- Has nothing to do with the anime Slayers. Or the band Slayer. Or the TV Show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or the enemy Slayer from the game The Suffering. Or the licensed Buffy RPG.
Slayer is a title that gets bandied about a lot on /tg/, but the most prominent /tg/ references are as follows. Its also a damn good thrash metal band.
In Warhammer Fantasy, Dwarfs who feel too ashamed to live with themselves after some form of sin take up a ceremonial pledge to the Dwarf warrior god Grimnir, who was the first Slayer (who occupies a gigantic Hold of one, single-handedly fighting all of the forces of Chaos which reduces the amount of Daemons able to manifest in the world). The manner of the sin differs from Dwarf to Dwarf as they tend to be obsessive about just about everything of importance (and dismissive of all else) especially gold and any oaths made, be it one who accidentally kills the wife of his friend in the dark after mistaking her for an enemy to simply losing a substantial amount of currency in a bet.
They tattoo themselves, dye their hair red and spike it into a huge mohawk, grab the biggest weapons they can, and set off to redeem themselves through dying in battle all while dressed merely in something between striped boxer shorts and a man-thong. Of course, they can't just kill themselves; they have to fight as hard as they can and to the very best of their abilities, until they fall against a nasty legitimately too mighty for them to overcome. Sort of like a super-metal paladin, or a non-weeaboo dishonored samurai.
Slayers are a massive wildcard among the Dwarf race while also simultaneously being the most dependable of the Dwarfs. They wander all the world as the most prevalent murderhobos the forces of Order can find. They pop up unexpectedly to bolster the armies of man in their darkest hour after the sounds of battle reach the local tavern, they will fight among even the more martial races of Elgi, and they can generally be counted on to launch themselves at any monsters, furries, Undead, Chaos beings, or uppity knife-eared fuckers they encounter. As The Grudge Of Drong showed, Slayers will be the last Dwarfs to abandon any cause that even the most devout of other Dwarfs show and may even end up switching sides after their oaths as they see fit. Slayers, unfortunately for themselves, oftentimes have a rather impressive success rate against foes before they manage to tangle with something to kill themselves. As a result, there are subcategories of Slayers based on their usual kills. All Slayers start by hunting trolls, thus being called Troll Slayers. If a Troll Slayer survives way too often any encounter with trolls, he will set himself to search for something bigger, which in this case is a giant. Such individuals become Giant Slayers if they manage to kill one of them. Sometimes even giants aren't sufficient to give a Giant Slayer the death they seek, then he goes out to look for something even more dangerous, like a dragon. These Dragon Slayers are even less numerous than the two former Slayers and already they are being shown to have their sanity being chipped off from frustration that dragons fail to give them the death they seek. If not trolls, not giants nor dragons can give them what they want, then there is one thing that might. DAEMONS. Daemon Slayers are the smallest group of Slayers. These individuals are considered insane due to their urge to regain their lost honor, yet at the same time the most dangerous fighters that walk the lands of the Warhammer world, as anyone who can slay daemons and live to tell the tale is considered a 100% certified badass and someone who should not be trifled with. And Daemon Slayers are very good at what they do.
The Slayers have their own kingdom, Karak Kadrin, which functions as an ordinary Hold that also has the largest enclave of Slayers, specifically Troll Slayers, who gather to function as an army in one of the most monster-infested parts of the world in order to keep it safe for all races of merchants in exchange for tolls. Its here that all Slayer Oaths are now taken, and the walls of the temple record the names of all modern (by Dwarf reckoning) Slayers. Despite having committed no sins, the royal family of Karak Kadrin must take a modified version of the Slayer Oath where they enable other Slayers to find rest, lodgings, and supplies so that their final battle will be all the more glorious (although in any actual war where the Slayer King happens to be a participant they have a right to seek out the most dangerous thing on the field and fight it alone and bare-chested). Any Slayer who prefers this as their form of absolution may take a similar Oath, becoming one of the Slayers of Karak Kadrin's army.
The most famous Slayer is the top billing titular star of Gotrek & Felix. In The End Times, Gotrek replaced the original Grimnir, but came back in time for Age of Sigmar. He is also noted to make Teclis, greatest High Elf mage and Loremaster of Hoeth since Caledor Dragontamer, actually uncomfortable. Yes, the powerhouse that is Teclis was actually careful not to upset the Troll Slayer.
