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Monday, 29 January 2018

D&D: the journey begins - a starting guide to D&D pt1

I've been super quiet about Malifaux recently. For various reasons getting a load of models to central London with a load of equipment is just too time consuming. When I started Malifaux it was an easy to access skirmish game. You could have a couple of crew boxes, a few supplemental boxes, cards, tape measure and maybe a few tokens.
Now though the game has ballooned in a huge range and I can't really keep up in a way that is enjoyable. I'll still do some painting and hopefully some casual play.
Luckily the group decided to do some D&D. I was a bit curious and so I decided to give it a try. I was almost instantly hooked. Here was a game without the limitations of the table top. A game that rewarded the effort of making a background, being imaginative and focused on a social gathering.
This is now my game of choice. I'd like to share my journey with you. In this series, I'll cover how to get started, a guide to getting a character to the table, the pros and cons of optimisation, why you might want to kick someone out of a group and a better way to handle it, the various accessories, podcast reviews and YouTube including the mighty Critical Role.
Let's get a couple of questions out of the way before we get started on getting started.


What is Dungeons and Dragons?

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Beware the Wrath of Freya!


<tap tap> Is this thing on? Oh....errr hi! So it's been a while huh? How's the family?

One thing I've always been very much in favour of in the hobby is the promotion of awesome women in the hobby as a whole, whether they be players, painters, sculptors or all of the above and more I've not thought of. It's why I've been demoing Malifaux at Salute for the last 2 years, trying to get more women engaged and interested in the game and the hobby as a whole.

This year however has seen a bit of a switch - as the stand where I usually demo has decided to run demos of the new game coming out from Wyrd called The Other Side. The models look cool but the cost and the size of the game has precluded me from backing it, which isn't exactly ideal for me trying to sell it to people. So I am (hopefully!) going to be running demos/helping out for the lovely Annie of Bad Squiddo Games. And because Annie is very very awesome, she has also sent me a sneak preview model from her Freya's Wrath Kickstarter.

There have been a number of pictures of a few of the forthcoming models including a very cool looking Fenrir, some badass shieldmaidens to compliment the existing sculpts and even some Norweigan Forest cats which are so cute and fluffy! Well, as fluffy as metal miniatures can be I guess.



As you can see the shield itself comes seperate from the model which I really appreciate from a painting perspective. Being a large shield it obviously covers a good amount of the torso (which is of course the obvious point of a shield) but that does make it trickier when trying to paint the shieldmaiden herself and leads to a lot of touchups and repaints. So I'm glad that this can be avoided with the seperate shield. It does also mean that if you wanted to do a bit of kitbashing and use a different shield then that's an option that is available.


The model itself is really excellent. There was absolutely no flash whatsoever and the mould lines are both minimal and easy to remove if required. I've not been able to get any spray paint on her (stupid weather, stop raining!) but the details look clear and well sculpted. I've had a mini from Annie's own range before, the Raging Annie sculpt, and that looked fantastic after a spray so I have no reason to think that this one would be any different.

The other nice thing about these minis is that they can feasibly be used in multiple systems such as the new edition of Saga, Of Gods And Mortals (especially the wonderfully gruesome model of Hel, Goddess of the Underworld) or even Frostgrave as there are enough spellcaster types to be gang leaders. There are also a number of animals as well which are another key part of Frostgrave.

At the time I'm writing this, the Kickstarter has been live for less than 24 hours and is fully funded. There are some very cool stretch goals being teased from faeries to vignettes and mounted heroines as well.  Personally I'll definitely be pledging for Agna the dwarf heroine (there's a shocker right?!) and then probably a Fenrir or a Hel because I'm a sucker for mythology.

So check it out here Freya's Wrath and buy all the shinies. We're hoping to get Annie herself on the blog to chat about the Kickstarter and other things (probably Guinea Pigs will be involved) so look out for that! I'd also like to include some more pictures of this badass shieldmaiden once she has some paint on her.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Not dead yet

Well this is a bit embarrassing isn’t it, our little twice weekly blog has crawled to a bit of a halt, to the point where twice monthly would be a surprise and twice yearly would be an improvement.

I’ll hold my hands up on this one as I’ve not posted in ages due to a complete lack of shit being given about gaming in general. This has a filter down effect on the rest of the group. Not in the way that I’m any sort of boss or leader to this mob, think of me as more like a grumpy stepdad who doesn't care if the kids do their homework.

