod support for it extends its shelf life.

For people who enjoy Elder Scrolls games, RPGs, sandboxes.

Arrow to the knee? Try axe to head!

Vampire; The Masquerade: Bloodlines: This RPG gem from White Wolf’s World of Darkness setting is still amazingly fun! Fantastic characters, voices in your head whispering advice, good gameplay (if buggy), great atmosphere, very entertaining story, and awarding-winning levels (once you go to the hotel basement, you’ll get it)! Not often I’ll say it, but the game actually deals with more mature topics in a surprisingly good way!

For people who like RPGs, vampires, dark games.

This appeals to the velvet-clad philistine in me.

XCOM: The newest game on my list, the remake of the early 90’s classic retains the feel, the turn-based strategy and base-building of the old one! Get it with the expansion pack Enemy Within, and you’ll have hours and hours of frustratingly good fun! There’s also a fantastic mod out there for it, the Long War mod.

For people who like strategy games, squad-based games like Republic commando.

Right in the feels…

Thought of the day: I wish my power armour helmet had a nose scratcher.

Character Creation in an RPG part 1 – The Basics

To start the off the roleplaying section of my blog, Character Creation seems a good a place to start as I will get! I will use Dungeons and Dragons 3.5rd edition and the Forgotten Realms for this blog, but this can be applied to any RPG system or setting!

So let’s get started!

The last thing Frank the orc ever saw

Character creation is way more than rolling picking a race, choosing a deity, and rolling a few dice to for your starting abilities and gold to buy equipment with! So it is no surprise many DMs want a brief synopsis of your character, but it is not always that easy for players to know where to start.

Players often have an idea of what they want to play, but not much beyond that, e.g. a valiant knight or a pyromaniac wizard. Coming up with a solid backstory takes time, and if you might not be entirely sure in what direction you want to take your knight, you are going to be apprehensive of penning his childhood memoirs at this point. Not describing all of your PC’s previous relationships and stories grants you and your DM much more leeway in adding in new characters from your past which can lead to fun storylines – especially when what you currently want to do is start the game and bring the flames of genocide crashing down upon the local kobold population in the name of Larethian!

Then one day, the kobolds fought back.

So to this end I tried figuring out a happy medium – Something that can be done quickly, but still gives you a solid idea of who the character is. You can work out what his favourite colour is and who his fave boyband was when growing up later!
Character concept:
Classes (or equivalent):
Player goal:
Character motivation:
Character personality:
Campaign tags:
Plot hooks:
The character concept is the character summed up in one or two sentences. Classes is what starting class he has and which ones you think you want him to take later. In other RPGs, like Fantasy Flight Games’ Dark Heresy, this can easily be changed to career. In nWoD this can be changed to what you feel would best describe the character’s skill-set.

Player goal is what you, the player, want to get out of the campaign. Character motivation is also self-explanatory, but it really helps GMs with giving your character a plausible reason for doing whatever he will be doing. If your character’s motivation is patriotism, maybe the GM will create a situation where you can choose between doing the “right” thing or aiding your town!

Character personality is important for being able to reference this will remind you how your character is supposed to be played so you can have a certain consistency in how you play him. Campaign tags is something I have included to show what campaign theme the character would be best suited for, like Evil campaigns, ECL adjusted, Nature, Fey, Exalted etc. Plot hooks are a way for the Player to give the GM ideas for potential adventures. Below is one I did for a Sun Elf Wizard in the Forgotten Realms.

Sulwynais
Character concept: Sun Elf wizard dedicated to redeeming Auril.
Classes: Wizard/Arcane Devotee/Archmage/High Mage
Player goal: Excessively powerful mage, create a demiplane, redeem Auril.
Character motivation: Redeem Auril, spreading the heresy, arcane knowledge, destroying evil in all its forms.
Character personality: Kind, generous, serene, tranquil.
Campaign tags: Good, Fey, Elf, Exalted.
Plot hooks: Retrieve the Codicil of White, Encounters with Fey, Ally with Aurilians against lycanthropes/People of the Black Blood
Just a wee note on some of the things here, Auril is an evil fey goddess who was turned to evil by Lolth, the Codicil of White is one of her holy scriptures, and the People of the Black Blood are vicious were-creatures who worship the evil beast-god Malar.

Ends N’ Means on personality

So now you know how to make a three-dimensional character with a personality and goals, and the character is now ready to play! In my next blog post on character creation I’ll write about characters not to play!

Thought of the day: Blue really wasn’t Guilliman’s colour.