In Vermintide 2 one of Bardin Goreksson's three career paths after the fall of Ubersreik is a Slayer, giving up hope of ever returning home and throwing himself into battle in pursuit of honorable demise. He can only use melee weapons and throwing axes, but that's enough to turn him into a deceptively durable, rat-slaughtering, chaos-carving angry midget of death.
In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Slayer is a career path that Dwarves can enter, but it is a one-way trip; other than the more powerful levels of Slayer, they cannot ever change out of that career. It's a brutal combat machine, but utterly useless at anything else.
Origins of the Slayer Cult
There are a few origin stories of the cult's founding, but were either retconed or filled with skubs of contradictions.
Grimnir was the first slayer no doubt. It was he who began his journey to seal the realm gate in the chaos wastes after he had his iconic makeover by having his body tattooed, hair dyed in orange and shaped in Mohawk (which now all Slayers took after). There are sources claimed Karak Kadrin being the birthplace of Grimnir. His action were memorable among the Dwarfs, but it did not encourage them to follow his path and established a cult for it, nor did Grimnir journey to close the gate out of personal shame.
In the 6th edition Dwarf rulebook, there was a tale about the first slayer who started the cult. Gudrun was his name. He was once best friend to King Snorri Morgrimson. He swore an oath to protect the king's son, Furgil, but failed after a band of night goblin with a troll ambushed the the escort party and killed the prince. Enraged by the sight of the prince's mutilate body, Gudrun took the prince's rune axe and beheaded the troll. Gudrun's shame upon failing to protect hi best friend's son was so deep that he knew he could never return to Karaz-a-Karak and face the king. Before his murder, Prince Furgil sported a fiery red beard that was the envy of his peers. Out of respect, Gudrun dyed his own hair orange and proceeded to wander the moutains, hunting down and slaying every troll he could find. His later fate was lost in time, but to this day slayers dye their hair orange and wield an axe out of respect of Gudrun and Furgil.
Baragor Ironfist was the founder and first Slayer king of Karak Kadrin and took the name Ungrim meaning "oath-bound/unfulfilled oath" after some misfortune he caused, which is even in-universe only possibly the death of his daughter at the hands of a dragon while on her way to her wedding. He founded the largest temple to Grimnir in his Hold, and lead his armies to any battle that can possibly be justified, just as all his descendants have done. Ungrim Ironfist is the current king (because that's what all Karak Kadrin kings are called). Baragor Ironfist didn't founded the Slayer cult however since it was long established before his action. He is however the first Slayer king and did turned Karak Kadrin into a Slayer haven.
In the War of the Beard novel trilogy, it placed the cult's founding during the war, and the existence of Karak Kadrin's Grimnir shrine predates not only Baragor's action, but also the war itself! (Baragor's shrine was built on -650 IC, and the war took place around -2000 IC~ -1600 IC. This means shrine might be even older than these two events). It's founder was a former ambassador named Forek Grimbok. Grimbok was a skilled diplomat for the Elves, yet he and his companion were the one that suffered Caledor II's abuse where the Elgi king ordered to have their beard shaved (to make it more painful for the Dwarfs, one of the companion was a Runesmith). Since the cult was not founded yet, these shaved Dwarf hide their shame by wearing steel mask and called themselves Steel Beard, and wielded powerful rune axe that were made for killing Elgi. Grimbok would often lead the Elgi hunting party in the forest with many other angry Dwarfs, but would also lose many of them in the process to Elgi attacks. What finally broke Grimbok was the death of his buddy Rundin, known for his dragonslaying/daemonslaying fame. Already too shameful for his own dishonor, the shame of unable to assisted his buddy has made him travel to Karak Kadrin and sworn an oath to the statue of Grimnir. After that, he proceeds to abandoned his mask, shaved his hair, tattooing himself and went out to kill any Greenskins and monsters he could find. Inspired by Rundin's heroic action, Grimbok hope to cancelled out his shame by achieving an achievement equally as great upon death. After Grimbok killed a troll named Yvnir near Karak Drak, he became the first Trollslayer and inspired other dishonored Dwarfs, as well as the remaining Steel Beards to do the same. A cult was founded by his action, which would further encourages by the Dwarfs of the new generation after the war, who are now more hateful and vengeful than ever, preferably atone their shame by die fighting instead of actually fixing them.
On The Tabletop
Slayers have unfortunately been a terrible option for Dwarf players for most of their history, much to the chagrin of players who want one of the options with the most personality that any Warhammer has to offer. In particular, the Gotrek & Felix series is seen by many as the essential guide to the Warhammer universe and having the Chuck Norris of Warhammer be a representation of a terrible option on the tabletop is a cruel irony. Unfortunately the slow movement speed and mediocre melee potential of Dwarfs has resulted in them being notoriously non-fun to play against as all battles wind up a Napoleonic war against a bunker of assholes with guns behind cover with artillery support that can somehow cannonball snipe a mosquito that steps too far out of a unit of twenty men.
