Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Improbable Mission Force (Part One)



Greetings bunker dwellers! Lordy, three months have passed since I last posted here. I’ve been focusing rather on the last bits of commission stuff I was working on (before wrapping up that whole thing) rather than my own hobby. Fortunately, even in the busiest times I can find space for a dwarf, or twelve…

 
This motley crew are an upgrade to my Dwarf Rangers, a sort of Impossible Mission Force. Remember last time when I was talking about fun things that develop during narrative campaigns? Well Stromni’s Wanderers – the name for the Rangers in my army – have grown far beyond their battlefield role. We’ve mentioned before how we’re mostly all roleplayers as well as wargamers and thus have fun doing small, story-driven missions where we can achieve goals that don’t belong on the field of battle. When I was trying to figure out which unit would be best for covert and highly secret intelligence gathering and concealed naughtiness against my allies (ahem) enemies, one group kept coming up. The rangers, they already do the intelligence gathering, they’re seen as a bit weird by the rest of the Dwarfs – they actually like being in sunlight – so tend to keep themselves to themselves and they are fantastically versatile troops able to switch from missile to devastating close combat punch in a moment. Perfect, thought I! So, as is my want, I gently rewrote my Dwarf backstory again and made rangers something between MI5 and a gang of heavies putting the squeeze on people. I then realised how much fun it would be if there was a hard core within the rangers; a squad of individuals who would take on the toughest missions; do the unspeakable without complaint; for whom no task is too low and “for the good of the mission” is their creed; there could be twelve of them; doing the dirty work… a Dwarfish Dirty Dozen perchance…

the more normal half dozen
Now this is something of a collaborative effort. In order to prevent this post being nine miles long I am splitting it between here and Pirate Viking Painting. I’ll waffle on about models and paint choices over at PVP and here? Here we will meet the little devils, find out what they do, what makes them tick and the few little rules tweaks (there are more in the odd squad than the normals) that we’ve made to give them a bit of an edge in their chosen fields. Also, given that there are twelve of the little blighters I’ll split the post in half along a rather natural break line, see, there are 6 fairly normal rangers… and then there are the odd squad. We’ll meet them next time, today? It is the turn of the rangers of the DDD. And where better to start than with their fearless, taciturn leader Stromni Skystride:

Stromni Skystride
Like most of the Dwarfs of Karak Hoch, Stromni hails from Barak Varr, that great Dwarf seaport. The Barak Varr Dwarfs are considered odd by other holds for their seafaring ways so rangers are not so uncommon there. Life in sunlight is a part of the nautical life after all. Stromni though, even as a Beardling, was a natural ranger. He was always uncomfortable underground (indeed, it is a great secret of his that he is claustrophobic) and took every opportunity to slip away to the artillery ranges coving the approaches to Barak Varr and enjoy the bright landscape beyond. He joined the Rangers as soon as was proper and distinguished himself ever since. When the Karak Hoch reclamation mission was being assembled, Stromni jumped at the chance to journey the empire. Impressed by his taciturn manner and sharp eye for intelligence gathering, Dwalin Gravenrune (runelord of the Karak) requested that he form the small band of highly motivated rangers to undertake... special tasks for him. 

Stromni is a normal Dwarf Ranger Champion with all the normal rules, he needs nothing else. He is a cautious soul though and so in place of the usual great axe and light leather armour of his fellows he totes a handaxe and shield and the dull gleam of heavy Dwarven scalemaille gleams beneath his bearskin cloak.

Hourfall Giantbane
Stromni's strong right arm is Hourfall Giantbane. Named for the mighty deed of felling a hill giant single handed, Hourfall is the Champion of the Stromni's Wanderers regiment. Stromni may be their leader but his dour, quiet manner is not suited to the "fire the blood" requirements of the battlefield. That falls to Hourfall. The two men have been friends since their earliest days in the rangers and are thick as thieves when off duty. Hourfall is the only one who knows Stromni's secret and covers for him should he need to withdraw because of it. He has his own oddness - as do most rangers - a fondness for Cathayan and Indish teas over good Dwarfish Ale (the model has a charming tea kettle on it's pack) but as long as he's fighting with the sort of fortitude that he does the others don't mind.

