Monday, March 31, 2014

Dozier: House Rules for Playing Ghost Knights in the Dozier System

For those that have always thought it would be cool to make up their own rules to go along with the fluff they have crafted for their minis, we say, “Why not?  There has never been a better time than the Forge the Narrative era we are currently in.”  With that in mind, this post includes one of our WiJ Homebrews.  We make no claim of balance, but we’ve tried this stuff out.  They are in no way legal, but wargaming has always been an agreement between two folks.  Rather than RAW or RAI, go for RAC, Rules as Cool.

A metal corridor, bathed in red light. The klaxon call is deafening.

Eliazar was surrounded by daemons. The Implacable Will was falling through the warp. A more fragile mind would be crushed by the hopelessness of the situation, but Brother Librarian Eliazar was one of the Emperor’s own. His steadfastness was renowned amongst his Grey Knight brethren. He had turned the tide in more than one seemingly impossible situation and he drew confidence from those experiences.

Eliazar’s wielded his staff like a spear. Its crackling shaft didn’t so much stab into the daemons blocking his path as it caused portions of them to dematerialize and the daemons themselves to be unmade. He knew this was only a temporary fix. His adversaries had the advantage of being in their element and that gave them a near endless supply of reinforcements.

Time was what he needed. The ship had been under attack for two days. Once the Geller field begun to fail, the bloody red servants of the war god had poured through the breaches. They initially reaped a horrendous tally on the human crew. The Grey Knights had sustained losses of their own, but their psychic powers and the familiarity with their adversary had allowed them some measure of success.

The running skirmishes in the ship’s corridors were now battles of attrition. The inexhaustible flood of warp energy gave the Daemons the edge. Every tactical simulation that the Brother Captains had executed showed the deck stacked heavily against the Grey Knights. What they needed was something to change the game itself.

The senior Librarian aboard the ship believed he had found such a ritual. It was an uncommon thing, to plumb the depths of certain grimoires, but desperate times meant aid had to be looked for even from less desirable sources. The arcane research had led to the discovery of a certain ritual that had once been used for mass banishment. It was for this reason all Battle Brothers had been recalled to the bridge.

Eliazar had his misgivings. Such an unknown ritual had unknown effects. While the Grey Knights had always been pure of heart, standing at death's door was no reason to risk straying from the light of the Emperor. Even so, Eliazar fought his way through the throngs of ill intent even now, knowing that he had a duty to obey.

A mountain top is illuminated by lightning strikes. The thunderclap is deafening.

Eliazar sat before a wizened old sage in a ragged, burlap frock. The man’s face was lined heavily with years of strain and worry. He had a beard that ran the length of his upper body, down to his crossed legs. Despite his apparent frailty, the man projected an aura of confidence, and perhaps because of it, an air of wisdom.

“Welcome, my friend,” the old man said in a gravelly voice. “I had thought to see you here sooner.”

“Where am I? And who are you?” Eliazar’s voice was a challenge, strong in the thin air.

“You are with me and you know who I am.” The man unfolded his legs and stretched, as if he had been sitting that way for an eternity. As he stood, he seemed to grow immensely. What had appeared to be frailty was lean sinew. Eliazar had no doubt that the old man had scaled many such mountains in his time. He opened his mouth to ask another question. “To show you the way,” came the preemptive reply. “You are unsure how best to face the conflict ahead.”

“With the daemons? As ever I have. With a strong arm and a resolute mind.” Eliazar spoke with conviction.

“That much should be obvious. Brother, you are to be the fulcrum upon which all that is to come will swing. Only that unswerving resolution you profess will carry you through this task.” The old man crossed the space between them in one fluid motion, laying his hand upon Eliazar’s forehead. “Now, go forth.”

An iron throne room, bathed in the glow of warp space. The staccato of bolters is deafening.

“Brother Eliazar, we had thought you lost.” Eliazar came to his senses, surrounded by his battle brothers. He was walking through the hatch that led to the command deck. Behind him, a line of Purgators held the enemy at bay with a combination of Psycannons and Incinerators. Before him, Brother-Captain Veridus clasped his hand, then led him towards a circle of fellow Librarians. “When we lost contact with you and your squad, we feared that you had been overrun. I believe you to be the only survivor from the twelfth deck. We must get you to the conclave at once.”

