So there I was, sitting in the car the other day, chatting with my friend Alex. We both agree that the fluff and backstory of any setting and its characters play an enormous role in engaging us as players, be it an RPG, tabletop minis, or a video game. Even the mighty power of nostalgia can falter if a game setting isn’t adequately fleshed out. I’ve considered Privateer Press’ worldbuilding to be the standard against which I measure others for some time.
In the Iron Kingdoms we have a wealth of fiction and backstory built up over 15 years, with each warcaster and warlock (and a good portion of the solos) having history, motivation – they’ve had life breathed into them. Even the mindless slaughterbrute that is Orsus Zoktavir has a novella, has non-combat interaction with other characters in the setting, and not just spitting on Cygnarans, but complex conflict within his own faction (I’m looking at you, Sorscha).
One of the potentially trickiest things to pull of has been when a character has actively switch factions. Sturgis served the Cygnus, was slain, and resurrected to serve the Dragonfather… and you can play with both versions. Goreshade cast his lot as an Eldritch, but through no less than three incarnations in the rules, before being renewed by Scyrah, and now he once again fights for Ios. Caine served the Cygnaran crown for most of his career (and what a career it was… how’s Llael these days?) before turning his blue coat brown and signing up as a Mercenary. Honestly, part of me expected Amon Ad Raza to turn his back on his Menite ways after Heirarch Voyle died…
Having a character from one faction flip over to another is a concept I find fascinating, and I’m always curious to see how the wordsmiths at Privateer are going to pull it off. Last week, though, rather than looking into the evolution of a character, we got a sneak peak at an upcoming Minicrate model (https://www.mini-crate.com/) where we get to see Cryxian poster boy Asphyxious before he became an Iron Lich.
We’ve known for some time that Asphyxious was a druid before he thew himself into a volcano to prove his willingness to serve Toruk, but there was a fantheory that Asphyxious was actually Krueger the Stormlord, thrown back in time at some point in the future. Granted, this theory was largely based on the fact that both Krueger and Asphyxious like to hover and they’re both armed with a spear with a cleft blade, but I still liked it as a theory.
The reveal of the art for pre-lich Asphyxious, who will still be hovering and holding a cleft spear, making him a legal proxy for Asphyxious1 (yes, PP has confirmed that it’ll be on a 40mm base), makes it pretty clear that the fantheory is bunk.
The thing I particularly like about this, though, is that we’re seeing a minicrate model that isn’t a mercenary or a minion. I like my mercs and minions as much as the next guy, and I totally get the marketing point of making the Minicrate models accessible to as many players as they can across multiple factions, but this? This is what I was hoping for from Minicrate. New models for core characters that we know and love from the factions we play. Yes, they did a new Butcher for Christmas, but that was a holiday piece as opposed to something that can be rooted in the backstory. The Runeball Wizard and Lady of the Feast are genderswapped variants, but this is a legitimate glimpse into the history of a character we’ve known for over a decade.
The other thing I like about this concept art is that it gives us a sweet new druid model for those playing the Unleashed RPG. As much as I love that, thanks to the Unleashed rulebook and Kings, Nations & Gods, we can use pretty much every Warmachine and Hordes model in the RPG, being able to introduce something new like this just makes my geek heart happy.
I’m looking forward to seeing more Minicrate models from the core factions. It’s looking to be a good year.