Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Beast Within: Background for My (not)Lycan Faction for Empire of the Dead

If you saw a couple of the previous updates under the Empire of the Dead label, you know our Friday night gaming group has been been bitten by the new Empire of the Dead game by West Wind. If this isn't your first visit to the Lab then you're sure to have noticed I'm addicted to skirmish games, since they afford easy access to starting new projects: a dozen minis to create a new theme faction is ideal. I have several themed faction ideas I want to do for this game, but the first I'll start with uses the Lycan faction rules, which is the werewolf faction.  I wanted a different spin on this, but I'll let the background speak for itself...

London 1829
Julius Clayton, Viscount of Greystoke, meets a promising student, Charles Darwin, at Cambridge University, where he has a chair, and encourages him in the pursuit of Naturalism.
A philanthropist, humanist and admirer of the natural sciences Lord Clayton pursues the expansion of the knowledge of nature whenever he can.
Julius Clayton, Viscount of Greystoke. c.1845

London 1830
Jonathan Clayton is born to Julius Clayton, Viscount of Greystoke.

London 1831
Julius Clayton arranges for Captain Robert Fitz-Roy to offer a berth to young Charles Darwin on his ship The H.M.S. Beagle, as a Naturalist for a five year journey.  No word of his involvement is allowed to be given to Darwin.

London 1839
For the next last six years of his life, Julius Clayton encouraged Charles Darwin to continue to write and publish his findings.  A frequent guest, Darwin came to know his son Jonathan.

London 1845
Julius Clayton dies and his son Jonathan Clayton inherits and becomes Viscount of Greystoke.  Though nominally under the guardianship of his Aunt and her lawyers, Jonathan Clayton proves to be a mature and capable young man.

London 1855
Jonathan Clayton marries Elizabeth Yates.
Jonathan Clayton c.1857

London 1858
Jonathan and Elizabeth give birth to their first son, Jonathan Clayton II

London 1859
Charles Darwin publishes Origin of the Species.  Jonathan Clayton senior begins to pressure Darwin with plans for a voyage to Africa.  Charles is not interested.  Darwin continues to refine his publication over the next several years, and says that Jonathan Clayton's interest in Apes and their relation to Mankind while scientifically sound is too controversial for him and his publishers at this time.  Jonathan plans for an expedition to Africa himself, but duties of family and estate prevent it.

London 1860
Jonathan and Elizabeth give birth to their second son, James Clayton.
James Clayton b.1860

London 1860-1880
The brothers, Jonathan and James are educated and inherit their father and grandfather's obsession with the secrets of the natural world.  With their father they make plans for a voyage to Africa.
John's obsession with the Dark Continent runs deep, while James' interest focuses more on the laboratory.
James becomes convinced that all the answers to Man's questions can be found within the blood, if only one could find the key to unlock it.
James Clayton c.1875

London 1882
Charles Darwin and Jonathan Clayton senior both die in the same year, only months apart.

London 1885
John Clayton begins a courtship with Alice Winthrop.
James Clayton increases his laboratory, bringing in exotic animals from around the world.
Though the two brothers have the same interest at heart, their divergent paths cause them to grow ever more apart.
James works behind locked doors in his lab on African Great Apes, trying to unlock these secrets.
London 1888
John Clayton marries Alice and the two leave for a voyage to Africa.
Though invited, James declines the invitation, stating that his laboratory work is at a critical stage, and he can not abandon it when a breakthrough is so close.
John and Alice Clayton, lost 1888

John and Alice Clayton's ship is reported lost off the coast of Africa.
James assumes duties as head of the Greystoke Estate.
Within months James unlocks the secret he has been looking for: the essence of nature itself.
He gives name to this as 'The Nexus' for it is the point of connection that links all living beings.
With the secret of the Nexus, he hopes to show how all species are connected, and to guide this development for the benefit of mankind, to take the best, strongest and healthiest aspects of all species for the betterment of Man.

With the nexus of the African Great Ape, James Clayton is the first man to step across this threshold.

