Hemlocke – Wanted: Dead or Alive?

Hemlocke

So this year’s Guild Ball Community event is looking at the schism in the Union team caused by Rage slipping his leash and the Solthecian Church coming in to take over the running of the team.

Details can be found here: https://steamforged.com/union-in-chains

Eight of the original Guild’s have been paired up and are fighting to gain a member of the Union as a Guild member. The pairings are:

 

  • The Fisherman’s Guild & Butcher’s Guild will be competing for Gutter.
  • The Brewer’s Guild & Mason’s Guild will be competing for Decimate.
  • The Mortician’s Guild & Hunter’s Guild will be competing for Hemlocke.
  • The Alchemist’s Guild & Engineer’s Guild will be competing for Harry the Hat.

Each of the Union members will get an alternative sculpt depending on which Guild they finally settle in.

Hemlocke is being fought over by the Mortician’s and Hunter’s Guilds (Go Morticians!) and her alternative sculpts are:

 

Her back story is:

A fate unknown

Light flooded into the empty chamber, coloured in faint hues of red and green from the faded staining in the glass dome above. Motes of dust fluttered through the air like tiny fireflies, tumbling ever downwards in lazy spirals. A peaceful stillness had taken hold of this place and refused to relinquish it, entirely at odds with the sinister darkness lurking in the catacombs below.
Grace stood in quiet contemplation of the scene, light reflecting from her pristine robes in a blinding glare. Her lip curled. She cared little for this place. A long-abandoned chapel built atop an ancient temple ruined some centuries past, the neglect of this sacred ground was an offence against Solthecius himself.
The Inquisitor’s dilapidated surroundings offered little to placate to her condemnation. The elements had not been kind to a building standing unattended for so many years, her eye picking out places where walls had crumbled and fallen in, and dark metalwork was spotted with orange. Tall windows, once proud and vibrant, had grown dull in their frames; the panes from several others shattered over the floor in pointed shards of multicoloured glass.
This remote shrine would be impure forevermore, sins of the past having rendered it far beyond the limits of mortal sanctification. The order had allowed the lonely site to be quietly forgotten over the years as the trail of attendant worshippers had slowly reduced to a trickle, content that the pious should never know of its existence. It was probable the dusty flagstones had known neither foot nor knee for decades until the arrival of the Inquisition, the carpets once covering them having rotted away long since.
But, Grace was not here to kneel in supplication.
A warren of tunnels hid underfoot, a sprawling dungeon first created for the primitive temple a thousand years ago, made into a labyrinthian maze by the architects of the chapel erected in the time since. They had not been alone in their attentions. Nature too had touched the confusing hive of forgotten cells and foetid cellars just as it had the land above, shuddering tremors and flooding causing irreversible destruction in the depths. Fraught with collapsed ceilings and impassable corridors, even the most recent map was hopelessly obsolete.
It was the perfect prison for as vile a fraternity as the Union.
Despite the length of leash allowed him by the new Bacchus, Rage had quickly proven too wild a dog to be left to his own devices, his rebellious instinct too fractious to be of use. Grand plans for the treacherous cadre spoiled, Pious VI had not sat idle in retaliation. His Inquisitors’ mission of stewardship soon become one of hunter and prey, Grace and Benediction ordered to entomb each member of the Union underground, far from the eyes of man.
Their first quarry had been Rage himself, the vicious thug now imprisoned in a cell as bleak as his blackened heart. His capture in particular had been a dark enough deed to cost of the lives of three initiates, each bloodied by his wicked cleaver until their bodies moved no more. Pursuit of the other wolves in his ruthless pack had been less barbaric, yet none had come easily.
The Saint would have lied if she did not admit to a sense of satisfaction in persecuting such reprehensible scum. She had readily paid penance each night, quickly reaching forgiveness for her behaviour in service of the August Lord. Her conscience remained as pure as her unbroken innocence.
Footsteps cut through the silence and from the corner of her vision, Benediction’s immense frame appeared. Unlike Grace, he wore his armour and faceplate, his robes dirtied from travelling through the depths below. Behind him he dragged a long chain, metal links clinking together as they writhed, the final malefactor struggling in vain against the hard iron.
The witch had arrived.
The woman had been a dishevelled mess even before she had been dragged from her den, clothes a tattered collection of unwashed rags, her hair matted into thick dreadlocks. She reeked as only an individual with an aversion to bathing could, a musky stench of dried sweat and mould.
Grace’s eyes narrowed, a sadistic smile creeping across her features. Hemlocke deserved cleansing in more ways than one. Amongst all of her miserable brethren the witch offended the order most, by defying the very word of Solthecius with her sacrilegious profanity. She belonged in the dark ages past, a slave to the pagan beliefs of man when he had paid fealty to the elements and the stars above.
Sensing the contemptuous stare, the witch turned her head towards Grace, only to wilt and avert her tortured eyes as she shrank away again. The brief glimpse revealed pupils dilated to monstrous proportions, all trace of colour replaced by heavy black orbs. Doubtless, Hemlocke had been sampling her own stock.
A vicious yank of her collar dragged the witch under the light of the grand dome, painting her in dappled hues. She reacted by clawing at the chain and shrieking at her tormentor.
‘No blind man should see as you, giant. You are unnatural, an abomination!’ The sudden outburst was the first collection of legible words the woman had offered since her capture, the rest only gnashing of teeth and forlorn wailing.
Hemlocke’s spite earned her a backhanded slap across the mouth, the impact whipping her delicate neck backwards. When her head swung back again she glared murderously, bloated eyes unblinking.
A thin trail of red trickled over her chin, and the witch defiantly spat a mouthful of bloody phlegm onto the floor, crimson covering a cross carved into the stone.
She grinned, teeth stained pink. ‘The Old Ones care little for your pretend lord, or the misguided fools who follow him. You are as powerless as the lies your kind peddle, and these worthless icons crumbling under my heel.’
Benediction punished her blasphemy again, a huge hand seizing Hemlocke by the throat and roughly hauling her into the air. His head swung around to Grace as the witch’s hands scrabbled at his grip, blank mask somehow conveying his silent question.
Grace took a moment to savour the undiluted panic over Hemlocke’s features. Her face was turning a painful shade of purple, her legs frantically kicking on tiptoes. The witch was clearly running out of breath, her sullen tongue silenced but for a strangled gasp.
The Saint shook her head.
Benediction gave one last cruel squeeze before hurling the Union scum away, her body tumbling through the air until she landed amongst the rotting remnants of a row of pews. The witch struck the wood with a sickening thud, an agonised scream torn from her lungs on impact. Her voice trailed into a rasp as she slipped to the floor like a child’s discarded ragdoll.

