Wednesday, 19 September 2012

'Ramayana' In 'Hordes Of The Things'


The Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic which covers the life of Rama, a human incarnation of the god Vishnu. The central plot of the tale concerns the kidnapping of Rama's wife, Sita, by the demon king Ravana and Rama's attempts to rescue her, culminating in an epic battle before Ravana's city of Lanka.

Two lists suggest themselves from this epic. The first is for Rama and his monkey allies, the second for Ravana and the demons (or Rakshasas) of Lanka. In translating both of them to 'Hordes of the Things' there are a couple of problems. The first problem is that of scale. All of the armies are listed in numbers of millions or even billions; for example, when Hanuman infiltrated Ravana's palace, forty thousand guards were sent to deal just with him. Representing these numbers with a few elements is tricky - in essence, although a Hero element represents one man, other elements represent hundreds of thousands of warriors. However, since the average hero seems to be able to slaughter these numbers without problem, the scale is probably about right. A second problem is in the special abilities of the protagonists. Although doughty fighters and deserving classification as Heroes, many have magical powers as well, or fight with predominately ranged attacks. Rama, for instance, uses the bow as a weapon of choice. I have chosen to still classify all of these as Heroes, and assume that any special powers or ranged abilities cancel out and are built into the combat system. Many of the protagonists can fly, but this I have chosen to ignore, as they tend not to receive any great tactical advantages by being able to do so in the epic itself. A final problem is the sheer number of characters that qualify for Hero status, or similar. In order to keep the lists down to 24AP I have chosen only to represent the most important or powerful characters, and have relegated others to lesser element classifications.

These lists are based on a condensed, but illustrated, edition by Ranchor Prime and published by Collins in association with Channel 4 Television.

The Army of Rama

Stronghold: An ashram (hermitage) in a forest.
1 x Hero General (Rama) @ 4AP
1 x Hero (Lakshmana) @ 4AP
1 x Hero (Sugriva and Hanuman) @ 4AP
1 x Knight (Vibhisana and followers) @ 2AP
1 x Beasts (Jambavan and other bears) @ 2AP
4 x Warband (Monkeys) @ 2AP

If illustrations of events from the Ramayana are any guide Rama should be depicted as a blue-skinned human wielding a bow. He should be depicted wearing simple garments under his war gear, as despite his exalted status, he was living the life of a simple forest hermit. Lakshmana is his brother and should be dressed and equipped in a similar fashion to Rama, although of normal skin tone. Both should be depicted fighting on foot, although as Heroes they still class as mounted troops. Sugriva was the king of the monkeys, and should be represented as a human sized monkey. Hanuman was also a monkey and was the faithful servant of Rama. They are classed as one element as to leave either one out would be wrong. Vibhisana was a brother of Ravana who counselled him to avoid war with Rama. When his advice was not accepted he changed sides with some of his followers. Illustrations show him as human, although his followers look more demonic. He may be depicted riding in a chariot if desired. Jambavan was the leader of the bears, who made up part of Rama's forces. Only one element is included, as their contribution does not seem to be huge in comparison to that of the leading heroes and the monkeys. The monkeys are described as fighting with rocks and tree-trunks which suggests a classification as Warband. Again, illustrations show them as nearly human-sized.

The Forces of Lanka

Stronghold: A fortified city gateway.
1 x Hero General (Ravana) @ 4AP
1 x Hero (Indrajit) @ 4AP
1 x Behemoth (Kumbhakarna) @ 4AP
4 x Knights (Other Rakshasa nobles) @ 2AP
4 x Hordes (Lesser Demons) @ 1AP

Ravana was the king of Lanka and ideally should be depicted as man with ten heads and twenty arms riding in a splendid chariot and equipped with a wide variety of weapons. Since he is described as being able to change shape, however, the number of heads and limbs could be reduced to make the figure conversion less of a challenge. Indrajit was the most powerful of Ravana's sons, indeed coming close to slaying both Rama and Lakshmana. He is shown riding in a chariot drawn by tigers and armed with a bow. Kumbhakarna was one of Ravana's brothers, a being so massive and with such an insatiable appetite for flesh that he was cursed to sleep, only waking for one day ever six months. Other Rakshasa nobles can include other brothers and sons of Ravana, such as Atikaya, or lesser demons on a variety of mounts including chariots, elephants, horses, donkeys, scorpions, tigers, serpents and crows. The lesser demons are classified as Hordes because their vast numbers do not seem to have prevented them being slain in droves once they got into action. All demons are armed with swords, bows, axes, axes, maces or pikes, and should be depicted as hideous humanoids.


  1. Good luck with it! Look forward to seeing the results.

    1. I've had the Rama army for years - used it in tournaments a couple of times. I've never got as far as doing the Army of Lanka, though.

  2. Is that first picture from the same book? It's awesome!

    1. I think it's from a comic or graphic novel actually.


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