So I figure I’ll have to step up and write something so I can at least pretend to be a good example. The problem is I’m not really doing much gaming to ramble about, and I’m not talking to enough idiots to warrant a rant. That leaves me with the option to write about the absence of gaming that I’m experiencing.

Alright then if I start way back when I was all bright eyed and keen (and still bitter and grumpy).
We’re probably looking at the first half of 2017, I was going to plenty of tournaments and having fun getting stomped without winning a spoons.
My painting was actually improving and I was enjoying the challenge of pushing myself to be better, I even won a painting prize which is on display with my spoons.
The blog was consistent and getting decent views I was part of a popular and ( despite my best efforts to mumble and moan) a bloody good podcast.

Then I got bored...

Which is always a possibility even when I’m enjoying something.
Most of my gaming time was focused on Malifaux and had been for years, and in my biased and bitter opinion 2017 was probably the worst year for Malifaux since I’d been playing, the game and the meta had grown bloated and stale. Games were either crushingly one sided or tediously close. Now I know plenty of people were still loving the game and I’m not saying they’re wrong but I can honestly say I was no longer enjoying playing Malifaux and going to events was beginning to feel like work.

This falling out with my main game had the obvious effect on my painting, with no real need to paint anything I was just painting for paintings sake which while fun isn’t the ideal environment to drive my painting for, so I just stagnated painting stuff to pop on a shelf. I’d probably say I’m a worse painter now than I was a year ago and a big part of that is lack of regular practice mixed with lack of drive to finish anything.

The blog and podcast sort of spluttered to a stop and I’ll honestly say I didn’t put up much of a fight to keep them going, I was enjoying the chat before the recording more than the show itself and it probably came across ( I know you all think I’m the coolest fella around but podcasting legitimately made me nervous). The blog still has some hope but I’ll have to decide if it’s worth the effort.

So if I’ve not been ruling over the world of Malifaux what have I been doing?
The answer is not much at all. I’ve been playing D&D with the Abnormalifaux lot which is loads of
fun and has inspired me to look into more RPG ideas (if this carries on expect lots of tales from the loop chat as it’s awesome) it also inspired me to try and set up an RPG event which I was very excited for... things didn’t go quite as planned and it died before ever getting off the ground. To be plain this was a real kick in the balls, I can say without being boastful that I can run a good event, I’ve done it before and this one was set to be great, then things started to fall out of place until it just wasn’t viable anymore. Like I said it was a proper kick in the balls and something I’m reluctant to put myself in the middle of again any time soon.

So there’s the ever darkening pile of my hobby in the second half of last year add to that bollocks of life in general and the utter state of the world I didn’t start 2018 with a huge amount of hope for my hobby time.

That brings us the the big question of what the fuck am I going to do about this absolute state?

The first thing I need to do is find a new regular game, I was lucky when I stumbled into Malifaux that I found a group of like minded idiots to play with and roll up to events with, I doubt I’ll form the same bond with a new group (partly due to me being even more bitter now) but there’s no reason not to see what the events are like with other games. I’m enjoying Shadespire at the moment so that’s going to be top of the trial pile.

The hobby problem I think is an issue of motivation, having a new game will help but I think I need a motivation that is purely based on painting. I might have a look for some low level painting competitions to enter, I’ve got no problem losing but it would be interesting to see how far from that standard I am.

The death of the blog and podcast kicking the bucket are odd things to think of as problem as neither one did I originally want anything to do with, but I reluctantly enjoyed them when they got going (a bit like exercise) I’m not sure if I could top the success of either High Fauxdelity or Abnormalifaux on my own so I’m tempted to do something completely different. YouTube is shockingly tempting as some sort of horrific self dare to see what I could do.

The cock up that was RollDice is dead and I’m not willing to drag it back to life, but I need to run something partly to remind myself I can and partly because I said I’d run a charity event and fuck if I’m going to let myself off of that one.

I think that rounds things up well done if you made it this far through my ramble you poor brave fool.
If you have any questions as always just shout, if you want to challenge me to a game of Shadespire or fancy something random RPG adventure now seems like a good time to ask.


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Hatter, hatters are cool...



