The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 3

This session was a typical “made plans, didn’t get to them” session. However, it was part of my plan that we wouldn’t get to my planned job, so I’m not disappointed. I knew that the players were going to have “things” to do this session, and was I right or was I right!

As a reminder, our PCs are:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And our named NPCs who came up this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • StR33t_Sa1Nt – An enthusiastic and fun loving netrunner who is eager to impress and has a massive crush / hero worships Archangel (a world famous netrunner)
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.

So I will be brief with most of what happened. There was a lot of sleeping and first aid and seeing ripperdocs as two of three party members were incredibly wounded following the previous job. I won’t bore you with the details, but this happened for a while. Hard Truth vlogged about stuff that happened in the world while he rested, however one his way to get first aid from Crossfire on one day he was mugged by some Jackals gangers, one of which got a massive crit roll for their brawling and punched him in the face, bringing him back into serious wounds.

Following on from this, Plata started his revenge-quest, trading some information that he pulled from the police archives to Iron Hawk in exchange for information on Aspect, the corporate who was a part of the opposing team from the previous job. He went for a stakeout, observing her apartment and saw her returning in the evening.

Crossfire asked Iron Hawk for the contact information of an edgerunner named StR33t_Sa1Nt, who was under her employ. Once he had this, he hired her to find a good gunsmith in the local area, but not in the Corporate Zone, and also information about the illegal street fighting ring known as the Crucible. She went to the Net to find the information, but was unable to find it there so she took to the streets, asking around for the information as she wouldn’t admit defeat in this relatively simple task. However, she was not the most streetwise of people and ended up not showing to a meeting that she and Crossfire had scheduled that evening. Crossfire dropped this altogether and continued about his business.

However, a few days later, Crossfire gets a call from a perturbed Iron Hawk. She asks him if he knows what happened with StR33t_Sa1Nt, to which Crossfire admits he does not. Turns out when she went to ask around she ended up getting kidnapped by Cold Snap (which is not a good thing for anyone involved…) and Iron Hawk hired other edgerunners to rescue the young netrunner, as following the last mission that they partially botched combined with this incident she didn’t trust the PCs to handle this.  She also implied that it was an expense that Crossfire was going to be responsible for.

She then called them to a meeting for a new job that she was going to give them, however this is where Plata and Hard Truth finally clashed. Plata had received the information as to who killed the detective and was determined to kill the cop-killer. He got to the meeting slightly before Hard Truth and tried to persuade the bouncer that he was going t beat someone up and that the bouncer shouldn’t get involved. He crit failed the roll and started an argument with the bouncer, at which point Hard Truth arrived and approached, greeting them both. Plata immediately grabbed him, put him in a hold and started to move him away from the bar. At this point, Hard Truth started calling for help, stating that the police were oppressing him in the lawless part of town, which attracted a nearby Syndicate ganger to his aid. Plata threw Hard Truth to the ground and yelled at the ganger to not get involved, trying to intimidate him, but it didn’t work. The Syndicate ganger shot Plata in the arm, rolling near max damage and causing limb loss. Plata passed his death save, but quickly surrendered. Hard Truth tried to punch him, so he dodged, but the ganger shot him again, scoring a headshot and killing Plata. The player burned luck (a houserule I’ve implemented) to avoid death and Plata was taken off to hospital again as he fell onto his healthcare card, snapping it and triggering a team to come and extract him. Hard Truth took his pistol.

