[40K OSR] SEBHORREA OF BARBARUS – A Death Guard army by Von (Part II)

Continuing last week’s voyage into Rogue Trader land, I’ll be looking at how I might have chosen to expand my imaginary Chaos army, back in the dark year of 1991.

So far, Sebhorrea’s army puts quite a few bodies on the board (48 models at 1000 points is not to be sneezed at), and has a decent mix of close combat, mid-field and long-ranged firepower to its name. However, it’s all a little bit… well… slow. Ponderous. Lacking in pace. With that in mind, I think my first 500 points is going to involve some faster pieces of kit that can race around and keep the opponent occupied while the infantry trudge into position. It’ll have the added bonus of excusing me from painting too much stuff.

I opt for an independent Champion rather than one with a Warband, as I have something highly specific in mind for this chap, and start rolling. He gets a Champion profile, again nothing spectacular, and his Mark of Nurgle attribute is an Evil Eye – I think in the middle of his forehead, conveniently forming the Mark itself when added to the two he already has. He gets two Rewards: a blessing of great Strength (that’ll be useful!) and a Chaos Steed. While the Palanquin of Nurgle is very nice, I have a plan for this boy and it doesn’t involve shuffling along at Nurgling speed, so I reluctantly refuse the Palanquin and roll on Mortarion’s Gift table instead, ending up with the Gastric Gripe; he emits clouds of unpleasant fumes in sustained combats, making him harder to hit once he’s bogged down. That’s much more like it. I only roll 4 points for equipment, and see fit to spend them on a chainsword and refractor field. He also entitles me to take a vehicle, and this is where the plan kicks in; I opt for a Chaos Bike at another 20 points, giving him the means to close in with the enemy at greater speed than his ponderous allies.

Gastrovile: Traitor Marine Champion (Aspiring): chainsword, refractor field, Bike: 120 points

Gastrovile is a rising star within the Death Guard, recently drawing the eye of Nurgle his way during a pitched battle on the desert moon of Orlyeh. Unlike his brothers in arms, Gastrovile favours a fast and furious approach to battle, leading his strike team on brutal seek-and-destroy missions ahead of the more stoic and remorseless Death Guard infantry. Preceded by a foul smell and a deathly glare, and leaving ravage and ruin in his wake, Gastrovile is definitely a Champion to watch…

Gastrovile will be leading a squad of Plague Marines – I prefer these chaps to ordinary Traitors, as their increased Toughness from cuddling up to Nurgle helps to keep them on the field and earning that hefty points cost. Those Plague Marines will, as I’m sure you’ve come to expect, be mounted on Bikes. Already running a little bit expensive, I elect not to burden them with a heavy weapon, opting for the simple meltagun instead. They, like Gastrovile, have two Attributes, but alas, disaster strikes as they come up with Extra Joints (half wasted on a mounted unit, although the extra Initiative will be nice) and Cowardice! No wonder they ended up on bikes; it’ll help them run away faster!

The Yellow Streak: 5 Plague Marines: Bikes, 1 meltagun: 245

Alas, poor Gastrovile, thy followers lack thy mettle. For a member of the Death Guard, ending up on a vehicle crew is generally a sign of lacking fortitude, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the members of the Yellow Streak. Unlike their daring, dashing, reeking, rotten master and commander, this bunch of seat-soilers prefer to keep their distance, zipping around the enemy and unloading their bolters without lowering themselves to actually engaging head on. When cornered, however, they fight as fast as they drive, determined to win free and hit the accelerators once more, leaving the prospect of personal danger far behind them.

Since this block will be added to Sebhorrea’s footslogging core, I’m allowed a second vehicle (derived from Sebhorrea himself), and in accordance with my new commitment to actually moving at a goodly pace, I go for a Land Speeder; it’s fast, flexible, and largely disposable, there to eliminate enemy vehicles and burn some dug-out infantry from their loitering places. The crew are obviously part of the Yellow Streak too, unwilling even to consider the possibility of a cavalry charge.

Land Speeder: 75 points

That’s most of my 500 points gone already, but the remaining 60 can buy me something cheeky; a couple of Nurgling bases to waddle around and make nuisances of themselves, giggling and chortling and leaving unpleasant puddles behind.

Little Buggers: 2 Nurgling bases: 60 points.

Total: 500 points

Once again, I feel that a single specialist squad is probably a good call here, managing the number of models that I have to paint and adding something definite to the army. Traitor Terminators will provide another very flexible, very tough unit which can potentially teleport into battle, and will offer me a chance to paint something a bit different, since (technically) they’re not Death Guard. A unit of five, plus an Assault Cannon, costs 450 points, and I roll a 7 for the Technological Equipment chart, allowing me to spend my remaining 50 points freely. I decide on a Conversion Beamer, giving the squad a second heavy weapon, and that’s my points spent. They do, however, notch up three Attributes… and, terrifyingly, they get not only Fast (Move 5 Terminators; yes please, Papa Nurgle!) but duplicated Poisonous Bites, meaning the whole unit now have an additional attack at Strength 5.