Finally getting around to some hobby, which along with everything else seems to have taken a bit of a slump lately.
I had an urge to paint a bust which is fast becoming one of my favourite types of painting to do, and I just so happened to have a box of busts from Salute crying out for some paint.

The set is based on Wonderland but slightly more twisted ( or more openly twisted as Alice in wonderland is already pretty dark) they’re advertised as transition busts meaning the scale is a bit more friendly towards painters used to working on minis (I believe?) Check our Broken toads website for a better look and an actual explanation.

First up was the Hatter, who has a face that is really screaming to be the focus of the piece.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A bit of Dungeons and Mali-meh

So it's been awhile I know, and I know that traditionally this is a Malifaux blog and it's been a long while since there's been any of that here but I thought I make an attempt at a post while I had some time free.

First off the reason there's not been much 'faux is because I've not been doing and 'faux related stuff lately. Painting has dried up and playing has died off. Other than the podcast I haven't really thought much about Malifaux at all. I don't think it's particularly a problem with Malifaux at the moment more likely it's an issue with my limited attention span and the fact that currently Malifaux isn't the easiest choice when I want a game with my mates and I'll almost always take easy if it's an option.

What I have been playing for anyone who hasn't been following the blog is Dungeons & Dragons, which I have been thoroughly enjoying. So I'm going to have a brief ramble on about that before I try and tackle my Malifaux problem.


Monday, 2 October 2017

Abnormaliroll - Fighter Part 5

It was no use. The thick wooden support pole of the tent showed no signs of breaking or even cracking. The ropes around her neck and wrists was also thick and tough, not something that could be easily snapped. Reezka growled loudly in frustration, earning a sideways glance from the disheveled monk bound to a neighbouring pole. But she had to do something! Come the dawn Reezka, Verina and Stei were facing the very real threat of execution. She didn’t know where Asla, Machi, Hesh or Badger were but she hoped that if they were killed, they had at least taken a few cultists with them. Or maybe there was the slim chance of a rescue….

They had all taken a rest after the battle at the ridge. Feeling some of her strength and vitality returning, Reezka had scanned the surrounding area with a wary eye. As good as the rest felt, they couldn’t afford to let their guard down too far. Her instincts seemed to be correct when the sound of stealthy footsteps could be heard coming up the path towards the group. Wheeling around, one hand on her axe, Reezka was relieved to see the slight form of Stei heading up the slope towards them. Badger wasn’t with him however and Hesh had quickly slipped off to see if he could pick up any trace of her, he had more chances of avoiding any patrols that might be in the area after all.

They had followed the tracks of the large mob of cultists until early afternoon when the narrow path opened up into a large quarry. In the quarry was a large encampment of tents and crude shelters. Concealing themselves behind a clump of rocks the group observed the camp for a short time. Numerous campfires were being kindled in the darkening light and they could see a considerable amount of movement, including a few random groups entering the camp. There didn’t seem to be any sort of check or password and Reezka wasn’t sure that the kobold guards could recognise each individual group. There were a few ramshackle guard towers but other than that there seemed to be no defences around the edge of the camp.

They had had a discussion about how to approach the camp. The suggestion was raised of just walking in, but Reezka wasn’t sure that she, as a half orc, could walk through the camp without arousing any suspicions. Eventually it was decided that they would walk around the ridge overlooking the quarry to see if they could find another way into the camp. Machi had protested this plan and had kept trying to tell them about some dream he had had. He became quite agitated in his speech and, fearful of his cries alerting the inhabitants of the camp, Reezka had clapped a hand firmly over his mouth and had manhandled him along with the group, around the edge of the quarry.

By this time it was getting dark and the ground was slightly rocky and uneven. Reezka was so focused on not making any noise as she walked, that she was startled when the crossbow bolt flew out of the trees on their right hand side and thudded into the ground in front of them. Two hunters stepped out of the woods, a human female and a male who, to Reezka’s eyes, appeared to have more than a trace of half orcish blood in him. The pair weren’t exactly forthcoming with any helpful information about the camp or any potential prisoners that could be their missing monk. Suddenly Machi had given a great heave and twisted himself out of Reezka’s grip. Before she could catch him, he had rushed towards the big male hunter, waving a flask of some liquid. The hunter took it, sniffed the contents carefully and then, to Machi’s apparent consternation, had drained the flask with seemingly no ill effects.