To put it bluntly, the way to gauge the Dwarf meta of any given edition (or alternative) is the current strength of Slayers. The weaker the Slayer, the more any player wanting to be competitive loads up on Thunderers, Quarrelers, and Cannons.
While female Slayers are stated to exist (rarer than other Dwarf females, meaning less than one in ten) Games Workshop (to nobody's surprise) never produced models for them. Luckily, not only have other miniature gaming companies (such as Hasslefree Miniatures) produced alternatives for males but also for females. Thanks to the general rarity of finding Slayer models in fact, Dorfy players intend on avenging all the Grudges without sissy Elgi tactics are better off looking to alternatives in the first place.
Age of Sigmar
In Age of Sigmar, Slayers changed to be "Fyreslayers" which lost all of the background and personality of the original Slayers. Conversely, the old Slayers are now renamed as Unforged. In place of having taken an oath, they were greatly affected by Chaos' incursions, causing them to become PTSD-driven suicidal killing machines.
Fyreslayers were born when Grimnir got so bored in a "no Chaos allowed" utopia that Sigmar had to find something for him to fight. He was sent to fight the mother of all volcanoes, and their battle caused both to explode and rain down across all eight Realms. Out of that explosion were born the Fyreslayers,
Dwarfs "Duardin", which are Dwarfs under a copyrightable name, that are partially made of fire (but also mutagenically take on characteristics from their environment when they spread out of the Realm of Fire despite always looking exactly the same in artwork). These Fyreslayers obsessively search for "Ur-Gold", the physical fragments of Grimnir, which drives them insane with lust to even un-Dwarfy behavior such as allying with Chaos in exchange for some. Their priesthood force Ur-Gold into the bodies of Fyreslayers in the form of tattoos that sate their gold lust and grant them powers. But it is the duty of the priesthood to see to the sanity of their kin without giving too much or too little.
Fyreslayers retain none of the cultural values of Slayers, but do retain the shirtlessness and giant weapon wielding. They push the look even further with exposed buttcheeks behind their aprons and hats somewhat reminiscent of Romans.
Good news? Fyreslayers now have PROPER slayers, or at least something close, with both Doomseekers, and Grimwrath Berserkers.
Fyreslayers caused quite a bit of mockery when it was revealed that many of their models are "mirrored", which means they were designed digitally and copy/pasted rather than sculpted lovingly in different poses.
The king of every hold is the literal father of a long line of sons, who themselves are the fathers of almost the entire Hold (so the lower born, the less likely you are to get laid). New Holds are created when the sons decide to leave and become kings themselves, and in this way the Fyreslayers can be summarily categorized as "Dorf Bees".
On The Tabletop
Despite their appearance, gameplay wise Fyreslayers are the opposite of Slayers. Slayers were elite glass cannon units that killed quick and died quicker. Fyreslayers are best taken in massive hordes (despite how expensive their models are), thanks to their Ur-Gold runes have suprisingly good defenses despite being half-naked, but don't have high rend or damage. Their widespread use of throwing axes also means they are effective at mid-range.
In the RPG
In Age of Sigmar Roleplay, the "Old School Slayer" is reinvented in the form of two oaths; Barazakdum and Grimnyn. Barazakdum, meaning "The Doom Oath", is the old-school Slayer's Oath reborn; a disgraced Duardin of the Fyreslayers faction who has vowed to amend their dishonor by dying in glorious battle. This oath is mechanically reinforced by the Doomseeker archetype, which is basically the game's equivalent to the old-school Slayer career path of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. In contrast, Grimnynis "The Oath of Destiny"; translating directly as "fated wanderer", a duradin who has sworn Grimnyn has sworn to pursue a new purpose in life by walking the bloody road of the adventurer. In a sense, it's like if being a Slayer had an option to declare their oath fulfilled whilst they still lived. Most duardin on the path of Grimnyn are Fyreslayers whose Runefathers died without declaring a new heir to lead their lodge, and they are most likely of fyreslayers to undergo the magical ritual and become Soulbound.
As a whole, Soulbound Fyreslayers are unusual; beyond the suspiciousness of agreeing to serve other deities than Grimnir, the rite that transforms an ordinary mortal into a fledgling hero-god also sterilizes the Soulbound, which is something that the average Fyreslayer would balk at considering how important getting a wife and siring tons of kids is to them!
