Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lockout: Faction Overview 3- Loyalist Goblins

Loyalist Goblins

Midway between the merciless tyranny of the Despots and the unthinking violence of the Savages, the Loyalists are goblinoids whose only desire is to maintain the stability of the Tran Empire until such time as a dwarven authority can be re-established. This attitude is perceived as stagnant and traitorous by both Savages and Despots, and both factions attempt to kill Loyalists on sight.

The Loyalists are thus a small faction, but they are extremely well-ordered, and equipped. There is a higher proportion of hobgoblins amongst the Loyalists than in either other goblinoid faction, due to the superior position hobgoblins tend to occupy in the Tran military. The Loyalists are also completely devoid of Calmblade and Crookcatcher presences, focusing primarily on martial power. Their forces are supplemented by powerful Hobgoblin Certainties, commanders who wield psionic power to inspire their allies; and Hobgoblin Bastions, who twist the minds of their foes until they are perceived as irresistible targets or horrifying foes. The other advantage the Loyalists possess is their experience; the majority of this faction’s membership is comprised of warriors with years of military service, closely bonded with the other members of their unit, and united in awe and respect of the mighty military heroes who’ve maintained their loyalty to the Tran. While the Despots are far more numerous, and the Savages wield horrific Primordial powers, the Loyalists have staunch determination and brilliant tactical minds.

Loyalists also disdain most of the "tainted" warmachines favored by the Tran; they refuse use of the Steelscale drake constructs and the Iron Scorpion self-firing ballista. Instead, Loyalists maintain the ancient art of drake training, nurturing broods of various reptiles which fearlessly defend their goblin masters.

Hobgoblin Certainty

The Hobgoblin Certainty is a master tactician, a veteran of dozens of conflicts, and a living paragon of the qualities most desired within the Tran military. Wielding straight-bladed greatswords and clothed in silver-blue armor, a Certainty's presence on the battlefield is unmistakeable.

Certainties coordinate the movements of large numbers of troops, but unlike Crookcatchers, they do so without taking direct control of their companions. Instead, the Certainty's commands ring with irresistible authority, filling the limbs of their allies with vigor and sheathing their weapons in invisible planes of cutting force. The Certainty, in turn, gains strength from the presence of its allies. As wounds mount on the Certainty and its strength ebbs, its control slips as well; a mortally-wounded Certainty becomes a whirl of violence. Despite being savaged beyond all sanity, a Certainty near death will fight on so long as his allies stand beside him; and should the Certainty find himself alone on the field, the power of his will actually brings his allies back to their feet.

This creature is built on the concepts presented by The Angry DM. I plan to use his excellent system when building solos as well, but knew when I started putting a roster together that I would want to try something similar with Elites. The character has one phase change instead of two, and doesn't gain the bonuses on saves against action-depriving conditions or falling prone. As an Elite, it also doesn't gain access to its action point until after the phase change; I could see making some Elites who have the action point in their first phase instead.

The Certainty is essentially a hobgoblin Ardent (and the Hobgoblin keyword equates to him gaining the free save racial trait without me writing it out on every creature block). He gains two uses of his Ardent Surge-type power, and the second one can be improved at the cost of his health. The first phase of the Certainty is primarily defensive-minded, shifting his allies around the battlefield and gaining temporary hit points so long as he keeps them alive. When players kill the Certainty (who only has 1/2 normal elite hp, or normal soldier hp, in each phase) his mental control snaps and he rushes across the battlefield, laying around him with his weapon before entering a new fighting style. If the players kill all of the Certainty's allies before reducing the first phase's hit points, the Certainty bloodies itself to bring its allies back to their feet, then enters the second phase.

I focused on temporary hit points over health restoration so that a Certainty could increase the challenge of fighting large numbers of minions in his presence; 5 temp hp won't stop most minions from being one-hit kills, but it does give them the chance to escape/survive ongoing damage and area effects.

Once the Certainty becomes Self-Sacrificing, he begins burning his hp down to 1. He still gains temp hp from the actions of his allies (though it's now based on their making attacks, rather than just being present), and his abilities become focused on aggression. However, once players have picked off all of his allies, the Certainty will die very quickly (possibly on its very next turn from Ongoing damage, depending on when it runs out of temp hp). The Certainty's powers, at this point, are also intended to mimic higher-level abilities; I based his primary attack on a lvl 5 ardent attack instead of a lvl 1 to reflect this.

