Ragnarok: Age of Wolves: Bonus Content - Robert E. Howard's Cormac mac Art!

Clint Staples

Ragnarok: Age of Wolves is set in the heroic age of the Mythic North, when such heroes as Sigurd the Dragonslayer and Weland the Smith are recent memories, and when Beowulf, Starkad, and Hrolf Kraki are killing trolls, leading pirate bands or building kingdoms! But between the time of Sigurd and the present age of Beowulf, the famed mercenaries Hengist and Horsa ventured over the Nord Sea to an embattled western land, where they are said to have aided a British warlord Vortigern against others of their own kind, as well as against pirates from across the Irish Sea, and Pictish warriors storming an undefended Hadrian's Wall.

Soon, Hengist and Horsa became the tail wagging the dog and turned from mercenary to settler, settler to lords of their own lands in the east of war-torn Britain. A generation passed, then two, as Saxon, Angle, Jute and Dane sailed for loot and land in Britain - sacking settlements, carving out petty kingdoms - until a warlord arose among the Britons to hurl back the invaders and reclaim the island kingdom.

Of course, this was Arthur, who would become King of the Britons according to Mallory and many medieval traditions, as well as to Monty Python. But we are not here to speak of King Arthur, or even, as he might have been in those days, Arthur "Pendragon" which translates to something like "Chief Dragon", which we can equate with the term "Warlord".

We are here to talk about Cormac mac Art - the literary invention of the originator of Sword & Sorcery, Robert Ervin Howard!

Cormac mac Art sails the seas of the North, from his native Ireland to Britain and beyond as far as the Dane-Mark, in the stories written by Howard, as well as a number penned by such as Andrew J. Offutt, from notes and outlines for further tales that were incomplete at the time of Howard's death. Cormac, and his boon companion, the powerful and moody Dane, Wulfhere Skullsplitter, lead a crew of avowed pirates and raiders in an age of turmoil, staying one step ahead of their foes, and finding adventure on every shore. Cormac was based, in part, on the historical Cormac mac Airt, High King of Eire (ireland) some centuries in the past. Howard had a fair grasp of history (as well as an even better one of the legends of that time), and his tales of Cormac and Wulfhere are evocative of an age very much like the Axe Age and Wolf Age mentioned in the Poetic Edda when referring to the Ragnarok.

And since the time of Cormac, and of Arthur, coincide with the time of Beowulf (as near as can be determined) why not write up Cormac, Wulfhere and their band of pirates for Ragnarok: Age of Wolves!

So here they are:

 

Cormac mac Aert, “An Cluin”: The Wolf (Allegiances: Brigands, Men)

Rank: Hero (3)

Race and Type: Human (Gael) Medium Foot

Description: “This man's eyes were narrow slits and of a cold-steel grey, and they, with number of scars that marred his face, lent him a peculiarly sinister aspect...”

 

Cormac is a freebooting brigand of the high seas in the time of King Arthur’s Britain. With a strong sense of honor, and an equally strong understanding of vengeance, he and his boon companion, Wulfhere Skullsplitter, and sail the North and Irish Seas from Connacht to the Dane-Mark, one step ahead of ruin and hot on the trial of riches and adventure.

 

Move 8”/ Charge 1d6+6”                                   Defense: 15+1                      Health: 3

Attacks: +3

  • Sword: Class 3, +4 to Hit, OK 14
  • Dirk: Class 1, +3 to Hit, OK 15

Shield: +1 Defense to the front and on the Left Side.

 

Special Abilities:

Hide in Cover: Cormac’s stealth is legendary. If he has a Cover Bonus, he may Hide in Cover, and is immune to engagement or attack for as long as it does so. It cannot attack and remain hidden. But if enemy move into engagement range of something benefitting from Hide In Cover, the Hidden may take an immediate Charge Action away if they prefer.

Shieldwall: Three or more shieldbearers may stand base to base and form a shieldwall if they remain stationary, granting each member of the wall +1 to Defense. Up to one fewer unshielded troops can shelter amongst the shieldwall, also gaining the sheildwall bonus of +1 Defense.

Swift: Cormac is in top condition and can run down a deer. His Move and Charge distances are +2” each.

Elusive: Cormac is always moving in combat, and can attempt to Evade even if he has already Charged this turn. On a successful Evade, move Cormac 1d6” away in the direction of your choice and Exhaust his Charge for the following turn.

