Sometimes it’s not about the weapon used or the enemy fought; sometimes it’s just about sending a message.

This week we show you the Hellish Rebuke array.

Notation: Transmute, within an area 100 times greater than the array, Humans into Wood if Human Blood is present and apply the effect of a Created and Sustained Fire to Wood.

Class: Offensive

Description: At a quick glance, you might be forgiven for mistaken this array for the Sculptor. They both work in a fairly similar fashion and, unbeknown to most, they have share an origin in the old Western Neoist Empire. However, where the Sculptor was used to immortalise their emperors in stone, the Hellish Rebuke was used for its worse criminals.

In the Neoist faith, there is a specific punishment in the afterlife meted out to each type of sinner. For the violent and murderous among us, their punishment was to be turned into an olive tree and set alight for all eternity. The supposed irony of this punishment has been lost over the centuries, but not the method, and while there is no rune for olive trees, a simple wood rune suffices. From that time, and even today in the smaller towns and far flung villages, the KaĆ­ns (the Neoist priests and judges) would use the Hellish Rebuke on the murderers in their midst.

The array transmutes the human into wood before setting him on fire, and so it is completely painless. This is hardly a cruel punishment, and it was never meant as such. The Hellish Rebuke is not meant for the condemned prisoner, but for the audience instead. This means of execution is a warning to those watching, a vision of what awaits them in the afterlife should they too follow down the violent path. By the time the fire has completely consumed the wooden statue, the message has sunk deeply into the minds of the audience and for a while at least the towns and villages would be free of crime. For a while.

In Middelburg, however, no amount of dire warnings and extravagant means of execution can stop crime. It’s as much a part of the grand city as the bricks in its buildings. But it does serve well as a warning not to enter an area. Rather than a vision of eternal punishment, the Hellish Rebuke has become a grisly scarecrow used by the gangs of Middelburg to mark their territory. The few Neoists in the city has taken great umbrage at this, but the few who have tried to intervene merely became another burning effigy to the gangs’ bloodlust.

Even the footmen, ever practical as can be, have taken a liking to the Hellish Rebuke. Not as any sort of warning, be it territorial or eternal, but for the sheer shock value. Working in the dark as they often do, having a comrade suddenly become a burning wooden statue would go a long way to demoralise you, and the sudden bright fire would expose your position and reveal you to your enemies. All in all, being on the receiving end of a musket round engraved with this array is not a terribly good thing. The one doing the shooting, however, would be more than cheerful at seeing his results.

Want to put your arrays to good use? Use them in The Ruined People, the new campaign book released just this month. Click the image above and see what the arrays can do in the grand city of Middelburg.

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