Getting Stoned (Bradigus Theme List, Wold War)

So I’ve been looking into expanding into Circle (I’m a Protectorate player) and one of the things I’ve tripped across is Bradigus’ Theme force, Wold War. This theme force is something of a terror when all the pieces line up as you find yourself facing a brick that can’t be shot, can’t be charged, can’t be killed and can’t be engaged (various effects stacking together). Engaging this brick just enables it to kill you (whoo, synergy!) and for a comically slow formation (think almost Khador slow) it has an amazing ability to show up right next to your war-noun and introduce them to the end of the game (pretty much perfect video of this happening in the Super Series 2014 finals). With the tech that Bradigus brings to the table, this theme list is basically playing a line of stealthed Khadorian jacks that start each turn with 3 focus and can effectively fly ~13″ without free strikes. Essentially Wold War boils down into a scenario attrition list with the option to pimp slap a careless opponent with an assassination. I decided to take a close look at what this theme force does and how to counter it in Protectorate (one of the streamers said that this theme force would be very difficult for Menoth to handle).

As terrifying as this list is to see across the table, it is a very rigid brick with a number of weakness.

1) Speed. This is going nowhere quickly (in a meta that normally spends the first turn running full tilt for the middle of the board, this is a list that takes it time walking forward). Surprisingly for a list of rocks, they are masters of sliding through terrain (most of the list ignores difficult terrain). Look for speed/movement penalties (knockbacks, slams, etc).

2) Synergy. The entire list keys off of synergy, or rather building up synergy. If this list can’t get that snowball started, then it won’t be able to actually kill anything.

3) Woldwatchers. The core of this themelist. Typically, 6 or so will make an appearance as the front line of the brick. These light warbeasts have several glaring weak points that are easily exploited. When these guys go down, the brick falls apart. Being light warbeasts means that they are vulnerable to being thrown (no pushing or knockdowns). They are also vulnerable to continuous fire (just like a shield wall unit).

4) Shifting Stones. One of the best support units in the game and so very very fragile. Loss of a single stone blocks the rest of the unit from teleporting. Most of the assassination threat of this theme list comes from the teleportation of a heavy or Bradigus himself after building a synergy chain of 7 to 9. Break the stones and that isn’t an option anymore.

5) Zero ranged threat. Part of the penalty to screening yourself with clouds is that generally you can’t shoot out of them. While the Woldwatchers do have a ranged attack, they don’t have the RAT to shoot it without boosting, it doesn’t build synergy, and they don’t have the fury to boost more then once (or they lose the animus).

Watching this list get played is the best way to learn about it. It is just a brick, everything has to stay in a tight bunch to be able to take advantage of the Mannikin’s forests, the Shifting Stones need the Woldwatchers to make a tight battleline to block LoS, the Woldwatchers have to form a line so that the Shifting Stones have enough room to make a teleport triangle. Now to break into a little math. A medium base is 1.5″ wide, at most 6 Woldwatchers can make a 9″ pocket for other things to hide in. 6 Woldwatchers take roughly four Mannikin’s to screen effectively (each forest is 3″ wide and you’ll want the ends to catch any angled shots). Each Sentry Stone starts with 3 fury and 3 Mannikins and can produce 1 Mannikin each (basically means two turns of a full screen).

So how do we break this brick? Through careful application of force.

The most vulnerable part of this list are the Shifting Stones and to be effective, they have to be on the edges of the formation (if your opponent isn’t using them to teleport threats onto key targets then they are bad and should feel bad), meaning that this formation is devastatingly weak to flanking maneuvers. A fast, high defense skirmishing unit or two are exactly what you want to have to run up the flank and into the side of this brick. If they can manage to crack the shifting stone units (all it takes is a POW23 hit), they have easily made their points back by completely crippling the “surprise” assassination of the brick (Nicia Tear of Vengence will pop a stone on the charge on average dice, Errents also will crack one on the charge with average dice. If you’re a feeling a little Elf-y, the Mage Hunter Assassin also pops it as do a pair of the Ghost Snipers). After the shifting stones are gone, all that you’re really left with is a pile of rocks to turn into gravel. With the slow speed, it should be fairly easy to isolate and eliminate pieces of the brick until the whole thing falls apart.

