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    • June 24, 2019 The Guardian
      The Guardian

      Prologue

      Ropes cracked against a tent's canvas as the wind whipped through the encampment, torrential rain limiting visibility to a few yards. Orcs were not known for their big cities or large stone buildings like the elves, dwarfs or humans. The orc host had been on the move for some time, so this temporary camp was home as they searched for a new place to settle. Uprooting an entire tribe was not usual; however, frequent clashes with a rival tribe had begun to take its toll, so the decision was made to move on. The rise of the Summoned had unsettled many of the races however perhaps none more so than the orcs. With the Summoned had come the return of the orc witch doctors, and their master, Kruul, was proving to be a divisive force among his people.  Orcs were naturally a potent race, steeped in shamanistic ways and the power that comes with that, however, the division between witch doctors and shamans was slowly eroding their effectiveness as a people. No one liked living under the constant threat of civil war.
       
      The hunched-over figure trudging through the mud went mostly unnoticed, hood pulled low, an old gnarled staff providing surety when the ground proved unstable underfoot. Had the weather been better, the sentries may have perceived the cleft hoofs sometimes visible below the figure's cloak, or the distinct imprint they left in the mud. However today they assumed it was an old orc, if not a little large for one of their race. Xyvera paused for a moment, listening until she heard the grunting sound that usually accompanied childbirth. She made her way towards the tent where the birth was taking place until, about 10 yards from the entrance, a piercing, and painful scream cut through the din of the inclement weather. Xyvera quickened her pace slightly as time was short.
       
      A lone orc stood at the front of the tent, a worried expression on his face as he looked back nervously at the flap that marked the tent's entryway. He stood straighter and wiped the water from his eyes as Xyvera approached. Saying nothing, he peeled the flap back, which allowed her passage into the tent. Another mid-wife he assumed, here to assist with the child's birth.
       
      Xyvera stepped inside without a word, her stooped posture concealing the fact she was a minotaur and more substantial than most orcs. Two orc mid-wives were attending to the mother, both covered in blood, as was the bed. The moaning indicated the mother still lived. However, she sounded weak. Xyvera walked to the foot of the bed before throwing back her hood and revealing herself. The midwives turned, startled, before instinctively grabbing anything that could resemble a weapon to prepare for, what they assumed, was an attack. Minotaurs were not enemies of orcs; however, the two races had very little to do with each other, and a mutual distrust existed.


       
      Xyvera leaned her staff against the foot of the bed and held up her hands in a gesture of peace. To further ease the tension, she spoke in a local orc dialect.
       
      "The woman is going to die. If you do not let me help, so will the child."
       
      "The child…is an abomination. We assumed ettin-kind however, it only has one head. The size…it is like nothing we have ever seen. We do not know what to do.", the older of the two mid-wives replied.
       
      "I have foreseen the coming of this child. Up until this morning, I assumed she would be of my ilk, however apparently not. As I said, let me assist, or you will lose both, and the babe is too important to die." Xyvera reply left no room for rebuke, so the two midwives stepped away from the bed.
       
      The mother was into her last reserves of strength, any other race and she would have perished already, however, orcs were known for nothing if not their sheer constitution. Xyvera traced her finger across the orc's forehead, leaving a faint green glowing rune, before reciting an incantation. The rune glowed brighter as a yellow tinge spread across the woman's body. She became reinvigorated, jolting forward and grabbing Xyvera's arm with renewed strength.
       
      "Push" Xyvera whispered.
       
      The orc woman looked into Xyvera's eyes, her eyes bulging, veins protruding from her neck and temples as if she was about to explode. Her body contorted as she pushed. The sound of bones cracking and flesh tearing cut through the sound of the rain pelting against the tent roof. The midwives moved towards the bed. However, Xyvera waved them away with an irritated hand. The orc woman continued to push until the wail of a newborn babe could be heard. Xyvera pried the woman's hand from her arm and pushed her back into the bed. Her life force left her as the yellow tinge covering her body, and the green rune on her forehead also faded into non-existence.
       
      Xyvera gestured to the midwives so they could attend to the baby. They cleaned it quickly, wrapped it in a blanket, before attempting to feed it milk they had on hand for whenever such times as the mother did not make it.
       
      "Crone, what did you do to her?",  the older midwife asked.
       
      "I saved her life.", Xyvera replied nonchalantly.
       
      "Not the babe! The mother, you used dark magic!", the mid-wife hissed through clenched teeth before gesturing to the newborn baby. "The babe, she is bigger than any I have seen, and I have been delivering orc children into this world for over 40 cycles, ettins even. I have seen nothing like her. She is a devil-spawn."
       
      "Shut up fool, unless you want to join the mother.", Xyera's visage and menacing tone stunned the mid-wife into silence. "The babe is not devil-spawn, quite the opposite. Her coming was foretold, and she may yet be the saviour of your people. If you care for your kind, take her to Haksa, the great shaman. Do you know of him?"
       
      The midwife nodded.
       
      "Tell him Xyvera sent you, he will know what to do. Leave now, tonight, and do not show the babe to anyone before you reach Haksa. Do you understand?"
       
      "Yes, crone, we do." The midwives began gathering provisions, including a wooden cradle that would serve as a makeshift cart for their journey.
       
      Xyvera turned from them and began tracing runic lines on the earth floor. Once complete she began to cast a spell which caused the runes to glow before she disappeared, teleporting back to her domicile.

      Chapter 1

      "Pick up the shield."

      "I am tired papa…"

      "Pick up the shield."

      "Let her rest Haksa, she has been at it for over 4 hours", Korgulg interjected before returning to sharpening his axe on a spinning grindstone.

      Haksa sneered as he turned to the orc warrior, "Stay out of it unless you want to be the next to spar with her," and then his smirk turned into a grin. He looked back at Sharn, "One hour girl, rest and drink, you have your lore studies with Ghorza this afternoon." He watched the hulking frame of the girl as she walked from the training arena to grab a skin of water and almost devour it in one go. Twelve cycles old and as big as Haksa already. Stronger too. She was turning into a warrior without peer, except for Zhonyja perhaps, however without the latter's demonic demeanour. Sharn was extraordinary, and Haksa gave thanks every day since Xyvera had sent her his way. The shaman believed the girl was a gift from the old gods, one who would stem the tide and restore the pride of the orc people. The pride that Kruul and his minions had recklessly eroded over the last few decades. His commune with the old gods had informed him she would also become a Summoned, in time. He wondered whether the new gods were aware that the old gods were recruiting their heroes into the Summoned ranks. Their lust for power so blinded them, as did their fear of destruction, he assumed they either didn't know or did not care as long as the Souls continued to flow.



      "She grows stronger by the day, and bigger. The girl is going to tower over Bonestorm soon. Have you thought about breeding her? I have heard she is ready to sire." Korgulg had stopped sharpening his blade and looked at Haksa earnestly.

      "You volunteering?" he responded. "I would gut you before you got anywhere near that girl Korgulg. Anyway, it is a moot point, the girl is not an ettin, however like them, she is not able to conceive. Her purpose is far greater than breeding a band of giant orcs."

      Korgulg thought pensively before speaking, "She worries me Haksa, most of the tribe feel the same. She is not natural; nothing about her is natural. We accepted ettins long ago, despite them being an abomination. However, she is different. Are you sure she gets her strength from the old gods? That minotaur witch sent her. Sharn could very well be demon spawn."

