Hey hey people, shitlord here with some more LIT AF content.
So with the recent news from the Reddit AMA revealing that new careers are coming for the members Stud Squad (at the expense of completely killing off new characters, rest in peace Ogre dude), I decided that I’d share my idea for a new career.
If not already obvious, the career is for Kruber, and the career is the rather oddly named Horned Hunter, considering he’s neither horned, nor really that much of a hunter all comes to all.
The rest of the post will be separated into points to hopefully make it more comprehensible. With that being said, I’ll just get on with it.
Background (What is a “Horned Hunter”?)
A Horned Hunter is, essentially, an angry, environmentalistic, religious murderhobo that lives in the forest, likes animals, and hates civilization.
So basically, your average everyday Greenpeace activist.
Now, that may sound bad and not fitting Kruber at all, but let me explain.
Horned Hunters are the priesthood of Taal, the Imperial god of Nature, Beasts, and the Wilds. For those who don’t know, Taal is part of what is called the Old Gods - the gods the barbaric tribes of mankind worshipped prior to the arrival of Sigmar, consisting of other gods such as his brother, Ulric, worshipped in the province of Middenland, his son, Manann, worshipped in the province of Nordland, and his wife, Rhya, worshipped together with him in the aptly-named province of Talabecland.
As the most stalwart and zealous followers of Taal, the Horned Hunters shun technology, industrialization, and civilization as a whole, eschewing the material life of the rest of the Empire to live in the wilds as their ancestors did before them.
They refuse such things as armor, wearing naught but animal skins and loincloths, as well as firearms, preferring the simplicity and reliability of a bow and arrow.
To them, the forest is the alpha and omega. It is both the home they live in, the temple they pray in, and the tomb they will die in. The forest gives and the forest takes, all according to Taal’s will.
Contrary to the zealots and flagellants of Sigmar, Horned Hunters do not concern themselves with rhetoric, believing that true conversion comes from actions, rather than words.
They also like to get tattoos all over their body for… some reason.
And that’s pretty much it.
Reasoning (How does Kruber fit into this?)
As Horned Hunters are, first and foremost, worshippers of Taal, it hinges on Kruber’s own worship of the same god. As opposed to someone like Saltzpyre and most other citizens of the Empire in general, Kruber places more faith in Taal than he does Sigmar, with far more quotes dedicated to him than the Patron God.
Kruber himself attributes this to his parents originally hailing from Talabecland, the Imperial Province mentioned earlier known for its worship of Taal.
Kruber even already has a career dedicated to his worship of Taal, that being his Huntsman career. I guess you could see the Horned Hunter career as “taking it a step further”.
Canonically, I’d imagine the career change to a Horned Hunter would happen post-WoM. Kruber would bear witness to the devastation the meteor caused and the true extent of the End Times would dawn on him - causing him to find solace in his god.
He’d also witness the savagery and ferocity of the Beastmen first hand and would essentially go “well, if you want to fight to fight the beasts, you must become like the beasts”.
So the “why” has been explained now it’s just a matter of “how”.
Usually, Horned Hunters are initiated by way of having a “Forest Mentor”. That is to say, an older, more experienced Horned Hunter guides the initiate over a period of time in the forest, helping them accustom themselves to life in the wilderness.
Usually, although the initiate might have been wanting to join the Horned Hunters for a longer period of time, the mentors are the ones to seek out the initiate, rather than the other way around - as if they somehow knew already.
When the initiate is deemed ready for life in the forest, the mentor will vanish without a trace, leaving the initiate alone to provide for themselves. Only if the initiate manages to survive and successfully find the way to the shrine of the Horned Hunters on their own are they accepted into the priesthood.
The ones who do not survive are used both as cautionary tales for the training of new Horned Hunters, as well as sacrifices to Taal.
Naturally, Kruber has to belong to the first group, however, the problem is that he has to have been away from the Keep for a long period of time, which can’t really happen considering the Stud Squad are, presumably, fighting every single day.
