6 December 2015

Deadcember the 6th

I decided Deadcember had space for some verbiage as well as painting.

As is my wont, I succumb to sales and bargains far too easily, which led to me not only snapping up that unit of skeletons I've been painting step-by-step for your delight and delectation, but also a couple more bits from Ral Partha Europe. Specifically for this post, a pair of undead ogres with two-handed weapons, originally from the DSA/Armalion range!

This is what they look like in their catalogue:

Cool, huh? And they were on sale. And our local Oldhammer group have taken the name OGRE. How could I resist?

The question that followed the purchase was, of course, "How will I field these monstrosities?" Perhaps surprisingly for a game that would later publish two whacking great hardbacks on how to design your own monsters and demons as protagonists in your games, a basic "undead" rule is sadly lacking, at least in terms of how to adjust stats or allocate a points value. So I had a play with the points value calculator in the 2nd Ed. Bestiary book (there's an online version with useful discussion over at Zhu's excellent blog if you don't have 2nd Ed. to hand) and discovered the following.

A standard human has a basic cost of 5pts. A standard skeleton, according to the value of its statistics, should have a basic cost of 2pts (1.75 rounded up) but actually costs 10. So where does this extra (ghost?) amount come from? Like all undead (apart from ghouls, but they're not strictly speaking dead-undead), skeletons are immune to psychology as well as causing fear in their opponents - that's got to be worth a few points! On the downside they are subject to instability (they could just crumble away) and stupidity if there's no champion or magic-user within range to imbue them with purpose. That's not so good and should bring down the cost again.

This is all a bit hand-wavey, unfortunately, and leaves the questions - Does undeadness cost a basic 8pts? Is it a base-cost muliplier, like Zhu's "ugezod" factor? Should I reduce the living ogre's stats by the same amount that a human's are to get a skeleton? Is there a minimum? What is the average velocity of a European swallow?

Sorry, Monty Python will eventually creep into any extended gaming post. Sort of a nerdy Godwin's law.

Where was I? Oh yes. Undead ogres. As wandering monsters, or scenario creatures, I'd obviously leave it to the GM. For balancing forces to a set limit (which may or may not be the same for all players - scenario gaming is the best), however, I want something reasonable. Here goes.

All calculated creature stats in WFB are based upon the humble human. The first chart shows those stats and the modifier is the cost for deviating from that norm. So, if I wanted to create a creature that was basically a human but with a WS of 5 and T of 4, it would cost 7 points. A base cost of 5, plus (2 x 0.5) for the WS increase, plus (1 x 1) for the T increase. Clear? Creatures whose Profile Points Value (ppv) exceeds 10 have a further multiplier (1.5 for 11-15, 2 for 16-20, 3 for 21-30, etc.) to account for their individual destructive power.

The second chart shows this calculation for a normal ogre.

Right. Next step. How does a skeleton human vary from a living human? First table shows the adjustments, second shows how the same steps would apply to an ogre:

This felt like too much of a step down - I still want these to be scary brutes, so I tweaked the stats back up a bit before calculating the cost:

That feels about right. I added in the extra 8 points that being undead seems to give to human skeletons for my final values:

Comments and criticism welcome,


  1. Those ogre skeletons look cool, and I'm sorely tempted to get some myself just to paint.

    Regarding the stats and PVs you've discussed, I had a quick look through 2nd and 3rd editions and as far as I can tell the extra points applied to a 3rd edition skeleton are to cover the fact that they're immune to psychology and cause fear, perhaps with a small downwards modifier for the instability. Interestingly enough, in 2nd edition a standard skeleton shows a base cost of 2 1/2 points each, even though according to the formula it should be 2pts straight.

    As for his this applies to the undead ogres, I'd agree that adding those extra eight points for being undead would be about right.

    1. I'm looking forward to the parcel with those uglies in it arriving :)

      I'm glad you think this looks reasonable. I thought that the skeleton ogres should cost more than a standard ogre in the same way that a skeleton costs more than a human, even though "fear" probably is more valuable to an infantry unit than a monster who would have it anyway.

  2. Ah, the PVs of skeletons, the other great Oldhammer debate... :)

    From my understanding (although I've no idea where I got this from) the inflated PVs of skeletons in 3rd is because of the advantage of having your rank-and-file cause fear against basically everyone else's rank-and-file (and hence pushbacks are automatic routs, etc). Whether that's valid or not is an interesting discussion but not really relevant here. Most (all?) large creatures cause fear and have various other bonuses (e.g. penalty to armour save) without any specific cost to this. In my mind that's fair enough, but then I don't expect the PV system to be unbreakable just a reasonable guide.

    Personally I'd go with your original stat line of applying the skeleton modifiers to the normal ogre. Maybe up the WS as you have although I wouldn't myself, but with only 2 WS it may be a bit un-threatening. I'd leave the personal stats at their rubbish levels (e.g. Cl of 3) to emphasise that these were no great shakes even before they were dead - but equally as undead they're a bit of a moot point so it doesn't really matter. Perhaps give a bonus to the fear effect they cause as they're big and dead. And I'd not include the "skeleton PV multiplier" for reasons I've covered above.

    But a great (or should that be "very geeky") discussion topic.

    How tall are the figures btw?

    1. Hi Paul, thank you for taking the time to give such an extended comment :)

      The slightly bizarre PV of a skeleton was a bit of a challenge to unpick, and applying it to a large creature who, as you say, gets some extra characteristics free made this more of an informed stab in the dark than a simple matter of applying a formula. Your suggestion (the original stat modifiers) was my first thought but then they'd end up cheaper than normal ogres and that felt wrong, given the cost disparity between humans and their skeletal counterparts. I suppose the key question is "would you be happy for me to field my undead ogres in a PV-controlled game?" If so, I've come up with a workable model.

      As for size I'm they're still in the post, but from Azazel's Bitz Box blog they are 40-42mm from base of foot to tip of head. Bear in mind they're on an integral base which is probably another 5mm. I'll do another post when I get them.

    2. A WS of 2 is actually quite threatening in 3rd, charge into combat and you are on +1 to hit already, do it down a hill +2.

    3. That would make for an interesting style of play - undead trolls as ambush predators!

  3. Not often I think "damn I wish I'd thought of that". But damn, I wish I'd thought of that! Having a Skeletal Template to apply to any racial profile is genius. Now we can have Skeletal Halflings, Skeletal Genestealers, Skeletal Everything! I don't agree with Ricks decision to bump the Skeleton up for psychological factors without applying the same thinking across the board. But as you're running with 3rd what you've got looks spot on.

    ...what if Skeletons abilities aren't dependent on their remains, but are rather magical constructs that happen to have a corpse as their base. Perhaps Strength would remain the same for all skeletons, as there is no 'muscle' any more to differentiate, and perhaps the Personal Characteristics would all stay the same, as they are also defined by dark necromanctic energies. Race and PVs might not have as much of an impact on game as the necromancer being able to cast the 4th Level Necromantic spell Summon Skeletal Ogre for 18CPs :-)

    1. That's very kind, Zhu, although I'll admit I was quite pleased.

      Part of me likes the idea that a skeleton is a vessel for magical power, but I'd still want to link to base-size at least for different levels of threat. My gut says the bigger bones of an ogre would be inherently stronger and so would be Stronger, Tougher and harder to stop (WS and A).

      Summmon Skeletal Ogre - I don't know the spells well enough, if that's not already a Thing it needs to be!