      "Watch your tongue Korgulg!" Haksa's patience was wearing thin. "Since when did you stop trusting me? I have communed with the old gods themselves, she is from them, and that should be the end of it."

      Korgulg looked to change the subject. "So where from here? She will have learned everything I can teach her before the cycle is out, and the rate she is growing, she will probably kill me before then." A smile formed across his face.

      "I am going to send her to my brother Shaman, Doenrakkar, for a time. He will complete her training. Sharn will only be with you for a few more months. You have done well, my friend."

      Haksa pulled a small vial from the folds of his cloak. "Come, let us relax and enjoy this new herb mix I have put together."

      "A new one? What is it this time?" Korgulg asked.

      "You won't be disappointed.", the shaman replied before slapping the orc warrior on the shoulder as the two friends walked away from the village centre.

      Chapter 2

      Sharn's patience started to wear thin as she waited for the return of her companion. Her trust in the rogue had grown over time. However, you always have to keep a certain level of awareness when dealing with someone of his ilk. They were an incredible team really, him a legendary assassin and one of the first to be summoned, and her, a literal giant among her people whose sheer size had set her apart from her kin at birth. Sharn's ascension to Guardian had been a gruelling test of her physical and mental strength over many cycles, and she strove to become the first orc to join that illustrious order for a generation. Every Guardian had to complete a final quest, the last hurdle which would entitle them to claim the Guardian title. For Sharn, the task was to uncover an ancient, dwarf warhammer that, rumour had it, was somewhere deep within these catacombs.



      Her mentor, and father figure, Haksa, provided initial guidance on where to locate the hammer. The shaman's ability to commune with the old gods was well known, and it was through this commune that he discovered the name of the hammer, which greatly aided Sharn's quest. "Stormforged" was what the dwarfs used to call it. A mighty warhammer with the ability to produce a thunderous clap that would hurl foes flying through the air in battle. Despite Haksa's best efforts, he was still not able to accurately locate the hammer's whereabouts. For that, they had to speak with Zaron Bogdan, one of the most feared and famous beings on Athien. Zaron was an enigma. However, he had grown into an unlikely ally of the orcs in these troubled times, attributed mainly to his friendship with Krognar, the orc demigod. Rumour has it that Zaron's first commune with Krognar had enabled him to become the beginning of the Summoned and in doing so greatly enhancing Krognar's powers. For his part, Zaron seemed hellbent on becoming a god himself, and there were whispers he had transcended into un-death already.

      Sharn was initially apprehensive about meeting the legendary necromancer. However, he seemed eager to assist her and provide directions to the catacombs she was currently exploring. The only request from Zaron, for his aid, was that Rakkir accompanies her. The relationship between Zaron and the orc rogue was a complex one that had, somehow, stood the test of time. Their friendship had elevated both of them to two of the most powerful heroes in the Summoned ranks. As for Rakkir, he was deadly efficient in combat, and coupled with his powerful shadow orbs, was frighteningly tricky to catch. The two of them combined were a formidable foe, and they had dispatched scores of dwarfs, golems and other adversaries that were hellbent on stopping her recovering Stormforged, in the last few days.

      Sharn started to think that the rogue had betrayed her, and was not coming back before he suddenly appeared next to her.

      Rakkir broke the silence. "I have located the hammer. It looks unguarded however I certainly doubt that is the case. There is a secret passage that will bring us to the side of and slightly behind a dais, floating above that is your hammer."

      "It looks unguarded, you say?" Sharn replied.

      "I did not see any guards or sentries, although the room looks like a temple of sorts. We should prepare for anything. Also, you say this is a dwarf warhammer, I have never known a dwarf capable of wielding such a weapon, it is huge. Even the mighty Thrommel would struggle to wield it in both hands."

      "It was forged in ancient times, for the dwarf titans. They were bigger than the dwarfs we know today, and they disappeared around the time of the Gathering. No one knows why." Sharn was growing tired of the conversation, so close to her prize. She took a deep breath to calm herself. Impatience would not be an ally at this stage.

      "Lead on rogue, let's claim Stormforged for our people."

      "Heh, your people are not my people girl, I help you claim it for reasons of my own." Rakkir sneered.

      Sharn did not know what to make of his last comment. More than once, she silently questioned what Rakkir, and indeed Zaron, were set to gain from her claiming Stormforged. In the end, she decided it meant little. All that mattered was she would wield Stormforged in defence of her people, and Haksa was in favour of it. She trusted him without question and was sure he would deliver the orcs from the clutches of the witchdoctors and the new gods they worshipped.

      They set off together, Sharn following behind Rakkir. He realised stealth was useless with an 8-foot behemoth in heavy armour following his footsteps, so he readied himself, dagger in one hand, shadow orb in the other and set a decent pace. The secret passageway was a little cramped for her size so Sharn privately hoped a fight would not break out in such confines. She needn't have worried, as it soon came to a dead end at what looked like the back of a secret door.

      Rakkir crouched low with his ear to the stonework trying to discern if anyone was on the other side. After a few minutes, he pulled gently on the door to open it toward them. The rogue slipped through the opening while pulling his cloak over his head becoming almost invisible to Sharn as the cloak shimmered a deep black. The Cloak of Darkness. It was the stuff of legend and a magical artefact of considerable power. Another reminder of the influence of one they called the Blood Shadow.

      After a few moments, Sharn opened the door wider so she could fit through. She was grateful to find herself in a large room with a vaulted ceiling, some kind of temple, which from the adornments, looked like a place of worship to a dwarf god. Rakkir had already positioned himself on the other side of the room from where the secret door opened. The temple was dark, except for a glow that emanated from the altar, a few feet above which hung Stormforged. The hammer looked magnificent, and it drew Sharn in.

      She could no longer see Rakkir and was not even sure he was still in the room, so she paused for a moment to peer around the temple. It was too dark to see anything really, the glow from the altar made it difficult for her eyes to adjust completely, so after a few moments, she decided to act. First, she slung the large shield from her back and held it in a defensive position. She then took a deep breath before striding confidently towards the platform, stood ere it for a moment, before reaching out to grab Stormforged.

      Stormforged

      Sharn was not sure what she expected to happen. However, it was notably unremarkable. Stormforged felt terrific in her hands, much lighter than she imagined yet perfectly balanced, even when held in one hand like she did. However, beyond that, nothing. She turned to head back towards the secret passage, stopping one last time to see whether she could spot Rakkir. Just before giving up, she caught a glint of steel in a far corner. Moving towards it, she eventually could make out the profile of the rogue, in a vestibule to the left of the main chamber. He had pried open a stone with his dagger and was carefully pulling out a small jewelled chest from a secret compartment in the wall. He turned to her briefly before carefully placing the chest in a leather container attached to his belt.

      "What are you doing?" she asked more harshly than intended.

      "That is not your concern, Guardian," he replied.

      The realisation he had just called her "Guardian" caused her to pause for a moment.

      "We need to get out of here Rakkir, I am not comfortable in this place," Sharn said.

      They walked back into the main temple and quickened their pace towards where the secret passageway was. Neither Rakkir or Shan noticed the absence of glowing light above the altar that appeared earlier. Rakkir stopped at the stone wall and began searching for the secret door. Sharn instinctively turned to stand guard, pavise shield and Stormforged at the ready.