Iron Hawk arrived later, arriving 15 minutes in advance of the meeting time (the other two arrived and tried to kill each other 30 mins before), and Crossfire was late as he was trying to move stealthily through the Combat Zone and was badly delayed because the Syndicate are observant (he wasn’t spotted though). In this time, Hard Truth asked how Plata might have gotten the information, to which Iron Hawk replied that she wasn’t the only information broker but he also could’ve investigated it himself, as police tend to investigate when one of their own is killed. During the meeting, Hard Truth spun his tale as to what happened between him and Plata to Crossfire, who was easily convinced, though Iron Hawk saw through his story. When Crossfire asked why Plata tried to kill Hard Truth, she gave Hard Truth the opportunity to explain, but he merely tried looking innocent, so Iron Hawk told Crossfire that Hard Truth had murdered a detective and Plata didn’t like cop-killers. Crossfire then basically called Iron Hawk incompetent which, after botching the last job she gave them (by running in guns blazing after being told that running in guns blazing likely wouldn’t work by Iron Hawk), getting one of her other runners kidnapped by hiring her for a job she wasn’t qualified to do (she was also a bit irritated that he didn’t just ask her for the information, as she is literally an information broker) and causing her expenses that could easily have been avoided… she had to roll a Cool check to see if she would keep her cool in this situation or just have them killed. At this point Hard Truth was dirty laundry, as she knows she shouldn’t have given Plata the information (but he rolled a 26), and Crossfire was showing to be a bumbling old man and not worth the trouble. She passed the check and so she didn’t order their “removal” but she was done with the meeting. Looking at Crossfire and Hard Truth (who was in critical wounds again) and considering Plata was no longer going to run with this team, she decided to give the job she had to her other team she had formed out of the NPCs that the players could hire.

Once Crossfire and Hard Truth had left Syndicate territory, Hard Truth explained that he didn’t trust Iron Hawk, but told Crossfire not to anger her because she’s a dangerous individual. The two would continue to work for her, but the implication from the conversation was that they were going to potentially oppose her in the future.

I have since rolled the dice for the B team and their job escorting a corporate around the Combat Zone to make some deals. They didn’t botch it.

Next week we return to D&D 5e, so this campaign is being put on hold for now (as with my current work hours there is no way I can run two games per week, however once I move to a new role I expect I will be able to because I hopefully won’t be working until 10pm each night)

I’m going to miss my beloved sci-fi subgenre…

Asuka Tries To Do What Is Right

A quick note on this. Yes, it is highly biased because it’s from a certain character’s point of view. A certain character who is directly opposed to the rest of the party on a particular matter. It was from a Stars Without Number session in a campaign that I am a part of that I decided to turn into a brief piece of narrative. Essentially, we have a rat-man who is worth a lot of money welded to the ground. I play a doctor who thinks that his treatment is really inhumane and has been trying to hatch a plan to make it right. Then we get attacked by a guy who wants the rat-man and Asuka, my character, has to improvise with a far from perfect situation. Both plans were basically a betrayal of the party, but not in the sense that she’d kill everyone, but more in the sense that everyone else wants to sell him for large amounts of money and Asuka just wants to do what’s right in her eyes. This does not tide over well with the rest of the group when they find out about plan B. (They never found out about plan A).


Boom! Boom!

I struggle to keep my balance as the ship is hit by two more missiles. I can see on the holographic screen that the turret is a flaming wreck by this point. I hope Kiril got out okay; he may be a psychopath, but he is also a member of this crew. I make a mental note to sit down with him and get a proper diagnostic on his mental state at a later time, but time is not something that we currently have. The Ige-gumi helicopter starts to hover above the ship, armed men rappelling down along with the same man who came for Timmy before, a new cyberninja in tow.

There is no way I can prep these engines for take off in time. These armed men will be inside way before I can do anything useful here.

“I’m heading to the computer room. No way I can prep these engines in time,” I yell in English through the intercom as I pack up my tools and bolt down the corridor. I can see the movement outside the ship. They are getting into position. I can’t believe these idiots brought arguably the largest yakuza clan to our doorstep with an attack chopper. Why? Why couldn’t they have waited twenty four hours? I would’ve had Timmy out of here and in the care that he needs after what the crew has done to him. His mind is damaged beyond my counselling skills. He needs specialist help that I could’ve got him to. I had even planned on taking out a loan to cover the costs. It’s the least I could do now. I should’ve spoken up earlier.

