Ragnarok: Age of Wolves - Standards and Standard Bearers

Clint Staples

Unlike a lot of wargames, Ragnarok: Age of Wolves does not have a morale component that causes warbands to break or retreat. Instead it places the responsibility for victory or defeat upon the warlord (the player in charge of the warband) twho must look over the battlefield and decide which action is best in the moment. Is it better to run, fight a retreat, or push on toward a bloody victory? Each warlord will answer in his or her own way, depending on the present state of their warband. 

But this is not to say that R:AW does not have Morale effects. Berserkers hurl themselves headlong at their foes, heedless of death! Draugar spread fear amongst the living as surely as their touch spreads foulness. If you have looked at the "Viking Warriors" faction for R:AW, you know that a horn-bearer (what another wargame might call a "musician") can inspire his fellows to greater effort. 

Below, there are rules for another Morale effect - Standards, as well as those who bear them. And since this is a game set in the magically potent and terrible Ragnarok, surely there are also magical standards too.  



A banner or standard adds a lot of visual appeal for a warband. In the Age of Wolves, this might be the ancient and symbolic Raven Banner of the Gautar or the Gullinsvin Standard of the Svear. It could be the dragon prow of a warship, removed from the ship and born in the forefront of a group of raiders. Or it could be the Flayed Hide of the Wolftrolls – recreated anew in a grisly carnivorous ritual before each battle. Whatever its nature, it motivates those who fight under it – it can turn the tide of battle if it advances, and it can spell defeat for a warband if it is taken or destroyed.  


Depiction of the Standard and its Bearer

A standard must be clearly displayed on the battlefield, though how this is done is up to the Warlord. It must be apparent as special, and the Warlord should ensure that any opponent know of it. Generally, the standard is carried by a standard bearer, who should be a character (rather than a follower) of Rank 0 to 2 according to the whim of the warlord. It should be armed as the model shows, but some leeway can be afforded for the carriage of the banner or standard – such as a banner bearer depicted clutching the banner in both hands can be assumed to carry a one-handed weapon even if this is not shown on the model.


Fielding the Standard

The standard, and its bearer, may be part of a unit, or independent. The bearer has its own set of attributes, and fights as any other member of a warband. 


Benefits of a Standard

As long as the standard is on the battlefield and has not be taken, destroyed or its bearer slain, it provides one Morale Die in the End Phase of each round. A Morale Die is a special bonus die that functions in all ways like a bonus die and may be saved until used normally. It is more limited than other Bonus Dice however, in that it may only be granted to to a model within line of sight of the standard at the time of use. So it is a good idea to keep the Standard in view of as much of the warband as possible. It is also a good idea to have a distinct die color or type to represent Morale Dice.


A standard that is advancing and near to the one who would benefit from it has greater effect. A bonus die granted by a Standard that moved forward by at least 4” in the Movement Phase of the turn, AND that is within 12” of the one to whom it is granted, may be rerolled if the result is not desired. 


Risks of Including a Standard in your Warband

The positive morale effect on a warband is a potent thing, but the Norns will that no one can escape his ultimate fate – and so it is that a standard can also have a negative effect if it is seen to retreat, fall, or be taken. 


Retreat: If the standard moves more than 4” toward the home table edge of the warband in a single turn, the warband loses one Bonus Die (which may be a Morale Die if one is held) if it has any held. A canny warlord will spend Bonus Dice prior to such a retreat if she has an opportunity to do so. Each turn that the standard moves back this way costs another Bonus Die. 


Fall: If the Standard falls, usually because the standard bearer has been reduced to 0 Health, ALL Morale Dice of that warband are immediately lost. If there are no Morale Dice, the warlord can sacrifice 2 Bonus Dice (if she has any) – otherwise, no one in his warband gains a charge bonus that turn. Any charge movement taken that turn still occurs, the warband members simply do not gain the charge bonus.


Taken: If a standard bearer is reduced to 0 Health, and an enemy spends a phase (other than the End Phase) within 1” of the standard, the enemy may take the standard as a trophy. This has not further immediate effect on the battle beyond the Fall, and the possible death of the bearer, but the enemy warband gains 3 Victory Points for taking the standard if the model possessing it survives the battle. 