Eliazar numbly took his place around the circle, still shaken by what he had just experienced. He looked around, noting the holy sigils on the deck. All was prepared for some kind of ritual. Chief Librarian Kantius was walking the lines of the circle.

“We are down to 68% of our battle group’s initial strength. We have lost power and are adrift in the Warp. Our current vector may see us to our destination, but not for quite some time. The daemons have overrun 75% of the decks and our withdrawal to a defensible position means what little crew left are lost to us. Here in the warp, there waves do not cease."

Kantius passed Eliazar's place in the circle, pausing to acknowledge his presence.  He hesitated just a moment more as he caught his brothers' eyes as though he had seen something, but then continued on.

"We must find a way to seal the Geller field and purge those on the ship, or we too will be lost. Captain Veridius and I have conferred and we have agreed that performing this ritual as recorded by Lord Inquisitor Torres is our best chance. We will purge the invaders, get our engines back on line, and resume our mission to bring the Emperor’s Justice to the Dozier system and beyond. There is only one task left. We need a volunteer to serve as the fulcrum of our psychic powers.”

Each of the other Librarians made the sign of the Aquila, indicating their willingness to give of themselves. Eliazar removed his helm and stepped forward.

“I believe I am meant to receive that honor.” The last word was said knowing what it would cost.

Kantius walked right to Eliazar. “Brother, I and the Emperor thank you for your sacrifice. We believe we have a way to protect you.” He turned to the waiting Techmarines and shouted, “Bring in The Anvil of Mortius!” The Techmarines complied, firing up a suit of Dreadknight Armor that had stood silently nearby, and walking it into the very center of the circle via remote. Eliazar walked around the suit, admiring it. Getting to know it. It was obviously something of a relic. The inscriptions were elegant. The sigils were exquisitely crafted. The suit had obviously been through some historic battles, but in its current state, it was ready for a new epic war.

As the circle began to walk counter-clockwise and the chanting began, Eliazar and the Techmarines went about the business of strapping him into the suit. As the last buckle was cinched, the Techmarines fled the circle. The chanting grew louder and the circle sped up. At the last, Kantius stood in front of Eliazar. “May the Emperor protect you, Brother. Know that what you do allows us to succeed in our mission. No matter what, we will prevail. Your sacrifice will not be in vain.”

Eliazar nodded. He closed his eyes, a prayer on his lips.

A crystal cave, lit by the glow of each formation. The psychic hum from each stalactite is deafening.

Eliazar stood before a crystal plinth. A raven haired man stood atop it. His eyes, set deep in his granite features, looked down at Eliazar. “Welcome, again, my son. I am sorry we do not meet under better circumstances.”

“Am I…dead? After all this time. After all the strife, the killing, the danger.  After everything.  I didn’t expect the end to be like this.”

“The road ahead will not be an easy one. But, having spoken to you, I know you will not let me down. The fire inside you, the strength of your conviction, and the belief that you cling to, let those be your guide. I will be here. I will be watching you.”

“Wait, what do you mean? The road ahead?”

A steel chamber, filled with darkness. The silence is deafening.

Eliazar was alone. There were many still forms around him that he could sense, but none contained a spark of life. The emergency lights came up, illuminating an eerie scene. Each marine in the ritual circle stood at attention, facing Eliazar. The remaining battle brothers faced outwards, as if they had been in the middle of something, but had suddenly forgotten where they were. There was no bolter fire. There was no din of battle. Indeed, there did not seem to be a single daemon anywhere in close proximity.

Eliazar spoke out, breaking the silence. “Brother Veridius, it worked! We must get the engines back online and ensure the Geller field is intact.” Veridius turned without a word, and strode out of the command chamber. When no one else moved, Eliazar thought to himself, “Is no one going with him?” A number of brothers immediately followed after.

Realization began to dawn on Eliazar. With a thought, he sent a squad to the navigational controls. Another, saw three squads of Interceptors embark on a sweep of the ship. Though it was unwieldy, he began to decipher faint thoughts containing information from each of his former brothers. Little was left of what they once were. All he had was his memories of who they had been.

Eliazar whispered into the darkness. ”Your sacrifice will not be in vain.”