Next up is dealing with that pesky frontline of Khadorian armor. Probably the simplest answer is “don’t”. Two handed throws, one handed throws and slams are fantastically effective against Woldwatchers (lets put it this way, a Woldwatcher has to roll a 4 or better to beat a Crusader that rolled a 1 to not be thrown). Once the woldwatchers start getting knocked through the middle of the brick, things will start dying (a 6″ throw means that the Woldwatcher will not be able to use its animus and get back into melee). Sadly, Woldwatchers are pretty immune to pull/drag attacks since they are immune to being pushed, however if you have a model or effect that can purge animus in the vicinity, that wall of armor becomes a wall of squish (alternitively, if you can overload the Woldwatchers with fury, they can’t cast the animus to begin with). For this brick to function, it has to run very hot all the time (all the woldwatchers generally will spend the first couple of turns loaded with max fury) and doesn’t have the best ability to absorb more then that. Typically, Bragidus will leech a fury and the stones will be positioned such that each Woldwatcher will be in range of two of them.

Don’t get hit. Best way of dealing with Snyergy. If you are impossible to hit (or very very difficult), then the synergy chain can’t get off the ground. Otherwise its a game of limiting your opponent’s attack options (generally staying 6″ away works quite well). If only three attacks are made, that’s a max synergy bonus of +2.

Mannikins are annoying but die in a slightly unstiff breeze (they die to minimum dice on power 11 rolls). Sprays and continuous fire will be your very frisky friend.

The basic core of this list doesn’t change from Tier 4 to 3 (the whole get 5 points for no living models thing). Tier 4 is probably easier to handle but the same principles apply to tier 3 (you’ll see a bunch of woldwatchers, sentry stones, shifting stones and better capability to be “tricky”). If I had to run a Protectorate list against Wold War, I would probably look at something along the lines of:

Harbinger/Kreoss1 – Purification/Feat
-Repenter – Spray
-Repenter – Spray
-Castigator – Double Open Fists/Flaming Hula-hoop/Immunity to Fire

Tristan Durant
-Redeemer

Visgoth Judiah Rhoven & Honour Guard – CMD Radius Animus Cleaning

Errents+UA+Seneschal – What is LoS blocking, difficult terrain?/Weapon Master Charges
Choir
Nicia – Flank Threat

The logic behind this list is fairly simplistic. First, set them all on fire (an average fire roll on a Woldwatcher deals 2 points of damage and this occurs after their armor buffs have fallen off but before they can be recast). Secondly, make that frontline comically squishy and then throw it around (via Judiah or Purification, then send in the Castigator). Third, cracking those exposed flanks is done by Nicia and the fully loaded Redeemer (which kills a stone per boosted, battle hymned rocket). The Errents exist simply to screen, tarpit, hold objectives and block teleport locations (if your base doesn’t fit, you can’t jump). They can see through/shoot through/charge through the forests and represent a various serious threat against the Woldwatchers (on the charge vs armor buff and shooting while unbuffed). I’m leaning towards the Harbinger over Kreoss for a few reasons. Woldwatchers lack a serious ranged threat which means I don’t have to worry about LoS screening. Her feat decently denies Wold War as it puts damage on almost everything in the brick on average rolls (while Kreoss’ feat kind of flounders). She also can more safely tag the front line of the brick with purification (she’ll can easily get at least 4 while staying away from the teleport gank).

Overall Wold War is a scary theme list but not something as a Protectorate player I’m tremendously worried about. In the video I linked above the Retribution player seriously misplayed by not popping the last stone in that bottom cluster of shifting stones (he shot a Mannikin instead). With the focus he camped (which is useless against a synergy telegank anyways), he could’ve made two boosted shots at the stone which would’ve killed it (on average dice). Then all the circle player would’ve been left with would be a fairly subpar match up (the Retribution list was silly but rather fantastic at attrition, especially attrition that relies upon synergy).

tl;dr: Against Wold War, kill Shifting Stones, Set everything on fire, Win.

