The following are some practical examples of some useful generic Pretenders. These can be used as they are or modified to better fit your play-style, or just used as ideas to create your own.
Awake pretenders start the game on turn 1 in your capital. These pretenders can obviously be made even stronger by taking them as Dormant or Imprisoned. But the key is that they remain viable and useful throughout the game even if taken awake.
Mother of Life and Death
- Mother of Serpents, S2 D5 N5, Dom 5, Cost 340
- SC, Caster, Minor Bless, Special (healer)
This pretender starts off as a fairly decent researcher, which should help nicely on the way to getting the spells she needs to survive as an SC. She can heal Afflictions on any unit/commander in the same province throughout the game (must choose the Heal action, doesn't work on old-age or undead), which keeps expensive troops and mages in tip-top fighting condition. She really shouldn't be used alone an as SC until you have researched to minimum Ench 3 and Alt 3. At that point when fighting in friendly or neutral dominion and scripted properly, enemy troops will need magic to kill her.
At Con 0 you can forge Birch Boots to give her some re-invigoration and fire/cold resistance or add Black Steel Plate to increase her protection if you have an Earth mage available. Later on at Con 2 she can forge an Eye Shield and a Horror Helmet once she starts going up against tougher enemies. At Con 4 add an Amulet of Resilience and think about exchanging her hand-held serpent for a Snake Bladder Stick.
In combat, her Horned Serpent bodyguard is mostly useful for absorbing attacks while she buffs up. Death 5 gives her a Fear (0) aura (ie. radiates fear to 6 squares against a base roll of 10). Nature 5 allows her to cast Personal Regeneration and Barkskin while boosting her regeneration to ~13% hp/round when active. Astral 2 allows her to buff Astral Shield, Body Ethereal and Personal Luck. When fighting solo finish off by scripting attack closest or with an accompanying army script cast spells. Later on, she will be able to buff herself with such spells as Soul Vortex (Alt 7) or Charm (Thau 7) enemy units.
For the end-game, she can summon Manikens, Lamia Queens and Tartarans or cast any of the global nastiness that Death is known for.
- Wyrm, no magic paths, Dom 9, Cost 197
- / SC
This pretender is meant to start capturing indy provinces on turn 1, and is intended for nations that benefit from good scales and want to establish a strong dominion early on. With it's Amphibian skill it can solo-capture sea provinces if needed.
The Wyrm has high hitpoints and a natural regeneration of ~5% hp/turn. Each candle of friendly dominion grants ~+20% extra hp, and with Dom 9 we should be pushing our dominion into neutral territory with ease. So fighting in positive dominion will make our regenerating Wyrm very hard to kill. Dom 9 gives it Awe in addition to its Fear aura, which will help in causing enemies to break. At Con 2 have a mage forge 2 Horror Helmets and a Girdle of Might. As it gains experience from fighting, the Wyrm gains even better combat skills and regeneration.
If the Wyrm ever dies, it takes 40 points worth of Holy magic cumulatively to call it back using Call God. Once recalled, the Wyrm is good to go and fight new battles, no worse for wear.
- Great Sorceress, F2 A3 W1 S3 E2 D1 N2 B2, Dom 5, Cost 305
- Rainbow, Caster, Special (booster forging)
This pretender is designed to be able to forge all the magic item path boosters available in the game. As a rainbow mage, she will also make an adequate sight searcher in most paths and an excellent spellcaster for both Rituals and battle magic once she gets her boosters forged... if there is an army to protect her that is.
Once Con 6 is researched, the only thing holding her back is the availability of gems. So early-game sight searching is key. That's also where the Great Sorceress's astral pearl income comes into play: for alchemizing any missing gems. What she needs to start out is a very large amount of Astral pearls and a fair amount of Earth gems.
Begin by forging Earth Boots, then put them on and forge a Dwarven Hammer. She can now forge Skulls of Fire, Water Bracelets, Thistle Maces and Moonvine Bracelets cheaply. Using the hammer, forge a Starshine Skullcap, Crystal Coin, Ring of Sorcery and a Ring of Wizardry, equipping each new item as you go. The two rings allow her to forge all the Air, Blood and Death boosters using the Dwarven Hammer's forge bonus. The Ring of Wizardry and either a Skull of Fire or Water Bracelet allow the forging of a Fire Helmet or Robe of the Sea, respectively. From here, equip both rings, a Winged Helmet and a Bloodthorn to forge Robe of the Magi. This should allow the forging of any remaining magic items and casting of most spells and rituals, since your pretender will be able to boost any path to 6 or higher using the forged items.