This had seemed to thaw both hunters demeanours somewhat and they had told the group everything they knew. They had been employed to supply the camp with fresh game every evening for the rather paltry sum of 1 gold apiece daily. They didn’t recall seeing a prisoner that matched the description of the monk they were seeking but did give the valuable information that the kobolds at the front of the camp were a sort of early warning system to deter anyone from slipping into the camp and then into the back where the higher up members of the cult had made their quarters.

Over the course of the conversation it transpired that the pair had been making their way back to the camp with the days catch, a large skinned deer carcass. Verina had offered to pay them 5 gold pieces for the carcass, allowing the group to walk into the camp under the guise of a pack of hunters returning with food. After finding a large sturdy branch to lash the deer to, Reezka and Asla had heaved the carcass up between them and they had all set off back towards the entrance of the camp, with Machi trotting along in dog form to help sell the illusion of a hunting party.

Much to her relief, they had been waved through the camp entrance with very little problems. Walking past the mobs of kobolds and their tattered, hodgepodge tents and shelters had been tense but for the most part the kobolds ignored them. Once they were past the main kobold encampment they had come into a slightly more ordered section. Unfortunately there were also quite a few armed guards. There were no visible sigils or insignia which suggested to Reezka that the cult had employed the services of mercenaries to aid them in their aims. She had little time to look around though as they had been approached by a small number of guards, demanding to know why they were so late back. Asla had quickly replied that feeding the large camp had taken a toll on the local wildlife and they’d had to go further afield than usual to find anything worth bringing back. The guard had grunted, seemingly satisfied, and had left them alone.

They had found the butchers tent without too much trouble, mostly thanks to Machi’s canine senses. With the deer carcass safely delivered to the butcher, the group had scanned the surrounding tents for any that might be where the prisoners were kept. Stei had spotted a tent that was rather shunted to the side with a rather unhappy looking guard standing outside it. Reezka thought that perhaps the source of his displeasure was the large and rather full latrine pit near to the tent. Somehow Asla had managed to convince the guard that she was there to take over his shift and he headed off towards a campfire, throwing a few suspicious looks over his shoulder as he went.

Reezka, Verina and Stei had been so preoccupied with the exchange between Asla and the guard they had failed to notice another guard coming up behind them. Thinking them to be workers that had been slacking, he had quickly set Verina and Reezka to work extending the latrine pit whilst Stei was sent off to hand out the meat rations to some of the other soldiers around the campfires. Machi had wandered off and Reezka could only hope he was scouting for signs of their missing monk and not getting into trouble.

Reezka soon became absorbed in her task, digging was something she was familiar with and in her determination to not draw attention to herself she failed to take in anything that was going on around her. It wasn’t until Verina nudged her hard that Reezka looked around.

It’s Machi.” Asla said quietly. “I think he’s been captured and taken to the main command tent over there. All I can hear is him screaming.”

Reezka hadn’t stopped to think. Asla had indicated that there were slaves in the tent that she had been guarding so Reezka decided that freeing them would provide a distraction whilst they tried to rescue the druid. Asla had severed the chains holding the slaves in one mighty but incredibly loud strike from her axe and then dashed out of the front entrance. The slaves hadn’t moved, just milled around slightly with dazed expressions. Reezka lost her patience. Why were they not rushing to freedom? Why were they just standing there? Unleashing all of her rage and concern for the rest of her group, Reezka let out a mighty roar that sent the slaves scurrying out of the front of the tent towards the waiting guards. Whilst they were fleeing, Reezka had turned to the back of the tent, sliced through the fabric and escaped that way.

Only to run nose first into the solid canyon wall.  She was trapped in between the tent and the wall! Before she could even decide what to do, a large group of guards was closing in on her. Her Orcish blood rose. She had to fight! Her hand was on her axe before she was able to get control of herself. She wasn’t well rested, still carried some wounds from the previous battle and had no-one around to help her. She was in no fit state to take on half the camp, which she realized was a likely outcome if she fought this group. Instead, still fuming with rage, Reezka allowed herself to be dragged towards the main command tent. At least, she told herself, I can be sure that Machi is still alive and avenge his death if they have killed him.