      "Something is wrong. The door, it is no longer here." Rakkir stated with a hint of peril in his voice.

      Sharn looked over her shoulder to where the rogue was frantically searching for the opening. Sharn knew that a rogue of his skill would not struggle to find a secret door that he knew was already there.

      "It must be a defensive mechanism for the hammer. The dwarf custodians are forcing us to go out the main entrance." Sharn offered.

      Rakkir turned sharply, drew his dagger and shadow orb, and moved towards the front of the temple, gesturing for Sharn to follow. Without the glowing altar, their eyes were able to adjust better to the darkness. After a short time, they could see the front wall, in the middle of which stood two huge ornate doors, with large brass rings for handles. On either side of the doors stood giant stone statues of dwarfs, one a warrior and the other a priestess. The statues were a full foot taller than Sharn.

      Rakkir slowed his pace a touch as they neared the doors. Sharn stopped and once again stood guard as Rakkir got to work on the doors. He expertly searched for traps or magical glyphs that may trigger if they were opened incorrectly. Suddenly, a sixth sense clicked in, and Rakkir tumbled away from the door, just as an enormous stone axe crashed into the cobblestone floor. The sound reverberated around the temple startling Sharn into action. She swung around to see the priest statue about to crush Rakkir's skull with her mace. Instinctively Sharn recited an incantation and motioned Rakkir toward her. He immediately moved toward her quickly as if pushed by a magical hand, evading the strikes of both axe and mace.

      Sharn stepped forward between the dwarfs and rogue, setting her shield in place to deflect a crushing blow from the warrior's axe. The statues fought ferociously, causing her to inch back all the while protecting Rakkir as he regained his composure. Sure enough, a moment later he was back on his feet dropping a shadow orb and disappearing from view. It was only then that Sharn noticed a low thrum emanating from Stormforged which was also emitting a soft glow. Sharn instinctively swung it in an upward arc unerringly striking the dwarf warrior in the chest. With a loud crack, lightning clapped in a bright flash before Sharn felt the power surge through her arm. The warrior launched into the air, flung back several yards before crashing into the doors which shuddered under the impact.

      Sharn

      The surprise barely left Sharn before a cracking sound was followed by the crashing down of a massive column of flame, engulfing her. Sharn reared away from the priest that had produced the flame column, runes glowing on its stone robes. Despite her heavy armour, the pain was intense, and she could still feel herself burning. Suddenly the priest arched its back as the tip of Rakkir's dagger protruded from its chest. The priest whirled around swinging its mace widely, however, its weapon carved through the air since the rogue had already disappeared, only to reappear several yards away. Sharn moved quickly to close in on the priestess, hoping these things could actually be killed. She started to swing Stormforged like before; however, before she could complete her swing, her pavise shield shuddered from the impact of the warrior's axe. The force was so great that Sharn felt a sharp pain shoot up her arm and shoulder. This was starting to look grim, she thought to herself.

      "Sharn! Distract them both. Give me time." Rakkir yelled from the shadows. The sound distracted both dwarfs for a moment allowing Sharn to charge into the priest, this time using her shield as a weapon. The impact slammed the priest yards away before crashing into a stone pillar. The collision sent her crashing to the ground and prone on her back. To Sharn's dismay, the damage on the priestess still seemed trivial.

      The warrior reared back to Sharn, swinging its mighty axe in a vast arc.

      "Hurry up rogue!" Sharn roared.

      The Guardian began manoeuvring herself to where Rakkir kneeled holding something in front of him. It was the small chest he discovered earlier. The rogue worked methodically in an attempt to open it. Rakkir knew Zaron would not be pleased that he was opening the chest. However, they were in a nasty predicament here. He would worry about Zaron's wrath later. For now, he was in survival mode. Rakkir was sure he could escape through stealth; however, he did not want to leave the Guardian to inevitable doom.

      Sharn was starting to tire, numerous cuts and bruises taking their toll. She was firmly in defence mode now, using all her strength to keep both dwarf statues at bay. She had managed to manoeuvre herself adjacent to Rakkir as she dug deep into her training to keep her pavise shield off the ground. Minutes passed, and still, Rakkir worked feverishly away on the device. A glass globe with a bright, magical glow within it. Sharn was not sure how much longer she could stand, blood seeping through the gaps in her armour as the blows reigned down on her shield. Just as darkness began to overcome her, Sharn heard the sharp crack of magical energy and a sudden explosion of light.

      "Sharn! To me!" Rakkir screamed.

      Summoning the final reserves of strength, Sharn shoved the dwarf warrior with her shield and blasted the priest once again with Stormforged. She was acting entirely on instinct at this point. Momentarily freed from her adversaries, Sharn turned to Rakkir. He held the magical globe in one hand and had his other outstretched beckoning her. She took a giant stride and reached out a massive paw, grasping his hand. The light travelled from Rakkir's right hand, across his body and through Sharn's outstretched arm until it eventually engulfed them both. Sharn started to lose consciousness. Her last memory a feeling of being pulled towards the globe and then a falling sensation.

      Epilogue

      Sharn opened her eyes. She was lying prone, and her body ached all over; however, it seemed, from the silence, that she was no longer in battle. She turned to her side and saw the familiar silhouette of Rakkir hunched over, peering across a rocky ledge. He looked to her, with a hint of compassion before asking "You ok Guardian?".

      "I have been better", she replied.

      She lifted herself off the uneven earth floor and crawled over to where Rakkir was. It wasn't until now that she noticed the intense heat spilling over the rocky ledge they were on. Rakkir motioned for her to look over the natural rock wall before him. Sharn inhaled sharply as she took in the scene before her. Pools of molten rock dotted a sprawling valley floor. Lava geysers spewed 25 yards into the air with poisonous vapours floating low above the ground.

      "Rakkir, where are we?" she asked.

      "I have travelled all over Athien and Between, but I have never before seen this place," he replied.

      "The magical device?" Sharn enquired.

      "It was destroyed in the process of transporting us here. We cannot use it to get back. Rest up Guardian, we are going to need your strength to get out of this."

      Sharn sat with her back to the rock wall, breathing deeply as she began the road to recovery. She absentmindedly placed her hand on Stormforged. Tingles of energy running through her thick fingers, as she sat there wondering what tomorrow would bring.

    • June 23, 2019 Dor'gokaan Sculpt Reveal
      Dor'gokaan Sculpt Reveal

      It took a lot of convincing the early playtesters that neutral monsters were an essential element of the game. Over time, the task of convincing players that monsters are more than a gimmick became a lot easier. Now, they usually are singing the praises of monsters to us. Our monster designs have come a long way since Gloom. The shadow hound was the equivalent of the designers dipping their toe in the water, in terms of monster board presence. From Gloom we moved to Ashtooth, then Inferno, the first monster with a ranged attack and then, boldly, we introduced Vujasha into the game.

      At that point, we all took a collective breath and gave the game some time to breathe. The last 12 months have seen unprecedented growth in Judgement's player base and the introduction of new heroes and a new 5v5 Scorched Earth map. Dor'gokaan represents a natural progression in the evolution of Judgement monsters. He has the most rules, the highest potential damage output and being a demon, can be summoned by Warlock heroes! 