- Mother of Monsters, F2 A2 W2 S2 E2 D2 N2 B2, Dom 4, Cost 374
- SC, Rainbow, Caster
With her low path cost, this pretender is one of the few chassis that can affordably serve as both Rainbow and SC. She will make a very efficient site-searcher and spell-caster. If you empower her to A3 S3, she can forge most of everything the Booster Babe chassis listed above can, for just slightly more initial cost.
She has no Body or Feet slots, but compensates by having the magic to buff herself to deal with just about any circumstance. One of my favorite openings it to research first to Alt 3 (possible for most nations by ~turn 6), then send her out to take on some weak indies. Script her to cast Mist Form, Air Shield, Body Ethereal, Iron Skin and Fire Resistance then "Cast Spells". In battle, after buffing herself to be nearly immune to normal weapons, the AI will likely cast Immolation which fries anything standing nearby. Meanwhile, have your mages research Enchantment, and you can add in Breath of Winter (Ench 1), Personal Regeneration (Ench 2), Astral Shield or Fire Shield (Ench 3) to the mix, and she will start popping off Raise Dead if left alone in battle. At that point she can take out any army solo that doesn't have an active counter to her magic. Just remember to script what ever magical resistances she needs depending on the enemy she is fighting. She can make a formidable melee fighter, too, when buffed and given the right weapons.
Later on, give her a Slave Matrix (Con 4) and use her in a Linebacker Communion to buff her to invincibility while she rampages across the battlefield. At Con 6 she can forge a Crystal Heart for herself, so if she is killed in combat she auto-resurrects without loosing any paths.
Lord of the Deep
- Ancient Kraken, E2 D3 N2, Dom 9, Cost 388
- SC, Self-buffer
The Ancient Kraken brings the advantage of having some of the highest hp of any mobile pretender. Dom 9 grants it an Awe(0) aura while D3 boosts it's existing Fear aura to a range of 9. E2 increases it's natural armor to Prot 10, and N2 will increase any gained regenerating abilities twofold. Darkvision has the potential to be a battle-winner when used properly.
The Kraken's poisonous ink cloud also poisons him, but this can be easily solved at Const-0 by forging a Snake Ring or Alt-1 by casting Resist Poison. The Snake Ring adds further bonus in that the Kraken's 4 AP tentacle attacks become poisonous as well. Some other magic items of interest to a Kraken are Ring of Regeneration and Amulet of Resilience, once you have the research to forge them. If you have the right mages then Lucky Pendant, Amulet of Anti-Magic and Amulet of the Fish can be very helpful.
For battle magic, Conj-3 grants Summon Earth Power, which should keep the Kraken's fatigue during combat low. The Alteration school grants Resist Poison (Alt-1), Stoneskin (Alt-2), Ironskin (Alt-3), Elemental Fortitude (Alt-4), Invulnerability (Alt-5) and finally the devastating Soul Vortex and Darkness at (Alt-6). Ench-2 grants Personal Regeneration of 10% of max hp, which also stacks with a Ring of Regeneration.
- Cyclops, E9, Dom 5, Cost 335
- SC, Major Bless, High Prot & Reinvig
While reinvigoration and extra protection for your sacreds is a very useful bless in and of itself, the cyclops can multi-cast Earthquakes in battle and destroy entire armies.
Taking a dormant pretender is a way to gain 150 design points in exchange for having to enter into play 1 year late. Many pretender designs can take advantage of this if their nation can expand safely without them, and there are some pretender chassis that really need it, being simply too weak or requiring really bad scales if taken awake.