But that plan has gone to hell. I will have to cancel the pick-up tonight. Why can’t these muscle-heads do anything right besides commit murder and inhumane atrocities? I get to the computer room and immediately try to hack into their comms. The security is there, but I easily overcome the obstacles and tap into their network. I hear them going over the plan. My God, they plan on blowing up the radiators once they’ve grabbed Timmy. That would cause the ship to explode and take the entire hangar with it. They want to kill us all, but it seems like they especially want John dead. Also, I get a name.

Reuben Jacobs.

I almost wish I hadn’t. Jacobs is big time in the Jewish mob, which explains why a yakuza clan would be working with a gaijin; he is obviously offering them something in return. Perhaps a share of the profits they’ll get from selling Timmy?

“Reuben Jacobs. We don’t have to do this,” I say into their comms network in English. I just hope that he is still amenable to reason after everything the crew have done.

“Oh?” he replies.

“That’s right. I am the ship’s doctor and I believe that we can come to an arrangement that doesn’t involve violence.”

“The rat-man. Give him to me and I’ll let you live. Hell, I’ll even give you the eight thousand that I promised your captain last time.”

“Done,” I say as I tap furiously at the computer keyboard, exploiting holes in the ship’s security to wrestle control of the doors.

“Nice job getting into our comms, by the way. I wasn’t expecting that,” Jacobs says as I open the ship airlock’s outer door.

“What can I say. I’m a woman of many talents,” I respond with a smile. “I want one of you to step into the airlock. Not you, Jacobs, and not the cyberninja. One of the others. I’ll release the rat-man into his custody and we can both go our separate ways.” I hear the thud of footsteps as John pokes his head into the computer room and asks me what I’m doing. I tell him what I am doing and instantly wish I had lied when he runs into the cargo bay.

“All right,” Jacobs says as he motions one of the yakuza into the airlock. I close the airlock door behind him and transfer comms to my compad, telling the man in the airlock how it’s going to go in Japanese to ensure he understands what I’m doing. I take my monokatana from my belt and leave it in the computer room before I run to the cargo bay and head over to where the rat man is welded to the floor. I fish around in my first aid kit and take out a tranquilliser, which I administer to the rat-man; I can’t risk him biting me while I work. Once he is sedated, I take out my toolkit and start cutting the rat-man loose. The whole scene makes my stomach turn every time I see it. Anything would be an improvement on this. We’re miles south of best case scenario right now, but at least I can save the lives of the crew in doing this.

As I work, John seems to have his own heated conversation with Jacobs as he points the humvee’s turret at the airlock doors.

“Change of plans. I’m going to bring the rat-man out myself. Tell your man to leave the airlock,” I say as I continue to release the rat man, re-opening the outer airlock door and re-iterating the change in plans in Japanese to the yakuza. Once he walks out, I shut the airlock door behind him.

“Hey, we’ve just been locked out here,” Jacobs says, suspicion prevalent in his voice.

“I have to ensure the safety of everyone. I will be out with the rat-man, don’t worry.”

That’s when I hear a click behind me.

“Asuka, if you don’t stop what you’re doing, I will shoot you. You’re getting between me and a pay day” John threatens as he points his spike thrower at my back. If I keep working, I have no doubt that he will pull the trigger. All over a pay day, of all things; he would shoot me over a sum of money, after all I’ve done on this ship, the hours I work. Morality and human decency on this ship are basically dead concepts.

Defeated, I stop what I am doing and pack up my things, leaving the job half done. I turn to John. “Then the deaths of the crew are on your hands, Mr. Mayhew,” I reply, though my tone is low. I make my way out of the cargo bay and transfer control of the doors back to the ship and the rest of the crew.

“Then I guess we do this the old fashioned way,” Jacobs says as he and the yakuza start to make their way around the front of the ship.

“I’m really sorry we couldn’t work this out, but the crew threatened to kill me if I continued. Can’t fulfil my side if I’m dead,” I say into their comms. I keep my link into their comm as I may need it should the crew fail to defeat these people. I slump down into the corner of the computer room and just let it all go. The stress, the emotional trauma, I let it all go, curling up and crying into my knees.

All this because I tried to do what was right. Well, at least I didn’t tell Summer of my plans, so she’s safe from John’s trigger finger should the crew make it out alive.