      Something that Jeff and I keep in mind when designing new heroes or monsters is to make sure we maintain the Judgement model range's variety. Of the three official Judgement illustrators, Helge C Balzer is the one who pushes character design into areas we would not usually go. Vujasha is the most obvious; however, his Styx, Loribela and Nephenee illustrations have all introduced unique elements. Safe to say that Helge's Dor'gokaan tops them all. From the outset, Helge had a vision for the demon that none of us would have taken from the design brief. Before too long, Dor'gokaan had a life of his own, and the final product became a fusion of various archetypes and genres.

      Dor'gokaan Illustration

      Dave Whitaker, the sculptor who recently sculpted Sharn for us, was commissioned to turn Helge's vision of Dor'gokaan into a 3D sculpt and he nailed it. We are itching to produce Dor'gokaan and get him onto the battlefields of Judgement players everywhere, as a neutral monster and a summoned minion of Viktor Clerval.

      Dor'gokaan Sculpt 1

      Dor'gokaan Sculpt 2

      Dor'gokaan Sculpt 3

      Dor'gokaan Sculpt 4

      Dor'gokaan Pre-Release at Warfaire Weekend

      If launching the Judgement North American Championship at Warfaire Weekend was not enough, we are also going to pre-release both Dor'gokaan and Fazeal at the convention. Both models will be available to pick up on the Friday, and they will be legal for all the Judgement events, including the JNAC. 

    • June 14, 2019 Patch Notes #7
      Patch Notes #7

      Herein lies the seventh clarification and errata document for Judgement. From the very beginning we socialised the fact Judgement would be a regularly "patched" game, to stay true to its MOBA origins, and to ensure the game's rules are kept in an optimal state. Our patch schedule is quarterly, with the changes becoming official on the 1st day of the start of the next quarter. Therefore the official date for this patch is the 1st of July 2019.

      Remember that all hero, monster, magical artefact and core rules can be downloaded from the Print & Play section of this website. Both our Android and iOS apps will also be updated to reflect changes from this patch.

      If you want to discuss the patch notes, or anything at all about Judgement, please join our Discord channel or visit our forums!

      Clarifications

      Clarifications are provided for rules that are normally played a certain way, however the rules as written do not necessarily support that. Clarifications can also be  quality of life changes that do not necessarily change rules. 

      Base-to-Base (p7)

      There was some confusion around whether a model could overlap a token, such as Rakkir's Shadow Orb, or a teleportation circle on the Scorched Earth map, and still be considered base to base. Well the short answer is yes.

      • A model is considered to be Base-to-Base with another model, terrain feature or token, when that model’s base is touching another model’s base, terrain feature or token. If a model’s base is overlapping a non impassable terrain feature or token, it is also considered to be in Base-to-Base with that terrain feature or token.

      Killed/Destroyed (p8)

      We want to clarify what happens when a hero dies and re-spawns. 

      • Death: Trigger any abilities or effects that rely on a hero dying. Remove all conditions, tokens, bound Souls and affects from the model.

      Killing Blow (p8)

      Broadened the definition to include all enemy models, not just heroes.

      • The model that inflicts the last damage point, resulting in the death of an enemy model, is considered to have dealt the killing blow.

      Aiming Bonus (p17)

      • Removed "However they can use symbols to push themselves via the combat manoeuvre mechanic." from the Aiming Bonus paragraph. It is no longer relevant since we removed the ability to make melee attacks when claiming the Aiming Bonus.

      Bounty (p21)

      We clarified that only the hero that collects a Fate bounty can buy, trade or sell magical artefacts.

      • The hero that is eligible to collect a Fate bounty can immediately buy, trade, or sell magical artefacts as if it were standing base-to-base with its effigy (see Magical Artefacts, p.25). 

      Curse (p29)

      • Clarified that a cursed model cannot contest or control shrines. Previously it just said contest.

      Fly (p30)

      With Dor'gokaan having the same ability as Nephenee, we decided to make Fly a core rulebook Auxiliary Function.

      • A model with fly ignores the charge target, and all intervening models, when moving as part of a charge. Its final placing, after the charge move, must not overlap any other model’s base and must ensure the charge target is within the charging model’s melee range. Note that the charging model still requires Line of Sight to its charge target before the charge move. 

      Invisibility (p30)

      Way back in patch #1, we actually changed Invisibility to include active abilities, however it somehow dropped off the radar and never made it into the rule book or Rakkir's card. We have reinstated it into both, so Invisibility is now the following.

      • A model with invisibility cannot be targeted by an enemy model's active abilities or RNG/MAG basic attacks while the enemy model is more than 3” away from the model. 

      Point Blank (p31)

      We have been toying with the idea of a point blank rule for some time, and the changes to Saiyin gave us a reason to take the plunge.

      • A model with the point blank ability can use its RNG or MAG attack when engaged by enemy models. Firing into melee penalties apply as per normal.

      Stacking Terrain (p32)

      Added a new section to clarify what happens when terrain pieces stack on one another, such as Marcus' Wall being placed within a forest or smoke.

      • The movement penalties from Rough Ground and Treacherous Ground do not stack. Similarly, the attack dice penalties for Soft Cover and Hard Cover do not stack. In both cases the highest penalty will be applied.

      Errata

      Errata are changes to the rules that we believe improve the player experience, close loop holes or are simply kick-ass changes that make Judgement even better.

      Magic Attacks in Melee (p15)

      This section was only relevant for Saiyin, and produced a lot more questions and confusion than it was worth. It has been removed from the game.

      • Magic Attacks in Melee removed from the game.

      Knocked Down (p30)

      Added the following:

      • A model suffering the knocked down condition has to spend an action, or a Fate, to stand up, at the start of its activation.

      Hero Updates

      As the game continues to grow, adding heroes, different maps, magical artefacts and monsters, creates many options for players. We continually revisit various elements to ensure they are balanced and players are faced with legitimate and interesting challenges when designing their Warbands. All changes are carefully measured and, as is always the case, we will continue to monitor things over the next three months  as we march towards the next patch.

       Allandir

      Qualify of life clarification for Allandir around the wording of his Explosive Shot. 

      • Re-worded Explosive Shot. Previously it could be interpreted that once it was triggered, the affects lasted for all subsequent Bow attacks. This is not the intention. 

      Barnascus

      Barnascus has been in an awkward place for some time and we have spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the best way to buff him. A model that can do so many different things can easily become OP, so we have chosen two areas to improve his kit. Promoting him to a mounted model was an obvious thing to do and continues to build on his flavour as a dwarf riding a tank platform. The 2nd change is another one that make sense. He pays an action to advance his MOV stat and a Fate to do some damage. This also means if you have Fate you can negate the poor situation where you are engaged by an enemy, but not engaging them. We feel these two changes give "Barney" a decent buff that should place him towards the top end of town.

      • Barnascus is now a mounted model
      • Grind has had the following added to it:- "Advance this model up to its current MOV in inches."

      Bastian Oriel, Lore Keeper

      Bastian has held his position at, or near the top of the supporters role, pretty much from day 1. We have said, on several occasions, the fact a hero that does so little damage can be one of the most powerful is testament to the game's rule set and we are proud of that. With the game maturing, and the player base increasing rapidly, we want to normalise the abilities that can produce such wild swings in fortunes and his Prayer of Health is one such ability. This is not a trivial nerf to Bastian however one we feel is warranted, and one that still makes his healing ability  a powerful one. The Plane Walker reduction is a small adjustment we have wanted to make for some time.

