The Beast Kings of Ind
The Beastmen of the Old World came into existence at the collapse of the Old Ones’ polar gateway, and the Beast Kings of Ind trace their origins to that same time but to a much different event. When the gateway to the stars collapsed, it created a portal that allowed the creatures of Chaos entry into our world. It was at this time that Yag’ganesh, god of the Beast Kings, was said to have, himself, travelled between the realms and roamed the deep, dark jungle forests of Ind. There, he created a race of bestial humanoids that would eventually mate with early humanoids and create two hybridized off-spring: the Tcho, a degenerate and cannibalistic race of humans that would splinter into what has become the many indigenous tribes of Ind, and the Ti’Gors, powerful half-man, half-animal creatures whose descendents now populate the enclaves of the Beast Kings.
Beastmen of the Old World are known for their nomadic ways, attacking surrounding areas from their crude, temporary campsites in dark, dense forests. These campsites are often set up around a huge, central bonfire, with crude, animal skin tents providing shelter. Often, the Beastmen of the Old World set up their campsites near a Herdstone, a sacred rocky shrine upon which the Beastmen leave all manner of offerings – weapons, armor, banners of vanquished foes – to earn the favor of their gods.
The settlements of the Beast Kings of Ind are far different. More intelligent than their Old World cousins, yet every bit as savage, the Beast Kings of Ind live in enclaves within ornate, ancient Temples to the ancient god Yag’ganesh, deep within the jungle forests. Often worshipped by the local tribesmen and feared by the human Kings, the Beast Kings are regarded by most in Ind as noble but fickle beings, as likely to fight off attackers of an Indish village as they are to raze it to the ground themselves. To appease them, human tribes will bring offerings of meat and rice and human Kings will often hire packs of these cat-headed beastmen to protect their cities or guard caravans along the Spice Route.
However, though the Beast Kings have some semblance of civilization and can be reasoned with, dealt with, and often form treaties with Ind’s human Kings, one must never be tricked by their seeming humanity into forgetting that these creatures are anything but human.
Within their beastly enclaves, inside their ancient temples, the Beast Kings have developed a culture that is altogether their own. Unlike their Old World brethren, the enclaves of the Beast Kings rarely splinter into warring packs or scattered warbands. Instead, the beasts of Ind live in large packs, some with many individual clan-families, with each individual fulfilling prescribed roles based in millennia of tradition. Destiny is determined at birth, with Kits (the cat-like beast children in Ind are referred to as Kits until they go through a rite of passage into adulthood) being ascribed to a certain caste based on the markings they are born with and roughly described in two distinct groupings: P’nthors are smaller creatures, born with spots rather than stripes, combining the worst qualities of man and beast, while Ti’Gors are a large, powerful, orange-furred and black-striped breed of beastmen born with the intelligence of a man and the cunning of a wild predatory cat.
The Beast King of each pack is selected from the strongest chieftains of the bestial clans, and is always an elder-father of one of the united clans. Whenever a temple’s Beast King dies, occasionally from old age but more often from injuries sustained in battle, the remaining elder-fathers seek ‘election’ as the next Beast King. The two elder-fathers with the most influence – usually those with the most offspring – will fight each other with the strongest and most martially-skilled emerging as the new Beast King. While they fight unarmed and with their hands restrained behind their backs so that the clans won’t lose their leaders, their tremendous ferocity and sharp fangs still often cause fatal injuries (and, should a clan’s elder-father die, the strongest of his sons takes over the leadership of that clan).
The titles of Beast King and elder-father are coveted because of the important role that they play within this society: They are the only Ti’Gors allowed to keep breeding harems. While other Ti’Gors are allowed to take mates, only the Beast King and elder-fathers of each clan-family keep multiple mates and concubines in a family system is as old as the packs themselves.
When a litter of Kits reaches breeding age, the Beast King chooses a single female of the litter to take as a concubine, an symbol of the clan-family’s allegiance and the Beast King’s sovereignty. A second female is then selected by the elder-father before the remaining females are purchased as mates by males of other clan-families.
This system, as you might imagine, leads to some inbreeding – Beast Kings and elder-fathers often choose to take mates from their own litters as well – but it also serves to, quite literally, breed unity among the bestial clans as all of the clans become interrelated. This practice makes in-fighting among the clans infrequent. It also, of course, guarantees that the most attractive and largest number of mates goes to the Beast King himself; allowing him to spread his power, influence, and genetic descendents throughout the clan – just one of the many perks of the title of Beast King!