The Hydra Convocation: Traitor Terminators: assault cannon, conversion beamer: 500 points

As Sebhorrea continued his rise to power, he drew the eye of some most puissant allies; the serpent-headed members of the Hydra Convocation, a troupe of Terminators from the Alpha Legion who’ve travelled from warzone to warzone throughout the Long War, lending their devastating firepower and venomous might to many a Chaos Champion.

Total: 500 points

Although I originally planned to halt this army at 2000 points, I’m having far too much fun contemplating the mysteries of Nurgle to stop now, and I still owe myself a third Chaos Champion roll from the first attempt, starting with the ordinary Traitor Marine profile. The Lost and the Damned book advises me that 3000 points will give me a battle I can fight in one evening… do I dare? Do I dare disturb the universe?

I dare. 1000 extra points will net me an Exalted Champion and Warband (chance for some absolute havoc with this), a Land Raider (I’ve always wanted one), a big Chaos Creature or some sort and a nice unit of Diseased Flagellants to spread some plague around.

I roll up an initial Attribute (Featureless Face) Reward (an Attribute: Acid Excretion) and nine Rewards for my Champion, and let the flurry of dice fall where they may. The others: Daemonic Creature (a pet Beast of Nurgle); a Daemon Weapon (oh, crumbs); and then Eye of God, but he doesn’t yet have enough Rewards or Attributes, so he sticks around as a slightly improved Chaos Champion, becoming a level 1 Wizard). The remaining Rewards are 6 Chaos Spawn; another single Chaos Spawn; Chaos Armour; an Attribute (Manikin) and two Gifts of the Gods (Trail of Slime and Face of Beast). I elect to swap Manikin for a Gift of Mortarion, and end up with Twisted Gut for an extra attack and some truly gross Nurglishness. The Champion’s stat-line currently looks a bit like this:

M WS BS S T W I A LD INT CL WP
4 4 4 4 6 2 4 d6+3 8 8 10 8

He also has a Chaos Weapon, from his Eye of God roll, which has the Impunity property (an extra Wound), and a Daemon Weapon. Said weapon is one of my choice – I’ll have a scythe, thank you, he’s a Champion of Mortarion after all, call it a two-handed weapon – and has a bound Plaguebearer (for which I won’t be taking any Attributes; let’s keep this simple). That means +2 to hit, WP 10 for any tests that need it, and access to the Plaguebearer’s single spell. I could also lay claim to the Plaguebearer’s cloud of flies, although I think the rest of the abilities shouldn’t really transfer through the weapon. The scythe can absorb 16 points of stolen Strength before it calms down, 6 daemonic power points for enhancing saves and spells, and will grant him access to the Stench of Nurgle ‘spell’. That’s not bad.

On top of all that, he’s sporting a 4+ save from his Chaos Armour, and he’s a Psyker: I’ve no idea how to go about generating powers for him, so I’ll leave him alone for the time being.

He also acquires some Followers; his initial roll yields two Pestigor, he has four opportunities for extra Followers and I get two rolls, electing to take both on the 40K chart since he’s already quite complicated enough, and end up with six Chaos Squats. That’s potentially quite a few heavy bolters; the points are proving increasingly well spent, looking at all the stuff I’ve ended up with here. The Pestigor have Pseudo-Daemonhood, Beaks and Fearsome Appearance – perhaps they’re more like harpies than traditional Beastmen – and the Squats have no Attributes. Phew. I also have to roll up his Chaos Spawn: the lone Spawn is an Ork Major Hero, and since I’m starting to get a cluster headache from all this rolling, I just decide that the rest are ex-Orks. Oddly enough, they end up… surprisingly scary, even considering the stupidity that arises from being Spawn.

M WS BS S T W I A LD INT CL WP
4 5 4 4 7 2 4 1 8 7 8 8

Attributes: Resilient, Brightly Patterned Skin, Warp Frenzy, Wings, Resilient again, Bestial Face, Manic Fighter, Huge Head

M WS BS S T W I A LD INT CL WP
6 4 3 4 4 1 5 1 7 6 7 7

Attributes: Rotting Flesh, Cowardice, Mechanoid, Warty Skin, Agility, Extra Joints and GM’s Choice: Manic Fighter

Sergeant Xykon and Warband: 400 points

Sergeant Xykon is something of an oddity. Naught but a humble Plague Marine, he has stumbled on the resting place of the daemon-blade Festerbite, and guided by the weapon’s dark ambitions he’s risen and risen in the estimation of his Primarch, most notably after the Siege of Jericho IV. On that frozen world, an Ork Warphead raised a mighty warpstorm by his psychic exertions; Xykon took advantage of the disturbance to slay the Ork Warboss in single combat, and in the subsequent defacation of Chaotic power, Xykon was blessed and the Warphead transformed into a mighty and foul Chaos Spawn, along with his Madboy retainers. Mortarion has assigned him to Sebhorrea’s command, seeing the bearer of Festerbite and the architect of the Devouring Shingles as perfect companions.