      • Prayer of Health reduced from D6+3 to D3+3
      • Reduced Plane Walker range from 12" to 10"

      Fazeal

      For completeness sake, we have included the official V1.0 card for Lord Fazeal. 

      Haksa

      Haksa is in a solid place and fits the role of supporting Shaman perfectly. Keeping in line with our desire to reduce the large swings in dice we changed the way Equilibrium works. 3-5 instead of 1-6 is arguably more a buff than a nerf, however it serves the purpose of reducing a massive swing opportunity. The range reduction, to 4", brings him in line with most other offensive abilities. Haksa will continue to be a solid choice with these changes.

      • Equilibrium reduced to D3+2 from D6
      • Equilibrium range reduced to 4" from 6" for both enemy and friendly model 

      Istariel

      This simply makes sense to us from an origins stand point and a flavour view. She is the Mistress of the Flame after all.

      • Istariel is now immune to the Fire Condition 

      Jaegar

      The ability to strip multiple souls in a single activation had the potential to cause a negative play experience and give a losing player a path back into the game that was a little too easy. 

      • Strip Soul can only execute once per activation

       Kogan

      We are very happy with Kogan's kit, his model, his theme, pretty much everything about him. We feel he is just under the curve with regards to other aggressors however we understand, from past experience, that he is a delicate one to balance. We have made 3 minor changes to him that we feel nudges him into comparable territory with other aggressors in the game, while maintaining his niche.

      • Blunderbuss range increased to 5" from 4"
      • Starting health increased from 16 to 17
      • Battle Cry now enables 1 Sustained Attack re-roll

      Nephenee

      • Updated her card to include the Fly innate ability.
      • Removed her Jet Pack ability since it was replaced with Fly.

      Rakkir

      Way back in patch #1, we updated the definition of Invisibility to include active abilities, not just RNG & MAG attacks, however it somehow never made it onto Rakkir's card. We have finally updated it to reflect the intended Invisibility rules.

      • Invisibility updated to include immunity from active abilities that originate from enemy models more than 3" away

      Saiyin

      Saiyin's magic attack in melee caused more confusion and questions that it was worth. We thought long and hard about what to do with her attack. We did not want her to become another ranged magic elf, and we wanted to keep her ability to wield magic in combat. We believe we have done that perfectly, and at the same time given her a combat oriented buff. Just think of her now as a magic wielding hero with a short range attack that can still be cast when she is in combat.

      • Wither Soul range increased to 3"
      • Gained Point Blank innate ability
      • Magic Attacks in Melee has been removed from the rule book

       Sharn

      For completeness sake, we have included the official V1.0 card for Sharn.

      Skoll

      Skoll's Primal Scream was causing a lot of issues around unforeseen interactions with other hero's innate abilities. We considered a few options here however all were a lot of re-work so instead we decided to change the definition of Primal Scream and move it to his level 2 Mystic head slot. This meant that Mesmerising Gaze was moved to level 3, and we also decided to upgrade its cost.

      • Primal Scream given new definition. Moved to level 2 and cost changed from 1F to 1A
      • Mesmerising Gaze moved to level 3 and cost changed from 1A to 1F

      Styx

      Styx is in a very good place, however we felt the ranges on his abilities meant he could play a little too safe while dominating a battle. We love his kit, and love what he brings to the table, however everyone's favourite cyborg needed to be pegged back just a touch.

      • Ethereal Passage range reduced from 6" to 4"
      • Astral Split range reduced from 8" to 6"

       Svetlana

      Svetlana is another hero that brings something unique to the table, particularly in the Soulgazer class. We are very happy with her kit, however there was a general feeling she was reaching her strong point too early, especially when you consider how easy it is for her to reach level 2. We are much happier after tweaking her kit a little bit.

      • Swapped Beast Master and Soul Keeper around, so Beast Master is at level 3
      • Reworded Soul Keeper so that she always keeps 1 Soul when she dies.
      • Reduced range of Beast Command from 5" to 4"

      Thorgar

      Thorgar has remained untouched for a while as he sits in a solid position within the hotly contested melee aggressor slot. In saying that, we do feel that in the hands of a top tier player, the ability to abuse Enraged Slam was just a little too good, particularly once the big man hit level 3. We decided to tone that down just a touch. He also had too much of an advantage, health wise, compared to his peers.

      • Start health dropped from 18 to 17
      • Level 3 health gain reduced from 3 to 2 (max health now 21 instead of 23)
      • Enraged Slam damage reduced from 5 to 4
      • Enraged Slam distance changed from 7" to his current MOV+3"

      Viktor

      The ability for heroes to summon other models is a very interesting and fun aspect of the game we want to promote. Balancing heroes that can summon is always going to be a challenge and we thought it was time to revisit this little guy, particularly when you consider the introduction of Dor'gokaan.

      Soul Call was an ability that began innocuously before becoming the single dominant ability in Viktor's kit. The Scorched Earth map reinforced this even more. It was never our intention to make Soul Call his main ability so we simply removed it from his kit.

      The introduction of Banishment is a two-edged sword, as it means Viktor cannot automatically dispel previously summoned demons by summoning a new one. It now means he is a fantastic counter to himself, as well as making Dor'gokaan far more manageable on the maps where he is a neutral monster.

      • Demon Gate changed to 0A as each demon's summoning cost has been moved to their cards
      • Replaced Soul Call with Banishment
      • Demon Gate changed so that summoning a demon does not auto banish the previous demon, Viktor has to actually cast Banishment on an existing demon before summoning the new one.
      • Updated Viktor's summoning rules to reference "Demon - Warlock Familiar" as the model type

      Zaron

      No material changes to Zaron's rules. We have simply made his summoning ability more generic to bring him in line with Viktor and prepare for future undead models that Zaron will be able to summon!

      • From Below cost changed to 0A, with the cost moved to the Skeleton monster
      • Unholy Vessel removed and moved to the Skeleton monster. The ability to harvest Souls is a feature of the skeleton and other undead monsters, that Zaron summons, will not necessarily have that feature
      • Bone Shards changed to be more generic as all undead models, that Zaron summons in the future, will also gain this ability

      Zhonyja

      We felt Zhonyja was a little too reliable at level 1. These changes will mean she will have a little more difficulty killing that monster at top of turn 1.

      • Furious Charge removed
      • +1 MEL added to Relentless Charge ability

      Monster Updates

      Monsters have always been an integral part of Judgement, and as the game matures we find ourselves introducing more challenging and interesting monsters into the mix. We strive to ensure the monster rules are just as balanced as the heroes.

      Al'garath

      Al'garath remains a powerful choice for Viktor, even with the changes to Taunt and the introduction of Dor'gokaan. We have also introduced the summoning cost to his card like all summoned models.

      • Summoning cost added to his card
      • Taunt changed so the taunted model requires LOS to him to be taunted
      • Eldritch Discharge moved from Viktor's card to his card

      Dor'gokaan

      Dor'gokaan has been spoiled with the release of the Scorched Earth map however this is the 1st official V1.0 of his card.