James Clayton's experiments had a disastrous side effect.  He now is physically in flux as the Nexus is unstable in his system. While sometimes no outward sign of his change is present, at others his body increases in size and strength, as the animal nature takes over his mind and body.  At such times he hunts the streets of London, looking for something which his more human mind is unaware of.  He travels with his sentient Ape experiment, Alphie, and the less successful Apes often follow as a pack.

His loyal household staff, captained by his butler, Woodhouse, endeavor to keep his secret, following the apes and their Lord into the night streets, armed with tranquilizer guns, to protect their master from doing anything too rash, and to guard him from those who might mean him harm. Money and position is not without benefits.  Clayton has officers on the Police Force who he pays to cover any evidence that might lead inquiry back to his door.

The miniatures, work in progress:
Center: James Clayton, Lord Greystoke. (Lycan Beastlord)
at his left, Alphie the Ape (Lycan Pack Master)
in back: The Apes (Lycan Wolves)
at left: Police in Pocket (Lycan 'wolfskin' flunkies: close combat equipped)
at right: Household Staff:  Butler Woodhouse & Maids (Lycan 'wolfskin' flunkies: tranq guns count as bows)

More to come, thanks for reading!


Paul of the Man Cave said...

Love it! A unique approach with plenty of thought and fluff! And figs look great :-)

Michael Awdry said...

Brilliant! The totally original Ferret twist has me hooked already!

Deserter said...

Love them! Very interested in this game - trying to not spend anymore money on Wargaming for the rest of the month. This hasn't helped :) where are the figs and bases from?

Fitch Face said...

Great background and the choice of models really compliments it well.

Mr. Lee said...

I can see this shaping up to be a great looking faction.. can't wait to see some paint added to them.. especially the larger monkey man with top hat!

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks all :)

I had fun crafting the backstory- that's usually what my mind wanders to when assembling minis ;)

Deserter: Glad to have not helped! ;) The game seems like it'd be fine to never really need more than a dozen minis, and most teams will start with 5-7 minis, so not much of a buy-in requirement.

The minis: (sorry, didn't realize I'd forgot to list them)
James Clayton: Malifaux: Seamus
Alphie the Ape: West Wind Empire of the Dead special character Circ du Noir Ape
Apes: Dust Tactics Axis Gorillas
Police: Lead Adventure Miniatures
Household Staff: IroncladMiniatures

Fitch: love the celtic ferret icon! I see you have a blog but didn't notice any way to follow it.

Laughing Ferret said...

Oh, has anybody spotted the tie-in with a popular piece of fiction?

Fitch Face said...

Cheers buddy, I have to say, I knew I'd struck gold when I found a blogger that loves ferrets AND Blood Bowl!
I've added the follower widget now, sorry I'm a bit new to this blogging business.

PS Is the fictional tie-in of the Edgar Rice Burroughs persuasion?

Laughing Ferret said...

Fitch: ferrets and blood bowl do seem like a natural combination :)
and yes, there is a connection to an ERB story, the pivotal event in the story in 1888 which is the year the game is also set in just worked out perfectly.

Paul of the Man Cave said...

We know only that on a bright May morning in 1888, John, Lord Greystoke, and Lady Alice sailed from Dover on their way to Africa.
A month later they arrived at Freetown where they chartered a small sailing vessel, the Fuwalda, which was to bear them to their final destination.

And here John, Lord Greystoke, and Lady Alice, his wife, vanished from the eyes and from the knowledge of men...

Laughing Ferret said...

Very thorough Paul! :)
Yep, that was the seed of the idea. In this timeline, John had a very specific motivation that caused him to journey to Africa, meanwhile, the younger brother I created for him, James, remained in England, and made his breakthrough in his research from a similar motivation. So while the newly born young John Clayton (soon to be known as Tarzan)is raised by the Anthropoid Apes, his uncle James, unaware of his existence, becomes an ape-man as well, just in a very different way.

Nico said...

Interesting, an impressive timeline.

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