Re-Taking a Standard

Just as an enemy can claim the standard by spending a Phase to claim it, one of the warband whose standard has fallen can also do so. The standard has lost its morale effect for the current battle regardless of its being reclaimed, but possession of it at the end of the battle means that the enemy cannot claim the Victory Points, and the standard may be available for future use by that warband (in the case of campaign gaming, for example). 



Sacred Standards

Some standards have magical properties in addition to their morale value. These properties are only available to the warband that fielded the standard, and only until the standard falls or is taken. Note that a sacred standard retains any magical properties even while retreating. 


Each sacred standard is unique and may be taken only by one side or the other in a conflict. In the unlikely event that both sides want to field the same sacred standard (and both have models for it!), have the warlords roll Initiative to determine who is allowed to do so. 


The Raven Banner of the Gautar

This banner dates to the time of Gaut Gizurrson, son of Odin and founder of the Gautar dynasty and people. Skalds say that Odin reddened the banner cloth with the blood of Huginn, one of his raven familiars, and that Odin can see through the eyes of the raven depicted on it as if he were gazing through the eyes of the bird itself. The Raven Banner can only be fielded if the King of the Gautar or one of his champions, is represented in the warband. 


The Raven Banner grants +1 Health to its bearer and extends the Morale Die reroll to line of sight to the banner so long as the banner advanced at least 4” in the current turn. 



The sacred standard of the Svear is a golden battle-boar atop of a crimson staff ringed with gold. It is said to have been a gift from Yngvi-Freyr to an ancient Svear king, and has led the Swine Array of the Svear in many battles. It may be fielded by a warband led by a Svear of Hero rank.


Once per battle during the Magic and Missiles Phase, Gullinsvin allows the standard bearer to summon the “battle boar” of Freyr to the battle field, with tusks like swords and hide as strong as shields. The battle boar appears within 2” of the standard, and may attack in the Melee Phase of that turn. In future turns it moves, charges, and attacks the nearest enemy of the Svear, until it is slain or the battle ends. Use the statblock for Arinbjorn (The Werebear) provided in R:AW for the battle boar, but give it 3 Health instead of 2. 


Once the battle boar is summoned, Gullinsvin may move (even retreat) as desired, and the battle boar remains. Health damage done to the Battle Boar does not count against the Svear UNLESS it is brought to 0 Health, in which case the opposing side gains 3 Victory Points.


The Flayed Hide 

The wolftrolls are stirred to great fury and terrible hunger by the presence of a Flayed Hide. Each time it is to be used, it must be recreated from a sacrificed prisoner of war, whose skin is then cut from its body to hang bloody and horrid from the stake upon which he was killed. To field a Flayed Hide, the Wolftrolls, and any with whom they are allied on the battlefield, surrender the initiative in the first turn of the battle, allowing their opponents to choose who will be the Phasing Side in Round One. 


A Flayed Hide grants its bearer +1 Defense. In addition, at the start of the Magic and Missiles Phase, on any turn in which the standard moved forward at least 4”, the standard bearer may roll 1d6, and immediately distribute +1 to the Attack, Defense or Move of any wolftroll or ally a number of times equal to the pips rolled. This bonus lasts until the End Phase of the turn on which it is distributed or immediately if the Flayed Hide retreats, falls or is taken.



The name Baleygr (“Evil Eye”) and this standard, are sometimes attributed to Odin. Others call it the head of Mimir. Still others, that the Baleygr is an ancient artifact carried north ages ago by the folk who occupied the Mythic North before the coming of the Nords, sometimes called the Skridfinnar, but who refer to themselves as Cimbri in Jutaland, and as Finnaidh in Smalland. Baleygr is the mummified head of a very large man, hung from the standard pole by its knotted hair. One eye of the head is open, though shrunken and white with cataracts. The other is closed, the skin over it red and scaly, the lid crusted shut by rheumy, bloody scabs. The Baleygr may be fielded by any warband.


Baleygr grants its bearer immunity to Fear. On a turn in which the Standard advanced at least 4”, Baleygr also Causes Fear in enemy within 6” of its position

Fear: living troops that are not Berserk or otherwise fearless attack them at -1 and do not benefit from a charge bonus (even spearmen do not gain their +2 against creatures charging them).  



I will probably write up more sacred banners for other warbands. So if you like this, check back in a bit.