      Dor'gokaan the Summoned

       

      Similarly for the summoned version of Dor'gokaan. This is the 1st official release of his card. Balancing the summoned version was a challenge however there were several restrictions we added that, we believe, puts him in a good place. Below we highlight the differences between the monster and summoned version of Dor'gokaan.

      • Loses Dual Wield
      • Costs 1A+2F to summon
      • Eldritch Discharge is D3+2
      • Demonic Favour: Enemies gain a level and a Fate when they kill him
      • Demonic Restraint: Viktor loses an action whenever he starts an activation with a summoned Dor'gokaan in play.

      Skeleton

      Summoned undead have been revamped to be inline with summoned demons. So Zaron's Child has been renamed to Skeleton and its model type is now the generic "Undead - Necromancer Familiar". This is to cater for future undead releases that will be summonable by Zaron and other necromancers. 

      • Name changed from Zaron's Child to Skeleton
      • Model type changed from "Skeleton - Necromancer Familiar" to "Undead - Necromancer Familiar"
      • Summon Cost added to reflect new summoned model format
      • Unholy Vessel moved from Zaron's card to this card as it is a feature of this particular undead model
      • Skeleton Horde added as, once again, the ability to have 3 in play at any given time is a feature of this particular undead model

      Terra

      Terra was a bold step in a new direction for character shrines. Adding a model to a Warband takes careful design to ensure it is not overbearing or dominating battles. We have spent a few iterations balancing the pros and cons and feel he is now in a good place.

      • Eldir's Blessing: Terra now gives 2 Fate to the enemy Warband if they are within 2" when he is slain
      • Health reduced from 12 to 10

      Magical Artefact Updates

      Null Stone

      The Null Stone needed a boost to make it more competitive in the highly prized defensive artefact slot. We gave it one.

      • Now operates just like Kruul's Null Magic ability, rendering magical artefacts useless within 4" of the bearer.
    • May 29, 2019 The Devouring Tide
      The Devouring Tide

      Doenrakkar stood atop the sentry stone and breathed the scented smoke that wafted from the damped fire behind him. Today the tenders had chosen to burn the last of the hecka wood and its thick, pungent odour reminded him of the reaches, where they should have been several seasons ago, under old chief Ballock. Ballock had been dead a dozen seasons now and his daughter, Cradol, was a very different person. 

      He sighed out the smoke, troubled. The tribe had been here at the oasis for far too long and still Cradol showed no sign of moving them on, in spite of his entreaties. She had lived her whole life without sight of the devouring tide. To her it was merely rumour and superstition. He knew she believed in the creatures known as the Atric, she had killed dozens of them when they were encountered in small groups, however the fact she had only experienced them in small numbers was the reason she treated the threat with disdain. A single Atric was barely a challenge for a warrior; a dozen were barely a challenge for a warband of four minotaurs. But the tide was something different altogether, something you needed to have seen, with your own eyes, to understand. Doenrakkar desperately hoped to never see it again. Staying at the oasis, for as long as they had, was asking for trouble and, he thought as he absently scratched at the runes on his chest, he suspected sadly that might be his daughter's intent.

      Cradol had never had much respect for the lore of the tribe that Doenrakkar carried, nor the traditions her father had followed. Every day she kept them at the oasis, without incident, was small proof she was right, and the traditions could be safely ignored, the lore forgotten, in favour of stability. Stability was something the wandering minotaur herds had never had however, granted, the other races had gleaned much benefit from it. 

      The shaman sincerely wished Cradol was right. In recent times, the tribes had lost a lot of their most promising children to the cities, where permanent structures allowed for things that the nomadic camps couldn’t match. Places of learning and study and massive workshops with equipment far too heavy for the herd to carry around. Some came back, like Cradol herself, but many never did. 

      The oasis was a perfect place to take root, build a city, and establish a kingdom, if you believed Cradol. Many others did. Over the last season Doenrakkar had seen buildings taking shape out of stone and mortar rather than mud and hide. It saddened him to see fewer attending the rituals, fewer greeting or saluting Torin, fewer devoting time to prayer to the old gods for merciful weather. Stone houses did not care about storms, and at the oasis there was a near unending supply of water and food.

      When they’d sighted the first Atric, at least two seasons ago, Cradol had personally hunted and killed it, leading it far from the oasis before killing, following the lore. So it had been for the next half dozen, though other minotaurs had done the killing. When the first group of Atric had been spotted, a warband had been assembled and Cradol had led them into a brief but satisfying slaughter. Each time the kills were a little closer to their encampment and the trackers began to see signs of Atric closer still, wandering the dunes seemingly at random. For the last season it had stayed steady, a handful of Atric being spotted every few days and dealt with easily.

      Cradol had ordered a wall built around the encampment, a hundred paces out from the existing camp, as if to imply how much their settlement might grow. The walls were only waist high, but they provided an illusion of safety that troubled Doenrakkar. He had confronted Cradol with his concerns and although she had listened, he had been dismissed. 

      “What we are building here is worth fighting for” she had said. “The Atric are not a threat if we stand united against them, we have dozens of the strongest warriors this tribe has ever known.”

      “Daughter, you have never seen….”

      She waved a hand dismissively. 

      “I learned the stories, shaman. I know the legendary ‘tide’! But I see no evidence it exists. If it ever did, then perhaps it doesn’t anymore. I see the tension in you when a single Atric shows itself and I wonder. You were young when this ‘tide’ swept through, yes? Perhaps it grew in your memory.”

      Even then, as she dismissed his memory so easily and discounted his advice, she implied he may be weak or a coward. Despite this, he still felt no anger, only sadness and fear that the tribe would be forced once more to learn a lesson that had shaped their history. He felt that he, and the others responsible for passing down the lore through the generations, had failed. The elders of the tribe were likewise fearful of the Atric, but they were few in number, since the constant movement of the herd meant that the aged and infirm did not often last long. They instead chose to settle into small permanent camps along the migration route, seeing the herd every cycle as they returned. This was the tradition and it meant that the histories were passed on, however only if the herd continued to move, to migrate. Something that Cradol's ambition had hindered of late.

      If it weren’t for his excursions Between, Doenrakkar himself would likely have settled by now, but he retained a vigour unmatched by others his age and indeed he seemed to be growing stronger. His people thankfully did not carry the same taboos around travel between planes that some of the other races did. It was known and accepted that shaman might move between planes, though Doenrakkar suspected that few, if any, had actually done more than brush the edge of Between with their meditating minds. The two other, non-warrior, minotaurs he had seen regularly Between were not shamans however, they were a necromancer and a druid.

      He pondered Xyvera for a moment, an old crone from sometime in the future. She was enigmatic and unwilling to share her knowledge, but Xyvera had certainly indicated that, in her time, the minotaur race had suffered, or was suffering, a great calamity. The other was, of course, Gendris, a druid he’d known, by reputation, for most of his life. She too must be getting old, by their race’s standards, however it was impossible to tell from her appearance on the shadow plane what she may look like on Athien. Appearances Between could be deceptive. 

      For some reason he felt sure Xyvera looked similar, regardless of the plane she was on. Whatever else she may be, she was definitely certain of herself. He had seen Gendris in half a dozen different guises, once almost entirely a tree. Xyvera was, so far, unchanging. Gnarled, twisted, but sure of herself.