As they reached the front of the tent a woman in robes and a headdress emerged. Reezka recognised her at once as the woman that Nighthill had pointed out as Wyrmspeaker Mondath.
“Another intruder?” she asked the guards. “Bring her in, she can join the others.”
As the guards dragged Reezka into the tent, they were met with a very strange sight. There seemed to be a half man half rat creature, wearing Machi’s clothes. Even as she watched, the clothes crumpled into a heap on the floor and a small rat rushed past their feet and out the front of the tent.
“Let him go,” Mondath said with contempt. “He’s some sort of gibbering idiot. I’m sure one of the kobolds will eat him. Tie this one to the post and we shall see what she’s doing here.”
The guards obeyed her with a will, trying Reezka firmly by the neck to the main support post and binding her wrists with strong ropes.
“Now,” Mondath said “Who are you and what are you doing in our camp.”
“Was in Greenest. Thought there might be money to be made with your lot.” Reezka grunted in response.
“Lies.” replied Mondath. “I’ll ask you again, half breed. Who are you and what are you doing here?”
“Told you.” Reezka said. “Thought I could earn some coin working for you.”
Mondath glanced at the guard behind Reezka and nodded. A fist slammed hard into Reezka’s kidney, making her wince with pain.
“Once more,” Mondath said with barely contained fury “who are you and what are you doing in my camp?”
Through the rising rage and pain, Reezka felt something snap. “I’m here,” she said “to find Cyanwrath and kill him.”
“Well then,” Mondath smirked “I’ll make sure to help you find him. He can be the one to execute you and your friends at dawn.”
With that, she swept out of the tent with the guards in her wake, leaving Reezka to struggle in vain against her bindings.

Left alone in the tent, Reezka failed to even realise for a good long while that there was another prisoner tied up with her as she was so focused on freeing herself. Before long there were the sounds of fighting on the outside of the tent and before long Verina was dragged in and tied up. Thankfully none of the others followed so Reezka could only hope that they were safe…...

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: I finally did another event!

 So I finally went to my first Malifaux event in ages. Over 4 months since my last proper ranked event. I haven’t been playing much Malifaux in the last few months as I have been fairly focussed on Guildball, which has taken over as my main competitive game. But as this was a tournament at our LGS Dark Sphere run by the lovely Tom Skitt, I wanted to go along and suprport it. I had been planning on going solo Pandora as the strat/scheme pool wasn’t bad for her and I haven’t played her much this year and always enjoy running her out. But the night prior to the event I realised I wasn’t actually looking forward to playing. I think bringing out a Master I used to be quite competitive with but was very rusty with and was realised the idea of losing games with her because of lack of practice would frustrate me. So I brought this issue into the Abnormalifaux group chat and our resident Guild expert Francois offered to lend me a Guild crew as he was playing Yan Lo for the event. I’ve been meaning to try Nellie for ages and thought trying something new would let me have a fun day without putting pressure on myself to do well. So I went into the day with Nellie and my own Lucius stuff just in case (tho I did end up sticking to Nellie for all 3 games). Brought a few of my favourite mercs along as well (Burt, performer, sue, McTavish, etc.)

Thursday, 21 September 2017

MACHI TOKAI AND THE SLIGHTLY MUCH MORE BETTER DAY.

This is a write up of the events of week four of our new Dungeons and Druids Dragons 5ed campaign.

It makes a nice change form carrying the heavy bag of Malifaux stuff.

I've created a nice Druid character, called Machi Tokai Lautaro. He is not a traditional "Wise old beardy forest bloke type." He is more of a "drug addicted shaman type." Not crazy, but definitely a fish out of water. If only his companions realised that being bitten by the scared snakes was his way of healing them! He's genuinely baffled by why they won't try his mind expanding cactus juice and mushroom strew.

Still he has a good (well neutral) heart and a complete lack of understanding of civilisation on the Sword Coast. Despite everything he tries to keep calm and chop on a hallucinogenic mushroom when times are tough. That way he can be sure of pretty colours and perhaps a chance to play with pink fox.