 

Wulfhere Skullsplitter (Allegiances: Brigands, Men)

Rank: Hero (3)

Race and Type: Human (Dane) Medium Foot

Description: Wulfhere is every bit as deadly as his companion, wielding his great axe like a wand, or his hand axe with deadly power. Rarely, he displays his deadly skill with a bow, for in Howard’s Age of Arthur, the Danes are the archers of the North. Wulfhere is belligerent, but no fool. He is enemies of many of the other pirates of that time, and generally has at least one feud going at any given time. His war skill, cunning and seamanship have, thus far, kept him from Hel’s road.

 

Move 6”/ Charge 1d6+4                   Defense: 15+1                      Health: 3

Attacks: +3

  • Great Axe: Class 3, +5 to Hit, OK 13
  • Hand Axe: Class 2, +3 to Hit, OK 15
  • Saex: Class 1, +3 to Hit, OK 15
  • Warbow: +5 up to 14” Short, +3 up to 28” Long, OK 15  

Shield: +1 Defense to the front and on the Left Side.

Warbow: May shoot twice if Wulfhere does not move that turn.

Shieldwall: Three or more shieldbearers may stand base to base and form a shieldwall if they remain stationary, granting each member of the wall +1 to Defense. Up to one fewer unshielded troops can shelter amongst the shieldwall, also gaining the sheildwall bonus of +1 Defense.

Primal Fury: Though neither Berserker not Ulhednar, Wulfhere is sometimes gripped by the Berserk fury of his people. He does not suffer the effects of his Wounds, though he falls when reduced to 0 Health.  

 

Danish Sea Raiders: Followers (Allegiances: Cormac and Wulfhere, Brigands)

Rank: Veteran (1)

Race and Type: Human Heavy Footman

Move 5”/ Charge 1d6+2”                                   Defense: 14+1                      Health: 2

Attacks: +1

  • Sword: Class 3, +2 to hit, OK 16
  • Hand Axe: Class 2, +1 To Hit, OK 17
  • Saex: Class 1, +1 to hit, OK 17
  • Bow: +1 to hit up to 12”/ -1 to hit up to 24”.

Shield: +1 to Defense from the Front or left side when in use (noted above).

  • Shieldwall: Three or more shieldbearers may stand base to base and form a shieldwall if they remain stationary, granting each member of the wall +1 to Defense. Up to a similar number of unshielded troops can shelter behind the shieldwall, in Base contact, also gaining the sheildwall bonus of +1 Defense.
  • Bow: Bow armed can shoot twice if he did no more than chance facing in the Movement Phase.
  • Typically all have a hand axe and saex. A handful also possess a sword. Typically, one third of the crew are archers.

 

Raider Recruits: Followers (Allegiances: Cormac and Wulfhere, Brigands)

Rank: Regular (0)

Race and Type: Human, Regular Light footman

Move: 8”/ Charge 1d6+6”                                 Defense: 11+1                      Health: 1

Attacks: +0

  • Bow: Range +0 to Hit up to 12”/ -2 to Hit up to 24”, OK 18
  • Hand Axe: Class 2, +0 to Hit, OK 18
  • Saex: Class 1, +0 to hit, OK 18

Shield: +1 to Defense from the Front or left side when in use (noted above). Archers do not count their shield if they shoot in the Magic and Missiles Phase.

Special:

  • Bow: Bow armed can shoot twice if he did no more than chance facing in the Movement Phase.
  • Shieldwall: Three or more shieldbearers may stand base to base and form a shieldwall if they remain stationary, granting each member of the wall +1 to Defense. Up to a similar number of unshielded troops can shelter behind the shieldwall, in base contact, also gaining the sheildwall bonus of +1 Defense.

 

You may note that, as heroes, Both Cormac and Wulfhere has Special Abilities. A number of abilities are listed in Ragnarok: Age of Wolves (R:AW), but it is easy to design more as needed. Here we have used the stories of Howard, Offutt and others who wrote of this pair as inspiration, and written the abilities of Cormac and Wulfhere accordingly. Cormac is deadly with a sword, as swift and elusive as a wildcat, so we wrote up a couple of extra talents to reflect that. Wulfhere's bullish power and toughness are well-attested in the tales of Howard, so we repurposed part of the Heroic Ability: Berserker for him.