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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Among the Ancients


 For four days after my crash, I wandered across the trackless desert, drinking but sparingly of my hoarded water.  By night on the third day, I let the final drop wet my parched lips as I struggled on, for I was determined not to perish.  When dawn came I despaired, knowing the day would kill me.  Then the heat haze lifted, and in the distance I saw salvation (or so I thought): a walled city, alive with flags and lights, of the very image as I imagined of ancient Ur, or Nineveh, or the Baghdad of the thousand and one nights.   It was all I imagined the wasted cities of the south once had been, before whatever catastrophe had rendered them ruin.  I commenced to hail and to wave, until at last men and horses sallied forth from its gates and brought me inside.  There I found every horror, and for twelve years I yearned and struggled to escape the evils of that walled city and to return to the parched desert whose privations and even promised death I now imagined as a blessed surcease.

-- Tyrone Patrique, Memoires de la D├ęsolation (1946)

Krak des Chavaliers.  Wikipedia.

The Army of the Ancients

 The Ancients army consists of the powerful warmachines of the Ancients themselves supported by the masses of their slave troops, hired mercenaries, and their fanatical enforcers.  Their warmachines should be the toughest in the game, but expensive in points.  Their slaves are inexpensive and poor in quality, drawing on elements from the Brute and Free Martian lists.  The mercenaries are similar troops, but of average quality.  Their enforcers, "the Immortals," possess higher quality motivation, skill, and equipment, but are correspondingly fewer in number.

Humans and Brutes

Ziggurat of Ur.  Wikipedia.
The streets of the city teemed with many sorts of residents.  The most numerous were human slaves: in race and complexion like those we first encountered upon establishing our colonies, golden-skinned, dark-haired and dressed in tunics and robes like the inhabitants of ancient Hellas or Rome.  There also were Brutes of many sorts: some with multiple limbs, most scaled like a lizard.  I feared them, for by their bestial countenances, I knew that fear and not nature had rendered them civilized and docile.  All of us were slaves together, subject to the lash and labor.  But the worse of all fates awaited those few called through the palace gates, for they did not emerge, save perhaps as mutilated and sectioned corpses.

Sometimes, I heard, we slaves might serve in wars between one master and another, driven forward to die for the amusement of the Ancients.  Others, more favored, the city's rulers contracted for arms, and these swaggered through the streets like nobles, armed with strange weapons and armored in steel, leather, and fur.


The Ancients employ both humans and Brutes.  The least capable are mobs of poorly-skilled and equipped slaves.  I imagine players using or reusing the same sort of models they use for the Free Martians or Brutes.  The mercenary troops will be basically identical to the standard troops of the Free Martians or Brutes. Players may wish to model them differently than their "free" equivalents -- with heavier armor or different weapons.

The Immortals

Ishtar Gate, Babylon. Wikipedia.
The universal face of the masters were viziers and overseers known by the name Immortal.  Most wore masks upon their faces, but those that did not could be terrible to behold.  Iron machines and strange growths molded their flesh, and made them immune to heat and cold and privation beyond the human.  When they strode into the slave warrens to purge or to cull, they wore iron plates strapped to their robes, and wielded strange devices that killed or pained as they willed.

Some humans have the Ancient's favor: their master's trustees, enforcers, and soldiers.  They follow the Ancient's philosophy of domination, trading service for a chance to make others suffer and obey.  The Ancients reward their favorites with enhancements biological and mechanical; the oldest and most trusted live for several lifetimes, and for this reason they are collectively known as the Immortals.  Together, they form a well-armed and disciplined troop.  They may also be attached as pairs or individuals to other squads; Doctrines will allow them to boost the leadership of the slaves they drive before them. 

Warmachines

Of the Ancients themselves, I saw only their  devices, in which they were rumored to reside whenever necessity or evil desire drove them into the streets.  These were of two types:  the first floated or flew by some unknown mechanism, capable as they were of great speed or of hovering in place with no visible wings or props.  These most often took a discus shape, or sometimes a lozenge trailing limbs, armored and barbed.  The second walked, sometimes on two legs, or four, but most often three, with a discus or carriage on top.  Some stood no larger than a man, others towered over crowds, many meters tall.  The largest I saw only once.  It overstepped the walls, needing no gate, more gargantuan than the highest building in Lyons-sur-le-Canal, and the sight of it filled me with despair for the future survival of all Earthly nations.

There will be rules for flying (or hovering) saucers, and for walkers.  Each vehicle will come in several size categories, to match whatever model players can produce.


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