Freeborn not only use their household domari and elite vardanari, but also enlist troops from more primitive worlds that have only just come into contact with the Antarean transport nexus. Ferals form a backbone in most Rogue NuHu armies, have a rough-and-ready presence in others, and are completely ignored by other Houses. Stretched frontier or garrison forces sometimes have no choice but to take locals, train them in the use of advanced weaponry and field them as feral units in their patrol forces. They typically have little or no armour – or, at least, armour that cannot reflect the potency of Antarean armour.
Mhagris is a major source of ferals in the Detemrinate and is one of the most valuable worlds controlled by the Oszon Mercantile League, an alliance of Freeborn Varda led and dominated by the Vardos Oszoni. Members of the league gladly makes use of Mhagris warriors, recruiting them into their own forces and training and equipping them to fight as mercenaries on their masters’ behalf. Mhagris is home to scalding deserts, ancient ruins of fallen cities, sparse cactus‐like vegetation and a feral population of humans of the most savage and barbaric kind. The planet is also host to native creatures creatures including predatory skarks (tr. ‘flying beasts’, sometimes with connotations of danger – see below) and gigantic grip worms capable of pulling a man down to his death beneath the sand. Mhragris is well hidden, the gateway lying very low in the Antarean photosphere beneath the level of safe submergence (the so‐called critical point).
The warriors themselves are willing to get to grips with any enemy (Savage Strike). The most controversial upgrade to the unit is the implantation of soma grafts, mind-altering implants that reroute the connections in the brain, suppressing fear. The practice is viewed with distaste by many in the civilised factions and also has a drawback: occasionally it malfunctions and the ferals so equipped become uncontrollable!
A feral leader can be equipped with a plasma pistol, mag gun or even a plasma carbine reflecting his superior status within the troupe. One fighter can be given a micro-X – a useful addition for overhead fire – and the unit can even be equipped with reflex armour. Overall, the squads can be 6-10 models strong, making for a potentially deadly impact if they can survive any ranged shooting.
Feral warriors are a core unit in Rogue NuHu armies, along with misgenics. Such a force can be truly ferocious, if a little erratic, and deadly if taken with all the soma grafts. It can also be a fun force top build or convert from almost any historical figure: Tamalair ferals, for example, are a cross between Greek hoplites and the more ferocious Sarmations.
Feral command squads are given the best equipment their chieftains can find and the personal bodyguard (termed huscarls in the lists) are also given solid protection. All are the toughest, strongest Ferals the chieftain can hire so their Str reflects this (6) and the huscarls have ‘Loyal Bodyguard’ so as to protect their chief.
It is hardly surprising that the chieftain or warlord has a plasma carbine and also carries a maglash. When upgraded to a Warlord, their command stats (Init, Co) are improved and the Warlord even has a Wound, making them difficult to kill.
The Bovan Tuk model makes for a great Feral Warlord!
Feral warriors of the Mhagirs ride skarks in their long-ranging raids against rival tribes and often clash in the scalding desert air. Those warriors often form entire formations of skark riders, their creatures variously upgraded and pacified with appropriate neural grafts, yet losing none of their native ferocity or endurance. The skark is a lithe and lightly-built winged creature, but none the less deadly for all that. It is temperamental, willful and hard to control. There are rumours that other houses are breeding skarks for their own use.
The riders are armed with mag guns and armoured with reflex, but can be given soma grafts, impact cloaks or mag repeaters, and the leader can be given a plasma pistol or plasma carbine to make their shooting more effective. Skarks are useful mounts, flying at high speed (M8), and able to Hit and Run, but can be rather fragile. If they do become involved in close combat, they are difficult to cope with, having three attacks in hand-to-hand: two from the rider’s maglash at SV1 and one from the Skark at SV3.
As a squad typically has 3-5 skarks, this means they need a little finesse. They do not have the firepower of the Skyraiders, and are lightly defended (like all Freeborn), nonetheless, once they get into combat they can pack a nasty punch…
Whilst the Mhagris ride their mounts, other Feral warriors train warbeasts to accompany them in battle. When non-Mhagris Ferals go to war, they are even given the combat-geneered angkriz or similar beasts. Such units are tough and ferocious, perhaps lacking in ranged combat (only the master has a ganged weapon), but can be a cheap, deadly assault unit.
Building a unit of warbeasts for Antares 2 can be fun as almost any fantasy or SF creature can be used. The beastmaster can be one of the Mhagris or any other converted model!