Designers' Roundtable
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April 2001


D&D Chainmail
Designers’ Roundtable

By Jesse Decker

Creative Director Chris Pramas returns to tell us more about the forthcoming D&D Chainmail game. Wonder what miniatures battles will be like this fall? Here's a first look at the factions you'll send into combat.

Wizards of the Coast: Last month we talked about skirmish battles in D&D Chainmail. Now we want to know: Why is everyone fighting?

Chris Pramas: The current war was sparked by a staggering event. A group of mortal heroes killed the god of war in an attempt to rid the Sundered Empire of war altogether. Their plan backfired in spectacular fashion. The dying war god scattered his panoply across the world, and told the two surviving heroes that there would be nothing but war until a new god arose in his place. It is now believed that the warrior mighty enough to reassemble the godly panoply will become the next god of war.

Wizards: So, who's doing the fighting?

Chris: The initial six factions of D&D Chainmail are as follows. (And yes, we'll be adding more factions as the game progresses.)

Empire of Ravilla: This elven empire used to rule all the lands from the mountains to the sea. They dominated the region for 500 years or so, but a series of disastrous wars whittled away their empire. Ravilla is run by city-dwelling gray elves, but the empire also includes large wood elf enclaves. The Ravillans are desperately trying to survive, and to revive the glory of their ancestors.

Ahmut's Legion: About 300 years ago the nomad warlord Ahmut terrorized Ravilla. His reign of terror was ended by the famed elf assassin Prisca, and his army fell apart after his death. Ahmut then rotted in an unmarked grave until the spear of the god of war animated his corpse. Ahmut has since allied with a mortal death cult and now the forces of death are on the march.

Thalos: This human nation was founded by human tribes fleeing ahead of the advancing elven armies. They settled a large island off the coast and repulsed the inevitable elven attack. Queen Almira XXI, the current monarch, has declared a great human crusade to liberate the ancient human homelands. Now her soldiers and paladins march to war, assisted by gnome engineers and war machines.

Naresh: Jangir, a gnoll priest with demonic blood in his veins, has united the gnolls under the banner of his abyssal patron Yeenoghu. Gnoll and demon march in step, as Priest-King Jangir spreads chaos and terror for the glory of his god.

The People's State of Mordengard: Just over one hundred years ago, the dwarves of Mordengard toppled their tyrant king and established a worker's state. Now the People's Legion has taken to the field to fight for the freedom of the dwarves. With skill, bravery, and ingenious elemental weapons, the dwarves safeguard their revolution.

Drazen's Horde: The elven armies stopped at the borders of the Blasted Desert in the south. They never dreamed that the savage humanoids that lived beyond could be a threat, but there they were wrong. The hobgoblin warlord Drazen has forged an army out of orcs, goblins, ogres, and other bestial creatures. This horde crossed the Blasted Desert in an epic march and now poses a grave threat.

Wizards: Which factions don't get along?

Chris: Oh, most of them! The elven empire is perhaps the most hated, because they used to rule the entire region. The dwarves and the humans are the most likely to get along, but even so the dwarves disapprove of the way the church and state in Thalos keep the common man down.

Any faction can fight any faction and still stay within the bounds of the setting.

Wizards: How did the setting's details and flavor affect the models?

Chris: We wanted each warband to have its own flavor (both in rules, and in look and feel). The backstory helped drive that. Thalos, for instance, is the religious state, so it got a paladin leader whose model is sculpted with religious iconography. The dwarves got a bunch of funky elemental weapons, like the leadblaster and the scorch pot. With Ahmut, we wanted to play up his hatred of all life, so we populated his warbands with atypical undead creatures. Most skeleton minis, for instance, are human, but our base skeleton trooper is an orc. They also get fun stuff like zombie troglodytes.

Wizards: Where will D&D Chainmail players find information about the setting? In the game box? In subsequent products? On the web?

Chris: In many places. The starter set will have an overview of the story and the factions, and also a booklet of "faction briefs" that will tell you more about what each faction can do. I'm also writing a series of articles for Dragon Magazine that explore the Sundered Empire. (Those start in July.) In the future, there will be some web support and more details in upcoming D&D Chainmail supplements.

Wizards: Is each warband limited to models from only one faction?

Chris: No, not at all.

Wizards: How does mixing factions work in the game?

Chris: Your warband can mix models from different factions with a couple of restrictions. First, you can't have evil models in good warbands and vice versa. There are several neutral models, however, that can fit in any warband. Second, cross-faction troops are more difficult to command. This doesn't matter much with troops like the orc berserker, but can make a big difference when you need precise control to win a scenario.

Read April’s Designers’ Roundtable, featuring Creative Director Chris Pramas, game designer Jonathan Tweet, and painter Jason Soles.

Back to the D&D Chainmail miniatures home page.

 





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