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Blood is Life

A preview of the Tepes Lords and Blood Powers from the Lords of Vlachold faction.

At the height of the First Orc Invasion the realm of Vlachold teetered on the edge of extinction. As fortresses and keeps were breached by the Orcs, the people fled to the mountain monasteries. There the priests of the Holy Flame, third and fourth sons of Vlachold nobility, prayed and fasted. They preached hope in these dark times.

When the Lords of Vlachold drove the Orcs before him, Prelate Lucan Calugarul realized they had been abandoned by the Holy Flame. Their piety had meant nothing. Driven by Lucan’s vision, the priests abandoned their faith and made the same dark pact as the other Lords. They became Tepes Lords, nihilistic warrior-priests who mocked their former devotion with sadistic rituals that culminated in bloody communion.

The Tepes Lords, like the Voivode Knights before them, soon discovered that consuming the life’s blood of a mortal did more than just sustain their life. It fueled supernatural powers, giving them inhuman speed and strength as well as the ability to shift into ghostly mists.

The Tepes Lords are a Standard unit in the Lords of Vlachold faction. More common than the Voivoide Knights, they form a second tier of vampires in terms of age and power. They fight on foot, clad in blood red plate armor crafted to look like flayed musculature. In battle they wield giant two-handed swords that could cut a man or horse in half with a single stroke. The blades of these swords are wreathed in blue fire, burning with the same zealous hatred as the Lords themselves.

The Tepes Lords are a beat-stick unit, meant to wade into an enemy’s line and cut through whatever is in front of them. They function like analogous units in other armies, such as Orc Axemen, Dwarf Longbeards, or Hawkshold Great Swordsmen. Like those units, they have above average Offensive Skill and Power.

Where they differ from those units is that they have an relatively higher Defensive Skill, gained through centuries worth of combat experience. The only reason it is not higher is that they eschew shields in favor of their two-handed weapons.

The other difference is their relatively lower Courage. This is a feature of all vampire units. They are not heroes. They are not willing to sacrifice themselves in a noble last stand for some higher cause. They are selfish cowards who would leave an entire generation’s vassals to be slaughtered.

The Tepes Lords differ from the Voivode Knights in that they maintain much of their combat effectiveness after the charge turn. Their stats stay the same through the course of the fight, and with their improved defensive stats, they can win by grinding the enemy down.

However, they also have the shortest range for their Drain ability of any of the vampire units (even the upstart Markyz Lancers - more on them later). This means that to fuel their Blood Powers, the Tepes Lords will have to Drain nearby vassal units. This runs the risk of exposing the flanks of the Tepes Lords.

Each vampire unit in Lords of Vlachold has access to four Blood Powers: Blood is Life, Inhuman Agility, Unholy Strength, and Misty Form.

Blood is Life allows the vampire units to heal damage during the Movement & Command Phase. The amount of blood boxes (and damage on Vassal units) it takes to heal one damage depends on the unit. The older, more powerful vampires require more mortal blood to heal.

Inhuman Agility allows a vampire to manipulate a to-hit die, erasing one blood box to lower a die by one. Through the use of life’s blood they can move faster than can be seen, striking before the enemy can block.

Unholy Strength is very similar to Inhuman Agility, only affecting the to-wound roll instead. The blood fuels the vampires’ strength, allowing them to splinter shields or dent armor with their ferocious blows.

Inhuman Agility and Unholy Strength are similar to the Perseverance ability possessed by the mortal Vlachold units. The vampires can essentially steal the Perseverance ability from their living vassals. However, since powerful vampires can drain more life’s blood, they can also potentially get a more powerful effect by lowering a die by more than 1.

Misty Form is the classic ability of a vampire to transform into mist. This is the last piece to the riddle of why vampire units have such low Courage: not only are they selfish and immortal, they also have the means to escape from a difficult situation. Even with bonuses to hit a fleeing target, many enemy units will only be hitting vampires on 1s or 2s. And then the vampire unit will rally and reform at the end of their rout move, ready to continue fighting if need be.

Blood Powers give the vampire units extra offensive punch, while allowing them to stay in the fight longer by healing. And if the fight turns against them, they can easily escape destruction and quickly get back into the fight.

Click here for other Vlachold previews.

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