The rest, mercifully, is simple.

Land Raider: 300 points

10 Diseased Flagellants: 100 points

Creature of Chaos: 6 Harpies: 200 points (how very unfortunate)

Total: 3000 points

I don’t know if it’s come across in the posts, but army lists really did change drastically between the release of Slaves to Darkness and The Lost and the Damned. The Slaves-era lists are all about picking your character profile or unit, and then selecting which random equipment you want to try and acqure; the Lost-era lists are much more driven by creating utterly random characters and warbands, and then selecting controllable squads to fill in the gaps. Some of the unit types – summoned Daemons and Possessed Traitor Marines – seem to have wandered off entirely, and there’s a lot more crossover with the WFB army lists in terms of Chaos creatures, Flagellants, marked Beastmen and so on and so forth. I’m beginning to see why The Lost and the Damned has been dragged out again and again as the title for the ‘random Chaos stuff’ army (in fourth edition 40K and in current fan-brew Epic), and why Slaves to Darkness is synonymous with Chaos Space Marines.

One thing I do wonder is whether the second edition design philosophy – “everyone was taking Chaos Marines so that’s what we built the Codex around” – might have been unduly shaped by the Slaves lists having been around for two more years, and being generally easier to understand – your commanders are here, your units are here, your support is here, rather than the oddly scattered nature of the Slaves list where it’s not entirely clear where you’re to start. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of possibility in these old books, a feeling that there’s more than one way to put a list together; if my brain hadn’t evaporated from a solid day of rolling on charts, I’d be tempted to roll up a 2000 point army consisting entirely of Exalted Champions and their Warbands, and see what I ended up with. Well, maybe three Champions and 500 for vehicles. I do really like Land Raiders, after all.

 

 

Author: Jon

Sententious, mercurial, and British as a bilious lord. Recovering Goth, lifelong spod. Former teacher and amateur machine politician, now freelance writer and early-career researcher.

4 thoughts on “[40K OSR] SEBHORREA OF BARBARUS – A Death Guard army by Von (Part II)”

  1. I think I’ve worked out why I’m enjoying this so much. It’s like randomly rolling an RPG character and then trying to come up with a vision of them that fits the rolls. You can’t really do that with modern 40k, more’s the pity.

    And kudos fo using the word “puissant.” It always reminds me of Terry Pratchett.

    1. Really? For me, alas, it’ll ever be contaminated – or possibly enriched – by Ian Watson.

      I think… that’s actually a very good point, and potentially symptomatic of a turn in tabletop game design. 1991 is when Vampire: the Masquerade hit the deck, started to become huge, and had a points-buy system; you started with the idea of the character you wanted, and then assigned numbers according to that vision. By 1993, when second edition 40K came out, Vampire was winning awards and becoming something of a big cheese, and I wonder… does that suggest a broader trend, toward ‘bringing my existing ideas to life’ rather than ‘letting the game generate my inspiration’?

  2. I just remember in Sourcery when Coin confronts the wizards at the University and asks them if they’ are puissant. Then the arch chancellor says yes, and gets disintegrated.

    You’re right I think, there has definitely been a trend towards realising your ideas rather than what I suppose we could call a sort of creative writing exercise. That’s probably why D&D books exploded into a myriad of sourcebooks for every race and class imaginable: people didn’t want vague starting points, they wanted fully realised options. Join a Pathfinder or D&D group online and marvel at all the people who start their post with “…I’m thinking of running a half-drow fire-elemental blooded Paladin/Warmage…” Every time I see something like that I think, wow, where do you find your hero’s personality under all that baggage?

    Actually I don’t know if I’d call it a trend. More like a natural development given the traits common to those we call geeks: a need to know everything, to have light in all the darkness, to explore every possible combination within the closed world of the genre. When faced with endless options I retreat into Human Fighter, because they seem paradoxically the most interesting. Hey, have we talked about this before?

    Of course I don’t want to suggest that one way of enjoying these genres is superior or more authentic. It’s just the way it is right now.

    1. Oh, yes! Very true. I do like that gag.

      I could say some harsh things about roleplayers, characterisation, generic action-movie-hero-boy badassery and mistaking capabilities for traits, but… I’m not going to, for the sake of brevity. Natural development given geek traits sounds about right: everything’s fun until the nerds get involved.

      We might have had that conversation about how it’s what you do with your options and not what options you choose that ultimately makes games exciting. I shan’t say ‘superior’ or ‘authentic’ but I might scrape the ceiling of elitism and say ‘exciting’…

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