Friday Fiction: Cyberpunk Chapter 3

It’s Friday, that means more fiction! I was going to write a longer chapter, though this part ended up being long enough, so rather than make a behemoth of a chapter, I felt that I would release this piece first (partially because I’ve been super busy today!).

As always, here is the handy little link!

Shedding Some Light…

I decided that, as I have not been posting over the summer holidays all that much, I would share with you a teaser. I am currently working on a cyberpunk piece of original fiction that I hope to get published, though it will at least be self-published on Kindle. I have been coming up with the characters, plot lines, how things will fit together and so on and so forth. I will not share the exact details, but what I will share is the prologue. Enjoy!

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Rounding the corner, Kim heard the impacts of bullets on the metallic corner of the building. She instinctively ducked her head as she ran, though her pace remained constant. Her heart pounded incessantly in her chest, her legs burned as she ran. It was night time, around one in the morning and the streets were largely deserted, most people either in their homes or at one of the city’s many nightclubs, apart from the illegal tech dealers, the homeless and the prostitutes who all seemed to disappear into the buildings when they saw Kim running. Shots rang out again, a spray of bullets whizzed past her and caused her to flinch, though she just continued running, darting into another darkened alley. She continued running briefly before she glanced over her shoulder back down the alley to see that her pursuers had not yet rounded the corner. She dived behind a large bin, curling up and sitting completely still. Her only hope now was that her pursuers did not find her sub-par hiding spot, she was running on adrenaline and could not maintain the chase for any longer. She cursed her lack of foresight, not stocking up on Kickstarts when she had the chance. Her breathing was heavy and by now her heart felt as if it was going to explode out of her chest. She placed a hand on it, feeling the rhythmic, albeit racing, beat as footsteps echoed down the alley. They stopped dead in their tracks.

“Sir, target has been lost… No Sir… Yes Sir… We’ll do that, Sir. Out,” came the voice of who Kim assumed was the leader of the pack that were chasing her. His voice was powerful with a prevalent North American accent. Kim was curious to see what her pursuers looked like though she did not dare to poke her head around the corner to take a look, fear kept her rooted firmly in place. “We’ll head back and call it a night for now. We’ll catch that bitch eventually,” he continued before Kim heard footsteps once more, though this time they faded away until again, all was silent barring her heavy breathing and pounding chest. She stayed huddled behind the bins for a few minutes longer as she caught her breath. Peeking out from behind the bin, the alley was completely deserted. Still breathing heavily, Kim got back to her feet and stepped out into the darkness, after a brief pause that Kim used to scan her surroundings. She could not see anyone else, so she slowly crept back to where the alley met the street, peering around the corner of the T junction to see the usual life of the city streets; people were moving from club to club, the prostitutes approaching the most desperate looking individuals and people were carrying their friends back home, the ones who had over-indulged on cheaper luxuries and left themselves in an incapacitated state. She slid into the night life swiftly, manoeuvring between people and making her way through the streets towards the Damned Angel. She needed to unwind after being chased through the streets by unknown assailants. That and she needed some information.

Walking through the door her senses were immediately assailed by the smells of alcohol, body odour and narcotics, the sounds of electronic music thumped, overshadowing the sound of multiple conversations coalescing into one messy, intangible noise. She strode confidently over to the central bar, a circular counter in the middle of the club, outlined by the neon yellow lighting that ran along the edges. As she walked, she removed her POD and tapped at the screen. The outlines of her vest, arm warmers, miniskirt, goggles and boots lit up with dark blue light, the fabric itself emanating the light and illuminating her slender figure, the colour matching the highlights in her hair though the ambient lack of normal light in the club meant that this connection could not be seen.

“Hey there, what can I get you?” came the voice of one of the bartenders, a skinny man clad in black leathers that glowed yellow over the shoulders. Kim rested her forearms on the counter, bringing her hand up and holding up two fingers.