Ghost Knights

Dispatched to the Dozier system as support personnel to ensure the delivery of the Exterminatus warheads, the strike force coded “Unyielding Resolve” began to encounter difficulty as soon as they entered the warp.  A freak storm separated them from the ship they were escorting.  Then a malfunction on a portion of their cruiser’s Geller field caused a temporary breach of the hull by daemonic forces.

The crew of mere humans perished quickly. While the Grey Knights fought valiantly, the weight of their nemesis would see them overrun by attrition.  A possible answer was found in the ancient tomes of the ship library, and the librarians resolved to attempt a ritual that had worked for the Chapter in the past.  The ship was successfully purged, but at great cost.  Almost all of the force was reduced to suits of armor, driven on by their own will, and directed by that of the lone survivor.

Fielding a Ghost Knights Army
Grey Knight armies that are fielded as Ghost Knights have the following rules.

The Testament:  A Ghost Knight army is chosen from Codex: Grey Knights with the following restrictions.  The army may not include any Inquisitors, Henchmen, or Assassins, nor may they use special characters.   

Binding Will:  Grey Knights no longer have And They Shall Know No Fear and lose access to Psybolt and –flame ammunition and additional grenades.  Vehicles lose the Psychic Pilot rule.
Grey Knights instead have the Daemon USR, while vehicles gain the Daemonic Possession rule from Codex:  Chaos Space Marines.  When called upon to take a morale check, they roll 2d6 as normal, suffering a number of wounds equal to the result minus their leadership.  Only Daemon saves may be taken against these wounds.  Then the unit functions normally.  Additionally, if the army’s warlord is killed, each unit must take a morale check at the beginning of each turn.

In the Author’s Words:  The Grey Knight fluff from their most recent codex could have been described as over the top.  In attempting to ‘switch up teams’ for our campaign, we thought, “Who better to switch sides than the army written as ‘totes sooper pure’.”  And how to do that?  Leave their will intact, but remove their discretion.  Take them from basically mindless bondsmen to literal automatons.

Brother Librarian Eliazar
300 Points

Eliazar is the last living member of Strike Force Unyielding Resolve, sent to the Dozier system to destroy by Exterminatus.  When the conclave performed an ancient rite in an attempt to purge their ship after the Geller Field, Eliazar was the nexus of the psychic energy involved in the ritual.  He did not suffer the same fate as his battle brothers, but instead was forced to see them in their diminished state and direct them with his mind.

Eliazar himself is confined to a suit of special Dreadknight armor.  The suit amplifies his psychic communions, ensuring he can ably direct his brother.  This makes him formidable, though he must also protect himself, lest his brothers lose their drive.  Now, Eliazar must attempt to finish the initial mission laid out for his brothers.  He knows that Dozier is too tainted to be allowed to survive, for its heresy will return.  If he can accomplish this, maybe his brethren will finally find rest.

Brother Libriarian

Unit Composition:  1 (Unique)
                                                           Unit Type:  Monstrous Creature, Character

Wargear:  Dreadknight Armor, Nemesis Great Sword, Personal Teleporter

Special Rules:  Psyker (3), It Will Not Die, Hope of the Brotherhood, And They Shall Know No Fear
Hope of the Brotherhood:  Ghost Knights within 6” take morale checks on 3d6, discarding the highest.  If Eliazar is slain, morale checks taken by Ghost Knights at the beginning of their turn are taken at 2d6+2.

Psychic Powers
Unyielding Resolve
WC: 1.  Blessing.  Target one Ghost Knight unit w/in 12”.  Take one Daemon save for each slain model.  For each model that passes, restore a single wound model to the unit in base contact with another model in the unit.  All upgrades on these models are lost.  Hope of the Brotherhood extends by 6”.  This power may be used multiple times per turn, but never on the same unit.
Shield of Faith
WC: 1.  Blessing.  Targets Eliazar.  Increases T by d3 and makes Eliazar’s Armor Save invulnerable.  This save may never be re-rolled.
Nemesis Purge
WC: 1.  Nova. All enemy units within 12” must take a leadership check.  For each point they fail by, they take one wound with no armor or cover saves allowed.

In the Author’s Words:  I actually cannot take credit for coming up with Eliazar.  The initial concept for a Dreadknight Librarian was something another member of our club came up with, and though he left before he could develop it further, I thought that was so cool, how could I not run with it?

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