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.
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.
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. Continue reading
Loribela took a moment to breathe and assess her surroundings. The battle was not going well. The monster with the metal bucket on its head was causing havoc, seemingly tossing its enemies around at will. The creature was unnerving. The others referred to him as Kvarto, however this was her first encounter with him, and it was daunting. Lori too had the ability to shift her enemy, however at least she did it within the normal rules of the physical realm. This abomination could do it with its mind.
Her thought process was interrupted by the piercing howl of another of her comrades falling, the Mistress of the Flame. Lori cared little for the elf anyway, although she was handy in a fight. With her death, the Effigy that bound Lori to the plane of shadow crumbled even more, and she knew the end was near. There would be no euphoric feeling of enhanced power today, something only victory in this game of demigods could provide. With a bellowing roar, the mighty Doenrakkar charged head long into Lori’s Effigy, destroying it with one mighty blow. The familiar low hum emanated from the Effigy, signalling its final attempt to survive before one last release of energy burst out in a powerful wave of magical flux, knocking the victors on their backs.
The ethereal chord that bound Lori’s mortal body on Athien to her physical projection on Between pulled her violently out of the shadow plane, through the fog of the ether, and into the atmosphere of her home world. Losing a battle on Between had its consequences, and she thought of the coming days of nausea and muscle pain. However, she knew that she would recover over time, and once again long for a chance to return to the arena of shadow. Loribela’s body hurtled from the sky towards her still form, laying where she left it upon her summons.
With a thud, Lori was thrust back into her body; always a weird sensation. She slowly opened her eyes and propped herself up on her arms to take in her surroundings. Without conscious thought, Lori suddenly leapt to her feet, and set herself into a defensive stance, combat ready as the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Something had gone awry. She was in an alien place; a forest of some kind, snow covering the ground and dew glistening on tall pines.
Earlier when she had been summoned, as she had done countless times before, Lori had laid down in the rear shed of her father’s forge, a place where her mortal body would be safe until she returned. However, for some inexplicable reason, today she had been returned back to her body in a different place; a place that was unfamiliar. However, the scene reminded her of the descriptions she had heard about the great forests of the north of Athien.
“Loribela Runeflask”, a calm, methodical voice spoke behind her. She turned on her heels to see where the voice originated from. Before her stood a slender, but stoic-looking elf, bow drawn before him, pointed at her heart.
“Allandir”, Lori responded, “please lower your weapon.” Loribela spoke these words firmly, more a command than a request. She had fought several times with, and against, the elf ranger, however this was the most they had ever spoken. He was haughty and aloof, even for his kind. They had actually fought on the same side earlier today, the defeat still leaving a bitter taste in her mouth.
Allandir pondered her for a moment before lowering his bow, his arrow remaining knocked.
“Do you know where we are?” she asked rather sheepishly. Lori did not like being in unfamiliar surroundings, so far from her warm hearth, particularly when she was poorly dressed for such wintery conditions.
“My forest is unmistakable to me, every square inch.” he replied slowly. “The question is not where we are, but when we are”. Allandir let the last statement hang in the air as he crept away from Lori, his attention drawn to something further north.
“Speak plainly, elf. Where the hell are we?”, Lori barked.
Allandir waved his hand towards her irritably, beckoning silence. He then gestured to her to follow, index finger to mouth. Yep, Lori thought, elves were so annoying.
They walked 100 yards or so to the top of a rise before the elf motioned Lori to stop. They crawled the last few yards, the cold wet snow seeping through her britches. Lori’s discomfort from the snow was quickly forgotten once she was able to see over the rise, onto a road below. Three vehicles, like none she had seen before, were stopped on the road. Five or six humanoid figures milled around them and spoke amongst themselves, too far away for her to discern what they were saying. Their clothes were odd, military uniforms perhaps, certainly not from any army of Athien. The furrowed expression on Allandir suggested he was as perplexed as she was.
Lori’s attention then turned towards the vehicles. Large metal behemoths, one with strange looking tracks wrapped around its wheels. Her mind raced back to her earlier conversation with the elf, when he talked about not where but when.
Allandir tapped her on the shoulder and motioned for her to retreat back down the rise. Once back, he spoke:
“Have you ever spoken with Bastian, the gem encrusted man of legend?” he asked.
“No, I only know of him from what Doenrakkar has told me. About him being not of this world, and the puppet master behind many of Athien’s machinations”, she replied.
“Bastian is indeed not of this world. He is from the shadow plane itself. No one knows his actual purpose, however the man has more knowledge about all things, than any other mortal on Athien, even the oldest of my kin. Of late, he speaks of a tear in the fabric of time, that is slowly growing in size the more the demigods meddle with the gate between Athien and Between. But all I have heard is a time span of days, perhaps a few weeks, until now. It seems you and I have somehow been cast back to Athien on a different time line, potentially on a completely different mirror plane.” Allandir stopped, his eyes glazed as he thought deeply.
The enormity of what the ranger had said started to sink in. Lori absentmindedly stroked the deep scar on the side of her face, as she did when troubled.
“Do you think we're stuck here?” she asked.
“I'm not sure, however my educated guess is we will be drawn back to the shadow plane the next time we are summoned. After that battle, who knows." Allandir had a glint in his eye as he added: "Which means we don’t have a lot of time to learn everything we can from this land, and garner as many new weapons and contraptions as we can before our time here ends…”
Lori had not been thinking of this situation as an opportunity, however perhaps the gods had dealt her and the elf a good hand after all. “Well, let’s do it”, she said, as she offered her hand to Allandir as if to shake on it. The elf looked at her hand in disdain, before touching it lightly with the end of his bow. “Deal. Now, we have work to do. Let’s go”.
-- by Andrew "Guns" Galea --Continue reading