Menoth and Friends!

Finally got my hands on a halfway decent camera (and shortly there after I discovered that I don’t know enough to get perfect pictures…). Anyways! I have some of my more recent stuff that I’ve painted to look at (whoo!). I still haven’t gotten around to basing things (just a little busy at the moment).

Kreoss and Friends!

Kreoss and Friends!

HJEALY SCHTICK!

Hierophant! This guy spent ages partially painted but I finished him one day and he’s been serving as the color scheme example ever since.

2spooky

Alexia’s friends! Painted these guys by the color scheme that I thought they came from. I’m super excited about finishing this unit because I have never had skeleton mini’s before!

3spooky!

MORE SKELETONS! Awh yiss! Mostly done to practice “colored” ghosts. Also done as a Pacman ghost tribute cause…well…why not?

Bark! Bark!

Kaya + Warbeasts. My wife and I picked up both of the two-player battleboxes so I’ve got quite the pile of models to paint and play with.

FROSTY

Sorcha and the two other fully painted Khador models. The destroyer was dropped at one point which broke the cannon off. As a joke, I glued it back on and painted it purple as a “replacement”. Sorcha was the last thing I based (and that was at least a year ago at this point) but I think I got the “snowy grass” look decently.

There’s more, I have an entire tray (40+) models left to paint and a good number of painted models that need basing. As I learn better picture taking techniques the horribleness of my painting skill will become more obvious (oh well).

Critical Injuries (It’s only a flesh wound!)

So one of the oddest things in Pathfinder is the existence of the spell, Regenerate. This spell is odd because there are no established rules around the loss of “fingers, toes, hands, feat, arms, legs, tails, or heads”. This ties into another problem I have with Pathfinder best explained by an example:

Bob, the example character opens the trapped door and a scythe whips down and crits, almost killing him. 18 seconds later and with a little divine help, Bob is back at 100% despite almost dying to a scythe crit…

Why can’t that result in a severed limb? A lost hand? Instant death due to shock? I have recently picked up Privateer’s Press’s RPG system “Iron Kingdoms” and there’s a table in there for disfiguring and crippling injuries when severely hurt. I’m proposing to the Eberron group that I’m a part of (and GM-ing right now!), that we adopt a “severe injury table”.

Severe Injuries

Whenever a creature takes damage equal to 50% or more of their maximum hit points (and survives), roll 3d6 and consult the severe injury table.

Severe Injury Table

3 – Dead (GM decides instantly dead or time enough for gasping a few final words).
4 – Critical Injuries (Bleeding out, must have another character com stabilize. Heals at half the normal rate but cannot benefit from magic that heals hit point damage. The damage is too severe/dark magicks/etc. Also, does not regain consciousness until at 1hp from natural healing).
5 – Broken Limb (Roll a d6, on a 1-3 broken arm. On a 4-6 broken leg. Arm: Can’t be used. -2 to all skills that would require 2 arms. Leg: Can’t be used. -2 to all skills that would require 2 legs. Character is staggered until limb is set which cannot be done in combat).
6-8 – Internal Bleeding (Staggered until stopped. -1 hp a round, has to be stabilized out of combat).
9 – Battered (Shaken and sickened until the end of combat).
10-11 – Concussed (Stunned for 1d4 rounds).
12 – Battle Scars (-2 to all social skills due to disfiguring scars).
13-15 – Internal Bleeding (Staggered until stopped. -1 hp a round, has to be stabilized out of combat).
16 – Lost Eye (Stunned from pain for 1d4 rounds, -2 on attack rolls and perception checks. Rolling this again makes a character blind).
17 – Critical Injuries (Bleeding out, must have another character com stabilize. Heals at half the normal rate but cannot benefit from magic that heals hit point damage. The damage is too severe/dark magicks/etc. Also, does not regain consciousness until at 1hp from natural healing).
18 – Lost Limb (One limb is severed/completely destroyed. Roll a d6, 1-3 arm, 4-6 leg. Character takes 1 point of Constitution bleed and is staggered until stabilized by another character. Arm: -2 to all skills that would require 2 arms. Leg: -2 to all skills that would require 2 legs.
The most common result is getting stunned for several rounds. Straight up death and Loosing a limb are the rarest of results. A couple of the common complaints about implementing such a system “it’ll slow down combat!” and “it’s OP at lower levels!”. My counters to both of these are wonderfully simple; almost every thug, minion, creeper, mob, or other trash that isn’t a main villain is just disposable. Anything that can take a 4x crit from a two-handing strength based power house and survive it, should be rolling on the table. At low levels, adventuring is tremendously dangerous already, I might create a more limited table with other effects (such as becoming prone, getting shoved around, etc) but the loss of a limb can be almost as defining as the back story that describes a character (especially when in a setting where prosthetics can be megaman gun arms!).