“Two chips of Serenity,” she replied, a sly smile across her face, “and I need to talk to Zen if he’s around.” The bartender looked at her with a frown, turning away to access the large data-banks that made up the central pylon within the club. The palm of his hand opened up to reveal a standard interface port in which he connected a wire that linked to this large cylindrical data-bank. Briefly, he seemed to stay perfectly still before two chips encased in metal popped out of a small hatch next to him. He removed the cable from his hand, his palm melding back into place to form what appeared to be a normal, human hand, before he grabbed the chips and returned to where Kim was standing. He looked to either side before leaning over the to her right, his head about three centimetres from her ear.

“Who’s asking?” he inquired, quietly speaking directly into her ear.

“Kim Yun-seo,” she responded, whispering in the same manner she had been addressed. There was a brief pause.

“Booth number seven. I’ll pass the message on and the response will come to you in booth number seven,” he whispered before retracting his head and handing her the two chips. She took out her POD and waved it over the terminal, smiling as the message was relayed directly into her brain that her payment had been accepted. She smiled at the bartender with a nod, pocketing her POD, placing the chips into her bag and heading to the bathroom. She wanted to freshen up a little before indulging. Weaving her way through the rather large crowd of people that covered most of the floorspace in the club, who each had their own glowing light patterns, she entered the bathroom and walked over to a spare mirror. Another woman stood to her left, the bathrooms empty otherwise, though she appeared to be packing up. The two traded smiles before Kim started rummaging in her bag as the other woman walked out, looking for her miniature make-up case. She found it buried near the bottom, placing it on the side of the sink at which she stood. She took the time to examine her reflection in the mirror after briefly tapping at the panel to the side of it. Some of her eye-liner had smudged due to the sweat during the chase and her eye-shadow seemed to have completely eroded away. She looked down and tapped the button on the side of her make-up case, causing it to spring open and expand into much more than it appeared, with different shades of various eye-shadows and lipsticks neatly filed, and a holographic advertisement for De Santi brand lipstick popping out the top towards the back. She frowned as she stared at the advertisement.

“I really need to get this to Leila so she can fix it so these damn ads stop popping up into my face,” she murmured, leaning on the sink before looking into the basin. It was black and metallic, fading into obscurity in the metallic bathroom that she stood in. She smiled at the simplicity of it before reaching over to her make-up case. Her hand did not reach its intended location before she felt a sharp pain lance through her body, from her back to her chest on her right side. Her hand remained extended for a moment before retracting slowly, as she turned her gaze down to where the pain was greatest. A thin, silver-coloured blade protruded from her chest, the point slick with her blood. She slowly placed her hand on the blade, her eyes wide with shock, but it was wrenched free shortly after she was able to touch it. She felt her legs give way and she clung to the edge of the sink as she fell. Breathing had become incredibly difficult and every time she tried to inhale, it seemed as though her chest was filled with liquid. She coughed, spraying blood against the side of the sink at which she still clung to before her arms gave up too. She wanted to move, every cell in her brain willed for her to do something, anything. Her fingers twitched and her eyes moved to look behind where she had been standing as she crumpled to the floor. There was nobody there, just the wall and nothing else. She felt a warm, wet sensation creep up to her face which rested against the cold, metallic ground of the bathroom.

Then there was nothing at all but a black, empty void.

Through the Eyes of a Low-life – Part 1

What’s this? An actual post? What’s going on? Is this the end of the world? In short, no, this is not the apocalypse. I have been inactive for a while and I apologise for that. I just lost all motivation to do any writing and the Let’s Plays were being a bit of an effort, considering that they’re not really what I’m about / were just an experiment. Well, here is the first part of a fan-fiction that I’m writing. To explain where this came from, it’s a 1st person view from my Scum that I played in a Dark Heresy game recently. Thanks go to the DM for putting on one of my favourite tabletop RPGs I’ve ever been a part of. Thank you!

Note, this is my first attempt at writing prose in a 1st person style so leave comments below on where you think that I can improve, or just your general thoughts and feelings. Be honest!

