2) Great Characters
3) Army Units
4) Army Composition
5) Army Tactics/Battle Doctrines
The Darkspear Clan had originally served as Lady Morathi’s private Army at the time of the Sundering. The founder of the Clan, the first Lord Darkspear (All Darkspear Highborns refer to themselves with titles to maintain secrecy) drove back the Asur as well as the Khainate Armies of Crone Hellebron with his disciplined and well trained spearmen, hence the Clan’s name Darkspear struck. Malekith himself is very impressed by Lord Darkspear and his legions and decided to base the Clan within Naggarond. In addition to his service to Lady Morathi, Lord Darkspear is tasked with the training of the Spear troops within the capital city itself.
It was at this time that Lady Veronia Darkspear became Morathi’s chief apprentice. Lady Veronia had served Morathi since the Sundering and when Morathi declared herself as the Hag Queen of the Witch Elves, Veronia led the first Witch Elf regiments to be incorporated into the armies of her Clan. Just as they see Lady Morathi as their leader, the Witch Elves have no qualms about serving under the latter’s chief apprentice. Due to Lord Darkspear’s many duties and her closeness to Morathi herself, Veronia became the de facto main general of Darkspear armies, representing both her Mistress as well as her clan. Even when the first Lord Darkspear passed away, Lady Veronia retained this position. For the next five thousand years, clan leadership changed but the Commander in Chief remains the same.
The Darkspears close relationship with Lady Morathi came to an end with the Druchii Civil War. Lady Morathi openly declared herself as the leader of the Cult of Slannesh. Although the Darkspears originally fought for Morathi, they finally defected and went to attack the Asur city of Arnheim assisting General Kala of the Black Lotus. The current leader of the clan, yet another Lord Darkspear, secretly became Malekith’s spy in Nagarroth as the latter was in Ulthuan. So by the war’s end, the Darkspear Clan officially went under Malekith’s wing.
Lord Darkspear (current one) – Lord Darkspear rarely fights, even when Veronia is absent. He holds his own safety in utmost priority and often appoints clan members to fight in his stead. He delights in politics and manipulation. In the few occasions where he is seen in battle, Lord Darkspear will most likely be riding on a large monster. Many would feel that he is proud and haughty for not joining his knights but the real reason is that Lord Darkspear has never anointed himself with the slime of the Cold Ones, refusing to lose the sense of touch as a young boy. In any case a large flying monster is useful in making a quick escape if the battle does not go well. Darkspear’s secret regarding Cold Ones is tightly kept and it will be unlikely that this will be leaked out given his frequent absence from battles.
Lady Veronia – Unlike the current head of the Clan, Lady Veronia fights, and often literally. She was often seen flying behind enemy lines blasting the foe and disrupting his lines. When the time is right, Veronia never hesitates to charge into combat with her Dark Pegasus. Although she knows all the Druchii Lores, Veronia has renounced Slannesh and insists on using only Dark Magic, declaring herself as the defender of the traditions of the Convent of Sorceress.
Lilth Darkspear – A junior clan member, Lilth is Veronia’s main apprentice and was the former general of the Clan’s Slannesh Army. Lilth knows the Dark, Shadow and Slannesh magic. She is famous for running into the midst of enemy lines on foot and rain death as well as stealing the souls of the enemy. She has also recently killed a Von Carstein Wolf form thrall in close combat.
Tesela the Lost – Tesela is not a member of the Clan, her story is strange in that she was originally an Asur. Her village was destroyed in a raid and she was taken in by Veronia as a baby. Tesela grew up and was trained in the Dark Arts as a Druchii Sorceress. Mastering Dark, Death and Slannesh magic, she aspires to atone for her sinful heritage by smiting the enemies of the Clan. Thus she was known as Tesela the Lost, a child lost to the Asur but regained by the Druchii. Tesela has killed many a great foe with her mage staff. She had once slain a Vampire Lord (with some assistance of course).
The Anointed – No one knows where the Anointed has gone since the clan renounced the Cult of Slannesh but it was speculated that he will return someday.