However, I will take a bit of creative liberty here. You know that voiceline “We’re the Ubersreik 5 - or 4, doesn’t matter.”? Our heroes are of course numbered five, but in-game we only ever see four at a time.
Up until now, this has been shrugged off as a joke, that, canonically, it’s always the five together and that it’s only four in-game due to gameplay purposes, but what if it isn’t?
What if, when they do decide to go on “missions” or whatever you want to call them, they only ever sent four at a time, leaving one behind to both guard the Keep as well as get some rest to be ready for the next day?
What if, whenever Kruber gets his day-offs, he’s been sneaking off to see his “mentor” in the woods, teaching him the ways of the Horned Hunter while the others are on missions?
Or even that he took an extended leave of absence (solicited or not), in order to live in the woods themselves for the weeks or so it takes for him to become a Horned Hunter.
That’s at least the only explanations I could come with for it.
Anyway, fast forward, Kruber is done training as a Horned Hunter, he returns to the Keep as this grisly, tattooed hulk of a man wearing nothing but a loincloth and a dead animal and he’s ready to take the fight to the Pactsworn in the name of King Taal.
And knowing the Stud Squad, they probably won’t take to it too badly. I mean, they’ve accepted a suicidal dwarf, a psychotic murderer, an insane murderhobo (again), and a pyromaniacal lunatic before. A Horned Hunter is probably the most stable of them all here.
Appearance and cosmetics (What would a Horned Hunter look like in-game?)
This point will be brief, as I’ve already touched on the subject.
The overall appearance of the career will be based on the only canonical image of a Horned Hunter we have:
A grisly barbarian covered in branches and green tattooes, wearing a toothed necklace, loincloth, stag skull, and stag skin as a cloak, with small feathers, trinkets, and charms hanging here and there.
Naturally, Kruber would have a massive beard as well, although a bit more filthy than his Mercenary or Huntsman careers, with both branches and moss in it.
For cosmetics, I could imagine that headpieces would change both the skull as well as the skin cloak on his back.
For example, you could have a wolf skull and skin cloak as a reference to Ulric, Taal’s brother, a boar skull and skin cloak as a reference to Blacktusk, the legendary boar Sigmar himself befriended, a bull skull and skin cloak (ironically, an animal that actually has horns) as a reference to Ostland and how Kruber served in the military there, and more!
Goat skull and skin cloak, bear skull and skin cloak, etc. etc.
Chestpieces are a bit more difficult, as the Horned Hunter, well, doesn’t wear anything on his chest. Instead, I’d imagine the different chestpieces would change the color of his tattooes (which are green by default). Yellow, blue, red, whatever fits I guess.
Gameplay overview (What differentiates a Horned Hunter from the rest?)
Alright, with this massive wall of text out of the way, let’s actually get on with the career.
With the Mercenary being a melee support career with an emphasis on churning through hordes, the Huntsman being a ranged damage dealer apt at taking out specials and monsters, and the Foot Knight being a tank focused on crowd control, Kruber already fills a lot of roles.
So I decided to go with the Horned Hunter being a purely melee damage dealer, akin to Bardin’s Slayer and Saltzpyre’s Zealot careers, with just a tad bit of Kerillian’s Waystalker sprinkled in there to fit with the whole forest theme.
However, unlike the Slayer and the Zealot, which focus on unleashing a flurry of rapid attacks, the Horned Hunter is a lot more about slow, but very impactful attacks, excelling at taking out powerful enemies like Stormvermin and Chaos Warriors at close range.
This will be explained in greater detail further down below when I get to the passive abilites, career skill, as well as the talent choices.
To reflect the Horned Hunter’s shunning of technology as well as emphasize it’s focus on melee combat, the Horned Hunter will be unable to wield any ranged weapon other than the Longbow (previously restricted to the Huntsman only). Instead, much like the Slayer, the Horned Hunter will be able to equip two melee weapons at once.
In addition, also like the Slayer, the Horned Hunter will be unable to wield melee weapons with shields, such as Sword & Shield and Mace & Shield. To make up for this, the Horned Hunter is the only career able to wield the two-handed Greataxe, which, I’ll be honest, is just Bardin’s Greataxe copypasted over to Kruber.