Hourfall is a Dwarf Ranger Champion with no other alterations.

Forkin the Fat
Forkin is the teams support weapon. Short even for a Dwarf and somehow remaining fat even on the levels of rations and exercise that the 'Dozen get he isn't suited to the quick insertion or the stealthy run. He is, though, a genius at mechanics and only failed to become an engineer through a series of unfortunate and embarrassing accidents that got him tarred as a liability. Finding kinship with other "failures" in Dwarf life in the Rangers, Forkin never really excelled. Crossbows weren't his thing and he tended to be at the back of a charge. That all changed when he found the corpse of an Empire marksman in the field, clutched in his lifeless hands the smashed remains of his repeater hand gun. Forkin spent weeks tinkering, cleaning, repairing and improving the weapon until it was once more functional. While it is a poor choice for some of the missions the 'Dozen get chosen for - a near silent crossbow is much preferred - Forkin has found a role on overwatch. He joins the snipers and watches the flow of the mission. He's become adept at reading that moment when stealth and surprise are about to be lost. Forkin's bellow of "Go Loud!" has warned many a ranger that they are about to be discovered and if not, the devastating psychological impact of a hail of lead and the thunderous noise certainly changes the game.

Forkin is a Dwarf Ranger with a Dwarf-crafted repeater handgun.

Fibor Hawkseye
While most of the Rangers on the battlefield are dual weapon specialists with greataxe and crossbow, some make a special study of one or the other. Within the 'Dozen, there are a trio of crossbow specialists who act as snipers and fire support covering retreats (as well as keeping Forkin calm and quiet). Their leader is Fibor Hawkseye. Fibor is calm, paternalistic to the other snipers and tries to keep a lid on the competitiveness of Vierlin and Azrik, "Mission first, glory second" is his motto. He also tends to be the point defence-man when the enemy get too close. With an axe blade fitted as a bayonet and a dagger to back it up he is more than a match for most common foes.

Fibor Hawkseye is a Dwarf ranger, his armaments grant him a crossbow and two hand weapons.

Vierlin Sureshot
Vierlin Sureshot really shouldn't be in the Empire. As far as her family back in Barak Varr know, she has simply disappeared. Vierlin is the only heir of a wealthy and powerful maritime trading family - her real family name is Vierlin Ironkeel - who were instrumental in the destruction of the Stormbourne legacy and fortune. Disgusted at her father's dishonourable tactics and glee at Hafnir's fall, she decided to punish him by robbing him of a useful political tool of her hand in marriage. Hearing of the Stormbourne exodus - again from her mocking father - she slipped away and joined the barges. She turned out to be an excellent shot and found herself increasingly falling in with the rangers, a more different group to her normal social circle you would never find. She has since been inducted into the dozen and has a not-so-friendly rivalry with Azrik for kills in the field.

Vierlin is a Dwarf Ranger with hand weapon rather than great weapon.

Azrik Deadeye
Azrik Deadeye is the medic of the 'Dozen, he trained with the priestesses of Valaya and is devoted to the Goddess. Indeed he would have been a priest of Valaya had he not been born a man. This chip on his shoulder he carries with a grumpy and combative air. The dozen tolerate him though as there are many of them that would not be there but for his quick needle and knowledge. There are others still who have been saved by his keen eye and sure shooting. Azrik takes himself very seriously and is proud of his talents. Vierlin, who enjoys "poking the bear" a little, started a rivalry for their shooting and while she sees it as a bit of fun, Azrik is deadly serious about being "the best".

Azrik Deadeye is a Dwarf Ranger with a hand weapon instead of greataxe. If Azrik is not removed as a casualty during a mission then any injury rolls for casualties can be rerolled if wished.

And there you have it, the first part of Dwalin's Dirty Dozen (as I've been calling them in lieu of a better name). Part two is later in the week and you can read more about the painting and modelling side of things over at Pirate Viking Painting. Next time, we meet the real weirdos: The Odd Squad.

TTFN

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