In an effort to keep myself awake in the long dark teatime of the soul, when my stupid morning insomnia starts to catch up with me, I’ve taken to making more randomly generated Realms of Chaos warbands. The process takes an hour or two, and just about evades the Scylla and Charybdis of needing to think so I don’t fall asleep with being so tired I’m barely conscious. I might do a whole 2000 or 3000 point Thousand Sons army…
Let’s start with a Mighty Champion, for 400 of your Earth points. I would like it on the record that I rolled for all of this with actual dice, and didn’t fix a single one.
Rolling for his initial profile gives me a Marine Champion – not too shabby, although I’d have preferred something with multiple wounds.
The Mark of Tzeentch gives him a random magical item (I got the Blasted Standard… useful, though I’ll probably fob it off on someone in the Retinue) and d3 Chaos Attributes (Tzeentch being a generous master). I only get the one, but Tzeentch be praised it’s a good one: Chaos Lord! That’s two extra rolls on the Retinue table, and a 50/50 chance of getting a) Chaos armour, b) a psi-level, c) a Daemon Weapon, d) a further d6 Attributes and e) an across-the-board improvement to his characteristics. I get everything except the Attributes, because I am just that jammy.
On top of that, being a Mighty Champion gets him a further d4+4 rolls on the Chaos Rewards table. I net myself six and get to rolling. My Champion’s Chaos armour is improved (groovy), as is his psi-level with the Gift of Magic (nice); he is blessed with the Bestial Face of a goat (extra attack, not knocking it) and a Flaming Arm (a shooting attack or a brutal extra melee punch that’ll immolate one model and force a Break test on his enemies, all for the low low price of not being able to wield a weapon with that hand). I double up on the Bestial Face, so that’s one written off, and my last one is… Eye of God.
Since he only has three Attributes and five Gifts at this point, he picks up an extra Wound and Attack, an extra psi-level, and a Chaos Weapon, which turns out to be a sword with the power of Magic Reflection. If I can roll equal to or less than his WS on two dice, a hostile psychic attack aimed against him will be bounced back to its originator. Once again: Tzeentch be praised. Of course, he can’t use it and his daemon sword at the same time, on account of only having one decent arm, but it’ll make a neat backup weapon.
Here’s the characteristic profile after all the various Attributes are factored in. Also, he’s a third level psyker with 25 psi-points to burn. What a monster.
Of course, his Daemon Weapon has a goodly chance of containing a Daemon Prince, which will necessitate more dice being rolled. I opt for the ‘instant’ Daemon Prince rather than going completely from scratch. Once again, the result is among the most old-school of possible outcomes: a Fimm Warrior of Tzeentch, for whom I roll nine Gifts (and add 40 to the first six rolls, discounting anything that will turn him into a Spawn). This +40 modifier goes a long way, as I notch up two Strength results and three Eye of God results, along with a Flaming Arm (again), Enormous Noise*, Ecstatic Duplication** and the final Eye of God that makes a Daemon of him.
* I thought this was a typo for Nose, but no!
** Of no use to a Daemon bound into a sword, but a fabulous bit of Tzeentchy business; taking on some resemblance to a Pink Horror, the Champion splits into two Blue Horrors if killed, and recombines after the game, becoming functionally immortal unless both those Blue Horrors are killed… one wonders how he ended up in the sword to begin with.
Howlgrin Warpspurt Llan’chiae’abluun’naa (random name generator strikes again!), therefore, grants his bearer +4 to hit rolls, a second flame attack (6″ range or melee, deals d6 S3 hits to one target, the target’s unit must take a Rout test immediately), and on a 4+ the mere act of drawing him causes a foul noise that inflicts a -1 to hit penalty on everyone within 6″.
Marvellous. Now all I need to do is roll up a Retinue. I have two rolls from the Chaos Lord Attribute, and a further three from his Gifts (since every second Gift earns you a Retinue roll). I get eight Chaos Squats, two Ork Freebooters, a Freebooter Kaptain and a lone Chaos Cultist (who I suspect will be carrying the Blasted Standard on his master’s behalf). For a laugh, I roll a Dominant Attribute for each ‘unit’ the Retinue contains: a Cloud of Flies for the Squats, making them hard to hit (I may choose to represent this as an awful flickery flame noise instead, linking back to the daemon weapon); Pin Heads for the Freebooters (-1 Int and stupidity, deary deary me); Extremely Thin for the Kaptain (-1 T and a decidedly un-Orky physique) and a Poisonous Bite for the lone Cultist.
I generate 23 points for their equipment, which is enough to buy boltguns for all the Squats and a grenade launcher for the Kaptain. The Freebooters will have to make do with their boltguns, while the Cultist comes with a bolt pistol, flak armour and a lasgun anyway (there are advantages to being a unit of one!).
This is already quite enough to kick off a little bit of narrative skirmish play, in my book. It’s clear what’s happened here…
Long ago, before the Heresy and the scouring of Prospero and the fall and rise of Magnus’ Thousand Sons, there was a world. It was one of thousands that dotted the infinite night of space – small, and isolated, and positively infested with hostile forms of life. Many damned things dwelt upon this warp-tossed orb – rats that walked like men, elves that walked like women, and cyclopean lizard-beasts that walked like cyclopean lizard-beasts who lurked within the baleful swamps, dragging heavy club-tipped tails behind them.
One such beast made a pact, long long ago in the before-time. Sick with lust and envy for the sorceress-queen of his tribe, he sought to rend the customs and the laws that bound him to the role of warrior and – well, not quite pawn, but certainly no better than knight. The Changer of Ways heard him, and there was a breaking of bonds and a bending of rules and sure enough, the beast Howlgrin learned sorcery to match that of his mistress and strength enough to take her for his own.
A pity, then, that his world was doomed. In the heavens the Dark Gods laughed, the ground shook and trembled, and there was a wailing and lamenting and gnashing of teeth as the very laws of reality became a corroded shadow of themselves. Once more, Howlgrin blasphemed, and thrashed within the jaws of destiny, crying out for his master to save him; and the Changer of Ways laughed his myriad laughter and reached out his gnarly digit, and Howlgrin was cast into the Warp’s flux. He would survive, at the most terrible cost of all…
It was some time later – or some time earlier, for the Warp is a silly place and Tzeentch is a meddlesome Power – that the long shrieking sword called Howlgrin Warpflux was delivered to its intended recipient. Allogenes of the Thousand Sons was simply in the right place at the right time; like Howlgrin, he was crying out for Tzeentch to deliver him from the vengeance of the Space Wolves, and Tzeentch is nothing if not a kindly and perverse lord. The most fortunate Allogenes was given far more than he asked for – far more than he deserved – and he knows full well the debt he owes the Master of Mutation…