Spearmen – The first Lord Darkspear mastered spear wielding tactics and spearmen trained under the clan has proven to be more deadly, efficient and discipline than that of other families. As such Spearmen formed the mainstay of the clan’s armies
Repeater Crossbowmen – Unlike the ranged troops of some families, the crossbow warriors of the Darkspears were strictly missile troops. They were lightly armored and thus do not face encumbrance by the presence of a shield. When charged they are expected to withdraw. However as they are still Druchii and have some form of close combat training, they are sent into the fray at times.
Corsairs – Being based in Naggarond, the Darkspears do not own Black Arks nor had a navy. However the Clan gradually found it more and more necessary to have a small fleet to transport its armies around. Unlike Morathi, Malekith expects his new charge to take offensive actions into Ulthuan and the Old World rather than incursions into Lustria and the Chaos waste. As such, a fleet and Corsairs are needed. Darkspear Corsairs are trained to make feigned withdrawals only to rally again and destroy the over-extended foe.
Dark Riders – The vanguard and messengers of the Clan. Once again Dark Riders under the Darkspears fought under a different doctrine from other Druchii. They are used to destroy enemy war machines, sometimes with their infamous crossbow fire, and are then used to take out enemy light troops. Diverting and hit and run tactics are understood by the Darkspears but strangely this is rarely practiced.
Cold One Knights – The true elite of the clan. Cold One Knights are lesser nobles that have served under the Clan for generations. They are used near the center of the battle line and only rarely at the flanks. Darkspear Cold One Knights are also like their other clan counterparts, different from other Druchii. They are accustomed to holding a line as well as to charge forward. Many a times, a failed charge due to Cold One “stupidity” led not to defeat but victory when over confident foes charge into the knights, only to face death under the swords and shields of the Druchii nobles.
Cold One Chariot – Darkspears believe in teamwork. It is only on rare situations where an individual can distinguish himself and be granted a cold one chariot. As such chariot crews are even more respected and Darkspear Chariots are more heavily armored than other Druchii (I reflect this by using Spite’s heads for Cold Ones but this has no effect game wise).
Witch Elves – These elite infantry are used to mow down opposing infantry. They are often deployed near a flank so that they can do their work without needing support while the rest of the army is engaged elsewhere. Unfortunately since the divorce from Morathi and the clan’s lukewarm participation in the Civil War, Witch Elves no longer play a big role in the clan’s armies. However the Temple still provide these elites once in a while.
Executioners – Due to reasons mentioned above as well as Sect Enmity (I use many mages) meant that Executioners of Har Ganeth began to replace the Witch Elves as the Elite Infantry of the Clan. However they are not used as extensively as the latter were in the past. The reason is that Har Ganeth is far from Nagarrond and reinforcements are not always granted when requested.
Harpies – Khaine has graced the Darkspear Clan by ensuring his minions took part in almost all the Clan’s battles. Harpies under the Darkspears are renown throughout the Warhammer World (My club reallie) for its unique discipline and savagery that allow them to destroy tough units and other tasks that would be deemed by others as impossible.
Shades – The Clan have some affiliations with the Shades of Blackspine Mountains since the Civil War. Sometimes Shades serve in the Clan’s armies as infiltrators, additional archers as well as escorts for characters
Blackguard – The latest addition to the Darkspear army, Malekith had just granted the Clan with his proudest warriors. At this point in time, they have fought three battles and for two of them, fought extremely well and were responsible for seizing victory for the Druchii.
Repeater Bolt Thrower – The Darkspears need its artillery to cut down enemy light cavalry and ranged troops in order to protect the former’s infantry. Darkspear crews are famous for their survival instinct, often withdrawing when things seem hopeless.
Often the army composition of the Darkspear Clan was not influenced by what was demanded but rather what was available at the moment. Contingents, especially spear units, were often sent to other parts of the world to support the Druchii nation’s many expedition. Therefore the clan often has to improvise with what they have. Recently, a raiding force was sent to the Old World consisting of only infantry and light cavalry with no Cold One units at all. In an ideal situation where everything is available, the Darkspears will utilize as many auxiliary troops from their allies as possible namely executioners from Har Ganeth and Witch Elves from the Temple. This is due to the Clan’s philosophy that the use of clan’s resources should be minimized and it is important to conserve strength to protect oneself from direct attacks by other Druchii families. Therefore although the famous spearmen regiments were seen in Darkspear armies, they rarely form an overwhelming majority. In times where other noble houses decide to strike against the clan, they will be expected to see spear units supported by both light and heavy cavalry as well as artillery.