At a later stage, I'll go through the design mechanics and some of the choices I've made for him in terms of background, abilities, equipment and things like that.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Abnormaliroll - Fighter Part 4

The sound of an oath cut through the air, making Reezka pause in cleaning the blood from her axe. Quickly glancing around she realised that the source of the noise was Asla, being jolted back into consciousness by Machi and his snakes. Suppressing a smile, Reezka went back to removing the clotted blood from the edge of her axe, and honing it back to the original sharpness. The druid’s methods were not the most orthodox but they did seem to get results. Hesh and Verina had joined her, Machi and Alsa on the small rocky plateau, which was now littered with bodies. Perhaps now would be a good time to decide on their next move, possibly by the time they had decided, Stei & Badger would have rejoined the group. That would definitely be an advantage, Reezka was sure that there would be more of these ambushes set up to try & discourage them from following the cult members. She was determined though that nothing would keep her from finding Cyanwrath. She was so looking forward to returning his sword after all…..

It had all gone wrong somewhere around 1am. Once the drake had been dealt with, the small band had regrouped in the keep. Asla had reappeared with Machi but then Stei and Badger were called away to help another of the townsfolk with another problem. Reezka wasn’t sure what but the woman had sounded frantic when she had asked them for aid. Before she could follow the pair, there was a shout from the top of the battlements. Nighthill had realised they were back and had called them up to bring him up to date with the events since they had left the keep. Stepping past Billy, who was sat on the keep stairs munching a corn on the cob, the group made their way to the battlements. Whilst Asla was questioning Nighthill over the lack of available siege weapons in the town,Reezka scanned the area surrounding the keep for any sign of Mondath and her elite retinue but could see no trace of the woman.

A sudden shout from Hesh made Reezka look up, just in time to see the dragon diving down once more towards the battlements. Quick as a flash they all flung themselves into the cover provided by the narrow walkway, all except for a few unfortunate guards who were not fast enough to escape the breath of the dragon.

As they emerged from underneath the walkway, Reezka glanced over the edge of the battlements to see another mob of cult members making their way towards the keep, many of them carrying torches. A chill of fear shot through her; did they mean to burn out the keep? But it quickly became clear that this was not their intention as they halted some way from the keep, all save a lone figure who stepped out in front of the mob. The creature, for it was most certainly not a human, was over 7 feet tall, was covered in blue scales with the muzzle and claws of a dragon. Fixing its gaze on the battlements, the creature hailed the group on top of the keep;

“Defenders of Greenest! This has been a successful night, and I am feeling generous. Do you see these four pitiful, useless prisoners? We have no need for them, so I will trade them back to you. Send out your best warrior to fight me, and you can have these four in exchange.”

Glancing behind him, Reezka saw several kobolds with spears prodding four bound and gagged humans into the light. There was a woman, a boy who looked to be about half grown, and to Reezka’s absolute disgust, two children. She growled angrily, who were these scum to pick on small children? While Reezka was no fan of most humans, she understood that picking on the weak members of the town to be the move of a coward. Suddenly there was a small scuffle from behind her and a woman dashed to the edge of the battlements screaming “My sister! That’s my sister! Someone do something!” Glancing over at the woman, Reezka recognised the woman whose mate had been cut down by the kobolds earlier in the evening. Before anyone could make a move, the woman let out a scream of rage, grabbed a spear and helmet from the nearest guard and charged down the stairs clearly intent on facing the half dragon horror herself. Nighthill had cast an imploring look at the group and begged one of them to face the half dragon as none of his militia would have a chance of defeating it.

Without even stopping to think, Reezka grabbed her shield and raced down the stairs after the woman. Once she reached the bottom of the keep staircase she found that Machi had managed to prevent her from rushing out of the front door. Barely pausing for breath, Reezka wrenched open the door and strode out to face the half dragon. She was barely aware, through the red haze of rage and fury, Machi and Asla following behind her and she felt a faint sense of gladness that they had come with her.

As she stepped towards the creature, the kobolds quickly closed the circle behind her, blocking Machi and Asla out of the makeshift arena. Looking directly at the half dragon, Reezka was startled to see a slight smile cross the creature’s lips. He had introduced himself as Langdedrosa Cyanwrath and had proceeded to set out the rules for the combat. There would be no interference from either side. The children were released, as a sign of his good faith he claimed, but the woman would be held to ensure that there was no outside aid from either her companions outside the circle or up on the balcony. If such a thing was to happen, Cyanwrath said, then his kobolds would immediately slay their prisoner. Reezka nodded grimly, while she didn’t trust the half dragon as far as she could throw him, he had released the children. Maybe he would hold to his honour.