After I finished putting the stats together I considered turning the creature into a solo, but decided I wanted my Elites to really feel like sub/mini bosses. I'll probably have at least one unique Solo Certainty, though.

Hobgoblin Certainty (Lvl 5 Elite Soldier Leader, Medium Natural Humanoid, Hobgoblin, Loyalist, Psionic)
Initiative: 6 Exp: 400
Speed: 6
Special Qualities: +2 on saving throws
HP: 66 (See Legion’s Backbone); Bloodied: Never Bloodied, see triggered actions
AC: 23 Fortitude: 19 Reflex: 17 Will: 21
Attack bonus vs. AC: +12
Attack bonus vs. other defenses: +12
Action points: 0
Str: 15 (+4) Dex: 15 (+4) Wis: 15 (+4)
Con: 18 (+6) Int: 15 (+4) Cha: 18 (+6)

Skills: Arcana +14, Diplomacy +13, Intimidate +13

Phalanx Fighter: Gain +2 to AC and +1 to Fort/Ref/Will when adjacent to an ally
Legion’s Backbone: Whenever the Hobgoblin Certainty begins its turn within 5 squares of at least 2 allies, it gains 10 temporary hit points.

Standard Actions:
(+) Selfless Strike: +12 v AC, At-Will, Healing; 2d6+6 and one ally of the Hobgoblin Certainty w/in 5 squares gains 5 temporary hit points.
+ Cowing Strike: +12 v AC, At-Will, Fear; 2d6+6 and the target has -2 on all defenses until the start of the Hobgoblin Certainty’s next turn.

Move Actions:
-\/- Gather ‘Round: At-Will, Close Burst 5; Up to two allies shift 3 squares and must end their movement closer or adjacent to the Hobgoblin Bastion. If the Hobgoblin Bastion is adjacent to at least one of the targets after this action is resolved, it gains +2 to all defenses until the start of its next turn.

Minor Actions:
-\/- Call to Vigor: Encounter, Close Burst 5, Healing; One ally within the burst gains 20 temporary hit points. The ally also has +2 to all defenses until the end of it its next turn.

Triggered Actions:
-\/- Wail of Despair: Encounter, Special (All of the Hobgoblin Certainty’s allies are reduced to 0 hit points), Close Burst 10, Healing; Choose up to two allies reduced to 0 hp since the start of the Hobgoblin Certainty’s last turn. These allies regain up to 10 hit points each. The Hobgoblin Certainty loses all of its remaining hitpoints and triggers No Greater Sacrifice.

No Greater Sacrifice to Make: Encounter, Special (The Hobgoblin Certainty is reduced to 0 hit points); The Hobgoblin Certainty ends any Stunned, Dazed, or Slowed condition, any ongoing damage, stands if prone, then shifts its speed. At up to 3 points during its movement, it makes the following melee attack as a Free action against a creature it moves adjacent to:
+12 v Fort; 2d8+6 and the target is pushed one square. If the target ends this forced movement adjacent to an ally of the Hobgoblin Certainty, the ally can make a melee basic attack against the target as a free action.

After these attacks are resolved, remove the Hobgoblin Certainty from play and replace it with a Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty.

Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty (Lvl 5 Elite Soldier Leader, Medium Natural Humanoid, Hobgoblin, Loyalist, Psionic)
Initiative: 8 Exp: 400
Speed: 6
Special Qualities: +2 on saving throws. Aura of Agitation: Aura 5, Healing; Whenever an ally within the aura strikes an enemy with a melee attack, the Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty gains 10 temporary hit points. These temporary hit points do not stack.
HP: 66; Bloodied: The Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty is always considered bloodied.
AC: 21 Fortitude: 18 Reflex: 17 Will: 20
Attack bonus vs. AC: +12
Attack bonus vs. other defenses: +12
Action points: 1
Str: 15 (+4) Dex: 15 (+4) Wis: 15 (+4)
Con: 18 (+6) Int: 15 (+4) Cha: 18 (+6)
Skills: Arcana +14, Diplomacy +13, Intimidate +13

Phalanx Fighter: Gain +2 to AC and +1 to Fort/Ref/Will when adjacent to an ally
Rouse: Whenever the Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty hits an enemy with an attack, all of its allies w/in 5 squares can stand up from prone as a free action.
Implacable Will: So long as the Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty has temporary hit points, effects cannot cause its actual hit points to fall below 1.

