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Soul Burn, an Ettin's Fury

Soul Burn, an Ettin's Fury

The sickening sound of metal slicing through bone was quickly followed by the scream. Pain, fear. Skoll could feel it. Smell it. Taste it. As he steadied himself to make the killing blow against the prone elf before him, Skoll sensed danger. Senses from two heads simultaneously gathering data from his surroundings, heightening his awareness, making him ever vigilant, keeping him safe. Skoll trusted his instincts, and spun around just in time to parry a mighty dwarf warhammer that would have shattered his shoulder. Skoll recognised the dwarf immediately, Thrommel of the Ironbeard clan. It took all of the ettin’s might to stall the dwarf’s hammer blow and fend off the immediate follow-up strike. Skoll knew he’d been frustratingly close to driving the elf from this place, but he could only growl in rage as she slunk away, all of his attention required to prevent the dwarf from braining him with his infernal hammer.

Skoll had fought Thrommel before and knew he had little chance to finish this fight quickly, it would be difficult and drawn-out, unless fate intervened. It appeared that fate heard his prayer when the sound of hooves clattered on the cobble stones behind the dwarf. Thrommel turned to his side an attempt to dodge, but couldn’t escape the thrust of two mighty horns that pierced his gut plate, and then sent him sailing through the air, to land hard on his back metres away. Skoll was big amongst his kin, yet the huge frame of Thorgar towered over him, and for a moment, Skoll feared the beast would not know friend from foe. The moment passed, and the rage in Thorgar’s eyes subsided enough to allow a snort, and a hand gesture indicating that Skoll should pursue the elf priestess who had fallen back to the outskirts of the melee. The minotaur then turned and made a beeline for the prone dwarf, clearly intending to finish that fight permanently.

Skoll ran towards the priestess as she drew yet another soul out of the ground. There were now two of the blue spectres whirling around her, in some kind of macabre dance. She seemed renewed, most of her wounds healed, and she was clearly braced to fight this time as Skoll bore down on her. Although the instincts of his race urged him to charge head-long into melee, he fought the urge and instead drew on the reservoir of will that his two minds, joined in unity purpose, granted him. This formidable will was the root of what had bought him such grand status amongst all the orcs of Athien, and here in this place, it could rend the earth itself. Bending his mind to the task, Skoll drew deeply from the power vested within the Effigy that had summoned him, and magical energies surged through his body, contorting his muscles and popping veins in his neck, to the point where he thought he may burst. The release was ecstatic as a pulse of pure energy rumbled outward from his feet in all directions, staining the ground red as it passed. The wave reached the elf before she could react, her gaze moved from the ground to Skoll, and the realisation of what was to come dawned in her.

As the wave struck her, the souls around her were dyed blood red as the ground, and their dance became disjointed and broken, leaping around her in a frenzy before freezing for an instant. Then, they exploded, shattering in unison and blazing with a hell-red fire that scorched the elf. She screamed for a moment, silhouetted in light, before wining out as the chord that bound her projection to Between was severed and Saiyin returned to her mortal body on Athien. Skoll revelled in the backwash of power around him as she was driven away, a new soul, carved from her energies, and the Effigy that had bound her here, coalesced on his skin, and formed the familiar light blue ball that danced around him. The power felt like a drug in his system, opening new possibilities, removing limitations. Though he knew this was only a temporary gain, sure to leave him when he left this plane, he knew he had some time to enjoy it.

He whirled around to survey his surroundings once again. The sounds of battle reverberated around the ancient amphitheatre they had been summoned to, grey and bleak in the half-light of the plane of Shadow. The dwarf had somehow survived to continue his struggle with Thorgar, and Skoll could see further of that the rest of his war band was faltering without their two largest fighters to hold off the enemy. He hardened his grip on his massive axe and bellowed a war cry plunging headlong back into the fray. Today he would gain much power before the battle was done.

Origins of Ettins

The origin of Ettins is unknown; most dismiss them as aberrations of Orcs, others as some unholy union between Orcs and Ogres. The truth is somewhere in between. The exact time the first Ettins walked Athien is not really known, however they are inexorably linked to the Orc race, and always have been as long as anyone can remember.  The union of an Orc and an Ettin can produce offspring of either, as can, strangely enough, the union of two Ettins. However there are no recorded incidences of the union of two Orcs producing an Ettin, therefore the debate continues on how the first Ettins came to be. In any event, most Orc tribes treat Ettins as they would any other Orc, albeit with the respect and fear such a large, violent creature demands.
 
The population of Ettins is roughly a tenth of Orcs, and there is only one known Orc tribe that consists entirely of Ettins. Most of the time the Ettins mingle with Orcs freely and have the same status and rights as their smaller brethren within their society. In general, Ettins have shorter tempers, are more irritable, and less tolerant of anyone standing in their way. This is largely attributed to the fact their two heads are often squabbling, for it is most common that over time the two heads of an Ettin get on each other's nerves and spiral into dangerous love/hate relationships. The squabbling sometimes turns violent and can even lead to death. For while an Ettin can survive with one of its heads “dead” or removed, it is a sad existence and inevitably leads to what remains of the Ettin taking its own life.

Occasionally, the two heads get along, have common cause, and work together to achieve common goals. These are by far the most powerful, respected and feared Ettins. One such Ettin is Skoll Bonestorm, who has grown in stature over decades amongst the Orc tribes. It would be difficult to find an Orc on Athien, that does not know of Skoll, or even one who could not recite stories of his exploits in great detail. For Skoll is an example of what an Ettin can achieve when its heads work together. Skoll is even more remarkable, since he is the first of his kind to be summoned, which has only increased his powers and renown.



