Fridays Unleashed 04-10-2015

Every group of protagonists needs good villains to pit themselves against—the meaner and crazier, the better. Fortunately, Gullin, Zocha, Longchops, and Lurk have one of the maddest farrow this side of Lord Carver to contend with: the self-styled Warlord Morrg.

Warlord Morrg had left his blunderbuss behind. He’d left his explosives behind. He’d even left his bandolier behind—all to his bone grinder Knor’s dismay. In their place he’d brought only a crude pig iron, and he’d allowed Knor to hide only two small butchering knives in his belts. He wanted the Tharn to think they had the upper hand. Killing them would be much easier if they thought the two farrow were helpless.

Ahead Morrg could see Rhydderk approaching, backed up by a trio of his first hunters. Morrg had lured the White Maw chieftain to the edge of their territory with a promise that the war between their two peoples would end. The Tharn leader probably believed Morrg was here to surrender. Let him.

For a moment, Morrg wondered why he had promised his bone grinder the chieftain’s heart. He wasn’t sure that much of Rhydderk would be left when this was over.

Rhydderk snorted as he entered the clearing in the vine-covered trees. “I have come to hear the lord of the swine.”
Without preamble, Morrg said. “The White Maw leave Blackmarsh Valley and never come back, or you die.” Say your tribe won’t leave. Say it. Say it. Say it.

Rhydderk blinked, looked around at his warriors, and frowned. With satisfaction, Morrg saw that the hunters appeared almost amused; only the chieftain seemed to take the threat seriously. Rhydderk glared at the farrow. “How do you think you can kill us all, warlord? With one gun and a half-blind piglet?” Knor licked his lips as he prepared to answer, but Rhydderk continued, “Warlock or not, you are here with no army, no warbeasts, no real weapons. I have you surrounded. You will not leave this clearing.”

Morrg saw two more hunters emerge from the trees to either side, and he heard the rustle of leaves that indicated another behind him. Shrugging a massive shoulder, he said, “You have us surrounded because we allowed it.”

“If his heart is as dense as his head,” Knor grunted, “I can’t use it.”

Rhydderk ignored the bone grinder and narrowed his eyes at Morrg. “You have no beasts and no warriors,” the chieftain repeated, but Morrg could hear his confidence wavering. “You are alone. You are nothing but helpless swine.”

The warlord shook his head. “We are not.”

“Swine?”

“Alone.”

He could sense his enormous razor boars waiting in the distant brush, undetected thanks to the alchemical treatment Knor had concocted to mask their scent. Caldon and Crommen were more than just warbeasts. He liked to think they knew him. At his mental prodding—a farrow war cry—they stiffened to their full, massive heights and thundered into the foliage in answer.

“You should have said you’d leave,” Morrg said.

“I will never leave!” Rhydderk said.

“Not now, you won’t.”

It was long enough. One, five, even all seven Tharn were no match for the likes of Caldon and Crommen once Morrg used his power to provoke them to their full ferocity. He was in their minds as they attacked, guiding their tusks. Then he took their fury into himself to fuel his power in turn. Knor’s knives flashed amid the battle. Runes surrounded Morrg’s hands, and he sent dark energy to strike out against those Tharn his boars had yet to finish. He made sure they killed Rhydderk last.

* * *

Later, when the farrow and the two razor boars had moved beyond where the warlord thought the Tharn might find them, Morrg turned to his bone grinder. “He shouldn’t have called you that.”

“Half-blind?” Knor asked.

“Piglet,” Morrg corrected.

Knor snorted and looked down into the bloodstained sack he held. Morrg felt a pang of guilt. “Sorry about the heart,” he said. The portion the bone grinder been able to recover from Crommen’s jaws before the beast swallowed it was half what it should be.

“It’s not what I wanted, but it will do,” Knor said. “Some is better than none.”

Morrg grunted. “I won’t be so casual with what I want,” he said. “I will bleed the rot from Blackmarsh Valley, one trollkin, one human, and one Tharn at a time until it is entirely mine.”

As a warlock, Morrg is fierce competition for the heroes in the Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Adventure Kit. Bonded to two particularly nasty razor boars, he can cause a whole lot of hurt to a group that doesn’t approach him intelligently. Game Masters and players interested in creating their own warlocks with customized beasts can do so through the use of Creature Templates. First introduced in the Iron Kingdoms Monsternomicon, creature templates are ways to customize monsters—and warbeasts. You know what’s scarier than a dire troll mauler? A dire troll mauler that has the Large Specimen template.

Of course, nothing comes without risks. A warlock who wants to control these more powerful and dangerous versions of creatures will have to find them, capture them, and somehow subdue them. Hunting down these one-of-a-kind warbeasts can make for great side adventures to a main campaign or serve as a jumping-off point for a group.

Warlocks with special warbeasts also make for compelling antagonists. Even the most battle-hardened veterans of HORDES may be surprised when they confront a gorax that runs at three times its base speed or a Gnarlhorn satyr that grants nearby satyrs a bonus to attack and damage rolls!

Check back next Friday for another Fridays Unleashed, and get ready for the release of the Iron Kingdoms Unleashed: Core Rules April 22! Preorder from your local retailer now and get a free digital copy!