Wagon Cannon Battles!

Do you like cannons? Do you like wagons? Good!

So there’s this unit from Warmachine’s Khador Faction, the Gun Carriage and I was thinking that wouldn’t be very subtle for a drive by shooting unless all the rich people owned them. That thought brought on a cascade of others creating a setting in my head where all the rich people have gun carriages instead of pistols. They use them for day to day travel, going to parties, events. They settle disputes with GUN CARRIAGE DUELS WITH MACHINES OF FIERY DEATH AND EXPLOSIVE DESTRUCTION THAT GET UP TO EIGHT HORSEPOWER!

https://privateerpress.com/warmachine/gallery/khador/battle-engines/gun-carriage

Khadorian Gun Carriage! Pew! Pew!

Anyways, food for thought.

Beard of Approximate Knowledge

Beard of Approximate Knowledge

Aura weak divinations; CL 5th
Slot head; Price 3,000gp; Weight 1 lbs.

This long, majestic growth of facial hair once belong to the great sage Huarm Dunno. It was rumored that all of his powers were due to his fabulously epic white beard. At the time of his death, his student (and murderer), carefully shaved and created this magical artifact.

Three times a day as a free action while making a knowledge check, the wearer of this item may stroke the beard in a wise and contemplative manner to substitute a bluff check for the knowledge check. When making this check, the user is considered to be trained in the relevant knowledge skill.

Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, Creator must have a freshly cut beard of at least 2ft in length, Whispering Lore

Troglets! (Half-Trolls)

Sometimes, I feel the need for a monster with PC levels, but this can lead to a creature that is all together far too powerful for my party to face (for example, a troll is a CR5 encounter. A troll with enough druid levels to be scary/cool is CR10-14). My solution is to make a half race that physically resembles the monster NPC I wanted but isn’t absolutely undefeatable. Anyways, I’ve got the pilot seat for my Eberron group for the next few weeks (whoo!), and we’re currently on the edges of the Towering Woods (which is mostly full of anti-social farming communities or druidic cults). There isn’t really much content on the various druid sects outside of the Wardens of the Woods (there’s a couple others, but not more then a paragraph in any case) which means that any interactions the group has is going to be fun. Anyways, I’ll detail more about what’s going on with the Eberron, yes! group in a day or two (real life got a little silly). So, on to the race!

Troglets

Troglets are the end result when a troll feels something other then hunger for its unfortunate victim. The babies that result from such affairs are usually eaten alive by the troll who birthed it and drowned in the human communities. Those that survive often find that not a single person cares to have such an unnatural creature around. In a cruel twist of fate, the troll genes that make them so hated are also the genes that prevent them from dying. For those rare few that find a place in community, their genes make them well suited for guard or construction work.

Troglet Racial Traits

+2 Str, +2 Con, -2 Cha: Troglets are strong and tough but tend to find that others are unwilling to interact with them.
Type: Troglets are humanoids with the human and giant subtypes.
Base Speed: Troglets have a normal land speed of 30ft.
Low-Light Vision: Troglets have low-light vision allowing them to see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Darkvision:
Troglets can see perfectly in the dark up to 60 feet.
Scent: Troglets possess especially keen noses.
Natural Weapons: A troglet has two claw attacks that deal 1d4 points of damage.
Parental Hertitage: A troglet gain fast healing equal to 1 + 1 per 5 class levels that she possesses. She is also vulnerable to fire and acid damage.
Savage Combatant: A troglet that hits a creature with both of her claw attacks rends that creature, dealing her claw damage + 1.5 her strength bonus in additional damage as she rips the creature apart with her claws.
Threatening: Troglets gain a +2 racial bonus to intimidate and handle animal and take a -2 penalty to diplomacy.

