Continuation of Lich Dance - Part 1
“Hmph”, grunted Styx. “We both survived. Interesting”, he thought, filing away the memory in his data-bank for retrieval once he had returned to his master. But for now it would have to wait. First, to battle.
Styx entered the fray swinging his chain scythe in a wide arc, the keen blades whistling as they cut through the dull air of the shadow plane. His cyber-mind scanned through data stored from previous battles, formulating plans that would optimise the synergy between his allies and his own considerable powers. There was no data on the hooded minotaur and any attempts to read its mind were being met with considerable resistance. “Curious”, mumbled Styx. It seemed that today was full of the unexpected. Pushing the distractions from his mind, Styx sprinted like a madman towards the centre of the enemy’s battle lines in what appeared to be a suicide mission. His target was the orc, Rakkir. He knew full well how dangerous an adversary the rogue could be if left unchecked. Nephenee, who was still finding her bearings and trying to work out exactly where she was, watched incredulously as the cyborg ran off into the gloom.
Rakkir readied his blade, dripping wth toxin, as he saw the half-man, half machine, hurtle towards him. A snarl formed at the corner of his mouth. “What was this idiot doing..?” Rakkir’s blade began its descent, aiming for a deadly blow to the base of the cyborg's neck. Moments before the blade hit home, Rakkir heard Styx utter an incantation before the cyborg began phasing in and out of the orc's vision. Then, with a faint blue pulse of light, the half-man disappeared completely, before a giant werewolf appeared exactly where he was a moment before. “Ashtooth!”, Rakkir exclaimed, in an attempt to rally his allies around him. The orc had fought the beast numerous times before, however it was normally on his terms. The blood shadow admonished himself for underestimating his foe, before hastily dropping a shadow orb to escape the predicament the cyborg had placed him in.
Styx braced himself as the enemy’s effigy exploded, hurtling the heroes bound to it back to the prime material plane. It was a hard fought victory, secured when the she-elf, Nephenee, launched herself over the enemy defensive line and sunk her twin laser blades deep into the effigy itself. She had fought well, and Styx managed to glean much about her abilities through the course of the battle. Invaluable information for his master Zaron, no doubt.
The minutes after a battle were always surreal, Styx mused. First, each of the victorious heroes was momentarily connected with the demigod that had summoned them, a mind link that allowed the briefest of dialogue. This was followed by a permanent transfer of a fraction of the demigod's powers to the summoned mortals. The five were then left alone on the plane for a time, until the power of their effigy faded, at which point they were transported back to their bodies on Athien. Some of the heroes used the time to explore Between, although there were limits to how far the ethereal chord connecting them to the effigy would allow them to wander. Most of the time, they would just sit together and go over the battle they had just fought. They would compare strategies and tactics on how best they could work together the next time they were summoned. Because, while they could just as likely be enemies next time, the reward of power gained whenever they were victorious meant that the vast majority of the summoned considered the others their allies, and would work with them to secure victory whenever they could.
It was so odd, thought Styx, that these heroes had become his friends of a sort. Back on Athien, most of them did not really know each other. This was especially true for him, who through his master’s work was actually summoned from another timeline. Despite this, all of the summoned shared a common bond, one that set them apart from all of their kind back home. None of them knew where this would lead, but all of them considered it a tremendous gift and they all enjoyed the power it bestowed.
“I don’t know what this place is, or what just happened to me, however I will find out once we return to our homeland”, Nephenee said quietly as she sat down beside Styx. He had forgotten all about her. He turned to her: “Truth be told, I hoped it would kill you. However, now that you have survived and joined the ranks of the summoned, you will learn that I have bestowed upon you a priceless gift, she-elf.”
Nephenee found herself getting angry without really knowing why. “Don’t try to twist this, beast”, she spat out in frustration. Not being in control of things irritated her no end. “I will continue to hunt your master down. And after this treachery, I am certain you will be added to the list of wanted.”
Styx smiled wryly. He stared at her, his mechanical eye boring into her soul, making Nephenee uncomfortable. “Don’t be a fool. We are the only two summoned from our time. We should work together; we are brother and sister now”, he said, before turning back to gaze at the hooded minotaur who busied herself idly carving glowing runes into the earth. If Styx's cyber computer was correct, she was Xyvera, however if true, it was certainly a significant turn of events. What would master Zaron say...
Nephenee followed the cyborg's gaze towards the hooded minotaur. The crone adjusted her hood until she was able to match the elf's stare. Nephenee immediately lowered her gaze. She then turned to ask Styx about the crone, however she was interrupted by the tug of her ethereal chord as the effigy that bound them all to the plan of shadow became dull, its last energy fading.
Moments later, Nephenee found herself floating, moving ever faster through the ethereal plane before she broke into the atmosphere of Athien. She could see her prone body lying where she had left it on the floor of the decrepit building. Seeing herself from this vantage point highlighted how slight and small she was. For the first time in a long time, Nephenee felt vulnerable, even afraid. She knew the last few hours would change her life forever, for good or ill, she did not know.
With a start, Nephenee took a big gasp of air as she entered her body, then sat up trying to take it all in. After a minute or so, she rose to her feet, adjusted her armour and jet pack, and climbed the stairs to the parapet so she could look towards her home city. How she loved that place. To her right, a bright glare caught her attention, the sun's rays reflected off the metal plates of the cyborg. For several minutes Nephenee watched him walk off in the distance, pondering what the cyborg had told her on the shadow plane. “Until we next meet…brother.”
-- by Andrew "Guns" Galea --
"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'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" GaleaContinue reading