Maybe you could swap the light and heavy attack patterns around to differentiate them but otherwise they’ll be mostly the same. Of course, they won’t look the same visually, as Bardin’s greataxe is dwarven in design, whilst Kruber’s will be more primitive and simple in design, as seen above.
The Horned Hunter, much like the Huntsman, will also only have 100 maximum health, so you have to be a bit more careful than with Mercenary.
Passive ability and perks
To emphasize the “slow, impactful strikes” nature of the Horned Hunter, he has several bonuses towards critical strikes and charged attacks.
Passive Ability: The Killing Blow
- Critical hit charged attacks that hit a weakspot instantly slay man-sized enemies.
Perk: Hunter’s Focus:
- Increased critical strike chance by 10%.
Perk: Taal’s Steadiness
- Charged attacks can’t be interrupted by damage.
These bonuses are all centered around a few hard-hitting attacks, much like a hunter that methodically plans his strikes.
Unlike the Slayer and the Zealot, which have some form of mobility ability with an attack speed buff tacked to it, the Horned Hunter’s is a lot more focused on the whole “slow strikes” thing, as it is literally a giant slam.
Career ability: Wrath of the Forest
- Kruber prepares a mighty swing of his weapon before bringing it down, creating a shockwave that deals massive damage to all enemies in front of him as well as staggering all enemies hit.
Yeah, it’s not very original, but hey, it is what it is.
Not only is it great for creating some breathing room from hordes, but it is also great at taking down larger foes such as a Stormvermin Patrol or a Chaos Warrior.
Now on to the talent tree, which will be the last point.
Sweeping Cleave: Damaging multiple enemies in one swing grants temporary health based on the number of targets hit. Max 5 enemies.
Kill for Taal!: Melee killing blows restore temporary health based on the health of the slain enemy.
Gift of the Forest: Healing yourself with a First Aid Kit or a Healing Draught also heals your nearby allies for 20% of their maximum health. Removes any wounds.
Wild Carving: Attack speed increased by 10%.
Closing In For The Kill: Hitting an enemy with a ranged attack increases your melee damage towards the target by 20% for 5 seconds.
Concentrated Swings: Every 5 hits grant a guaranteed critical strike. Your attack speed is lowered by 10%.
Mainstay: You already know this one.
Smiter: You already know this one.
Enhanced Power: You already know this one.
Thrill of the Hunt: Triggering a Killing Blow grants 20% movement speed for 10 seconds.
Feral Frenzy: Triggering a Killing Blow grants 10% attack speed for 10 seconds.
Strength of the Earth: Triggering a Killing Blow causes all of your light attacks to count as charged attacks for 5 seconds.
Agility of the Wilds: Dodge Range increased by 20%.
Heightened Constitution: Increases max health by 25%.
Neverending Hunt: Killing an elite or special enemy grants 1% movement speed buff, stacking up to 30%. Lasts until end of mission or death.
Taal’s Call: The cooldown of Wrath of the Forest is reduced by 30%.
Decisive Strike: If Wrath of the Forest is activated while holding a one-handed weapon (including dual wielding weapons), the charge up is instant. If Wrath of the Forest is activated while holding a two-handed weapon, the shockwave width and length is increased by 50%.
Exhilaration: You restore health based on the health of the enemies killed by Wrath of the Forest.
And yeah, that’s pretty much it. That’s the Horned Hunter.
If I’m being honest, I don’t actually expect the Horned Hunter to be the next career, if even released into the game at all. It’s such an obscure piece of lore that’s almost never used in the actual setting.
But that clearly didn’t stop me from making this because damn it, if I can’t viscerally slay copious amounts of daemonic Ratmen and Vikings with an axe in the name of militant environmentalism then what’s the point?
And no, Kerillian does not count.
If you have anything to add to the post, make sure to do so down below. I leave you now to ponder why I spend hours on making this post in the first place since that knowledge is truly lost on myself.