Now this is the base race I’m building a character upon that could be something of a recurring antagonist (we’ll see how the party role plays however).

Liacia the Crimson Leaf – NE Female Troglet Pack Lord Druid 10

Str    18 +4
Dex  16 +3
Con  18 +4
Int    10  +0
Wis  24  +1
Cha   8  -1
BAB +7; CMB +11; CMD 24
HP 103; Init +3 (+6 in a surprise round);
AC
28; T 16; FF 22;
Saves F
+12; R +7; W +14;
Speed
20ft; Perception +11; low-light vision, darkvision 60ft, scent;

Feats

1: Spell Focus (Conjuration)
3: Augment Summoning
5: Natural Spell
7: Boon Companion
9: Superior Summoning

Class Features
1: Pack Bond, Nature Sense, Spontaneous Casting, Wild Empathy
2: Woodland Stride
3: Trackless Step
4: Resist Nature’s Lure, Wild Shape (1/day)
6: Improved Empathic Link
8: Wild Shape (2/day)
9: Venom Immunity
10: Wild Shape (3/day)

Traits
Adopted (Feline Instinct) – +3 initiative when acting during a surprise round.
Free Spirit – +1 trait bonus on saving throws versus language dependent and effects with the sonic descriptor. In addition, +2 to the DC to intimidate you.

Racial Features
Low Light Vision
Darkvision 60ft
Scent
2 Claw Attacks (1d4) + Rend
Fast Healing 3
Vulnerable to Acid, Fire
+2 Intimidate, Handle Animal, -2 Diplomacy

Equipment
Trollward Breastplate, Ring of Protection +3, +2 Wild Heavy Wooden Shield, Ring of Natural Attunement (Drake), Druid’s Vestment, Reaching Vines, Midsummer’s Sickle, Belt of Physical Perfection (+2), Headband of Inspired Wisdom, Cloak of the Woods, +1 Flaming Amulet of Human Bane, Various Potions

Trollward Breastplate – +3 Wild Ironwood Breastplate of Acid and Fire Resistance
Cloak of the Woods – +1 Cloak of Resistance that grants +4 Stealth in a forest.

Skills
Fly +9, Handle Animal +10, Intimidate +10, Perception +19, Sense Motive +19, Stealth +9

Offense
Melee midsummer’s sickle +12/+7 (1d6+5) or two claws +12/+12 (1d4+7 plus 1d6 fire),
Special Attacks rend (two claws, 1d4+7 plus 1d6 fire)
Spells Prepared (CL 10th)

     5th (3)- Animal Growth, Baleful Polymorph, Wall of Light
     4th (4)- Flame Strike, Ice Storm, Rusting Grasp, Strong Jaw
3rd (5)-
Cup of Dust, Dominate Animal, Mad Monkeys, Resinous Skin, Thorny Entanglement
2nd(6)-
Bull’s StrengthEuphoric Cloud, Frigid Touch, Iron Skin, Sickening Entanglement, Vine Strike
1st (6)-
Bristle, Ice Armor (2), Mudball, Wave Shield (2)
0th (4)-
Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Guidance, Purify Food and Drink

Before Combat
Liacia casts Iron Skin, Resinous Skin and Vine Strike on herself, Animal Growth on her Roc and Bull’s Strength on her Megaloceros and Strong Jaw on its gore. All three then drink potions of Shield of Faith, Blur and Invisibility.