Standard Actions:
(+) Roaring Blow: +12 v AC, At-Will; 2d6+6 and one ally adjacent to the target or the Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty gains a +3 bonus on damage rolls until the start of the Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty’s next turn.
+ Strike of Self-Sacrifice: +12 v AC, At-Will, Healing; 2d6+6 damage and the Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty loses 5 hit points. One ally within 5 squares gains 5 temporary hit points.
\|/ Vortex of Blood: +12 v Ref, Encounter, Close Blast 5, Healing, Targets- Enemies in blast; 2d8+6 damage and ongoing 5 damage (save ends). Whenever a creature takes ongoing damage from this effect, the Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty regains 1 hit point.

Minor Actions:
-\/- Call to Vigor: Encounter, Close Burst 5, Healing; One ally within the burst gains 20 temporary hit points. The ally also has +2 to all defenses until the end of it its next turn. The Self-Sacrificing Hobgoblin Certainty can lose 5 hit points to target a second ally in the burst with this effect.


  1. For some reason I started to get a little sad reading this one, as you kept talking about "when players kill the Certainty," and "once players have picked off all his allies, the Certainty will die very quickly..."

    He doesn't sound like such a bad guy! He sounds like the grizzled old militia guard that you ride into town to save, the loyalist who gets up every day and puts on a brave face to keep his men fighting in the face of overwhelming odds! A mini-boss he may be, but a mini-boss with a heart, and I don't know that I could ever bring myself to still it...

  2. I'm glad that came across! The Loyalists are intended to evoke that sort of regretful tone, for the most part. The real challenge for me is in presenting them, alongside every other faction and the world itself, in such a way that they don't become the obvious and immediate "good guys" that players want to cuddle up next to. Loyalists -are- attempting to uphold a nation that essentially domesticated their ancestors, and engages in the slaughter of children (cfr Throwbacks), and generally keeps goblins in second-class positions. So the more players see the truth of the Tran Empire, the more frightening these grizzled zealots may become.

  3. Yeah, once that comes across it might do the trick for some of the more chaotic good sorts... but its just as likely that a party might enter the scene sympathizing with the Tran rather than questioning the foundation upon which their society has been built.

    Another thing that might work is playing up the grim military pragmatism of these guys, essentially eroding the distinction between Despot and Loyalist methods despite their diametrically opposed ends.

    Under this approach, the Loyalists are a thoroughly trained remorseless army trapped behind enemy lines. These aren't fresh recruits, they aren't wide eyed and innocent boys thrust into a crazy war they don't understand but nevertheless believe in... they're grizzled war veterans meeting force with unfeeling overwhelming force. When they see someone on the streets who isn't a Thran dwarf or a goblin flying the Loyalist colors, they're going to shoot first and not even bother asking questions later. Not because they're terrible evil guys, but just because doing anything else puts their boys at risk unnecessarily. The fall of the empire showed them they couldn't even trust those who've now turned Despot, even though they may have served beside them for years, and that doesn't make them inclined to trust any stranger in town any faster. They're carving out a zone of law and sanity in the city, but they're doing so by killing anything that could conceivably present a threat to the return of the Tran, and keeping anything else that isn't an immediate threat under close watch and putting it to work for the Loyalist military machine.

    After being attacked without provocation, the PCs likely will be less inclined to immediately ally with the Loyalists. And even if they were willing to try to parlay after finishing off the first Loyalists to attack them, the Loyalists will be carrying a grudge against the PCs for murdering their comrades in arms, and beyond that be unlikely to willingly take on any amount of risk by trusting the PCs to roam fully armed throughout their city. Instead, they will demand that PCs either fall into line and take orders from the Loyalist command structure or stay out of the combat zone entirely.

    In this approach it isn't that the Loyalists are bad, or even mistaken about what steps need to be taken to secure the city; it is just that they are entirely closed off to trusting anyone other than themselves, and if you are not with them then they must move forward under the assumption that you are against them. While the Loyalists can make an efficient and powerful ally for PCs with an interest in bringing order to the city, it takes creative diplomacy, level heads, and strategic planning for the PCs to even have a hope of an alliance.