Among the Beast King’s harem, one can also find human female mates. These young human women, often members of the Tcho tribes, are the most beautiful virgins given (or sometimes sold) by their fathers to the Beast Kings. Those who aren’t killed in the furor of the mating process are held in high regard; only these humans can birth a Gray-Shaman.
These Gray-Shamans, unique white-furred and gray-striped female Ti’Gors, reside in the innermost sanctums of the Ti’Gors’ jungle temples. Because of the rarity of their births and their unique markings, they are believed to be predestined by Yag’ganesh for positions of power and respect. As soon as they’ve been weaned, young Grays are taken to a temple high in the mountains of the distant northern reaches of Ind and are taught to harness their natural gifts, learning enlightenment from the traditions of the Celestial Dragon Monks while also mastering the darkest arts of Chaos itself. When their training is complete, they are allowed to return to their tribes where they become revered advisors of the Beast King.
And the Ti’Gors are far from the only dangerous beasts to reside in Ind’s jungle depths.
Rhinogors – smaller cousins of the Ogre Kingdom’s rhinoxen mutated to have thick, plated skin and a single jagged horn on its snout – roam the plains of Ind. While normally docile if left alone, these temperamental vegetarian creatures quickly become vicious when they feel threatened and have been known to fatally gore farmers, shepherds and their flocks, and even nomadic ogres and their hunting cats who sought them as a meal.
The tributaries of the heavily polluted River Ruin, the largest river in Ind, form marshes and estuaries deep within the jungles and these swamp waters are infested with a kind of beast all their own: large, half-man half-reptilian creatures known as Crocotaurs, whose long, teeth-filled snouts take hold of children who play too closely to the waters and fishermen who are forced to plumb its murky depths for their livelihoods and drag them to their deaths beneath its oily surface.
But, perhaps, the most dangerous of Ind’s beastmen are the guardians of the Temples of Yag’ganesh; beasts that not only tower over the Ti’Gors but, some claim, are as large as (and, perhaps, even more dangerous than) Dragon Ogre Shaggoths.
Though there are only a few documented sightings by Old Worlders, Ind’s local tribes speak about ancient, centuries-old elephantine beasts with thick, powerful limbs and large tusks called, simply, Mammoths. The Tcho tribes (and even some of the human Kings of Ind) believe these massive beasts to be the descendents of the elephant-headed god, Yag’ganesh, himself. These Mammoths, they claim, live in harmony with the Ti’Gor packs, but fiercely defend the Temples from all others.
Occasionally and, according to legend, only when they have been called to battle by Yag’ganesh himself, the Mammoth guardians of the temples will join the Beast Kings when they march off to war, clad in ancient armor and fighting with a ferocity that causes even the most stalwart warriors to tremble in terror ...
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Notes on the background:
Yag'Ganesh is derived from two sources: Ganesha, a multi-armed elephant-headed diety of Hindu tradition and Yag-Kosha, an elephant-headed, jungle-dwelling sorcerer-alien worshipped as a god by local tribesmen from a Conan story titled 'The Tower of the Elephant' written by Robert E. Howard, who was a friend and student of H.P. Lovecraft.
As Games Workshop's Chaos is itself derived, in bits, from H.P. Lovecraft's ideas and Ind is derived from India (obviously), known for its thousands of gods, I thought that the creation of a previously unknown, god-like extradimensional being for the Ind region seemed appropriate.
Our local game shop's group isn't particularly stringent on every model having to be from Games Workshop, so my army's 'Mammoth' will be represented by a soon-to-be-converted Titan Bronzeback I've had laying around.
The Tcho tribes are directly derived from Cthulu'an Tcho-Tcho, a race of 'abominable' indigeous peoples of southeast Asia (roughly Ind's location in the Warhammer world) and were meant to give access to Chaos' own savage tribesmen, Marauders, if need be.
Some of the others are more obvious (and were meant to be for easy recognition on and translation to the tabletop):
- Ti'Gors are Gors.
- P'nthors are Ungors.
- Gray-Shaman are Bray-Shaman.
- Crocotaurs are Minotaurs (Bloodkines and regular Minotaurs being represented, originally, by Crocodile Games' Beloved of Sobek and Sebeki Butchers; I've since begun converting River Trolls to stand in).
- Mammoths were Shaggoths but, after they were removed in the new edition of the army book, are now Ghorgon (which fit the model's appearance better anyway).
The Ti'Gors, P'nthors and Gray-Shaman are all going to demand individual conversion -- altering faces, changing hooves to paws, adding cat-like tails, and changing weapons to something more 'Asiatic' in flavor.
I'm hoping that the overall effect and appearance on the tabletop will make the effort worth it ...