Hemlocke lay still amongst the splintered wood, only movement a tremble as she sobbed
pathetically. The line of red across her chin had become a wide river, pooling on the old stone beneath her.
‘I will not pretend you do not deserve death for your sins, witch. You are barely a trial in our holy mission, a trivial distraction at most. Perhaps death would provide the best form of censure for one such as you, rather than imprisonment.’ Hemlocke didn’t react to the words, her eyes still closed.
Grace glanced at her companion. His mask hid any hint of expression, but Grace knew his judgement would match hers regardless. The heathen woman’s fate was sealed in a moment of unspoken communion.
‘Illuminate her.’ With the slightest nod, the Virgin Sister signalled her guardian into action once more. An armoured boot stepped forward from under his robes, catching the light in spite of a thin layer of grime.
Hemlocke lurched up into the air, a marionette with her strings suddenly pulled taught. Her hands scratched at the air, nails clawing like talons clutching invisible rungs. Back straight as a rod, the witch’s head snapped towards Grace, eyes rolled back to become milky orbs. She bared her teeth in a feral grin.
Benediction broke into a run, hands reaching for her, but the witch slipped away as though possessed by a devil, her nimble agility at odds with how erratically her limbs moved. She reached the nearest window in moments, the tall glass pane already shattered inwards. Without breaking her unnatural gait Hemlocke launched herself through the opening, disappearing but for a bloody scrap of cloth.
Benediction roared in frustration, punching an armoured fist into the wall. He looked back towards Grace, tilting his head downwards in self condemnation.
The Saint’s smile returned. It was time to persecute the hunt once more.