      His reverie was broken by a cry of alarm from along the wall and a knot of tension twisted in his gut. The camp burst into immediate activity. Obviously he hadn’t been the only one feeling on edge. Cradol emerged from her tent, armed and armoured, which was telling. She wasn’t alone, her core warriors were on the wall in a handful of breaths and he reached it moments later, vaulting up easily onto the palisade.

      “Where?” Cradol's voice was irritable. “I don’t see anything.”

      The lookout was gesturing and stammering under Cradol's glare.

      “There! Behind that dune was the top of another dune, it had a rock on it. A few moments ago it disappeared!”

      “What? The rock disappeared?”

      “No, the dune behind that one, it just….fell away.”

      “Your eyes are playing tricks…”

      Doenrakkar ignored the argument, letting it fade out as he stared in the direction the lookout indicated. There was dust in the air and Torin was setting, the dust staining the light Forin-red across the sky, and casting the dunes in a shadowy crimson that made it difficult to judge distance. As he watched, a plume of dust began to rise from beyond the dune, swelling, and he also began to hear the susurrus of movement through sand. The clicking of chitin and mandible that indicated Atric were about.

      Memories rose unbidden and he shoved them down. He turned to Cradol as the first dark form crested the dune since he didn’t need to watch in order to know what was coming.

      “The tide is here.” He said quietly and the voices stilled.

      Cradol stared at him, anger spreading on her features. “You speak doom, shaman, but all I see is a handful of Atric. We’ll destroy them and when I return you and I will have words. You have put this entire town on edge for nothing and now here we are, jumping at shadows! No longer!”

      He stared at her, the sadness bone-deep. Turning he could see now a half-dozen black forms coming down the dune, but to him it was obvious.

      “Do you not see? Even now? Look at them, they are not wandering any longer. They are coming. We must leave!”

      “Then leave! This is my town. I won’t flee because of myths and stories.” She gave him no more attention and leapt from the wall, her guard following with roars as she charged across the sand.

      Doenrakkar turned to the lookout.

      “Go boy. Tell the herd to prepare, spread the word. I may be wrong, however if I’m not, those who wish to live will need to flee.”

      He jumped back down to ground and ran to his tent bellowing “Awake and rise, the tide comes!” If he was wrong, then perhaps this would mark his exit anyway, he didn’t fit in a town, he belonged with the herd.

      Doenrakkar’s  belongings were already packed and waiting, his tent collapsed easily into a small package he secured to his bag, and his sleeping mat likewise rolled up and attached. He shrugged the pack across his shoulders and took up his shillelagh, turning to the camp. His dismay hit him like a fist as he realised that few were even moving to pack. He heard the sound of combat as Cradol and her warriors engaged the Atric in the distance, and he could feel the approaching tide with every sense. How could they not? Even the ground was trembling as if it too felt fear at the coming.

      He realised a breath later that the trembling was more than his perception, it was a physical thing, shaking the tents visibly and now starting a quiet rumble as the wall’s stones jostled one another.

      Around the camp others had begun to notice, at last, and they turned to watch Cradol and her guard kill the last of the Atric exposed on the dune, and began loping back toward the wall. As the town watched, the dune Cradol and her warriors ran down began to...subside. Its edge was slipping forward behind them, slowly gaining on them as they ran.

      An uncertain murmur began to rise among the herd as they tried to understand. As the running minotaurs reached the flat sand stretching out before the wall, the dune edge started to show a distinct “v”, collapsing in a line that ran toward the wall. As the “v” hit the flat sand, at last, it was revealed as a complete collapse of the sand into a tunnel. From the collapsing line a dozen Atric were pulling themselves from the sand and moving towards the wall.

      Cradol turned after leaping onto the wall, surveying the threat.

      “Warriors to the wall” she bellowed “We fight for the town!”

      Doenrakkar knew the madness she felt, had seen it in a hundred others. She was committed now and wouldn’t back down even when she finally understood. A tap on his shoulder pulled his attention to the small crowd he hadn’t noticed.

      The oldest of the herd had gathered, dragging with them the youngest. They were packed, they had heard his call.

      He was torn. They could leave now, but he would be abandoning most of the herd and he knew, whether Cradol realised or not, they stood no hope without him. They had no hope regardless, said the voice of his memory. Outside, the walls were now occupied by two dozen Atric with a few more still clambering free of the sands. The rumbling had stopped and for a moment he dared to hope. Cradol turned to look at him, triumph in her gaze as she shouted.  

      “This is the tide!? We need not live in fear of this! We will claim this land as ours for the life of Torin himself! No more migration, no more packing your lives up and starting again! This is our town. This land belongs to the herd!” A roar rose up from the warriors around her, a cheer that spread to the others who were still milling uncertainly around the camp.

      Cradol was silhouetted against the setting sky, outlined in a ruddy glow and basking in vindication. And then the bottom dropped out of the world.

      The ground between Doenrakkar and the wall caved in suddenly, the collapse spreading outwards like a fissure across the camp. Tents and minotaurs falling into the black chasm, to float briefly on the dark. The moment shattered with screams and the clicking hiss of chitin as the dark resolved into a writhing mass of Atric. Those that had fallen were torn to pieces in moments. More Atric than could be counted boiled out of the ground and spread into the camp, minotaurs running screaming before them.

      Doenrakkar glimpsed Cradol’s face as the wall beneath her began to crumble, tumbling into the collapsing sand. Confusion crashed across her features, followed swiftly by understanding and a roar as the wall fell, taking a mighty leap that carried her onto a portion of solid ground. Her warriors tried to follow and a few managed, the others fell into the maelstrom of sand and Atric below, striking out and roaring uselessly as they were swallowed. 

      This was the tide. The tide of death that could not be fought, reasoned or bargained with. It could only be fled from. Now, understanding washed through the herd and he saw many stopping to grab what little they had packed, rummaging desperately for their migration packs carelessly discarded and ignored for too long.

      He turned to the small group with him and yelled at them, snapping the trance.

      “Run! That way! I will follow once I’ve gathered any others, don’t stop until you must.”

      He whirled to face the horror and forced himself into it, slamming through the Atric to reach the few survivors that he could see huddled in the centre of the camp. Cradol was with them, her handful of remaining warriors fighting the swarming Atric and, momentarily, holding.

      Doenrakkars’ shillelagh struck like thunder through the Atric, catching black bodies and sending them flying back into the tide with the cracking sound of shattering chitin. He knew his trips Between had increased his strength but he rarely had cause to use it, and for once, he let it loose in his home world of Athien. Shattered corpses flew from him as he cut a path into the tide, his rage temporarily drowning the knowledge of how futile this fight would ultimately be. The warriors with Cradol, and even Cradol herself, looked relieved as he burst out of the swarming creatures and into their circle, shaking pieces of Atric free from his arms and legs where their mandibles had snagged his flesh.

      “Decided to fight eh Shaman?” Cradol’s voice was hard and eager, though Doenrakkar could already hear the ragged edge of fatigue. Her Warhammer was not meant for protracted fights, and she obviously hadn’t thought to take any of her smaller weapons when she had come out to see off the Atric.

      Hopefully she would live to regret it.