Like all Ettins, Skoll has extraordinary fortitude and constitution, being able to withstand remarkable amounts of punishment in battle before being felled. The union of his two minds makes Skoll similarly resilient on Between where opponents find themselves struggling to shatter his will, and drive him off. These traits have accelerated his rise amongst the chosen and made him a preferred choice of the new gods seeking to bolster the strength of their Warbands.

The 54mm resin miniature of Skoll Bonestorm can be purchased here.

Narrative by Andrew "Guns" Galea
Edited by Colin "Bobliness" Hill
Miniature painted by Gavin "Slardy" Clarke

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The Unstoppable Force - A discussion about Brok

The Unstoppable Force - A discussion about Brok

"The gods are getting reckless", Istariel stated loudly, more abruptly than she intended. She was always mindful of keeping her temper in check when talking to Saiyin. If her tone bothered the priestess, she did not let it show.

"How so?" Saiyin replied.

"This maniac they are now summoning barely knows friend from foe. And his penchant to destroy any native creature of Between, that comes within reach, is sure to raise the ire of the old ones."

Saiyin paused thoughtfully, taking in what Istariel said. The priestess never spoke in haste, every word measured. After what seemed an eternity, Saiyin responded, barely above a whisper.

"The dwarfs call him Brok, and he was not always the way he is now. I agree, he barely has control and can be a liability, however the new gods are getting desperate so they now seek to summon the most dangerous and powerful of heroes that walk Athien. Things are shifting, the necromancer, always in the background, brooding, spinning his machinations of deceit. We have to keep our wits about us, dear Mistress of the Flame. The time will soon come when we will be forced to make a decision. The result of which could destroy everything as we know it." Saiyin fell silent, a quick furrow of her brow indicated she had revealed more than she intended, before her face returned to the expressionless mask of beauty she normally wore.

Istariel turned away from the priestess, something she did when she was mindful of Saiyin reading her thoughts. It was the first time in a while Saiyin had spoken to Istariel in such a way, as if they were allies. The Mistress of the Flame was unsure how to feel about it, however deep within the thought gave her comfort and assurance she was not alone in the world. Brok...she would have to careful of that one...

Brok was one of the last 1st wave heroes to be designed, and it took some work to get him right. In today's blog post, I take a closer look at this force of destruction, and how he works in the game of Judgement. This is to coincide with the completion of the studio model of the dwarf berserker by Trent Denison.

Lets begin by taking a look at the model!

Trent did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Brok, and stuck true to the original artwork by Shane L Cook. In-game, Brok is a powerful hero that has the potential to output an impressive amount of damage. The difference between him and say, an aggressor such as Rakkir, is that Brok is able to spread that damage around. He is not such a single target destroyer as the Orc Rogue. Lets have a look at his stat card to kick things off.

 One thing that leaps out for me is his decent health. Starting with 16 at level 1, and rising to 20 at level 3, is very good for an aggressor with such a high damage output. Sure, he has the racial AGI 3 that is the bane of all dwarfs, however this is a guy that will be in combat as much as possible, making it more difficult for ranged opponents to hit him. Ferocity is a nice boost to make sure he gets into the combats you want as well. That extra inch threat range is very nice, and raises it to a healthy 9", 1 more than Rakkir. 

The signature ability in Brok's kit, however, is Back Swing. Each time he scores a critical hit, he can make another attack. The key here is that the bonus attack does not have to target the same model as the one that triggered it. This lets you do a lot of cool things with Brok, including taking down multiple foes, who are low on health, with ease. Of course if he wants to hit the same model, that can work as well, and all up, with 3 crits against the same opponent, he can rack up an impressive 24 damage, without spending a single Fate.

The combination of Back Swing and Monster Slayer means Brok can make short work of any of the 3 monsters in the 1st wave. This means at any stage in the game, he can always gain a level, or grab some Fate for your Warband, by felling any monsters that stray too close. All this cool stuff, of course, relies on you scoring critical hits. So, perhaps more than any other hero in the game, this guy loves the Vorpal Blade.

Brok is a great choice for the Vorpal Blade

Brok's active abilities are quite interested, fairly situational, but at the right moment can have a huge impact. Savagery provides a decent boost in survivability, whilst Cleave can really punish an opponent that tries to crowd him out. The cool element of this ability is the fact Brok will ignore crowding when making each attack. It is so in character, and would make a fantastic cinematic to see a blood crazed dwarf cleaving his way out of a bad situation.

I mentioned earlier how Brok can readily gain levels via his ability to drop monsters, well the cool thing is that he has very decent powers in his talent tree at both level 2 and 3. Heroic Destiny is much more powerful than it looks on paper. The core mechanics of Judgement, with fixed damage standard attacks, and a capped action system, means it essentially takes an extra action to drop Brok, than it normally would. And most heroes cannot afford that extra action to finish the job. On many occasions, Heroic Destiny will at least draw out a Fate from your opponent, particularly if they forget the fact he has it available.

Last, but certainly not least, we get to Molten Metal. In certain situations, especially in the late game where tanks become so hard to drop, Molten Metal can wreak havoc. You won't see many Doenrakkars activating Stone Form with a level 3 Brok on the battle field!

Overall, Brok is a wonderful addition to our wave 1 range, and is a huge amount of fun to play. The model is fantastic, he will put the fear of god into your opponent, and can be a game winner since his Back Swing will also work against the opponent's Effigy. Think about that one for a while...a potential 12 damage to the Effigy on a charge. :)

The 54mm resin miniature of Brok can be purchased here.

By Andrew "Guns" Galea

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