Monday, 14 April 2014


Odeou Shabapnup grimaced. It was no good, he just wasn't miserable enough.

Hard to admit to himself, but the hobgoblin shaman knew what defeat looked like only too well. And here he was again, staring right at it.

He'd been great once. Master of a mighty collection of tribes, his word had ruled the actions of what was nearly civilisation. Unusual, for his people. Usually they either served or were dinner for the larger or more organised creatures found out in the wilderness. But unique amongst the hobgoblins, he had forged something that was almost an empire.

Then the Empire had come.

That damned human expedition, trekking East in the hopes of finding a viable trade route. They'd have failed, too, crushed under the onslaught of his rushing warriors and their wolves. If it hadn't been for the accursed wizard with them. The shadows he'd thrown - even now, it made Odeou shiver to think of the way scores of hunchbacked goblins had vanished into the maws of dark pits you'd swear were just tricks of the light. He'd tried to harness the Waargh to burn through the shadow wizard's tricks, but he'd found he was fighting phantasms. The wizard had laughed at him, mocked his efforts and left him for dead, trapped in a lightless nightmare full of inner demons.

After that, his powers were broken. The Ogres came soon after, enslaving what was left of his people

Everything he'd worked so hard to achieve was gone in a heartbeat. Years of conniving, sneaking and quisling followed, slaving just to stay alive. He'd survived where hundreds, no, thousands of his hobgoblin kin had failed, convincing the various Tyrants and Bosses he'd served that he was just useful enough not to eat but not so useful he was full of himself and needed clobbering. A horrible life, just a scrape away from death on all sides. He'd lost hope of anything different.

Until, at last, campaigning with his latest Ogre master on the fringes of far Cathay, he'd found a chance for just that. The means to his ends, the path to his revenge.

The Crown of Frozen Tears, as beautiful as it was potent.

Crafted by a more-than-usually insane dwarven daemonsmith in an icy antiforge, the glittering tiara shone with the captured woe of a thousand beaten mortals. It emanated despair and defeat in an almost visible halo of violet grief. Those in the presence of the wearer became enfeebled with misery, incapable of believing their own lives or choices had meaning. Which meant the wearer became unbearably potent in comparison, making them seem like a born leader. With it, you could enslave a thousand kings.

When it wasn't broken, at least.

The problem was, Odeou knew, that you had to be pretty miserable yourself in order for the Crown to work. It magnified your own self-doubt and projected it, something like that. He'd found it in pieces, worn as jewels by a number of sombre petty warlords across the lands he'd raided in. And he'd stolen them from his master, one by one, and reassembled them.

His own hopelessness had been enough to reawaken its shattered majesty. That, with a few incantations from the remnants of a grimoire his master kept for wiping with in the dunny tent, at least. Once he had it working, the Tyrant Bloat the Boor had been a pitiful and mewling creature, putty in his cunning hands. Rather than the random acts of violence the ogre band had performed at Bloat's behest, now they had a plan.

They'd begun conquering their way back west, gathering beaten foes to their banner on the way. Daemon worshippers, exiled elves, champions of lost gods, feral orc clans. They all lost hope and added to Odeou's miserable army like slush on the outside of a rolling snowball.

By the time they made Blackfire, they were thousands strong and incredibly depressed. To be near them was to feel the warmth in your life drain away. Defeat and worthlessness, that's all you'd ever known and could ever know. And you deserved it, because look at you. Look at the company you were keeping. Losers to a man. Orc. Slavering entity of the outer darkness. Whatever.

That was when Odeou finally felt, in the trance dreams round his midnight campfire, the presence of the Grey. Finally, revenge would be his, just as power was his once again. He knew the Grey would be expecting him, somehow. And he knew their return match would result in victory, and that felt good.

Which is what, he presumed, had broken the Crown.

The six chunks of it glistened wetly in the firelight. Even now, he could feel his grasp over the minds of his minions slipping away. The Crown wasn't totally beyond repair, and the feeling that he could lose everything all over again was certainly helping keep it from melting entirely.

But it wasn't enough to fix it.

Already, he could overhear angry words in the encampment outside. Chieftains realising they'd been duped. Commanders recovering faith in their own judgement. Savages remembering how much they liked hitting things. Bloodshed wasn't far off, not that it ever was in Odeou's experience.

Best to let it happen. Because there was one thing of which Odeou was absolutely sure. Once it was all over, there would be a loser.

What he needed right now, more than anything, was the biggest loser he could find. Someone whose raw misery could glue his Crown of Tears back together, along with his plans for revenge. He wouldn't even need to wear it himself. As long as there was a single leader for his throng of woe, the Grey would still know defeat.

With a sense of urgent purpose that he strove to mask from the pieces of the Crown, Odeou slipped out of his tent and into the darkness. He just needed a little time to attune the fragments to the masters of the tattered armies around him...


Welcome back, Woff-Fans! As an (as usual optional) bit of fluff for the 'Boot, here's an extra-battular activity for your added Wofftertainment! 

Yes, you too can now be a part of the internecine fighting that threatens to deprive Odeou of both his army and his revenge. Here's how!

  • Every General taking part in the Woffboot begins with possession of a single fragment of the Crown of Frozen Tears.
  • Every time you fight a battle, as you start your first turn you must nominate one other general currently present at the 'Boot to attune your fragment to.
  • That General now takes possession of the fragment, whether they're currently fighting or not. 
  • If you lose a battle, you gain one Fluff Loser Point for every fragment currently in your possession. 
  • If you win, any fragments in your possession have no effect.
  • Either way, you keep all your fragments until your match, when you must pass them on again.
  • At the end of the 'Boot, the General with the most Fluff Loser Points is now the new wearer of the reforged Crown of Frozen Tears, and as such, Master of Odeou's Throng of Woe. Just before they get fed into the mincer that the Grey has prepared for them at Rotefalk Fortress! Lucky lucky them!

In the absence of actual magically frozen teardrops, I thought poker chips might make reasonable substitutes for this Warhammerised version of 'Where's the Peg'. 

There are two things to soften the blow of potentially 'winning' this. Firstly, The Crown of Frozen Tears may have the ability to spoil some of the powers of the Grey's Pad of Scrying. The Master of the Throng will get a couple of choices to make that will be represented in subsequent fluff.

Secondly, I once again promise that you'll get some kind of army-appropriate trophy (painted or otherwise, your choice) from me at some point. Really, though, this is all about getting to Crown someone Ultimate Loser  Fluffhound for the weekend. Although in a way, we all are just for taking part. 

With sneaky tactical choices, I suppose it's theoretically possible that even the actual winner could be tagged with enough Fluff Points to give them that dubious honour. Which might take the sting out of defeat a little for everyone else!

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