      The survivors were fighting with whatever tools they could find, pots, pans, a fire poker, a shovel. They had gathered at least two dozen, but even with the warriors, that was only enough to hold their little circle and slow it’s inevitable shrinking. They didn’t have the strength to break free and they certainly couldn’t hold forever. They were unlikely to hold for much longer at all. Doenrakkar added his might to the fight, moving around the circle swinging whenever an opening presented itself and feeling the satisfying crunch of his weapon against chitin. During his round of the circle, he saw it close another step, forced back by the sheer weight of the tide. He moved to Cradol, striking from her side as she cleared an arc in front of her with sweeping strikes. She fought with the fury that had gained her the respect and allegiance of the warriors, but he could see from her posture that she knew as well as he did that her fight was a losing one.

      “You were right, it appears shaman.” She spoke through gritted teeth, but they were gritted with pain, not anger. He could see red staining her armour in a dozen places, beneath the green of Atric blood and flecks of chitinous gore. She was staying upright by sheer determination and he could see even that faltering.

      “Not completely right.”, he countered, and she grunted a question as her hammer arced out, shattering Atric bodies and sending them cartwheeling back into their frenzied brethren.

      “I said” he grunted, swinging at an Atric that had got inside her guard, “that you couldn’t fight the tide. You appear to have proven me wrong.”

      Her grin was bloody and feral as she responded “I’m glad I get to prove you wrong, just once, before I die.” She met his gaze and he could see her acceptance. Her smile turned softer and more genuine.

      “I could never lead them after this shaman. My….dream….has nearly cost them everything. It is fair I die for this, but you need to live on. What if your other stories are equally true?”

      He felt a snort of laughter at that, in spite of the circumstances.

      They were only still alive because the Atric could not see, they were guided by touch and perhaps scent, though he’d never been able to determine how with any certainty. Individuals seemed to move almost randomly, but in a tide they moved more like a multi-headed snake, coiling around and winding through the camp, mandibles tearing apart anything they contacted that wasn’t Atric. They had the ability to sense motion up close and could dodge blows with surprising dexterity. Jaws could slip past the guard of a fighter in moments and remove an arm or leg.

      The circle of minotaurs had beaten away any Atric that reached them and the tide had coiled around as a result, only slowly constricting inward as the edge of the tide brushed against them. Each brush drew the circle tighter and cost them another of the few remaining minotaurs.

      “If you have a plan” Doenrakkar growled out “I believe we’d best do it soon.”

      Cradol grimaced and spat out a gob of blood stained spit that mingled with the green and blue gore streaking the ground.  The blue was….wrong…and Doenrakkar recognised it instantly for what it was. Trayda root. None but the Shaman were supposed to have access to it. She saw his gaze and shrugged apologetically, “I’m afraid you may have to collect a lot of your supplies again. My warriors and I may have helped ourselves.”

      Trayda root was both harmless and useless when ingested in small amounts. Very small amounts. A dusting over a meal for example. A little bit more than that and you could…lighten your mind, perhaps even catch a glimpse of the future. Enough of it, mixed correctly, would make a paste that a warrior could apply to their gums resulting in an enhancement of their strength and stamina for a short time, though it would leave them incapacitated for days afterwards. Chewed raw, in quantities enough to stain your saliva blue, it would kill you, however not before it turned you into a monster.

      Knowing he’d missed the moment when she’d given the signal to her warriors, he knew they could only have a short period before the drug would overload their bodies. They’d already chosen to pay the price, now all he could do was buy as many lives as possible with their sacrifice. Cradol roared and the bellows of her warriors joined her as they surged outwards with suddenly monstrous strength. He gathered the survivors in the centre, as the circle stepped a step sideways in unison, and he shuffled the survivors along with them, step by step. After a handful of breaths he could see it would not be enough. For them to escape the tide they needed to move faster.

      Cradol realised it too and she yelled at him, teeth still bared but now he suspected it was against the pain of the Trayda burning her up from the inside. “Be ready Shaman, we will make you a path, but I suspect it wont last long.”

      He nodded and ushered his charges into a line three wide and offered what encouragement he could. The older ones knew what was coming and the younger ones were bewildered and terrified, but they would follow.

      “Now!” Cradol yelled, and as one the circle collapsed into a wedge around the line of survivors, surging forward into the black mass of the tide and shattering it.

      Doenrakkar herded the survivors down the corridor as the warriors forced it forward. The corridor was already shaking, the circle had held while the tide swirled around it, but cutting directly through the flowing tide was a very different task. Here the tide piled against one side of the corridor and was weak on the other. The corridor was being diverted sideways by the pressure. Doenrakkar supported their side and those survivors who were able added their strength, but even as they fought he watched two of the warriors fall under the weight of the tide. Even as warriors from the other side crossed the corridor to replace them, a handful of Atric made it through the gap, two of the older survivors charged at them, swinging pots. Doenrakkar couldn’t get to them in time and he roared in frustration, and despair, as they were torn to shreds in a matter of moments. The remaining warriors shored the line with a crushing charge that slammed the gap closed.

      They made it only a handful of steps before another warrior fell, torn roaring into the black mass that closed seamlessly behind the corridor. Each moment bought by the falling warrior's lives, meant the survivors were able to take advantage of the innate regenerative powers of their race. It gave them some hope. 

      “We’re too slow!” he bellowed at Cradol and though he couldn’t hear her response, he saw the acknowledgement in the tension of her stance. Suddenly, she seemed to swell in size and her orders split the horrible roar of the tide. The warriors moved as one unstoppable blade cutting a channel through the tide as Doenrakkar practically threw the survivors along before following himself. The line held for moments, long enough to give hope before he could see it begin to shred. The line stalled, the warriors holding, but not being able to push forward with the survivors fully engaged in just staying alive. Summoning a strength he had never known he possessed, Doenrakkar bellowed defiance and crashed into the darkness ahead of them alone, plowing into the Atric. His roar was a near physical thing that seemed to drive back the Atric as much as his shillelagh, disrupting the symphony of the tide. He didn’t pause to look back, could not spare anything but hope for those that should be following. He simply fought with every scrap of strength and will he could find, his blows aimed to simply drive the Atric aside and allow another step forward.

      And then suddenly he broke from darkness and into light. He stumbled and fell forwards onto clear sand, rolling to his feet, immediately rounding to try and hold the way open in an attempt to rescue at least someone for all the deaths that had been paid.

      Doenrakkar nearly ran into the first of the survivors. An aging minotaur, carrying two youngsters, the sight of which bouyed his flagging spirits and renewed his strength to fight for few more breaths. Soon five more adults emerged, each carrying another child, all of them wounded, but alive. He continued to fight against the tide, holding out a small opening as long as he could, however no more survivors emerged for a dozen breaths, and he realised there were no more coming. The mighty shaman stumbled back from the edge of the tide and turned to run after the survivors who by now were halfway up a large dune. They were all overcome with bone-deep exhaustion, however he couldn’t let himself falter, couldn’t pause until they were safe. Doenrakkar lasted the rest of the day and through the night, driving the others forward, step by step, away from the tide and the remains of the oasis. When the dawn came, and he could no longer see any sign of the tide on the horizon, he allowed himself a moment’s respite. Exhaustion finally overcame him. The last thing his eyes saw were the survivors huddled together preparing to rest, then darkness, as his hulking form came crashing to the earth, tree trunk like legs giving way as his mind lost consciousness.

      Doenrakkar, Minotaur Shaman

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