Dragon Pack Heroes

Bernice Kuchler

I watch a lot of horror, alien invasion, and action movies. I dote on them. One of my best friends once mocked me when I remarked that “The Sound of Horror” might be too well-known for a movie night with my buddies. He immediately made it clear that what I think is “well-known” is not the same as any other human being.

A rather common character in these films is a person who is dying, usually with a terminal illness, or radiation sickness, or whatever. The person at some point in the movie sacrifices himself or herself in a glorious last battle in an attempt to kill the Big Bad. This trope of the dying hero is still around (heck, it’s featured in both Pacific Rim and Fury Road. Yeah I know spoilers, but I’m not saying who it is). But for some reason, I don’t recall seeing it in a game. So I created Bernice – she is a terminally-ill police officer, who is going up against the demons hoping to die in battle rather than in bed. In other words, she is actually designed to die during the game – you have to use her to her best advantage.

As a result, she has been an extremely popular hero in my tests.

She starts out pretty great, with 10 hit points, Attack 1d6, toughness 2, and luck 1 as well. But those 10 hit points are incredible.

Her start ability is Legal Expert which means if she is Captain, she doesn’t have to give it to the next person in rotation when she is done. She can give it to anyone – even herself, which means she can stay Captain forever.

Her next ability (this is always her next) is Teamwork. When she helps or is helped, the help can give an extra 1d6 instead of a die boost. This means comparatively early in the game, she can enable other players to roll 2 dice in combat.

Her last ability is Death With Honor, which is also her signature feature. This lets her add 4d12 to her attack, then place all her courage in the pool (so it’s not lost). Finally, she dies after the attack, but this costs no Doom. This death cannot be canceled by any gift or ability. It’s actually not that trivial to achieve Death With Honor, and is usually her last or second-to-last ability. You have to plan ahead to use it to the best ability, and I have seen Bernice killed without ever getting to access it. Which is sad, indeed, particularly when I was her player.

Her weakness is that she can’t use the Courage pool for anything except paying for gifts. But usually you don’t want to steal from the pool for her gifts, because she isn’t going to be around forever, and that courage is lost. On the other hand, you wouldn’t mind her using the pool when she Helps (particularly with her great Help bonus), but she can’t.

How Bernice Kuchler works

She has a terrific tech tree. Two of her upgrades let her bump up an attack dice by a level, and one of them adds 1d12 to her attack. Her final attack (if she takes no gifts changing this), is 1d10+1d12 – probably the best of any player. She also has a really useful gift which lets her divide up 10 courage among the other players (and this only costs her 8 courage, so is always a net profit).

I want to know more about the Sound of Horror!

It’s an invisible dinosaur movie from Spain! It’s only 90 minutes long so doesn’t outstay its welcome. Has some surprisingly gory moments for a black-and-white film from 1966. Oh yes, a young Ingrid Pitt and Soledad Miranda are both present. In most movies, in a dancing scene the action stops dead and it’s super-dull. Not when the dancers are Pitt & Miranda!

The film is public domain but is also old, so it’s not on streaming Netflix or Amazon on demand as far as I know but it’s on youtube and a variety of cheap DVD versions are available. Soon you, too, can scoff at your friends’ unfamiliarity with it.

Victor Steele

Victor is an inspiring, but impulsive leader. Soldiers seek to follow him instinctively, but he may not always make the wisest possible use of them. He is a very trooper-focused hero, who typically takes best advantage of them on patrol (i.e., when accompanying a hero).

He is average at the start, with an attack of 1d6, toughness 2, health 5, Luck 3.

His start ability lets him absorb damage with someone else’s patrol troopers. This is of course only handy when that other hero is in his area (and has troopers). So it may not seem that amazing, but it is actually really useful. It means, for example, if you are being hit by a dangerous enemy, you can absorb with troopers from 2 or more allies – thus spreading the loss more evenly. It’s REALLY good against a Lord, because Victor can basically take all the hits, using others’ troopers. Even if each other player only has 1-2 troopers, Victor can use them to protect himself.

His two earned abilities (which take a while to get – he can’t ever access them early in the game) are Leadership and Stragglers, both of which involve troopers. Leadership causes troopers in his area to absorb damage equal to their cost. In some cases this makes no difference, but in others it can greatly increase their protective value. For example, an Army trooper normally blocks 2 damage. But with Leadership he will block 4! On the other hand, a policeman remains unchanged. (He’s still 3.)

His Stragglers ability is handy because it permits him to Recruit troopers even if he’s not in the player start area. However, it is slightly inferior to the normal recruit, so when convenient, that’s preferred.

Victor Steele’s flaw scales oddly. It represents his less-than-stellar ability to create strategy, and says that when he is Team Captain, he cannot move at all. Obviously this ability takes effect more often in a game with fewer players, since he is Team Captain more often. But one or more players are likelier to have troopers in a game with more heroes, which means this disability is more crippling in those cases. Also, it always seems to happen that Victor is immobilized on just exactly the turn you needed him to move.

How Victor Steele works

Other heroes want to be in his area, because not only can they protect him with their troopers, he makes those troopers tougher with Leadership. Also he almost always HAS troopers along with him, thanks to his Stragglers ability. Of course early in the game these have not kicked in yet, so he is just another hero for a while.

His cheapest gift gives every hero a cost 1 trooper, if they don’t have one. This means you need to plan ahead to take the most advantage – of this. You’ll want all the heroes to plant their troopers as ambushes the first turn. Then the second turn, Victor gives everyone their free trooper, which also means all the heroes have the same trooper type, so they should plant them into one big ambush! His second-cheapest gift lets him place four cost-2 troopers into an ambush-free area, which also requires some planning. Where do you want it? (Tip: on the Moonbase map, plant this in the Blue Railgun area.)

He gains 1d8 attack on the tech tree, and a toughness, so he is a decent fighter, if not amazing. His extra attack die only costs 8 courage, and is a Start option so he can get it pretty early. Again with some planning.

In fact this is Victor’s paradox. His “poor planning” weakness and tech tree force his player to carefully plan ahead. This was MY plan all along!