Hemlocke’s eyelids slowly parted, her vision blurry and indistinct. Whatever spirits had aided her escape had scattered, leaving her entirely mortal once more, a broken shell stretched over weak and bruised flesh.
As her senses returned she became slowly aware she lay at the bottom of a shallow ditch, muddy water soaking through her clothes, icy cold against her clammy skin. It seemed some time had elapsed since her flight, the avatar of the Father fallen from the blank skies to usher in the dominion of the  Goddess. The landscape was coloured a pale hue, the faint and ethereal light birthing a deep shadow in the recess where she now  languished.
Her ears detected nary a hint of pursuit, but Hemlocke knew the accursed holy men would still be searching for her. She was the last of the Union to have evaded them, and their kind did not rest easily.
They would hunt for her until her last breath, the chase as relentless as their passion for their falsehood god.
She groaned, knowing she was poor game presently.
Her forehead was warm and fevered; from her short breath and a dull ache in her flank she was likely wounded inside, the taste of coppery blood painted over her lips. Two of the fingers on her left hand were broken, pointing in unnatural directions. With her frenetic scramble apparently ceased some hours before, Hemlocke feared that if she tried to move her body would not obey.
She was a shattered figure, collapsed in a bolthole and awaiting death.
Hemlocke closed her eyes once again. If the gods wanted to take her, she would gladly relinquish her life to them. Even in this state, she was their servant, and she dared not betray the ancient oaths of her order. In a faltering mumble, she began to mouth ancient words from the rite of ending.
An image appeared in her mind, her voice faltering as the words inexplicably caught in her throat.
She felt herself frown outwardly as the vision expanded and a fine lunar mist eclipsed all, covering every surface and leaving her numb. Somewhere in the distance faint silhouettes moved, their forms indistinct and wreathed by billowing clouds. Whenever she would strain her eyes to concentrate on one it would become intangible, only to maddeningly reappear some distance away.
Their voices echoed through the murky gloom, words illuminating each spirit momentarily with sparks of colour against the grey background.
‘What do you want for this one’s release?’ Even distorted the first voice was deep enough to be undeniably male, strong and powerful, the speaker glowing bright amber.
‘A gesture, support in coming trials.’ The second voice was a sinister hiss, the slither of a serpent baring its fangs.
‘Very well.’ Hemlocke felt uncertainty creep into the first speakers tone, and saw a shard of cold ice break through his aura, a jagged line of canker, twisted and bitter. He reluctantly spoke again after a pause. ‘We shall enter into agreement with you.’
The second spirit did not reply, instead sweeping around to face her as the mists surrounding them whipped up into a storm. His eyes bored into hers for a moment through the turmoil, and a cold sweat dripped down her spine. The vortex span faster, accompanied by the shrieking of a thousand crows, swirling forward to envelop her within a cloak of charcoal feathers.
His face coalesced inches before her own, the spirit become a horrific visage of a cloaked devil, a skull with sharpened teeth leering from the folds of blackened sackcloth.
‘You are not supposed to be here, witch. Why have you transgressed into this past?’ His dark words were the chill of the grave, morbid and flat, bereft of any trace of warmth.
Hemlocke found herself unable to answer, terror seizing her breath and suffocating her.

Her knees buckled as her essence ebbed away, drawn on strings leading to his skeletal fingers.
The devil’s hold was broken in a howl of agony, a spear of light skewering the enveloping darkness, warmth flooding through the rent to return life to the world once again. On the other side, she could see the first speaker, his golden aura strong and restored. He shielded another figure, a bestial creature which snarled furiously, and clacked her slavering jaws.
‘Come, Hemlocke! Quickly!’ This voice was female, the animalistic snarl familiar somehow.
‘Salvation!’
Hemlocke’s reply was drowned out by the murder of crows, a jagged cacophony which lashed at the golden figure and reopened the rent in his soul, allowing the ice to pour in.
She felt herself slipping away, the vision pulling itself to the edge of her consciousness. She desperately tried to reach her hands outwards, still unable to wrest meaning.
‘Run! Run, Hemlocke! Whilst you can, come to us!’ The urgent voice broke through once more, faint and quickly fading, swallowed by a tide of rolling mists, retreating away into the aether.
Hemlocke’s head recoiled, a great breath forcing itself into her lungs with a violent shudder. Her eyes open, she saw that day had come once more. Somewhere nearby, she could hear footfall in the undergrowth, dried leaves cracking under booted heel.
It was time to flee her hiding place. The gods had seen fit to send her portents once more, and where they beckoned she would follow without question. She scrambled to her feet, forcing herself to ignore a sharp spike of pain in her chest. Her role in the machinations of the Old Ones was far from over, her future undecided, a path untraveled.
And her side yet to be chosen.

Some exciting times ahead. Both sculpts are great – I really like the snake that the mortician version has.

Time to play some games and head on over to the Forums and get Hemlocke in the Mortician’s!

Until next time sports fans!