Roc – N Gargantuan Animal

Str    30 +10
Dex  15 +2
Con  20 +5
Int     2  +0
Wis  13  +1
Cha   11 -1
BAB +4; CMB +14 (+18 grapple); CMD 26 (30 vs grapple)
HP 57; Init +3 (+6 in a surprise round);
AC
32; T 12; FF 29;
Saves F
+8; R +8; W +3;
Speed
20ft, 80ft fly; Perception +10; low-light vision;

Offense
2 Talons +10 (2d6+6 plus grab). bite +15 (2d8+10)

Feats

1: Combat Reflexes
2: Light Armor Proficiency
5: Medium Armor Proficency

Class Features
1: Link, Share Spells
3: Evasion
6: Devotion

Equipment
Ice Armor Barding, +1 Amulet of Mighty Fists
Note: These stats include the spell Animal Growth.

Megaloceros – N Large Animal

Str    26 +8
Dex  17 +3
Con  18 +4
Int    3  +0
Wis  15  +1
Cha   5  -1
BAB +4; CMB +11; CMD 24
HP 103; Init +3 (+6 in a surprise round);
AC
25; T 12; FF 23;
Saves F
+9; R +8; W +3;
Speed
50ft; Perception +10; low-light vision, scent;

Offense
Gore +11 (4d6 + 9), 2 hooves +6 (1d4+5) or Gore +11 (4d6+13)
Special Qualities powerful charge (2d6+8)

Feats

1: Toughness
2: Power Attack
5: Cleave

Class Features
1: Link, Share Spells
3: Evasion
6: Devotion

Equipment
Ice Armor Barding, +1 Amulet of Mighty Fists
Note: These stats include the spells Bull’s Strength and Strong Jaw

During Combat Liacia wildshapes into a tiny creature and flies up into the sky to provide support for her two companions through her spells (namely by summoning 1d3+1 Forest Drakes with Summon Nature’s Ally V by sacrificing Baleful Polymorph). Then she casts Mad Monkeys targeting casters (namely, spell component pouches, holy symbols, focus items). Unless her animal companions are seriously injured, she then stays invisible and watches the fight play out, only revealing herself if absolutely necessary. Her animal companions wait for the Forest Drakes to soften and engage the party before charging in. The Megaloceros charges the front liners, withdrawing after each charge to help preserve his health (counting on the drakes to pin enemies down). The Roc prefers to attack flying players, but will charge casters or vulnerable targets in the rear, grappling them and flying up to kill them with fall damage (this includes wages or other objects that the Roc can carry).

Morale Liacia consider’s her survival her number one priority. She would rather disappear into the forest and live to fight another die as opposed to dying. If she is unable to escape, she will parlay with her captors and escape when it is convenient to do so.

I would estimate that a prepared Liacia is roughlya CR9-11 encounter (I wouldn’t bump it much above 11 as summoned creatures quickly loose a lot of their threat level as party damage increases). An encounter would stress the importance of having a balanced party (as without ranged damage or flight, the party is kill-able just by the drakes circling and spewing acid. This encounter is against an intelligent opponent so tactics are actually employed (none of this “age of MMO threat” nonsense that players seem to expect). Liacia herself can also wildshape into a variety of forms, so she could potentially shift and join her animal companions in the fight. As a druid, Liacia has a large number of spells at her disposal to make life difficult for the players (Cup of Ashes) outside of combat (which is important in a persistent NPC villain). Now for her background:

Liacia was born as part of a crazed woman’s plan to take over the Wardens of the Woods. This woman figured that if she had the most perfect druid daughter, she could play puppetmaster and twist the Wardens to her whims. Unfortunately for the crazy lady, her daughter was as stubborn and free willed as the troll she captured to create her child. Tortured and tormented throughout her childhood under the guise of “training”, Liacia quickly learned how to harness the power of nature. As she matured, she grew more and more resentful of the cruelness of her mother, one day snapping out in rage and killing her. Fleeing in panic over what she had done, Liacia ran into the Towering Wood, unaware that her mother was a hermit that no-one actually knew about. She was found several days later by a disciple of the Ashbound who brought her in and converted her to the cause of protecting nature. She now one of the more powerful druids in the Ashbound, often leading raids to cull the villagers that dare to infringe upon the forest.