Queen of Blood
- Vampire Queen, D4 B4, Dom 9, Cost 499
- Minor Bless, Special (immortal combatant, free vampires)
The whole point of having a Vampire Queen centers around the free vampires she attracts each turn, and being able to fight in friendly dominion without fear of death due to their Immortality skill. Immediately resurrecting to fight again, more and more vampires build up to a mobile strikeforce with a critical mass that makes your armies very tough to beat. Thus high dominion is a must, both to attract more vampires and to push friendly dominion to our borders and beyond. The Vampire Queen's magic centers around enhancing her battle-support prowess (since she will likely always be accompanied by a large army of vampires), and since new paths are expensive, any additional ones should probably concentrate on offensive magics that are hard to resist (ie. Astral most likely).
These nations will have to make due in the early game without the help of their god. When these pretenders are set free, magic and summons will likely be the main factors determining the fate of nations. So the idea here is generally to bestow a very good bless or scales, hopefully setting up the conditions for strong end-game performance.
Oracle of the Apocalypse
- Oracle, S8 D7 E4, Dom 9, Cost 593
- Ritual Caster
This pretender grants a triple bless useful for sacred mages that tend to cast lots of Evocation spells. Being an immobile pretender, the Oracle is generally not going to move around much once it's in play. However, it makes up for this by being able to cast devastating rituals and powerful summons with a strong established gem income. No enemy is safe from the Oracle's Mindhunt.
Penta-Bless Blood Rainbow
- Master Druid, F2 A2 W2 E4 S4 D4 N4 B4, Dom 6, Cost 594
- Rainbow, Caster, Special (stealth, blood rituals)
While this pretender both grants a nice minor bless to his nation's sacreds and functions in all respects as any other rainbow, his true function is to fulfill most path requirements for casting the full palette of Blood Rituals. By the time he enters play, his nation should have had the opportunity to set up a full Blood economy. A few forged boosters in Astral and Blood are all that is further required to cast any Blood spell in the game. In addition, his stealth will make him very tough for enemies to locate if he so wishes.
Without getting into detailed builds, these pretender chassis are notable for some good reasons.
- Any pretender gains a fear aura at D5. Each level of Death adds +1 to an existing fear aura. Note that more powerful fear auras increase the AoE, not the success chance. Some popular pretenders with natural Fear are the Wyrm, Manticore, Cyclops, Ghost King and Prince of Death.
- Any pretender gains an aura of awe at Dom 9. More powerful auras increase the success chance. Some pretenders with natural Awe are Virtue, Lady of Love.
- 4 Hand Slots
- When combined with high strength and attack skill, these pretenders can become formidable combatants. Note that weapon-length becomes a cumulative attack penalty when wielding more than 1 weapon, so short-length weapons are more practical for multi-hand attacks. Multiple shields can be useful too. Nataraja, Destroyer of Worlds, Deva.
- 3-Path Titan
- The Lord of Rebirth is a titan-sized pretender starting with 3 very desirable paths (E/D/N) and a Dom of 3. Taking D5 will add a Fear aura. It should be fairly easy to take 4 minor blesses with him as an awake semi-rainbow, and still use him as a formidable combatant if needed. The Jade Emperor (T'ien Chi, A/W/S) is another 3-path national titan pretender.
- Mother of Monsters
- With her low path cost, she is one of the few large chassis that can affordably serve as both a true Rainbow and SC.
- Special Combatants
- A massive regenerating monster is not the only way to make an SC. The Divine Glyph (Abyssia) will blind and the Gorgon (Sauromatia, Pangea) petrify anyone trying to attack them!
- Forge Lord
- His forge bonus can be very useful, although this means to get the most of it he will likely be relegated to forge duty for large periods of time. With a Dwarven Hammer it could be worth it though.
- Gem Generators
- Lady of Springs (2xW), Mother of Rivers (2xW), Great Enchantress (1xS), Arch Druid (1xN).
- Master Druid, Arch Druid (Marverni, Tir Na N'Og), Vampire Queen, Mother of Tuathas (Tir Na N'Og), Partholonian Sorceress. The Lord of Night (Michtlan) starts out with Fear, Flying and Assassin skills!
- Phoenix, Lich, Master Lich, Vampire Queen.
- Sea/Land Access
- Wyrm, Lich, Master Lich, Ghost King, Oracle, Blood Fountain, Sphinx, Monolith, Sacred Statue, Drakaina, Dagon, Old Man of the Sea. Note that Son of the Sea and Lady of Fortune can enter the sea and take a land army with them.