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The story so far…Hunter’s Guild

hunters-team

The Hunter’s Guild were a team introduced in Season 2 with only a passing reference in Season 1 (on Hemlocke and Minx’s cards).

Hunters

Season 2 -Hunter’s Guild

The Hunter’s Guild is not a new one, but one of the oldest there is. However, they don’t have Guild Houses like the others nor do they ply their trade in the cities. Their Guild Ball team is a recent addition, however.

Most Hunter’s are pagan – believing in the old gods of the Moon Goddess and the Sun Father. The Moon Goddess is the mistress of the hunt. She blesses them to steal from the Sun Father, who nurtures the world.

The original purpose of the Guild was to hunt the great beasts of the forests in the north and deserts of the south.

The Hunter’s story starts at the Frontier’s Cup with the Mortician’s keeping Minx caged and them being guided by Hearne. Obulus barters the support of the Hunter’s in the forthcoming tournament for Minx’s release. Hearne, however, warns Obulus that the Hunter’s will seek recompense for Minx’s captivity – something Obulus seems unconcerned by.

The story continues with a match between the Hunter’s and Mortician’s. The Hunter’s are said to not play the game like any other team – rather than having established playbooks and practised tactics they stalk their opponents on the pitch by instinct.

Ghast is taken out by Jaecar before being patched up and sent back on. Zarola scores to give the Hunter’s the lead. Ghast and Jaecar then fight again and Scalpel manages to take down Egret. She then moves to help Ghast (now facing Seenah) but is stopped by Obulus from the sidelines. Seenah then attacks Ghast, ripping his throat out and killing him instantly. The game ends and Obulus is satisfied the Hunter’s progress to the final.

The story concludes with the final – Mason’s vs Hunter’s. The game is watched by Obulus from the sidelines to ensure the Hunter’s fulfil their side of the arrangement.

The game ends with the Mason’s winning but with Honour crippled, presumably by Hearne at Obulus’ behest.

Theron

The team is captained by Theron, Champion of the Sun Father. A career soldier during the Century Wars, he felt betrayed by the political unions reached at it’s conclusion. He spent the subsequent years wandering, trying to find somewhere to belong – eventually walking into the wilds of the north. Soon after he encountered an emissary of the Hunter’s Guild, Hearne.  Theron finally found somewhere he felt he belonged.

Fahad

Fahad is the team mascot, a midnight devil from the forests of the north.

Jaecar

Jaecar is the team vice captain, a natural born killer known to do all that is necessary to ensure the kill.

Zarola

Zarola is a skilled hunter and makes no distinction between humans and animals that hunt – seeing them as siblings and hunting with them as a pack.

egret

Egret is unusual for a Hunter as she is neither an abandoned orphan nor an exile. She is the daughter of an old Castellyian noble family, a well-educated child born of privilege. However, a noble existence felt like a noose around her neck and she escaped to the wilderness to find peace. She was watched by the Guild before being taken to the Lord Huntress. For many this would mean banishment or death, but Egret was met with a smile as the Huntress sensed a kindred spirit and potential successor.

GB-S2-Hunters-Hearne-TGN

Hearne is the eldest of the Hunter’s and no living soul remembers his life before the Guild.  None also know how he became the spiritual conduit of the Sun Father. All that is known is that the benevolence, wisdom and serenity of the deity shines through him. Hearne is present at the initiation of all new novices into the Guild; he occupies a unique position for devout Hunter’s. The Lord Huntress is the ceremonial and political head of the Guild and is chosen by the Moon Goddess. She must have her opposite though in the Scion of the Sun Father (currently Hearne) as both ally and rival.

GB-S2-Hunters-Chaska

Chaska is known as a stubborn, coldhearted, intractable man, but is probably the friednlist of the Hunters as he does interact with the outside world. He is a skinner within the Guild.

Seenah_zpsavdmjqpm

Seenah, the great bear, is a remarkable member of the Guild team. A wild beast seemingly tamed to aid the Hunter’s cause. Rumours abound that Seenah has the soul of a man trapped inside like the ancient tales of lycanthropy.

Until next time sports fans!

Guild Ball GenCon 2016 Roundup

GB-Teams-MorticiansSo GenCon 2016 is over and the first US Guild Ball Championships where held.  The event was won by  Jordan Nach with the Mortician’s Guild.

In second was Brian White (Morticians), third Alex Botts (Morticians) and fourth Patrick Van Valzah (Morticians)…

The final was between Jordan and Brian and was a complete mirror match with both taking Obulus, Dirge, Silence, Ghast, Rage and Avarisse & Greede.  There tournament added Cosset, Casket and Mist (I’m surprised Mist wasn’t in the final).