With his speech finished, Cyanwrath stepped forward, stabbing his spear into the ground as he did so. Clearly he meant to fight with the greatsword strapped to his side. So be it, Reezka said to herself and leapt towards the half dragon, channelling her rage into a mighty swing of her battleaxe. To her surprise, the half dragon was far more nimble than his bulky frame suggested and he easily stepped out of the way. Reezka was even more surprised when the blue half dragon made no attempt to draw his sword. Instead he moved towards her with inhuman swiftness and headbutted her.

Her vision blurred and her ears ringing, Reezka desperately tried to make sense of the world around her. At one point she thought she could hear panpipe music but shook her head, convinced it was just the ringing in her ears. She took another strong swing at the blurred form of Cyanwrath but wasn’t too surprised when he again, almost leisurely, stepped out of the arc of her axe. What WAS a surprise to Reezka was the force behind his fist as it connected with the side of her jaw, enough to send her crashing to the floor. Cyanwrath looked down on her prone form as she struggled to rise, disdain clearly written on his scaled face. With a last contemptuous sneer he spat on the half-orc and then, with a swift movement, he unsheathed his greatsword and rammed it deep into Reezka’s chest. As she bellowed in agony he turned and strolled leisurely out sight. And that was the last Reezka knew for a while as everything dissolved into a dark void.

The next thing Reezka was aware of was extreme agony as Asla, assisted by Priestess Falconmoon, was tending to the large wound in her chest. The half dragon’s greatsword was lying by her side, stained with her own blood. Reezka gazed at it in some confusion. Why had he left it? Was it now tainted because of her half breed blood? But no, Cyanwrath was a half breed so that couldn’t be it. Her musings were interrupted by a chorus of shouts from the battlements followed by a slightly muffled yell. Struggling to a sitting position, Reezka looked up to the top of the keep to see none other than Billy; standing on the very edge of the battlements, his holy symbol in one hand and what looked suspiciously like a cooked leg of some sort of meat in the other. He was facing down the diving dragon, chanting some sort of spell. His holy symbol began to glow with a bright light as the volume of his spell casting increased, albeit slightly muffled by the meat he was chewing. Just as the dragon reached the top of the battlements in preparation to breathe it’s electric breath all over Billy, he stumbled and fell with a shriek from the battlements. With her injuries rendering her immobile, Reezka was forced to do nothing but watch as the hapless boy, still bathed in bright light, tumbled towards the ground. At the moment he seemed to hit the ground there was a small flash of light that hid the boy from sight. Once it had cleared, Billy was on the ground, unharmed and seemingly none the worse for wear. Other than the fact that Billy….wasn’t Billy anymore. Reezka stared in bewilderment as Billy, seemingly quite unfazed that he was now a goat, placidly bent his head and started nibbling at the weeds that grew along the edge of the keep. It was at this point that Reezka once more slipped into the realms of unconsciousness and knew nothing more until morning…..

The following morning had dawned over the keep, revealing that not only the dragon, but all the members of the cult, had cleared out from the town. Standing by the window of her room, Reezka could see more townsfolk emerging from their hiding places and making their way slowly to the keep. Turning aside from the window, Reezka began to don her gear once more. To her surprise, along with her battleaxe and shield, she found Cyanwrath’s greatsword. It was a well made weapon, to her eyes, made of a blueish steel with a dragon engraved on the blade and scales carved into the hilt. Her eyes narrowed. She would keep this blade. And she would take great pleasure in returning it to Cyanwrath, blade first.

Slightly later that morning they had gathered in Nighthill’s map room. He had thanked them for their efforts the night before but had wanted to ask them for one final favour. He would pay them 250 gold coins each if they would follow the cult and find out where they were headed and what they were doing. Hesh, Verina and Asla had agreed quickly while Machi had seemed out of sorts and unmoved by the promised reward. As for Reezka she was pleased to hear talk of a reward but her thoughts were still centred on Cyanwrath. She would find him, she vowed. And he would die.
 
During their council with Nighthill, a young monk had stumbled into the room and introduced himself as Nesim Waladra. He was clearly distressed and had blurted out something about his Master having gone with the cult. Once he had been able to calm down, he told the full story. His teacher, an older monk named Leosin Erlanthar had disappeared at some point during the cultist attack last night. Nesim had tried to look for his master but all that he had found was his broken staff and choker. Nesim didn’t know if Leosin had been taken prisoner or had infiltrated the cult, as studying cults was a specialty of his, but he was worried his master was in danger.