Combat Doctrine/Army Tactics
Veronia Darkspear once said, “If the Clan can field a regiment of myself, we can wipe them out with harassment tactics alone and do not need an army.” This reflects the Clan’s reluctance on direct clashes between armies, preferring harassing tactics with light troops and mages. In cases where pitch battles had to be fought, the Clan would send its army supported by its now infamous cohort of battles mages. Some may wonder why the prominence of magic given the Clan’s martial origins. Although there is no doubt quite a lot of influence by High Sorceress Veronia Darkspear herself, the main reason is due to the Clan’s experiences. A famous remark from one of the Highborns is “We can avoid hard hitting melee troops by running away but we cannot escape from magic and mundane missiles. Therefore Sorceresses are needed for magic defense and the Chillwind.” Chillwind is an important element in the Clan’s battle doctrine and all Darkspear Sorceresses are expected to master the spell by the time they entered the Convent.
Enemies of the Clan reported that Highborns and Nobles were rarely seen and if they are sighted, they tend to be found in supporting units and monsters rather than infantry blocks or heavy cavalry squadrons. Far more commonly seen are Beastmasters, almost always seated on Manticores. Beastmasters do not share the same high status as other heroes; they are often from lesser noble houses under the Clan’s control. Despite their low status, Beastmasters sometimes led small incursions (500 – 1000 points). In battle, the Beastmasters on Manticores are considered as “Suicide Troops”, charging into the midst of the enemy to take out opposing mages. Once again, this shows the Clan’s emphasis on magic supremacy and its low regard for the lives of allies and vassals.
As for the army itself, the Clan believes strongly in combine arms. They understood that over focusing in one aspect of warfare will lead to defeat for the Druchii are jacks of all trades but master of none. Cold One knights cannot outfight their Chaos counterparts, Druchii ranged troops and magic cannot overcome the Asur. As such, combined arms is emphasized as much as possible, of course under the restriction of what is available at that the moment.
In a typical battle, light melee troops will take out enemy war machines and then join in combat by hitting in the rear if possible. If the enemy is too well armored and skilled, light troops will be used instead for distraction and thus preventing the foe from marching. Range troops are used to weaken enemy units before the Cold One units charge in. Different units are instructed to fire at specific foes and firing discipline is placed in utmost priority. Crossbowmen will still fire at their assigned targets even if it meant being destroyed by a different unit in an instant. Cold One troops are meant to break enemy lines. The Clan leaders understand that Cold Ones are dreadfully feared and try to make their units as large and formidable as possible. “Make them run” is a favourite line. Years of intensive research and observations of the Cold One Knights in battle has resulted in many reforms, the Vareth Reforms (thx to my fellow Druchii friend Victor aka HeH in duchii.net) transformed the eighty knight block into a sixty Knight line. This was later replaced by the U formation where the eighty strong unit was reintroduced but the wide frontage retained. Twenty knights were kept in the second rank to protect the unit from flank charges; in addition the unit is now large enough to break the enemy without a single sword blow.
An army of ironies, Darkspear infantry, namely the spear block, rarely get into combat. One of the drill masters, the one armed Yishenwuhui who also held the standard of Veronia’s favourite spear regiment, remarked,” We have made such a career in killing Silver Helms that no knights dare to charge us for centuries.” The spear troops now see themselves often as bodyguards for foot mages as well as adding weight into prolonged combats.
Elite Infantry are now rarely seen in great numbers but are still seen time and again. Different unit types were used in different ways. It is strange that Witch Elves were cherished much more than other elite infantry. Perhaps this is due to the fact that some Mabids are female members of the clan that joined the Temple.
…… Of course battle doctrine is talked about but sometimes not being uphold. The Darkspear Clan rarely talk about the occasions where large chunks of the army simply lie down and play dead or times where they simply threw their weapons and execute one of their famous “tactical withdrawals”. Darkspear troops are sometimes heard reciting a Skaven line, “He who runs away lives to fight another day.” This is hardly surprising given the head of the Clan’s attitude in war. But all in all, with more victories than defeats, the Clan is doing just fine…