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I stir under my make-shift blanket, groaning in discomfort as my cheek presses against the metallic wall of the shack where I have taken up residence. It’s by no means a comfortable place to spend the night, but at least there are no others inside. The interior of the shack is corroded, a brownish rust colour predominantly contributing towards the rather unattractive interior, though it doesn’t show much in the darkness. With no natural light, day and night means very little in the Underhive where I live. There is no time of peace or quiet, the people generally sleep when they felt tired in the best scenario. Many live in fear of the various gangs who patrol the Underhive, some just can’t sleep through the noises of life in the Underhive. Unfortunately for me, I am one of the latter. However, this inconvenience is one of the reasons that I’m still alive, especially considering the fact that I don’t exactly keep my distance from the criminal gangs in my line of work.

The rattling of autopistol fire wakes me up with a jolt. I roll over and grab at my stub revolver which rests in a ragged holster on my thigh, discarding my blanket to the side and peering through one of the gaps in the wall, using my free hand to clear a few rogue strands of red hair from my face. I hear the voices of two men, though I can’t make out the exact words. Another man lies still in the street with the other two men walking over to him. He is bleeding a lot and does not appear to move when one of the armed men kicks him hard in the ribs, beyond the immediate result of the kick. I just shrug and re-holster my pistol, grabbing my blanket once more and resting back against the wall.

“Idiot must’ve pissed off the wrong people,” I murmur to myself, trying to get back to sleep. I sit there for a while, trying to get back to sleep, though in the end I just give up, folding my blanket up and placing it into my backpack. I need to finalise some deals which won’t happen if I spend all my time curled up here trying to sleep. With another groan, I get to my feet, checking my surroundings. Nothing appears to be wrong, but you can never be too careful here in the Underhive. I move outside, always careful, always wary. There’s nobody in the run down street and I sigh again. I need to speak to Garth, but he’s in the settlement by the exit to the Hive. “Great,” I sarcastically curse to myself. I’m not too happy about trekking across half of the Underhive to get there, but I really need the payday. Business has been down since the Arbites cracked down on some of our smuggling routes to and from the Hive and Upper Spires, and of course I get hit hard by it, being lower in the chain of importance. Well, important enough to not be disposed of at least, so I guess it’s not all bad.

I make the trek to the Blood Fist camp and make my way to the bar where Garth based himself. We worked some good jobs in the past, so I’d like to think we’re on good terms. The guards at the gates just wave me through no problem. I guess it’s not hard to forget one of the few females in this game who isn’t some cheap whore. I’m a businesswoman, a good one, and I’m proud of it. I walk into the bar and place my hands on my hips with a smile.

“Hey, Red. Good to see you,” Garth calls over to me from behind the counter, motioning for me to come over. I keep smiling, walking over and taking a seat. “Can I get you anything?” he asks me. I shake my head and raise my hand in mild protest.

“Sorry Garth, here on business,” I reply, lowering my hand and looking at him. He’s not too bad looking for a ganger, I’ll give him that; short brown hair, brown eyes, a good smile and, most importantly, better manners than about ninety percent of the population down here.

“Oh?” he asks curiously, continuing to wipe down a dirty, glass mug, leaning on the counter.

“I know some people who are getting shipments down from the Hive,” I reply with a coy tone. I want him to verbally chase me for the information; after all, it’s his loss if he does not.

“What kind of shipments?” he asks me, only mildly interested though it’s sufficient. After all, shipments are not exactly uncommon. I grin.

“Heavy stuff, straight from a corrupt Imperial Captain. Military grade goods,” I tease, leaning back slightly on the stool. “We’re getting more than we’ll ever keep, so we wanted to give you guys here the first opportunity to get some orders in.”

“Not Dell and his boys?” he inquires, a hint of surprise in his voice. It’s true that Dell is often the first person that people go to for this, so I can understand his mild shock. My grin widens.

“Hey, what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t influence some sort of favouritism in the dealings, huh? What kind of person do you take me for, Garth? Come on,” I joke with him, throwing my arms out to the side with a faked, emotionally hurt expression. He laughs, shaking his head.

“Well, regardless, I appreciate it. Thanks for the assist on that one, Red,” he responds, still mildly chuckling at my mock impression of being offended. I smile and get to my feet with a nod.