Having agreed to follow the cultists path to the southeast, as well as try and recover Leosin, the group had gathered their supplies and equipment and set off on the trail of the mob of cultists. The trail was clear enough to follow and soon they began to discern the tracks of smaller groups beginning to join together and all heading in the same direction. Their trek was uneventful enough, despite the terrain growing more & more rocky.  until they reached a point where a small mob seemed to have broken off. They followed this small band’s tracks until they could smell a campfire and some sort of roasting meat. Hesh had snuck forward for a closer look, leaving the others to cool their heels until he returned.

Hesh related what he had found, a small group of cultists and kobolds attempting to cook a miserable breakfast of chickens over a small and largely ineffectual fire. After a short discussion they decided to leave the small mob to their meal and carry on after the main group so as not to lose much time and distance to the mob.

They journeyed on for a short distance until Asla held up her hand and shouted for them to stop on the lip of a shallow valley. As Reezka watched, a large clump of boulders detached themselves from the top of the opposite slope and crashed down into the valley floor.

“Ambush!” cried Asla. Reezka looked to the top of the slope to see a variety of cultists as well as one hulking leader in heavy armour who seemed to be in charge and looking slightly angry that their trap had failed.

With barely a pause, Reezka charged up the slope, although her attention was slightly diverted by the sight of a large black panther racing up the slope & leaping with a snarl onto one of the cultists. Reezka had no time to ponder this development however as she was preoccupied with her axe biting deep into the armour of the leader as he gave a cry of pain. As she did so one of the acolytes behind the leader had murmured some words and the large wound on the leader’s chest ceased bleeding. A healing spell! Reezka roared in rage at the acolyte but before she could do anything, the leader kicked her legs from under her and she landed flat on her back on the rocky floor. As she heaved herself to her feet there was a huge blast of magic that struck the rocks where the leader had been standing a moment previously. Clearly Verina had stayed at the bottom of the slope to try and pick off a few with her magic. Reezka could only hope that her aim was true and none of the party was accidentally caught up in one of those blasts.

Upon clambering to her feet, Reezka was able to easily dispatch one of the cultists. Asla was knocked slightly backwards as one of the acolytes let off a blast of white fire that impacted on her armour. Not to be deterred, the scarred cleric had leapt forward, swinging her axe and had rent a deep wound in his chest. At the same moment there was a loud and pained roar that faded into a groan. Reezka wheeled round to see the slightly battered form of Machi appear in place of the large panther. Reezka marveled at this new skill & bravery that the druid displayed, he had come so far in just a couple of days!

Arrows whistled overhead and found their mark in one of the acolytes who fell to the floor dead, Hesh also seemed to have not rushed into the fray and was covering them with his bow. Whirling around, Reezka maimed another cultist and was just lining up a return swing when there was a mighty thunderclap which made the ground shake in a most terrifying way. Another cultist exploded into nothing more than particles and Reezka looked around in amazement to see that the source of the thunderclap was Machi. It was all too much for the final cultist and he fled in terror. Machi shouted something after him but Reezka didn’t hear what it was, she was too busy making her way towards Asla and the group leader as the latter gave a final scream and fell to the ground, badly injured. Grimly the remaining members fought on, but the leader proved to be a formidable foe indeed. Finally, when Reezka was gasping for breath, the leader who was bleeding and battered, seemed to sag suddenly. It was all the opening Reezka needed and she slammed her shield into his face and followed it up with a swing of her axe. It cut through the air straight and true to sever the leader’s head from his body.

Her attention had immediately shifted to Asla, who was lying bleeding on the rocky ground. Managing to attract Machi’s attention Reezka had sent him over to heal the fallen cleric. They were soon joined on the ledge by Verina and Hesh as they examined the pockets of the fallen foes. A small amount of gold was handed to Verina for safe keeping whilst Reezka was pleased to see that his crossbow was of a superior quality to hers. It joined the half dragon’s greatsword on her back. Sitting with her back against the rock, Reezka began to clean the blood off of her axe. Yes, she thought. The day she could return that sword to Cyanwrath would be a good day indeed…...