The ‘meta’ game in the US certainly seems different from what I’ve experienced in the UK, but I don’t know whether it’s a case of Mortician’s being better or better players using Mortician’s.  Control archetypes are always difficult to play against and in the hands of a good player that’s just exacerbated.

There were some interesting spoilers and titbits that came out of GenCon:

Starter Set

A Guild Ball Starter Set will be released in November with two full 6- player teams. The figures will be one piece plastic to make initial set up easy.  Nothing confirmed as to who the two Guild would be but some possibilities:

  • Butcher’s and Fishermen
    • Seen as the two archetypal guilds (Beating vs Footballing) and the basis of the current demo set
  • Mason’s
    • It’ s been said before that some of the models  are in need of a resculpt as they are on the small side of the scale compared ot teh Season 2 models and the show exclusive Flint. Would seem like a good time to do this
  • The Union
    • A flexible team that could go a number of ways. Would also be attractive for existing players.
  • Brewer’s
    • A fairly straightforward play style that would lend themselves to an introduction. they haven’t really been touched on that much in the fluff yet either.

I would say that the Mortician’s, Alchemist’s, Engineers and Hunter’s are unlikely due to there playstyles as are the Farmer’s and the as yet unnamed team for Season 3 as the starter set seem due around SteamCon in November but Season 3 isn’t due until April 2017.

We also don’t know if they will be pure guild or include Union choices (assuming that Union aren’t one of them).

Rookies

A new player type will be added, the Rookies.  These will be a seventh player on the pitch with a powerlevel similar to Mascots. The suggestion was they attach to a ‘mentor’ and give them a specific buff (presumably if in close proximity as he mentioned following them around).

New Guilds

There will be two new Guilds in Season 3 (available at Salute 2017). One we know (The Farmer’s Guild), the other we don’t.

Tater was released at GenCon and we have also seen the first sight of another Farmer. He appears to be some sort of scarecrow with a a skeletal face.

Picture1

 

New players

An existing Guild will be getting a new Captain in Season 3, which I woudl assume would be the Hunter’s to add parity.

We have seem the first images of Veteran Katalyst and he looks huge!

13882683_10154414649622937_7529274360440739472_n

 

Russ Charles (Steamforged’s go-to sculptor) was also at GenCon doing what he does and this was one thing on show?

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Looks a lot like Brick to me so whether he is getting the Veteran treatment or whether it’s an indication that Mason’s are in the Starter Set is unknown.

An interview with Mat and Rich from Beasts of War:

What’s in a name? – Hunter’s Guild

Although they aren’t released until the 16th April, the Hunter’s Guild names have been spoiled so here are what I’ve found out about the origin of their names.

Hunters

Hunter’s Guild

Theron, Champion of the Sun Father

Theron

 

Theron is a name of Ancient Greek origin deriving from θηραω (therao) meaning “to hunt”.
Fahad, Midnight Devil

Fahad

Fahad is a name of Arabic origin meaning ‘Panther’ amongst other things.
Jaecar, Shadowborn

Jaecar

Jaecar is a derivation of the German word Jaeger meaning Hunter.
Zarola, Wild Mistress

Zarola

Zarola is a name of Persian origin and means Hunter.
Egret, Promised of the Moon

egret

An egret is a type of bird which was historically hunted for it’s plumes.  It is likely also a play on Ygritte from Game of Thrones on which the model bears an uncanny resemblance.
Hearne, Scion of the Sun Father

GB-S2-Hunters-Hearne-TGN

Likely named after ‘Herne the Hunter’ a ghost associated with Windsor Forest and Great Park in the English county of Berkshire. Although it could possibly be a reference to English explorer, fur-trader, author, and naturalist, Samuel Hearne. He was the first European to make an overland excursion across northern Canada to the Arctic Ocean.
Chaska, Ironheart

GB-S2-Hunters-Chaska

The name Chaska is traditionally the name given to the first born son of Sioux Native Americans. It is also a city in Minnesota which was originally the homeland of the Sioux .
Seenah, the Great Bear

Seenah_zpsavdmjqpm

I am going to have to admit I have no idea why the bear is called Seenah, anyone have any thoughts?

Edit: Had a chat with the guys at Salute and it’s because they wanted a John Cena reference in Guild Ball.

Until next time sports fans!