“Yeah, I got you covered there. Take care, Garth,” I call over across the empty bar with a brief point of my finger, before I make my way to the door.

“You too, Red,” he replies dryly, going back to his work as I leave. Another successful deal, I’m sure. Now we just wait for his people to reply with their order and we all benefit. It’s a win-win situation for us. Perhaps I’ll get a drink with him when it’s all done and dusted.

I walk out of the settlement again, making my way back towards my own. Sure, it’s dangerous to walk, but walking certain routes was far less perilous than driving; especially considering that most motors down here will barely run and probably break down and leave you as a prime ambush target. I’ve survived this long being the way I am, so if it isn’t broken, then why the hell should I fix it? I continue walking with a headache that seems to just come out of nowhere. I probably ate something bad, which wouldn’t surprise me; I live in the lowest levels of the Hive city after all. I keep walking through the pain, though it only seems to increase. I reach up subconsciously to my nose. Warm, and damp. I’m bleeding. There’s blood coming out of my nose!

Before I can try to discern what is going on, I black out.

The Benefits of Specialisation: Eldar Elites

The elites section of the Eldar codex has quite possibly been my favourite section since I started collecting them. It could be because it houses the Eldar dedicated melee squads, which I absolutely love to field in order to protect my dedicated ranged units. As we all know, an Eldar army relies on synergy between units rather than aiming for a specific idea. The way the Eldar warhost operates allows for many different types of units to be fielded, allowing for more diversity than any other army out there through units of specialists, rather than the more Space Marine approach of having every unit as a relative jack of all trades. These units all inherit Ancient Doom and Battle Focus like most units in the new codex.

First of all, my personal favourite: Howling Banshees. Whilst we all remember the days of our power sword wielding maidens charging into units of terminators, only to decimate them and strike fear into the hearts of the hordes of power armour wearing opponents, they are not the same in sixth edition. Their power swords only being AP3 has really swayed people against using them in the current meta, preferring to just take Striking Scorpions instead, though I believe that the Banshees still have a key battlefield role. Whilst their swords merely bounce off the armoured shell of a Terminator or other 2+ save models, they still carve a bloody path through anything with a 3+ or worse save. I’m not saying that you should charge them into hordes, as they still only have a toughness score of three and a 4+ armour save, but any non-Terminator Space Marine squad (these ladies will absolutely decimate Vanguard Veterans for about half the points cost) is a prime target; non-Terminator Grey Knights weep at the sight of Howling Banshees, as do Sisters of Battle, just watch out for those incinerators and flamers as they fire overwatch! Their masks now reduce your opponent’s initiative by five as opposed to bumping yours to ten when you charge, which again is nice as unless your opponent has an initiative score of ten, or some other way of reducing your initiative, you will be striking first on the turn that you charge in, which is invaluable for such a fragile unit. They also now run D6+3 inches, as opposed to just D6, and also keep the fleet special rule, which will really help you to charge your enemy and not the other way around. Their Exarch largely remains the same, although her Executioner has been made AP2, her Triskele is AP3 and her Mirrorswords are now master crafted and only give +1 attack as opposed to +2. With an initiative of six, she remains a great choice for challenging enemy sergeants only to chop them cleanly in half in a few seconds. Where Howling Banshees fall short, in my opinion, is through a lack of support. Without the ability for our Farseers to reliably take doom and fortune, these ladies have certainly lost some of their appeal as a dedicated melee unit on the tabletop; whilst they have AP3 attacks and will likely be going first, they only have strength and toughness of three and a save of 4+, which means you’re wounding Space Marines on 5+ without a re-roll some of the time. That hurts.