In Pathfinder, the Advanced Class Guide splatbook introduced a bunch of new classes, which basically ripped off the idea behind 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons's Hybrid Classes: each class was basically a fusion of two existing classes. The Slayer is a Rogue/Ranger hybrid, essentially what happens when you take the the combat abilities of the rogue and ranger, but ignore the rest of their abilities.
They are good at tracking and stealth. They have a weaker version of favored enemy but they can apply it to anyone, using up shorter actions and studying more targets at once as they level up. They get sneak attack dice every third level instead of every odd level, and have D10 HP, great BAB and good Fortitude and Reflex saves. At level 10 though slayer becomes the king of stealth takedowns when he gets access to the "Assasination" talent, allowing him to insta kill an unsuspecting enemy with a single sneak attack(if the enemy fails a pretty high fort save that is). This talent is not limited by "per-day uses" and can be used on any studied target that hasn't spotted you or recognises you as a foe. The save also scales with your level and Int modifier, so unless your enemies have death attack immunity they won't make it out alive most of the time. If the target survives by making the save, spots you on time or you don't attack within the time alloted after you studied the target you will not by able to use the talent on the same target for the next 24 hours. So plan carefully.
Other talents include some sweet ranger combat styles, evasion, and a couple of rogue tricks.
Great if you really, really want to play a Bounty Hunter type character, as that's basically what they were designed for; people who thought the Rogue was too squishy and the Ranger had too much wanna-be spellcaster baggage. Slayer can serve as an alternative to fighter if being a retarded brute with a bad skill list and 2 skill points is not your thing. Indeed if you spend talents on ones that give feats it actually gets (slightly) more feats than a fighter, albeit with restrictions on what those feats are (though it can also outright ignore prerequisites for several).
Slayer is Tier 4, able to do quite a few things competently and a valuable member of the team, but never quite well enough to shine. Like most martial classes dependent upon talents taken from a list, without a player that knows what they're doing they could be far worse.
|The Classes of Pathfinder 1st Edition|
|Core Classes:||Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk |
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
|Alchemist - Antipaladin - Cavalier |
Inquisitor - Oracle - Summoner - Witch
|Arcanist - Bloodrager - Brawler - Hunter - Investigator |
Shaman - Skald - Slayer - Swashbuckler - Warpriest
|Kineticist - Medium - Mesmerist |
Occultist - Psychic - Spiritualist
|Ultimate X:||Gunslinger - Magus - Ninja - Samurai - Shifter - Vigilante|
Like the Knight, the Slayer is an Essentials Variant Class introduced in the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition splatbook, "Heroes of the Fallen Lands". Whilst the Knight is a pure tank with a dabbling of Leader, the Slayer is, ostensibly, a Defender/Striker, attempting to combine the striker's high damage output with the defender's durability, wrapped up in the chassis of a heavily armored warrior wielding a two-handed weapon. In practice, it comes across as a retread of the "great weapon master" fighter archetype that already existed in 4e, with some added pollination from the battlerager (aka, "armored non-primal barbarian", aka "armor-clad berserker warrior).
It's essentially a retreat of the mechanics established for the knight; it forsakes the AEDU System for a combination of basic attack-modifying at-will stances, an Encounter attack called "Power Strike" which it can use multiple times per encounter as it gains level, and a handful of encounter utility powers, which it can choose at levels 2, 6 and 10, but which are mandated by the class at levels beyond that. Also like the knight, instead of the traditional "front loaded" class feature array, the slayer develops new features as it gains levels, in an attempt to appear more old-school.
As with the knight, general agreement is that it's decent at heroic tier, but falls apart, a common complaint about Essentials classes.
|Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Classes|
|Player's Handbook 1:||Cleric - Fighter - Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Warlock - Warlord - Wizard|
|Player's Handbook 2:||Avenger - Barbarian - Bard - Druid - Invoker - Shaman - Sorcerer - Warden|
|Player's Handbook 3:||Ardent - Battlemind - Monk - Psion - Runepriest - Seeker|
|Heroes of X:||Blackguard - Binder - Cavalier - Elementalist - Hexblade - Hunter|
Mage - Knight - Protector - Scout - Sentinel - Skald - Slayer - Sha'ir - Thief
Vampire - Warpriest - Witch
|Settings Book:||Artificer - Bladesinger - Swordmage|
|Others:||Paragon Path - Epic Destiny|