Striking Scorpions in my opinion have taken a hit. Their scorpion chainswords are now AP6, so they’ll ignore some armour saves, but the fact that their mandiblasters are no longer an extra attack has hurt their horde killing potential, now working as an automatic hit at initiative ten with strength three and no AP on a single model in base contact. I much preferred my extra attack as now I believe that Striking Scorpions just aren’t as effective as they used to be. They come with infiltrate and move through cover as standard, however, and also now get stealth as well, so they’re a bit faster and more durable than they were before, and at only one point more I can say that they are still very much worth taking. In terms of the Exarch, I feel that the Scorpion’s Claw is now redundant with the Biting Blade almost doing the same, striking at strength +2 and AP4 as opposed to strength x2 and AP2, but keeping the Exarch’s delicious initiative of six. My favourite choice for the Exarch are the Chainsabres, though I will be keeping an Exarch model with a Biting Blade as it is a very viable option, because it is now AP5, grants a bonus attack for being two close combat weapons, increases his strength by one like the normal chainsword, but also gives his melee attacks the rending special rule. For a measly ten points, I can definitely get on board with that idea! He can also take an Exarch power that increases his strength by one, giving you a model with four attacks on the charge, with strength five and rending. Definitely still a unit that is worth taking, though overall I feel that they aren’t quite as effective as they were before.

Fire Dragons are a double edged sword. The good news is that they have been given that much needed 3+ armour save, so they won’t just get annihilated as soon as they show their faces. The bad news comes in the form of their points cost. Now, Fire Dragons cost a whopping six points more per model. They do get the Ancient Doom and Battle Focus special rules as well, so they are overall a lot more of a solid unit, but you really do pay for it. There’s not much else to say about Fire Dragons, as they have remained largely unchanged apart from those points stated above. I will probably not include a unit of Fire Dragons in my army list most of the time as I prefer my anti-vehicle firepower to be long range or durable enough to be on the front lines; even with their 3+ armour save, at twenty two points per model they just don’t fit the bill. However, they are far from useless, especially with the Battle Focus special rule, I’m just saying that I won’t be taking a squad myself.

Harlequins weren’t really anything special in the last edition of the codex, being expensive, toughness three and only possessing a 5+ invulnerable save whilst being generally not as deadly as Howling Banshees or Striking Scorpions. In this edition of the codex, they are completely unchanged, though the Death Jester, Shadowseer and Troupe Master have been explicitly labelled as characters. With the general buff that the army has gotten overall, I find that Harlequins are still lacking, trying to do a job that can be done better by other units. I will be fielding a unit of Harlequins because they look amazing, especially when painted well, but thinking from a practical point of view I would prefer to take more of other units instead of Harlequins. They also don’t benefit from Battle Focus or Ancient Doom.

I will talk about Wraithguard and Wraithblades in one paragraph as they are effectively the same unit, just equipped differently. Wraithguard have the same statistics as before for a slightly lower points cost, both Wraithguard and Wraithblades costing three points less than Wraithguard used to, as well as not suffering from Wraithsight and gaining the Ancient Doom. Standard Wraithguard are equipped with Wraithcannons, which in my opinion have been vastly improved. They no longer wound on a 2+ and cause instant death on a 6, now with strength ten and cause instant death on a 6. Also, against vehicles it doesn’t glance on a three or four and penetrate on a five or six, it’s just strength ten with AP2. A unit of Wraithcannon wielding Wraithguard are now, in my opinion, far better at shredding tanks as well as infantry. Strength ten has a tendency to kill with ease anyway. They can also take D-scythes, which are basically AP2 flamers with the distort special rule, which is very useful considering how close range your wraithguard usually are, though it costs a heavy ten points per model for this upgrade. I feel sorry for anyone who tries to charge that unit! Wraithblades are basically Wraithguard equipped for melee combat. They are equipped with either two Ghostswords, which strike at strength +1 and AP3, or a Ghostaxe and forceshield, basically strength +2, AP2 and unwieldy (strike at initiative one) but also having a 4+ invulnerable save. You want a tar-pit unit? There you have it; toughness six, 3+ armour save and a 4+ invulnerable save, with strength seven, AP2 close combat attacks for only thirty two points per model.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Wraith units, so I won’t be using any, though I will still be taking a unit of each close combat Aspect Warriors, and occasionally a squad of Harlequins when I get the points for it. Hey, I field what I like the look and feel of, not what I think works well!